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 Weekly

Worrying signs from Castillo, regional re-opening

The first steps from Peru’s newly-inaugurated President, Pedro Castillo, provide plenty of worrying signs for investors and suggest that local financial markets will remain on the back foot. Meanwhile, with virus numbers coming down across much of the region, most economies are re-opening to varying degrees and near-term economic prospects are brightening. Mexico is the key exception.

30 July 2021

Latin America Data Response

Mexico GDP (Q2 Prov.)

The re-opening of Mexico’s economy caused GDP growth to accelerate to 1.5% q/q in Q2, and we suspect that this preliminary figure will be revised up. But with new virus cases rising sharply, the economy is likely to slow in Q3.

30 July 2021

Latin America Chart Book

Q3 looking brighter

While the regional economic recovery stuttered in Q2, it appears to be gathering pace in Q3. New COVID-19 cases have dropped back, particularly in Chile and Uruguay suggesting that their rapid vaccination programmes are proving effective. Restrictions have been eased across Latin America which is reflected in the improvement in the latest high-frequency data. Mexico is the key exception to this trend. It is currently in the midst of a Delta-induced third wave, which provides a warning sign to other countries with similarly low vaccination coverage. But, for now, the positive developments in much of Latin America reinforce our view that the near-term economic outlook for the region is not as bad as many think.

27 July 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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