Showing posts with label Santiago de Chile. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Santiago de Chile. Show all posts

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chile holds firm as copper market corrects

As the world’s leading producer of copper, there are grave concerns in Chile about China’s economic slowdown. The Oilholic doesn’t often touch on base metals on this blog, but being in Chile, one decided to break from tradition.

Over the last decade, China has displayed a voracious appetite for copper, with much of it coming from Chile. Clear indications point to a slowdown and even Beijing admits the country’s growth would be nowhere the double digit percentages it has posted in recent years that made the commodities world grow accustomed to the party.

No party lasts forever, and what the Oilholic finds here in Santiago de Chile is that no one need teach the Chileans that lesson. Policymakers, while anxious about it, saw China’s slowdown coming and are in confident mood they’ll weather the storm. The Chilean government can’t ignore the fact that the Chinese consume just shy of 50% of the world's refined copper, and as such Beijing is both directly and indirectly a major trading partner.

However, local economists’ thoughts and financial journals here in Chile appear to suggest one of the world’s leading copper producers is gearing up for a compound annual growth rate in Chinese copper demand in the range 2.5-3.5%; that’s less than half of the near 8% demand noted between 2010 and 2014.

If anything local forecasts are towards the lower end of Wall Street predictions and those put out by major European investment banks including Societe Generale, Barclays and Deutsche Bank. Droughts in Chile and other disruptions have tempered market sentiment on the oversupply front.

Disruptions in PNG and Zambia have also helped as have cuts announced by Glencore. To this effect, local analysts feel while the copper market is heading for leaner times, the effect would be less pronounced than say in the case of nickel or zinc. Supply/demand imbalances will persist but not to the extent feared both in Chile and beyond.

However, there is one thing though. As with oil, given the extent to which commodities have become an asset class, it is worth examining what the punters think. For the few this blogger has had a chance to interact with here in Chile, the copper market remains net short, using the COMEX copper (not LME three-month futures) contract as a benchmark.

The positioning might be net short, but it isn’t as bad as what local analysts noted over the first quarter of this year, especially mid-February to late-March. So right now, smaller end of life miners in Chile appear to be in trouble, but others including the majors operating in the country appear to be holding firm on their cautious outlook.

Finally, past crises have taught most regional governments a thing or two about managing the situation in troubling times. Some like Venezuela consciously choose not to learn, while others like Chile do learn and manage their exposure to volatility better.

There’s no reason to believe why 2015 would be any different. President Michelle Bachelet who oversaw the 2008-09 downturn during her previous stint in office, remains a steady hand, despite declining domestic poll ratings. That’s all for the moment folks as one heads to Buenos Aires for a short pre-election hop. In the meantime, this blogger leaves you with an amazing view from Cerro San Cristobal. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Photo I: Flag of Chile in Santiago. Photo II: Cerro San Cristobal - Santiago, Chile © Gaurav Sharma, October 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Curious case of the Pisco Sour

Following a weekend in Lima, the Oilholic has crossed over to Santiago de Chile. However, before one gets down to commodities related matters, there is the not so little matter of ‘not settling’ where the splendid regional cocktail Pisco Sour originates, a subject of much disquiet between Peru and Chile.

But first the recipe – you’ll need 25ml Lemon Juice, one egg white, 50ml Pisco (either Chilean or Peruvian), 20ml simple syrup. Give it an almighty shake with ice cubes, pour from shaker and add a dash of bitters. The end result is that delicious stuff in the photo on the left. That dear readers is the national drink of both Peru and Chile!

The origin of the main liquor base – Pisco, a colourless to yellow amber grape brandy made from distilling grape wine into a high proof spirit (below right) – is hotly contested. First known production dates back to the 16th century. Peruvians claim the name and first production site originates from the town of Pisco, while the Chileans claim the word “pisco”, a derivative of a term for a common bird, was used all along the Pacific Coastline of South America since the early days of Spanish settlers.

Going one step further, should names of towns matter, the Chileans renamed the town of La Unión in 1936 as Pisco Elqui so as to reinforce their claims over the name Pisco. Chile’s Pisco production volume dwarfs Peru’s by a ratio of 10 bottles to one. However, on the international stage Peruvians have the bragging rights as the “finer pisco” (at least in their opinion) is exported 3.5 times more than the Chilean produce.

There was dismay in Santiago, when Lima won a significant battle by being recognised as the original home of Pisco by the European Union in 2013. Yet, Chile’s usage of the word Pisco to describe its brandy cannot be curtailed, given its commonality. So much so for the liquor, but the tussle doesn’t end here! The cocktail is just as hotly disputed. According to bartenders in Lima’s Larcomar area, the cocktail originated in the city and was invented by an American named Victor Morris in the 1920s. 

When Morris, who had been living in Peru since 1903, opened Morris' Bar in Lima, the cocktail became his specialty. However, the recipe underwent several changes until Mario Bruiget, a Peruvian employee of Morris, added Angostura bitters and egg whites to the mix, thus creating the cocktail mix that has stood the test of time since 1926.

However, in Santiago de Chile, the story is widely dismissed. On the contrary, bartenders in the Chilean capital’s Providencia area say it was an English sailor Elliot Stubb who came up with the idea in 1872. Stubb, they say, mixed Key lime juice, syrup, and ice cubes to create the cocktail well known in Chile, some 50 years before the modern Peruvian version was even around.

Rubbish, no proof – retort the Peruvians again, while adding that the Chileans pinched the idea when Morris advertised the drink in 1924 in a local newspaper in the port of Valparaíso, Chile. Guess that doesn’t settle this one then. All the Oilholic can say is – whether sipped in Peru or Chile – it’s a splendid beverage! Cheers! That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2015. Photo I: Pisco Sour in Lima, Peru. Photo II: Pisco on rocks, Santigo, Chile. Photo III: Enojoying Pisco Sour in Santiago, Chile © Gaurav Sharma, October 2015