Mongolian Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed tried to put a happy face on the non-mining parts of the economy.
Saikhanbileg Chimed, Mongolia's prime minister.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS
Poor Mongolia has had a rough ride of late. Its mining boom, based on feeding neighboring China coal and copper, has turned into a bust. The country’s currency has plunged and foreign exchange reserves have depleted. It did manage last week to raise a $500 million bond from international markets, but at an interest rate of nearly 11%. Less than 3 1/2 years ago, it paid 4.125% on a similar bond.
Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed, speaking to investors at a Credit Suisse conference in Hong Kong, tried to put a happy face on the non-mining parts of the economy. For instance, he boasted of the country’s herd of 54 million livestock, notably sheep, goats, horses, camels and yaks, who graze on Mongolia’s vast and empty steppes. “We have the most democratic livestock, because they are free to go where they want and eat what they want,” he said. That makes for the world’s tastiest organic meat, apparently. Too bad meat isn’t as valuable as copper.