razil is world’s fifth-largest country by geographical area and the largest in terms of arable land. Although only a fraction of its land is exploited, the country produces a highly diverse array of agricultural goods. This puts Brazil in a unique position to lead the global agricultural sector in the medium to long term. With an abundant supply of natural resources–water, land and a favourable climate–it has the opportunity to be the largest agribusiness superpower, supplying the world market while also providing affordable food for its own population.
The country already ranks as the top global supplier of products as diverse as beef, orange juice and ethanol, and is expected to continue to expand its exports in other areas as well, such as cotton, soybean oil and cellulose. Its markets are also diverse: China is now the largest market for Brazilian agribusiness products, and sales to Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa are also growing rapidly.
To maintain this trajectory, Brazil must build on the significant improvements in productivity that underpin its current success and overcome the barriers to full realisation of its potential. Obstacles range from scarcity of credit to logistical logjams, from protectionist measures in key markets to environmental concerns.
Frontier regions are a testament to what is right, and wrong, with Brazil’s agribusiness sector. The rich harvests from the country’s vast hinterland have more than paid back public and private investment in research to create new plant varieties adapted to the region’s soil and climate. Large-scale production and professional management have helped to offset the high costs and tight margins of farming such areas. Attracted by the promise of growth, investors have both financed agriculture’s expansion and provided technological know-how. Yet agricultural endeavours in these regions are burdened by inadequate transport and insufficient storage capacity. Productivity in such segments as beef production and corn remains low. Margins remain tight.
THE Caribbean end of the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua follows the course of the San Juan river, which was once considered a possible route for the trans-isthmus canal. The border was originally determined by the Cañas-Jerez Treaty of Limits in 1858.
The boundary follows the northern branch as the river splits into two, the southern branch is called the Colorado river. According to the treaty, the right bank of the San Juan river is Costa Rican territory but the river itself is Nicaraguan. In 1888 Grover Cleveland, then president of America, arbitrated in the dispute and gave a ruling stating that Costa Rica had the right to use the river for commerce but “has not the right of navigation of the river San Juan with vessels of war”. President Cleveland also commissioned a mapping survey of the area, conducted in 1897 by E.P. Alexander.
In 2009 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Costa Rica cannot re-supply its armed police border posts using the river, but also that Nicaragua cannot demand visas from Costa Rican tourists traveling along the river.
Municipal bonds had their biggest one-day sell-off yesterday since the height of the financial crisis, prompting some borrowers to delay financing plans.
The yields on triple A 10-year bonds rose 18 bps to 2.93 per cent, the largest one-day rise since October of 2008, according the MMD index, which is owned by Thomson Reuters.
Absolute yields, however, remain well below crisis-era levels.
The $2,800bn “muni” bond market where states and municipalities raise money has been under pressure over the past week amid a rise in the yields of benchmark US Treasury bonds, heavy bond sales and uncertainty about federal support for the market.
The market declines have made investors, who are mostly wealthy individuals benefiting from tax breaks on muni debt, nervous about an uptick in defaults. Munis historically have been a relatively safe place to invest, but budget deficits and underfunded public pensions have created widespread concern that local entities could struggle to pay their debts.
We’ve often been asked why Incanto is not listed on OpenTable.com. For those of you not familiar with the service, OpenTable is the most successful online restaurant reservation portal on Earth; a place on the Web where diners can search for and make reservations at leading restaurants, via a browser or smartphone. Restaurants like Incanto that chose not to offer their seats through OpenTable find themselves in a shrinking minority.
Let me start by stating the obvious: the convenience and immediacy of booking a table online anytime day or night is beneficial to both diners and to restaurants. This was my belief nine years ago, when we first approached OpenTable to inquire about becoming one of its early customers. It’s also why we have found a way to offer Web-based reservations, through our own website, since we opened and why we’ve kept current and revisited OpenTable’s offerings each year, to re-visit our decision.
It’s possible, however, for convenience to come at too dear a price. I don’t mean that only as it relates to the short-term economic price, but also in the sense that sometimes, what may at first seem like a straightforward benefit can in fact require the sacrifice of something much more precious over the long run. That judgment has always been at the core of our concerns about OpenTable, which has to its credit done such a masterful job building its business that it now holds the dominant position here in the U.S. among providers of online reservation services, with a market share estimated at greater than 90%. Whether or not your restaurant is an OpenTable customer, it’s impossible not to feel its impact.
Madison has been blessed with a glorious fall.
German officials, concerned that Washington could be pushing the global economy into a downward spiral, have launched an unusually open critique of U.S. economic policy and vowed to make their frustration known at this week’s Group of 20 summit.
Leading the attack is Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who said the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision last week to pump an additional $600 billion into government securities won’t help the U.S. economy or its global partners.
The Fed’s decisions are “undermining the credibility of U.S. financial policy,” Mr. Schäuble said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine published over the weekend, referring to the Fed’s move, known as “quantitative easing” and designed to spur demand and keep interest rates low. “It doesn’t add up when the Americans accuse the Chinese of currency manipulation and then, with the help of their central bank’s printing presses, artificially lower the value of the dollar.”
At an economics conference in Berlin Friday, Mr. Schäuble said the Fed’s action shows U.S. policy makers are “at a loss about what to do.”
Mr. Schäuble hit back at critics in the Der Spiegel interview. “Germany’s exporting success is based on the increased competitiveness of our companies, not on some sort of currency sleight-of-hand. The American growth model, by comparison, is stuck in a deep crisis,” he said. “The USA lived off credit for too long, inflated its financial sector massively and neglected its industrial base. There are many reasons for America’s problems–German export surpluses aren’t one of them.”
Last week’s election rout did more than put Republicans in charge of the U.S. House of Representatives. It upended the electoral map that propelled President Barack Obama to the White House.
Mr. Obama bagged traditionally liberal Wisconsin and its ten electoral votes two years ago, part of a sweep that also included states that hadn’t tilted Democratic for decades. That went into reverse Tuesday. The party suffered heavy losses in Ohio and Pennsylvania, two big states that had backed Mr. Obama in 2008, as independent voters swung to the right. Other presidential territory–Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina–swung back to the GOP.
The depth of the party’s losses outside Washington, in state-level-contests, can be seen in this working-class city. The president won handily here in 2008 along with surrounding Brown County. Last week, Republicans carried all 18 races on the county’s ballots, right down to the clerk of the court. The GOP took control of the governor’s office, the state assembly and the state senate–the first time the state has reverted so abruptly to one side since 1938.
The resurgence of interest in Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is somewhat astonishing. Left for dead in the 1980’s, Pabst has been resurrected with clever marketing, as illustrated by this billboard on Madison’s Regent Street. It appears to be an “impressionistic” approach to their identity. Much more on Pabst here (Blekko). Note that I have no idea if the beer is actually any good……
Finally, while attending a few recent events, I noticed that “tall 16oz” cans of beer are making a comeback. As always everything old is new again.
A few photos taken at Ela Orchard’s space. Their apples are, of course fabulous.
Brazil, the country that fired the gun on the so-called “currency wars”, is girding itself for further battle.
Brazilian officials from the president down have slammed the Federal Reserve’s decision to depress US interest rates by buying billions of dollars of government bonds, warning that it could lead to retaliatory measures.
“It’s no use throwing dollars out of a helicopter,” Guido Mantega, the finance minister, said on Thursday. “The only result is to devalue the dollar to achieve greater competitiveness on international markets.”
At a joint press conference with president-elect Dilma Rousseff, outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said on Wednesday he would travel to the G20 summit in Seoul with Ms Rousseff, ready to take “all the necessary measures to not allow our currency to become overvalued” and to “fight for Brazil’s interests”. “They’ll have to face two of us this time!” he said.