Latin America

Brazil

Closer look at Lula, auto sector U-turn?

There have been some recent clues that Brazil’s former left-wing president Lula, the current favourite to win October’s election, may not be as radical as some fear. But there is still a clear risk that he would backslide on key economic reforms. Otherwise, the encouraging recoveries in auto production in Brazil and Mexico tallies with broader evidence that global goods shortages began to ease towards the end of 2021. Unfortunately, the recent surge in Omicron cases globally risks putting a spanner in the works as supply chains may face renewed disruption.

14 January 2022

Omicron sweeps across the emerging world

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is causing new virus cases to surge in the emerging world. Many EMs are reporting record daily cases or that new infections are rising sharply. South Africa’s experience offers some hope – cases are now falling sharply there and it looks like the economic fallout was limited. Elsewhere, most EM governments are following South Africa’s playbook by imposing limited (if any) containment measures, although China is a key exception. And given weakness in testing capacity and large informal sectors in most EMs, workplace absenteeism is unlikely to be as economically disruptive as in DMs.

14 January 2022

A look ahead to the key EM political events of 2022

In this Update, we take a look at the key political events that are scheduled across the emerging world over the coming year and outline their possible implications for economic policy and growth. Drop-In: Neil Shearing will host an online panel of our senior economists to answer your questions and update on macro and markets this Thursday, 13th January (11:00 ET/16:00 GMT). Register for the latest on everything from Omicron to the Fed to our key calls for 2022. Registration here.

13 January 2022
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Brazil IPCA (Dec.)

The fall in Brazilian inflation to a four-month low of 10.1% y/y in December confirmed that the recent food and energy inflation spikes are starting to unwind. But with the headline rate still far above target – and inflation in some core goods and services categories continuing to rise – Copom will deliver another large rate hike (of 150bp, to 10.75%) when it meets next month.

11 January 2022

Latin America: five key calls for 2022

We think that Latin American GDP growth will slow by more than most expect in 2022, while inflation will also drop more a bit more quickly than the consensus anticipates. This feeds into our relatively dovish monetary policy views across the region. Meanwhile, heightened political and/or fiscal risks, alongside falling commodity prices, will cause the region’s currencies to weaken further against the US dollar.

Brazil Industrial Production (Nov.)

The 0.2% m/m fall in Brazilian industrial production in November, taken together with the weak surveys for December, suggests that the sector probably knocked 0.1-0.2%-pts off q/q GDP growth in Q4. There’s a very real risk that overall GDP contracted again last quarter.

Brazil & Mexico Mid-Month CPI (Dec.)

The fall in Brazilian inflation, to 10.4% y/y, in mid-December is likely to be followed by further declines in the coming months. Inflation in Mexico edged up in the same period, to 7.45% y/y, but we also expect it to drop back early next year. Nonetheless, we think that central banks in both countries will maintain their current pace of tightening with rate hikes of 150bp and 50bp respectively in February.

Omicron may hinder already weakening recoveries

Recoveries across Latin America have lost momentum in Q4 even though, unlike in other regions such as Europe, new COVID-19 cases generally remain low and containment measures are still light-touch at this stage. The situation could get worse if the Omicron variant takes hold. One reassuring sign is that vaccine coverage continues to improve across much of the region, particularly in Chile and Uruguay which have world-leading booster programmes. But the rollout of third doses has barely got off the ground in the likes of Mexico, Colombia and Peru, suggesting these economies are most vulnerable to a renewed flare-up in virus cases and fresh lockdowns.

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