Political uncertainty in Russia fueling capital flight says NY-based Russian analyst

By Ted Regencia
Written for the Business and Economics Reporting Class
at Columbia Journalism School

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency for the third time is causing political uncertainty among Russia’s business elite, so much so that it is fueling a capital flight, a Russian energy analyst said.

Natasha Udensiva, a visiting Russian scholar at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, said a retreat in direct investments particularly in the energy sector could cost Russia its current position as the number one oil-producing country in the world.

“There is a lot of outflow investment coming from Russia because there is no political stability,” Udensiva said during the forum, “Russian Energy Diplomacy under Putin,” in New York. “There is a lot of doubt how [Putin] will handle the economy.”

Putin was voted back to the presidency in March with over 60 percent of the vote. He is expected to take over the post from President Dmitry Medvedev on May 7.
Continue reading “Political uncertainty in Russia fueling capital flight says NY-based Russian analyst”

Yemenis in South Bronx can’t forget the turmoil they left behind

Text by Ted Regencia and Mahmoud Sabbagh/Photo by Ted Regencia

NEW YORK — “Papa, take me with you,” Abu Hamad recalled his five-year-old son pleading with him on the phone from Sana’a last Oct. 10. The Hunts Point shopkeeper’s half smile could not hide the worry in his dark round eyes. His three young children and wife are still living in the capital of Yemen, he said. And not even his American citizenship could help them out of the mountain city that is reeling from an increasingly violent civil uprising.

On Sept. 24, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president for the past 33 years, returned to his homeland after a brief medical exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia. He was forced out of the country after an assassination attempt. The departure raised hopes for reform in the Arabian Peninsula nation of 24 million people. But his abrupt return has sparked fresh violence, which has already claimed close to 2,500 causalities since February. On Oct. 16, 18 more people were killed and 30 others were wounded in clashes between Saleh’s troops and his rivals, according to news reports from the region. (With reporting from Mahmoud Sabbagh)

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Jews and Palestinians find a separate peace in Hunts Point

By Ted Regencia and Janet Upadhye

On one corner of Southern Boulevard and 163rd Street, a 25-year-old Palestinian refugee stirred chicken kebabs over a hot fryer in his halal cart, contemplating the tensions between his country and Israel being reignited this week in the United Nations General Assembly.

Down the block in Hunts Point where Musab Abusbeih peddled his $5 kebab and shawarma specials, Jewish and Palestinian-owned businesses operate peacefully side by side.  Abusbeih believes that if only the warring parties learned to talk like the merchants of Hunts Point peace might be attainable.

“We don’t even fight about parking on this block,” said Ron Levy, a former Israeli soldier.  “And everybody fights about parking in New York City.”

Downtown in United Nations headquarters last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sought official statehood recognition from the General Assembly. Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu opposed Palestine’s unilateral declaration of statehood, saying a two-state solution can only be achieved through a negotiated settlement, which would include Hamas dropping its call for the destruction of Israel.

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Bill Clinton hosts jobs and economic forum in Chicago

Xinhua English
June 29, 2011

Text and photo by Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — Seeking to help the U.S. domestic economy recover from the recession and cut down the 9.1 percent unemployment rate, former U.S. president Bill Clinton kicked-off a two day forum here on Wednesday, while touting Chicago as a model of innovation and economic resurgence.

Clinton, whose eight-year stint at the White House saw the U.S. economy prosper, urged American banks to unlock an estimated $2 trillion in cash for loans.

He also encouraged companies to invest within America another existing $2 trillion dollars in their reservoir, and called on more jobs training to fill as much as three million jobs currently available but remain vacant because of mismatch in qualification.

By filling the three million available jobs, unemployment rate will already be significantly reduced and create a more optimistic economic atmosphere, Clinton said.

On the first day of the event, Clinton has already secured the financial commitment of four organizations, including a 10 billion dollars in capital from the labor group AFL-CIO to be spent for public infrastructure repairs for the next five years.

To read the full story, please visit Xinhua English

Former Chicagoan is first female IMF chief

Xinhua English
June 28, 2011

By Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde made history Tuesday by becoming the first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and her appointment received wide praise in Chicago, where she once served as chairman of one of the world’s largest law firms.

At the same time, international finance experts agree Lagarde’s leadership and financial skills will be immediately tested with the current crisis in Greece that is threatening to undermine Europe and the entire global economy.

“Christine was an effective leader who used her intellect, discipline and diplomacy to take our firm to new heights,” the law firm Baker & McKenzie said in a statement to Xinhua. “As the first female chair of a global law firm, she inspired so many of us with her grace, humanity and consensus-building approach, leaving a lasting impact on our firm and on the legal profession.”

Those skills would prove helpful as Lagarde navigates the turbulent current economic and political landscape, said Prof. Martin Eichenbaum, co-director of the Center for International Economics and Development at Chicago’s Northwestern University.

To read the full story, please visit Xinhua English

Jewish Republicans see Obama as one-termer

Huffington Post and Patch.com
June 27, 2011

Text and photo by Ted Regencia


SKOKIE, Ill. – Between analyzing the electoral prospects of Republican presidential candidates and ridiculing the “level of mental illness among liberal Jews,” members of the Republican Jewish Coalition(RJC) gathered in Skokie last week to discuss how they could help defeat President Obama in 2012.

The standing-room only crowd came from throughout Illinois to fill a conference room at Holiday Inn, where they listened to political analysts and Republican scholars offer political red meat against Obama, whom one speaker accused of being “more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians.”

Michael Menis, president of RJC’s Chicago chapter, told Skokie Patch that his group was alarmed at Obama’s policies toward Israel.

“There’s concern in the Jewish community as far as President Obama’s allegiance to the United States’ long-time ally Israel,” he said. “Through his rhetoric and his actions, he seems to have departed from the policy that we’ve seen coming from other presidential administrations since the creation of Israel in 1949.”

Menis said the meeting’s heavy turnout on June 23 was a good indication that RJC members could be invaluable in helping efforts to elect a GOP president in 2012.

To read the full story, please visit Skokie Patch.com