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November 13, 2008

BRIC Entrepreneurs Debate Impact of Financial Tsunami

Knowledge@Wharton has an interesting discussion (available also in audio) featuring entrepreneurs from BRIC countries - Shiv Khemka of the India- and Russia-based SUN Group; Silas Chou of HK-based Novel Holdings and Odemiro Fonseca of Brazil's Viena Rio Restaurantes.
Khemka: From an Indian point of view, clearly export sectors will be affected. The real estate sector has taken a very severe downturn because of credit issues in the market. And naturally, demand domestically will fall. And so that's another sector that one needs to be careful about because of this heavy leverage. Any sector which has a lot of leverage would be a sector to watch carefully. In Russia, you know, the oil price being down where it is today means that the bonanza of the last few years, the boom times, are perhaps coming to an end. The savings that the Russians have wisely made over the last few years need to be now invested thoughtfully in the future. But given the strong commodity base, and the lack of adequate diversification of the Russian economy, I think all the focus will be on the commodities sector. Energy and mining.

...Chou: In China, this so far is not too bad a thing. On the contrary, because China's economy is growing too fast, the preoccupation of the Chinese government for the last few years [has been] how to cool down the economy. So this crisis has slowed down everything around the world, and China is affected. As far as China can, it is trying to move away from too heavily relying on the exports sector of the economy to more domestic consumption. This can be an opportunity for China to cool down its economy a little bit, to [lower] inflation and to have a smooth transition to a domestic consumption economy. Of course, as the crisis develops now in the West, [things are getting] kind of out of hand. This affects everybody. So we hope that the United States and Europe are [exercising] strong leadership to solve the crisis in a quick and sensible way.

...Fonseca: Clearly there is no decoupling of the capital markets. The fundamentals of Brazil haven't changed, but the stock market declines at 40%. The credit market stopped. So there is no decoupling in the capital markets, in the financial markets, even for a country as isolated as Brazil. Unfortunately, there will be decoupling for the wrong reason for Brazil, because 94% of what is consumed in Brazil is produced in Brazil. So Brazil is very isolated. I would like there to be no decoupling for Brazil. But there will be, because Brazil is much smaller, and has much lower per capita income. And it's going to grow less. It will look like decoupling, but for the wrong reason. I'd like to export 20% of the GDP of Brazil to the United States. [Laughter]

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at