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Emerging Europe

Ukraine

Risk of tighter agricultural export restrictions growing

The recent tightening of export restrictions has been limiting the supply of staple agricultural commodities available to global markets and pushing up prices. In light of the ban on wheat exports from India, we’ve raised our forecast for the price of wheat from 800 US cents per bushel to 900 by end-2022.

23 May 2022

Gas supply to Europe to remain uncertain

News of force majeure on one of the pipelines in Ukraine bringing Russian natural gas to Europe just adds to our conviction that Europe is going to struggle to meet its gas needs over the next year. The heightened competition for gas imports suggests that prices will remain high at least until spring 2023. In view of the wider interest, we are also sending this Energy Update to clients of our Emerging Europe Service. Markets Drop-In (11th May, 10:00 EDT/15:00 BST): We’re discussing our Q2 Outlook reports and what they say about the potential performance of bonds, equities and FX rates as inflation peaks in a special 20-minute briefing on Wednesday. Register now.

11 May 2022

Inflation risks mount as commodity prices surge

Surging commodity prices have pushed up inflation across the region and we expect inflation to hit fresh multi-year highs in the coming months. A loss of Russian gas supplies should not lead to rationing in Poland, but it will have a big impact in Bulgaria and energy bills are likely to be higher across the region this year. With activity holding up well for now, central banks continue to focus on inflation risks and we expect large interest rate hikes next week in Poland (100bp) and Czechia (50bp). In contrast, Russia’s central bank looks set to lower interest rates further now that inflation pressures have eased sharply. It may be shifting to a dovish stance too quickly, but looser monetary conditions will only go so far to supporting activity.

28 April 2022
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Recession risks take centre stage

The Russian economy will collapse this year and we expect spillovers from the war in Ukraine to cause a recession in many of the smaller countries in the region, particularly Bulgaria and the Baltic States. Loose fiscal policy and strong labour market dynamics should help Poland and Hungary outperform but, even so, we’re more downbeat on GDP growth in all major economies than the consensus. We think inflation will end the year stronger and interest rates higher than most expect. The economic backdrop of widening macro imbalances, the euro-zone recession risk and aggressive global monetary tightening will cause the region’s currencies to depreciate.

Surging food prices and supply fears a threat to EMs

Most EMs are not heavily dependent on Russia or Ukraine for their domestic food supplies, but there are key pockets of vulnerability due to large wheat, corn and vegetable seed/oil exports to Turkey, most of the Middle East and North Africa and parts of Asia. And even if supplies are not disrupted, higher global food prices will push up food inflation in many EMs to multi-year highs and could exacerbate external imbalances in some countries in North Africa.

Peace talks, Russia’s gas solution, Fidesz set for victory

Optimism about the prospect of an end to the war in Ukraine came and went this week and, given the complexity of the issues at stake, it is likely to be some time yet before a breakthrough in talks is achieved. Meanwhile, President Putin stepped up pressure on the West as he set today as the deadline for gas payment in rubles. While we expect gas to keep on flowing, it may simply strengthen Europe’s efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian energy. Finally, Hungarians go the polls on Sunday and a victory for the ruling Fidesz party seems likely. The most immediate tasks will be to rein in the budget deficit and tackle Hungary's growing macro imbalances.

Manufacturing PMIs (Mar.)

Manufacturing PMIs declined across the region in March amid the war in Ukraine, and with supply chain disruptions and price pressures set to intensify, industry looks set to contract in the coming months.

Russia entering recession, slowdowns in CEE

The war in Ukraine has devasted its economy, while Western sanctions are likely to push Russia into a deep contraction, with GDP set to fall by 12% this year. Immediate fears of a Russian sovereign default have not materialised and Russia’s financial markets have rebounded in recent weeks, but it’s unclear for how long this will continue. A more sustained recovery will probably require a peace deal which still looks far away. Meanwhile, spillovers from the war will be felt acutely in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Industry will be hit by supply disruptions and higher inflation will weigh on households’ real incomes and dampen consumer spending. We expect the war to shave 1.0-1.5%-pts off growth in CEE this year.

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