U.S. Excluded by Latin American Summit as China, Russia Loom

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) — Latin American and Caribbean leaders gathering in Brazil tomorrow will mark a historic occasion: a region-wide summit that excludes the United States.

Almost two centuries after President James Monroe declared Latin America a U.S. sphere of influence, the region is breaking away. From socialist-leaning Venezuela to market-friendly Brazil, governments are expanding military, economic and diplomatic ties with potential U.S. adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran.

“Monroe certainly would be rolling over in his grave,” says Julia Sweig, director of the Latin America program at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington and author of the 2006 book “Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century.”

The U.S., she says, “is no longer the exclusive go-to power in the region, especially in South America, where U.S. economic ties are much less important.”

Since November, Russian warships have engaged in joint naval exercises with Venezuela, the first in the Caribbean since the Cold War; Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a free-trade agreement with Peru; and Brazil invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a state visit.

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China Property Slump Threatens Global Economy as Growth Slows


China Property Slump Threatens Global Economy as Growth Slows

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) — House prices in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou are plunging, and the global economy may grind almost to a halt next year because of it.

Construction of homes, offices and factories fell at least 16.6 percent in October after rising 32.5 percent a year earlier, according to Macquarie Securities Ltd. That’s squeezing an economy already slowed by recessions in the U.S., Japan and Europe that have cut demand for exports. Building is the biggest driver of China’s expansion, contributing a quarter of fixed- asset investment and employing 77 million people.

The central bank cut its key interest rate by the most in 11 years last week and the government said “forceful” measures were needed to arrest a faster-than-expected economic decline. Without more rate cuts and government spending, China is unlikely to contribute the 60 percent of global growth Merrill Lynch & Co. forecasts for next year, further slowing the world economy.

“China is now at the heart of the global slowdown,” said Jim Walker, chief economist at Asianomics Ltd., an economic advisory firm in Hong Kong. “It means that global growth is probably going to be dragged down close to zero next year.”

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Chinese President tells party to get ready for a rough ride from world recession

The Chinese President has issued a rare warning to the ruling Communist Party, telling his officials that the global economic downturn is so severe that it could shake its 59-year grip on power.

President Hu Jintao’s remarks, at a weekend meeting of the ruling 25-member Politburo, appeared on the front page of the party’s official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily. It was his bluntest message yet delivered on the crisis to China’s 1.3 billion people and more than 70 million members of the party.

The subtext of his speech was the increasing risk of social unrest caused by China’s rising unemployment, as a slump in exports leads to factory closures and a fall in property sales results in abandoned construction projects.

The President, who is also the head of the Communist Party, said: “In this coming period, we will starkly confront the effects of the sustained deepening of the international financial crisis and pressure as global economic growth clearly slows.” He said that the slowdown would “steadily weaken our country’s traditional competitive advantages”.

The speech is the most authoritative warning yet of the blow dealt to the world’s fourth-largest economy by the international financial crisis. Tens of thousands of migrant workers at failed factories are already heading back to their farms, and economists say that the real drop in export orders may not be felt until early next year.

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