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Introduction to Investment Funds – The CIVETS Nations
Throughout 2011 much focus was given within the financial world to the potential of the Investment Fund for investors who were willing to look at CIVETS countries. Extensive analysis and commentary was given to the growth and development of the economic landscape in Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa.
A host of investments have been launched over the past 12 months and activity within these countries has continued to grow as bold investors seek to target the fastest growing economies in the world.
The reasons for this increased activity vary.
For example, the CIVETS nations have a combined population of around 600 million which represents some 8pc of the global population, a population characterized by being young and ambitious. Therefore, the increasing consumption of these nations means that there is a strong demand in the market for core goods and this is further reinforced by the dynamics of a population that seems to be fixed on growth in all aspects of life.
In this respect the CIVETS nations reflect many of the social and industrial qualities inherent in more developing markets such as the BRIC economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China. In fact, in some cases, the growth rates of the CIVETS nations are now higher than those of the established BRIC countries.
Another essential feature is that, viewed as a whole, the CIVETS nations do not have the chronic debt problems currently experienced in the developed world. This is a major positive feature for investors seeking both short-term and long-term returns.
Here we take a closer look at the key characteristics of CIVETS nations and their influence on the potential of the Investment Fund. Remember that the value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than what you invested.
The current Government of Colombia has spent a lot of time and effort stabilizing the security situation throughout the country and developing the national infrastructure.
It has been keen to increase trade and business activity throughout its industrial regions and has successfully reinvested portions of oil revenues to vastly improve the commercial and social environment.
An often unknown fact is that Colombia is the third largest exporter of oil to the USA and therefore has a very solid base for development due to this constant revenue stream.
Apart from oil the country’s main industries are coal, gold, textiles, food processing, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals and cement giving it a strong foothold in the core commodity markets of the United States.
According to a report posted on the Guardian online its economy grew 4.3% in 2010, compared to 2.8% for the United States which is clearly an attraction for the foreign investor. Time will tell if this growth will continue and if the relative political and social harmony can be maintained or not.
With an estimated population of 245.6 million, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world. Almost half of the economy is industrial.
The Indonesian government has also stated its desire to see Indonesia develop into one of the world’s 10 largest economies by 2025. If this objective is successfully completed then early investment in Indonesian assets could provide strong returns.
As with other CIVETS countries, Indonesia can be seen as a positive investment destination due to positive demographic characteristics such as a young, ambitious population with increasing levels of disposable income and therefore market demand is strong and strengthening. Its position as a manufacturing hub also helps with a positive long-term outlook.
According to the Wall Street Journal, some fund managers see the best way to gain exposure to other international companies because of the robustness of their existing structures.
As a result long-term prospects appear healthy for investors.
The low cost of labor and the further development of the manufacturing infrastructure mean that Vietnam has become more attractive to foreign investors despite its economic problems over the past 5 years.
Its economy is 41% industrial and the World Bank predicts growth of 6% this year rising to 7.2% in 2013 – according to the Wall Street Journal Online – which is a good forecast.
The potential for lower taxes for fund management companies is also an interesting development in this particular market.
However, there are ongoing concerns about Vietnam’s uncertain outlook for interest rates and inflationary pressures, as well as the fact that the country continues to pursue a policy of rapid growth. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Vietnam in 2011 amid warnings that the banking system was vulnerable to shocks and expressed concerns about bad debts.
Egypt’s major assets include fast-growing ports on the Mediterranean and Red Sea, along with the Suez canal, which are seen as potentially important trade hubs linking Europe and Africa, as well as vast untapped natural resources.
Egypt also benefits from strong trade and investment ties with the EU. In 2010 agriculture accounted for around 10% of the economy, industry 27% and services 64%.
Deals have also been signed by Egypt and China which will see the two countries collaborate on the production and distribution of cars throughout North Africa. This is positive news for Egyptian business and also shows Chinese commitment to the North African market.
Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Egyptian car assembler GB Auto SAE expect to produce up to 30,000 cars a year a few years from now, and aim to increase that to 50,000 a year , a Geely source told the Wall Street Journal.
It should be remembered however that the prospects for continued and solid investment in Egypt are seriously marred by an unstable political situation however.
The Turkish economy has proven resilient to the global downturn and it can be argued that the Turkish government’s budgetary and public debt position is significantly better than many countries in the euro area.
The growing influence of the private sector over recent years together with the increased levels of efficiency and resilience in the financial sector have had positive results. A more robust social security system has also helped create a stable investment environment.
Turkey also has experience of recovering from economic difficulty as it did so successfully after its own banking crisis in 2001.
Turkey has probably also benefited from the economic woes of neighboring Greece. For example Turkish imports from Greece jumped by almost 40% and the number of Greek companies registered to do business in Turkey rose by 10.4% in 2011 according to the Turkish news website Hurriyet Daily News.
This seems to suggest that Turkey offers solid investment prospects. However, according to the Financial Times blog, Turkey’s “huge” current account deficit, now around 10% of gross domestic product is a concern but they also note that Turkey’s economic bottom line looks remarkably healthy compared to its European neighbors . Its GDP grew by 8.9% in 2011
South Africa is a country that exhibits both emerging and developed market qualities. Foreign investors have historically been attracted to South Africa’s rich and abundant natural resources, particularly gold. Foreign direct investment is also steadily increasing as the government encourages more international companies to establish themselves there. But the mining sector remains dominant in South Africa due to the large pool of natural resources and the stability of the mining infrastructure already in place.
The rise in commodity prices is underpinned by renewed demand in its automotive and chemical industries, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which has helped South Africa resume growth after it slipped into recession during the global economic downturn.
It is worth noting however that South Africa had the slowest growth of all the Civets last year and has suffered 25% unemployment. The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook noted: ‘Surge in unemployment, high household debt, low capacity utilization, the slowdown in advanced economies, and a significant real appreciation of the exchange rate are leading to a tentative recovery’.
It is clear that there is significant potential for the growth of investment funds across the CIVETS countries. Demographic makeup and industrial structures mean there are positive financial prospects for hungry investors.
However, optimism should be tempered for a number of reasons and some analysts warn against rushing into some potentially unpredictable and volatile markets.
Political and social upheaval, as well as inefficient and ineffective standards of corporate governance, lead to an uncertain economic environment and intense currency fluctuations. The CIVETS nations are currently well behind the recognized leading markets of the emerging BRIC countries and the most astute investors will only allocate a manageable amount of their investment portfolio to markets within the CIVETS nations.
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