Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday at the Organic Market

Saturday morning here in San Miguel is a time to wander down to the Saturday Market in the Instituto. We wandered down and bought two cinnamon rolls and a donut naranja orange and coffee. It is fun to watch the people, strike up conversations with expats and sometimes Mexican families.

There is usually free entertainment. This musician looked like he came in from the campo. He was the complete guitar player with harmonica.

A family sat down opposite us and Aphonso sat across from me. He is four almost five. He looks like he doesn't enjoy the music.

Next to us at another table was the cutest little girl with her daddy, who Bev said was a hunk.

Here are some other sights of Saturday Market.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

San Miguel de Allende - City of Culture, Cool and Progress

San Miguel de Allende is a city and municipality located in the far eastern part of the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico.

Malcome Harris writes at Huffington Post about his love for San Miguel:

A year ago, if someone had asked me to travel to Mexico for any reason other than a quick holistic trip to Tulum, I would have thought they had lost their ever-loving mind. You see I, like many Americans, had bought into the don't cross the border unless you want to be kidnapped, robbed or murdered rhetoric of the mainstream media as well as uninformed public opinion. It was as if someone had put all the bad news coming out of Mexico on some sort of subliminal, mind-altering loop and it had definitely worked. Then this pass Spring I was hit with one of those life altering and heart shattering experiences - my mother passed away.

Here's more

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oil Hedging Could Mean $6-bn Windfall

Mexico’s oil hedging strategy could earn the country a hefty US $6-billion payout, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.

That strategy entailed locking in the price it received for oil during 2015 at $76.40 a barrel, while the average price so far, with fewer than two weeks remaining in the hedging contract, has been $46.61 per barrel.

The contract, which cost Mexico $773 million, covered 228 million barrels and runs from December 1, 2014 until the end of this month.

The strategy was effective in maximizing petroleum revenues. “This was a very good move from the risk-management perspective to lock in a higher price than they would have gotten just on a spot basis,” said Joydeep Mukherji of Standard & Poor’s in New York.

If Bloomberg’s analysis is correct, the payout would surpass the record $5.1 billion Mexico received in 2009 following the plunge in oil prices that year.

The $6 billion estimate does not include fees.

Mexico’s is one of few countries to carry out such a hedge.

Source: Bloomberg (en) -

Lower Propane Prices are Coming Soon

A propane tank may not be far off.
Lower propane prices are coming soon, according to a prediction by a gas distributors’ trade organization, due to new import rules that take effect January 1.
In Mexico, two significant changes are coming for LPG: the liberation of import restrictions in 2016 and the elimination of price controls the year after.

The first will see private companies being allowed to import gas themselves, rather than go through Pemex, the state oil company. At present, a firm such as Grupo Tomza, one of the larger transportation and distribution firms, buys its gas in the U.S. and transports it to Mexico, where it is purchased by Pemex, the only company allowed to import the product.
Tomza then buys it back from Pemex and sells to consumers. As of January, Tomza will be able to bypass Pemex, but gas prices will still be subject to regulation by authorities.
Then in 2017, supply and demand will dictate pricing.
Landeros said this week that although the international price for LPG was 4 pesos per kilo, Pemex was selling it to distributors for 9.2 pesos.
By the time it gets to the consumer, a 20-kilogram tank costs 280 pesos. However, Landeros predicts that price will drop to 200 pesos, a significant change in a country whose propane gas consumption for domestic use is said to be the highest in the world, used by 80% of the population.
Annual sales are worth an estimated US $8.5 billion.
Gas distributors expect consumption to rise further following the decline in price, perhaps reversing an upward trend in the use of wood and charcoal, which has risen in rural areas from 36 to 39%, said Landeros, with negative implications for health and the environment.
Although new pipelines are delivering natural gas to more of the country, there isn’t enough infrastructure in place for its household distribution in large urban areas, so propane enjoys widespread use. Residential customers represent 60% of consumption, followed by commercial consumers at 14%, automotive fuel at 10% and industrial at 9%.
The new import and pricing regime, a product of energy reforms, is not only expected to bring price reductions but it’s already changing the face of the highly fragmented gas distribution business.
The big players — four companies control about 40% of the market — are buying up the smaller ones, of which there are some 500. Money is also being invested in ships and private terminal facilities to bring more LPG into Mexico.
Source: El Economista (sp), Milenio (sp), The Oil & Gas Year (en)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Roof Dogs

Russell Monk is an editorial and commercial photographer. He writes at the NY Times:

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico — To wander among the working-class neighborhoods here is to think, at times, that the world is a cacophony of barking dogs. When the sun goes down, in the middle of the night and at first light, they bark. “How long can they keep it up?” I have often asked myself.

For the first few years I lived here, those sounds startled me. Now I find myself growing somewhat accustomed to them, inured, or maybe just plain resigned to their inescapable presence.

When I go to the local store, often accompanied by my lively little dog, Lola, we are often greeted by howling heads, thrust, jutted, skewed — peering down from rooftops, their bodies contorted, sometimes leaping in an almost comical abandon — or teeth bared and snarling, or at times crying aloft, like cartoon hounds. Meanwhile Lola darts to and fro, safe in the knowledge that if any danger exists, it is usually at least one or two stories above.

These roof dogs spend much of their lives up there, surveying their territory from an advantageous perch. But great as the views are and as much as their height adds to their sense of superiority, they are not there by choice. My friend and neighbor Pedro Moncada says the dogs are a kind of early warning system, a rooftop alarm. But that’s not all: He believes that dogs somehow know things we don’t. If someone nearby is going to die soon, he said, they bark throughout the night.

A local ironworker scoffed at the very thought and between hammer blows, he huffed that they were just there as a scare tactic. Either that or their owners were lazy, or just didn’t have room in their cramped quarters.

Pedro says that he has three dogs, but that doesn’t mean he understands their minds.

“All I am certain of,” he said, “is that dogs are very mysterious.”

American retirees flock to Mexican shore in Baja looking for living and financial ease

Despite what many Americans may believe about the dangers of Mexico, there are a few “brave” souls who would argue that the Mexico they know is not only safe, but safer than the U.S., and has maintained the core values America lost years ago.

Thousands of Americans annually retire to various Mexican cities, making up a good chunk of the estimated 1 million U.S. citizens that call Mexico home.

Pam Salzman and her husband Brian retired 12 years ago. They say they were vacationing in Mexico so much that at one point they decided to try living there full-time and see how it felt.

In 2013 the Salzmans sold their house in Alpine, a rural neighborhood in the San Diego County of California, and promptly plunked down $500k in cash for a 3,700 square foot oceanfront property and never looked back.

Read more at FoxNews Latino

Friday, November 13, 2015

Economic Power In Latin America Shifting From Brazil To Mexico

Over the last year three key factors have weighed heavily on Latin American economies: The end of the U.S. Fed’s quantitative easing, which has brought about less favorable international funding conditions; the decline in commodity prices, which has depressed LatAm export revenues, and the Chinese economic slowdown, which also has hit commodity-exporting countries in the region. As a result, economic growth this year has been a huge disappointment. In January, the consensus forecast was for GDP growth of about 3%, but now expectations have fallen dramatically to a 0.4% contraction.

The impact of the shocks, though, has been uneven across the region, reflecting very different economic fundamentals in each country. Brazil, the biggest economy in the region, is the standout disaster area, suffering its worst recession in 25 years. This alone has been responsible for most of the sharp deterioration in growth expectations for LatAm as a whole. The list of problems in Brazil is daunting: Interest rates have rocketed in the face of high inflation; confidence has been depressed by corruption scandals; and the public finances are a mess. As a result, the labor market has fallen apart. Ultimately, these problems are the self-inflicted consequences of President Rousseff’s inappropriate populist policies, state interventionism, and a lack of real structural and fiscal reform. No one should have been surprised when Brazilian debt was downgraded to junk status in September by Standard and Poors, while the currency, the real, has lost about 30% this year against the dollar.

As a result of the appalling situation in Brazil, economic power in the region has shifted rapidly to Mexico, the second biggest economy in LatAm. Mexico’s growth has been hampered by the crash in oil prices but the economy is growing, by around 2% year-over-year, and the economic outlook is positive. Solid domestic economic fundamentals, and my expectation of a resilient and improving U.S. economy over the next year, should help push Mexican growth towards 2.5%.

Read more at Forbes