Jose Antonio Meade on Combating Poverty in Mexico

2/11/16 Harvard Political Review

13317170344_3f13f47d5c_oHarvard Political Review: In the last five years, you have been in four different Secretary positions—Energy, Finance, Foreign Affairs, and now Social Development. What is next? What is the biggest challenge for you in 2016?

Jose Antonio Meade: I believe public service is a vocation, a vocation that has a path and a journey. And many times, in politics as well as in life, what matters is the journey. If one is preoccupied with the final destination, one runs the risk of not only losing focus on the journey but of not enjoying or taking advantage of it, even deviating from the said journey. That, for me, as a life lesson has always been important. Today, who I am, is the secretary of social development, a fascinating institution, an institution that allows me to touch lives and to transform the stories of families. I hope that what is next is a remembrance of good management of the secretariat [of social development].

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Mexican Peso Falls to Record, Leads Drop Among Major Currencies

2/11/16 Bloomberg Business

pesosThe Mexican peso fell to a new record low as $800 million in dollar sales by the central bank this week was overshadowed by speculation that global growth will falter.

The peso fell 1.5 percent as of 11:31 a.m. in Mexico City, leading losses among the world’s most-traded currencies, as emerging-market assets were swept up in a global selloff of all but the safest securities. Global equities tumbled toward a bear market as investors lost faith in central banks’ ability to support the worldwide economy.

The peso has dropped 10 percent this year, almost four times as much as the next-worst performer among a basket of 16 major currencies, as investors sell off the most liquid and easily tradeable emerging-market assets. The central bank sold $400 million in auctions Thursday to support the currency, after selling $400 million on Feb. 8, when bank Governor Agustin Carstens said that peso weakness isn’t justified by the country’s economic fundamentals.

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What next for Pemex?

2/9/2016 Forbes.com

By Duncan Wood, Director of the Mexico Institute

Pemex LogoThe news that Emilio Lozoya, CEO of Mexican National Oil Company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) would be stepping down came as no great surprise to many observers of Mexican oil politics. The company has been in deep trouble for over a decade now and, although Lozoya only took over 3 years ago, he has been able to do little to stem the tide of bad news during his tenure at the top of the organization. From a high point in crude oil production in 2004 of 3.4 million barrels per day (bpd), Pemex now only produces around 2.2 million bpd, and that total is predicted to fall further in the coming months. Combined with the low oil price internationally, that means a lot less revenue for Pemex, but more importantly, less fiscal revenue for Lozoya’s political bosses in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto. Mexico’s government has depended on oil for up to 35% of its revenue over the past decade, but with lower prices and lower production, that total has fallen closer to 20%, leaving a growing gap in the federal budget, that has been covered by cutting spending in infrastructure projects and government salaries and services.

The money problem afflicting Pemex has largely been caused by successive Mexican governments treating the NOC as a cash cow, and the truth is that the company has been milked to death. This year’s cuts in the Pemex budget and the calls for layoffs are only the latest manifestation of a long-running abuse of the company by the Mexican federal government. But the decline in Pemex and government revenues is only one part of the unholy trinity of problems that has been afflicting the NOC in recent years.

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pesos

Mexico Peso Tumbles After Government Signals Spending Cuts Loom

2/09/16 Bloomberg

Mexican pesoMexico’s peso fell to a record low after the government signaled more spending cuts, further damping the outlook for Latin America’s second-biggest economy.

The peso dropped 0.7 percent to 18.8029 per dollar as of 10 a.m. in Mexico City, the most among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Its 8.5 percent slide since the end of December marks the worst start to any year since the 1993 redenomination.

Mexico has been caught up in a global currency rout as oil plunges and concerns over the health of the global economy deepen. The plunge in crude, which has already spurred a decline in public spending after revenue from state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos tumbled, also means that Mexico needs to prepare itself for preventative spending cuts for next year, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said Monday in a radio interview. The oil company, known as Pemex, also needs to reduce spending, Videgaray told Radio Formula.

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Mexico’s Next Big Chance to Tackle Corruption

2/8/2016 Americas Quarterly

By Viridiana Rios, Mexico Institute Global Fellow

Empowered by a political reform that was approved in 2014, Mexico’s top civil society groups, academics and activists gathered last Tuesday in a press conference to present a bill that would establish clear penalties for acts of corruption.

This citizen’s initiative, known as Ley 3de3, could be discussed in Congress as early as this spring, if its proponents can gather the 120,000 signatures required for Congress to include it in the legislative agenda. As Max Kaiser, one of the leaders of the bill’s drafting committee and anticorruption director at the Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad, argues, “presenting the bill is just a first step…the most important battle will be to collect the signatures.”

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Engagement and Pragmatism: Towards an Enduring Canadian Strategy in Latin America

Paper by Eric Miller, Canadian Global Affairs Institute Fellow
Canadian Global Affairs Institute, January 2016

canada mexicoExecutive Summary

With a majority government and a different world view than his predecessor, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is re-making Canada’s foreign policy priorities and approaches. This paper offers some suggested approaches for engagement with Latin America. In the area of trade, the paper recommends seeking associate membership in the Pacific Alliance while continuing to strengthen linkages with Mexico within the North American commercial policy framework. It also suggests exploring the scope of what is possible with countries with which Canada does not have free trade agreements, especially Brazil and Ecuador. On the security front, the paper suggests that Canada needs a strategy for the Colombian peace process and to step up support to Mexico in strengthening the integrity of the southern border of North America. With regards to foreign policy, Canada needs a serious strategy for the new Cuba and needs to expand its diplomatic representation, namely in Paraguay and Bolivia. Finally, on the institution-building front Canada needs to secure senior positions at the Inter-American Development Bank and Organization of American States in order to help to drive institutional reform. Canada further needs a coherent strategy to attract in-bound foreign investment from Latin America. The region is rich with possibilities and a coherent engagement strategy can deliver much.

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North America needs to pivot…to North America

1/29/2016 The Globe and Mail

north americaBy Michael Kergin, Arturo Sarukhan and Anthony Wayne

The authors are former Canadian ambassador to the United States, former Mexican ambassador to the United States and former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, respectively.

The foreign ministers of North America will meet in Quebec City on Friday morning with little fanfare. Yet, at a time of growing global disorder and uncertainty, North America is the strategic foundation from which the three countries secure their prosperity and safety.

About $2.7-million in trade passes between the United States and its two neighbours each minute. Mexico and Canada are the two largest U.S. export markets, buying a third of all that Americans send abroad. Millions of jobs depend on the trade and investment networks across our region, and the potential for added growth is enormous. A recent study by McKinsey & Co. predicts that if we keep working to improve the competitiveness of our North American market, our economies could add $8-trillion (U.S.) in gross domestic product by 2040.

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