Geithner welcomes India’s new drive for reform

WASHINGTON, Tue Oct 9, 2012 – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner welcomed New Delhi’s new-found appetite for economic reform on Tuesday, barely three months after Washington had voiced concern about India’s deteriorating investment climate.

Hailing the latest reforms as “significant,” Geithner told a news conference with Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi that the policies offered “a very promising path to improving growth outcomes for the Indian economy.”

India’s economic growth has slowed to its lowest in nearly three years and earlier on Tuesday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sharply cut its projection for GDP growth to 4.9 percent in 2012, one of the lowest official forecasts so far.

“The recent reforms advanced by Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh and Minister Chidambaram will help provide a foundation for stronger economic growth, an increase in investment, and more widespread gains in income,” Geithner said.

Regulatory uncertainty and policy gridlock have battered foreign corporate investment towards India over the past year, adding to dramatic slowdown in growth.

Shrinking U.S. crops pose inflation challenge for countries

CHICAGO, Tue Aug 7, 2012 – For nations such as China and India fighting to tamp down inflation while spurring growth, even as the global economy faces headwinds from Europe’s debt crisis, shrinking U.S. crops could be an additional headache as food prices creep higher.

Add to that, dry weather in eastern Europe dimming crop prospects in key grains exporting countries like Russia and Kazakhstan, and a less-than-stellar monsoon in India, the troubles for policy makers could escalate into major challenges.

These nations could get a heads up on the severity of the problems they might face when the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday unveils its supply-demand report that will feature crop estimates for the United States, the top grain exporter.

“If the USDA’s corn and soybean estimates are much below trade expectations, there could be negative implications for China and their inflation rate,” said veteran grains analyst Rich Feltes of RJ O’Brien in Chicago.

There are good grounds to be concerned. Chicago Board of Trade corn futures have soared more than 50 percent in the past two months and soybeans by nearly 30 percent as the worst drought in 56 years had devastated the crops.

Wal-Mart bribery review includes Brazil, China

WASHINGTON, Tue Jun 12, 2012 – Lawyers for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have flagged Brazil, China, India and South Africa in addition to Mexico, as countries that represent the highest corruption risk in a global review, according to a letter from lawmakers investigating the company.

The lawyers said they were retained to review Wal-Mart policies in Mexico, Brazil and China, and later recommended the company also evaluate its operations in India and South Africa. The lawyers referred to those five countries as regions where the risk was the greatest, according to the lawmakers.

The company has acknowledged it is investigating bribery allegations involving its Mexican operations, and that it is conducting a global review of its anti-corruption compliance program, but has not provided details about the review.

The new details came in a letter from two Democratic lawmakers, Representatives Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman, who are the ranking members, respectively, of the House Oversight and House Energy committees.

The pair wrote to Wal-Mart Chief Executive Michael Duke on Tuesday and asked him to provide additional documents and allow certain witnesses to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the bribery allegations.

Outside lawyers for Wal-Mart briefed the lawmakers on May 21 about the company’s program to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1970s-era law that bars bribes to officials of foreign governments.

But the lawyers did not answer any questions about the substance of the bribery allegations, which were brought to light in an April 21 New York Times report that said that management at Wal-Mart de Mexico orchestrated bribes of $24 million to help it grow quickly in the last decade and that Wal-Mart’s top brass tried to cover it up.

The two lawmakers have previously expressed frustration about the information they have received from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart representatives did not immediately respond to a request for a comment, but the company has said it is “committed to a full and independent investigation,” and that “it would be inappropriate for us or others to come to conclusions before the investigation is complete.”

Ford sees 50 percent sales growth by mid-decade; global sales to rise

DETROIT ― Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday that it will grow by about 50 percent in global auto sales to about 8 million per year by the middle of the decade.

Much of that growth will be in China and India, Ford said.

By 2014, more than 140 percent of Ford’s global product portfolio will be either new or significantly refreshed from its 2009 lineup, a Ford spokesman said in an e-mail. The figure is more than 100 percent because some of the models will have been turned over at least twice in that five-year period, the spokesman said.

Ford last week announced that it would introduce the smallest engine in its history, a three-cylinder, within the next two years.

On Tuesday, Ford said that by 2020, about 55 percent of its total vehicle sales should be of small cars. Also, Ford said its Asia-Pacific and Africa sales regions should make up nearly a third of its 2020 sales.

Ford executives are in New York to meet with Wall Street analysts about long-term growth strategies and efforts to continue strengthening the balance sheet. That session will be held on Tuesday afternoon.

Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally separately told CNBC in an interview Tuesday morning that the company has exited the “survival mode” and is poised for major growth around the world.

Mulally took over as Ford CEO in 2006 and has turned the company around so that it has shown a profit for each of its last seven quarters. From 2006 to 2008, Ford lost $30 billion.

Ford shares on Tuesday morning were up 1.2 percent at $14.08 per share.