Pence to Latin America, Kenya election
Josh de la Mare previews some of the big stories in the week ahead, including a tour of Latin America by US vice-president Mike Pence as Venezuela tensions continue, UK insurers' results, including Prudential and Standard Life, and key elections in Kenya.
Words by Simon Greaves, Andrew England, John Aglionby, Oliver Ralph and Stefan Wagstyl. Studio filmed by Rod Fitzgerald. Produced by Josh de la Mare
Hello, and welcome to The Week Ahead, from the Financial Times in London. Here are some of the big stories we're watching this week.
US Vice President Mike Pence goes to Latin America, as turmoil continues in Venezuela. Results are out from insurers Prudential, Standard Life, and Legal & General. And tensions are high before key elections in Kenya.
US Vice President Mike Pence is to visit Central and South America during August, at a time when Venezuela is in crisis. Mr. Pence will meet with presidents and business leaders to discuss proposed US budget cuts to Latin American aid in 2018, which the US insists do not show diminished interest in the region.
Mr. Pence followed the announcement of his trip with a call to stop the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants out of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and to restore democracy in Cuba and Venezuela. Three of the countries Mr. Pence will visit-- Argentina, Chile and Colombia-- have criticised the recent and highly controversial Constituent Assembly election in Venezuela, amid fears it will cement president Nicolas Maduro's power.
Maria Angela Holguin is Colombia's foreign minister.
Stops in the US vice president's tour will include Bogota, Panama City, Santiago de Chile, and Buenos Aires. Argentina's capital will be hosting next year's G20 summit.
And in the UK, there will be two radically different strategies for the life insurance market on display this week, when Standard Life, Prudential, and Legal & General report first-half results. The results will reflect a move by some companies away from traditional annuities. Insurance correspondent Oliver Ralph has this analysis.
From Prudential, we'll be looking for what they have to say about the Asian insurance market. They're very big in Asia. Their Hong Kong business is being done very well. Some of their other markets are not so strong.
From Standard Life, it's their final results before their merger with Aberdeen Asset Management completes in the middle of this month, so it will be interesting to see what they have to say about the way they expect the merger to proceed.
Finally, we'll hear from Legal & General. They're very much focused on the UK market. We'll be looking at for what they say about the annuity markets in the UK-- also about their infrastructure investments, which they've made a big deal out of.
If there's one thing that links all these three sets of results together, it's the changing nature of life insurance companies. Standard Life is moving very much away from traditional life insurance. It's moving towards asset management. Legal & General is right at the other side. It's sticking very much with what traditionally would have been life-insurance-type products. Prudential is somewhere in the middle. But the results will show us exactly how successful each of these strategies is.
And staying in Europe, the publication of the latest data on German industrial output is keenly awaited in the financial markets. The figures have been surprisingly strong in recent months, generating hopes that despite global political turmoil and Brexit uncertainty, Europe's biggest economy is performing even better than forecast, helping the recovery in the eurozone as a whole.
Meanwhile, Kenya, one of Africa's most vibrant democracies, holds elections on Tuesday for its president, parliament, county governors, and local lawmakers. Polls suggest the presidential race is extremely tight between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and former prime minister Raila Odinga.
With a history of electoral violence, tension across the country is extremely high. And a key new factor this year is that after four years of devolution, Kenyans now know how powerful the 47 county governors are. The battles for these seats are expected to be particularly heated. The FT's Andrew England has more.
The key thing everybody's going to be watching for is whether it's peaceful, whether there's no violence. The memories of 2007, when more than 1,200 people were killed after the disputed election, are still fresh in many people's minds.
You've got Raila Odinga, the opposition veteran, who's going for his fourth bid for the presidency. He's never won before. And in the last election, he claimed it was rigged. That was in 2013. Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the founding leader, the president, is going for a second term.
Now, in 2013, it was relatively peaceful, but there were allegations of rigging and that it was robbed. So the big question now is, will it be seen as a free and fair election, and will it be violence free?
It is expected to be a close race. And obviously, it's very important. Kenya is the dominant economy in the region. It's also a key Western ally in the fight against regional extremism, particularly in Somalia, where al-Shabaab has been launching attacks.
And that's what the week ahead looks like. From the Financial Times in London, goodbye.