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New bank to beat BRICS China blues

Thursday, July 09, 2015 - 02:14

A new development bank and a massive currency reserves fund are on the table as Russia plays summit host to fellow BRICS members in far-flung Ufa. As David Pollard reports, China's stock market woes have done little to dampen Vladimir Putin's enthusiasm for courting his Chinese opposite number, Xi Jinping.

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Some of them didn't even know where it was. But they came anyway to remote Ufa - to be greeted by host Vladimir Putin. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "I am glad to greet you all, my colleagues and friends, at the BRICS summit. We will discuss today the whole range of issues with regard to cooperation within our group." Cooperation top of the official agenda - even if the real buzz talk in this town 1,200 kilometres south-east of Moscow is China. A massive stock-market plunge there doing little to cool Putin's fervour for courting Beijing. He and his counterpart Xi Jinping held their own meeting - energy and finance ministers present. Putin played down the risks of Beijing's current problems. More than 30 percent has been knocked off the value of Chinese stocks since mid-June. Traders talk of panic by retail investors, who account for around 85 percent of business. A bubble, possibly, bursting, says ING's Carsten Brzeski. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) CARSTEN BRZESKI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ING GERMANY, SAYING: ''We've seen that over the last couple of years the government spend a lot on infrastructure, but that was a growth story that was not sustainable. Just look at all these cities which were built that no one is living in right now. So I think we should be prepared for a longer period of weaker-than-expected growth in China.'' India aside, the BRICS growth story has lost some of its shine. Russia wants to buff it up again. It has its own reasons: namely a sanctions deadlock with the West over its behaviour in Ukraine. Putin hopes launching a new development bank at the summit - with an initial capital of 50 billion dollars - will show Moscow is not isolated. That and a 100 billion dollar contingency reserves pool. To add to a macro economic toolbox that's already depleted in Europe. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) CARSTEN BRZESKI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ING GERMANY, SAYING: ''Most emerging economies are better equipped when it comes to fiscal policies, government debt levels, which are much lower than they are in Europe. So there is more firepower for government policy-makers to intervene. Also, if you look at China, for example, interest rates are still much higher than they are in the Western world.'' Which means they have room to cut. A luxury Europe can only dream of as it braces for the impact of its own crisis.

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New bank to beat BRICS China blues

Thursday, July 09, 2015 - 02:14