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Omicron cases, BCRA hikes, Banxico minutes

New virus cases have jumped almost five-fold in Latin America over the past two weeks as the contagious Omicron variant is taking hold, but there are reasons to think that the economic fallout will be limited. Otherwise, the surprise 200bp rate hike delivered by Argentina's central bank this week is a tentative shift towards more orthodox monetary policy, which we think is a sign that the authorities are working towards a new IMF deal. Finally, the relatively minutes to Banxico's December meeting suggest that last month's 50bp rate hike will not be a one-off.
Nikhil Sanghani Emerging Markets Economist
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Latin America Economics Weekly

Chile’s new constitution, Brazil’s improving finances

Some of the doubts over Chile’s political system have eased after the Constitutional Convention completed a draft of the new charter, but political risks remain high for now, which may keep the peso on the backfoot in the coming months. Elsewhere, while the Brazilian government’s budget deficit has continued to narrow, we don’t think the country’s fiscal troubles are over for good. LatAm Drop-In (26th May, 10:00 ET/15:00 BST): Join our 20-minute briefing about Colombia’s election and other regional political and fiscal risks – including Lula vs Bolsonaro in October. Register here.

20 May 2022

Latin America Data Response

Chile GDP (Q1)

The 0.8% q/q contraction in Chile’s GDP in Q1 suggests the economy is coming back down to earth after a stellar 2021, and there is a growing chance of a recession this year. Meanwhile, the current account deficit widened to a worryingly large 7.3% of GDP, making the economy especially vulnerable to a further tightening of external financial conditions.

18 May 2022

Latin America Economics Update

Colombia’s economy to beat expectations this year

The solid 1.0% q/q rise in Colombia’s GDP in Q1 suggests the economy came through the Omicron virus wave in good shape and, given the recent surge in oil prices, we expect above-consensus growth of 6.0% this year. That said, a possible victory for interventionist Gustavo Petro in the upcoming presidential elections may weigh on investment and growth further ahead. EM Drop-In (17th May): Do current EM debt strains point to a repeat of the kinds of crises seen in the 1980s and 1990s? Join our special briefing on EM sovereign debt risk on Tuesday. Register now.

17 May 2022

More from Nikhil Sanghani

Latin America Economics Update

Chile’s election: first thoughts on Boric’s victory

Gabriel Boric’s victory in Chile’s presidential election is another sign that the country is moving towards greater state intervention in the economy. A radical shift in policymaking seems unlikely. But the public debt-to-GDP ratio looks set to rise much further under the new government. This, and lingering uncertainty over the new constitution, will probably keep local financial markets under pressure.

20 December 2021

Latin America Economics Weekly

2021 in review

For the last Weekly of the year we look back at some our key 2021 forecasts. Our biggest wins were predicting that Brazil’s government would effectively cast aside its spending cap and that Colombia would lose its investment-grade rating. However, we underestimated this year’s surge in inflation and the aggressive monetary policy response across the region. Otherwise, all eyes are on Chile’s presidential election on Sunday between José Antonio Kast and Gabriel Boric, which looks too close to call. Both candidates have moderated their stance in recent weeks suggesting that a radical shift in policymaking seems unlikely, but fiscal risks will linger regardless of who wins.
– This will be the last Economics Weekly for 2021. The next Weekly will be sent on Friday 7th Jan. 2022 –

17 December 2021

Latin America Economics Update

Banxico starting to act tough on inflation

Banxico added to this week’s global central banking bonanza with a surprise 50bp hike, to 5.50%, and the widespread hawkish shift on the Board suggests that policymakers will act more aggressively to tame above-target inflation. We now expect a further 200bp of hikes, to 7.50%, next year (previous 6.00%).

17 December 2021
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