Not all doom and gloom

Virus outbreaks are easing in much of Latin America which should support activity in the near term. And while vaccination coverage is still weak in most of the region, suggesting there is still a clear risk of further virus waves, economies are becoming increasingly resilient on this front. We think that the pace of the regional recovery will beat most analysts’ expectations in the coming years. Further monetary tightening lies in store but, with headline inflation rates set to drop back in 2022, interest rates probably won’t rise as far as investors are currently pricing into financial markets. Meanwhile, political risks are likely to grow over the coming year, raising debt concerns and putting local financial assets under pressure.
William Jackson Chief Emerging Markets Economist
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Latin America Economics Focus

A fresh look at Brazil’s public debt problem

Suggestions that Brazil’s government will raise welfare spending – and circumvent the spending cap in doing so – add to the evidence that there’s little appetite for the long-term fiscal squeeze needed to stabilise the public finances. Taken together with slower growth and higher interest rates, we think that the public debt-to-GDP ratio is likely to be on an upwards trajectory from next year. This feeds into our view that government bond yields will climb higher and that the real will weaken further from here.

20 October 2021

Latin America Economic Outlook

Best of the recovery now over

Easing virus outbreaks and the lifting of restrictions boosted recoveries across Latin America in Q3, but growth looks set to slow sharply over the coming quarters. The re-opening boost will soon fade. Fiscal support is, or will be, unwound while sustained above-target inflation will prompt more monetary tightening than most analysts expect. Meanwhile, supply constraints and falling commodity prices are becoming headwinds to the regional recovery too. So, having beaten expectations in recent months, the pace of the regional recovery is now likely to disappoint. The spectre of more populist policymaking will keep public debt concerns high, particularly in Brazil, putting local financial markets under pressure.

19 October 2021

Latin America Economics Weekly

The fiscal risk of rising rates, Mercosur tariff cuts

Central banks were once again in the spotlight this week after the supersized 125bp rate hike in Chile, but one issue that is often overlooked is the damaging impact of rising interest rates on public finances across the region. Brazil is particularly vulnerable on this front, and may resort to financial repression over the medium term to alleviate debt risks. Otherwise, an agreement to cut Mercosur's common external tariff is a positive step towards liberalisation but, as always, domestic politics could be a hurdle for further progress.

15 October 2021

More from William Jackson

Latin America Economics Weekly

Brazil’s tax reform, Chilean primary elections

Proposed changes to Brazil’s income tax setup, which aim to cut corporate tax but only partly offset that with an end to exemptions and the introduction of a levy on dividends, add to the view that fiscal risks will resurface. Elsewhere, on Sunday there will be primary elections in Chile to decide the presidential nominees for the left-wing Apruebo Dignidad and centre-right Chile Vamos coalitions. While there is still a lot of uncertainty at this stage, one common theme is that there seems to be broad political support for keeping fiscal policy loose.

16 July 2021

Emerging Markets Economics Chart Book

Shifting towards rate hikes

Falling virus cases, strong economic recoveries and/or inflation worries prompted several more EM central banks – those of Czechia, Chile, Hungary and Mexico – to tighten monetary policy in the past month, joining Russia and Brazil. And a few others, including Korea and Colombia, are likely to follow suit relatively soon. But it’s not a widespread tightening cycle. Low inflation means that many central banks in Asia in particular are still a long way from hiking. And perhaps most notably, the People’s Bank of China, having removed stimulus since late last year, has signalled with a cut to the reserve requirement ratio that it is now focused on lowering financing costs for indebted firms.

15 July 2021

Emerging Europe Economics Weekly

Hungary’s inflation surprise, Russia & OPEC+

The surprisingly large rise in Hungarian inflation in June to its highest rate in almost nine years suggests that the risks to our interest rate forecast are skewed to the upside. Elsewhere, the discord at the OPEC+ meeting this week has raised the risk that the current deal falls apart. For Russia, a surge in oil production would provide a mechanical boost to GDP growth, but the accompanying slump in oil prices would probably result in less supportive fiscal policy and a sharp drop in the ruble may trigger even more monetary tightening than we currently anticipate.

9 July 2021
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