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LA: Market round-up

Hugo Chávez watch

Venezuela's president is allegedly preparing to take control of the country's private banks as part of his "Socialism of the 21st Century" strategy. Hugo Chávez wants to place two government officials on the board of every foreign- and locally owned private bank in a bid to extend political influence over the economy, according to analysts.

Rankings: Latin failings

In mid-September, the World Bank released its annual ranking of how easy it is to do business in 155 countries. New Zealand and Singapore topped the list; Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were at the bottom.

The list throws up many surprises. All three Baltic states did very well, with Lithuania and Estonia coming in higher than Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. The Pacific Rim in general was the obvious winner, with all of the top four places on the list and seven of the top 10. Mauritius, at number 23, also stands out. France is much lower, at 44.

The big emerging economies fare badly: Russia comes in at 79, China at 91, and India at 116.

But it's Latin America that is the biggest disappointment.

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