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477 matches for "latam":
The truce in trade relations between the U.S. and China, agreed at the G20, is good news for LatAm, at least for now.
The global coronavirus pandemic is hitting the LatAm economy at a particularly vulnerable time, following last year's stuttering economic recovery, temporary shocks in key economies and the effect of the global trade war.
Most central banks in LatAm have ended the year in a relatively comfortable position; their economies are improving and inflation is under control or even falling.
External conditions are becoming more demanding for LatAm economies, with global trade tensions intensifying in recent weeks.
Commodity prices have started the year under further downward pressure. This is yet more negative news for LatAm, as most of the countries have failed to diversify, instead relying on oil or copper for a large share of exports and, critically, tax revenue. Venezuela is the biggest loser in the region from the oil hit, and, together with the worsening political and economic crisis, it has pushed the country even closer to the verge of collapse, threatening its debt payments. Venezuela's central bank last week released economic data for the first time since 2014, showing that inflation spiralled to 141% and that the economy shrank 4.5% in the first nine months of last year.
LatAm investors' concerns about U.S. monetary policy expectations and the broad direction of the USD should on the back burner until the Fed hikes again, likely in September. This will leave room for country-specific drivers to take centre stage. That should support Mexico's MXN, which already has risen 14% year-to-date against the USD, erasing its losses after the US election last November.
LatAm's relatively calm market environment has been thrown into disarray over the last few weeks.New fears of a slowdown in China, political turmoil in the U.S. and, most importantly, the serious corruption allegations facing Brazil's President, Michel Temer, have triggered a modest correction in asset markets and have disrupted the region's near-term policy dynamics.
Recent global developments lead us to intensify our focus on trade in LatAm.
The sharp downtrend in commodity prices in recent months is alarming from a LatAm perspective.
Over the past 30 years China's role in LatAm and the global economy has increased sharply. Its share of world trade has surged, and its exports have gained significant market share in LatAm.
Selling pressure in LatAm markets after Donald Trump's election victory eased when the dollar rally paused earlier this week. Yesterday, the yield on 10- year Mexican bonds slipped from its cycle high, and rates in other major LatAm economies also dipped slightly.
The Fed rate hike on Wednesday is fully priced in to LatAm markets, so we expect no significant immediate reaction when the trigger is pulled. But as markets gradually come around to our view that future U.S. rate risk is to the upside, markets will come under renewed pressure.
LatAm governments and policymakers are bracing for a more dramatic and longer virus-led downturn than initially expected.
In recent weeks LatAm's currencies and stock markets, together with key commodity prices, have risen as financial markets' expectations for a rate increase by the Fed this year have faded. The COP has risen 8.5% over the last month, the MXN is up 2.5%, the CLP has climbed 1.4% and the PEN has been practically stable against the USD. The minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting added strength to this market's view, showing that policymakers postponed an interest rate hike as they worried about a global slowdown, particularly China, the strong USD and the impact of the drop in stock prices.
The US employment data last week reduced further the likelihood of a June Fed rate increase. In turn, this changes the likely timing of the normalization process in some LatAm economies. Our Chief Economist, Ian Shepherdson, expects the Fed to start its normalization process in July or September; the strength of the employment data will prevent any postponement beyond the third quarter.
The medium-term outlook in most LatAm economies is improving, though economic activity is likely to remain anaemic in the near term. The gradual recovery in commodity prices is supporting resource economies, while the post-election surge in global stock prices has boosted confidence. But country-specific domestic considerations are equally relevant; the growth stories differ across the region.
LatAm markets reacted well to the U.S. Fed's decision to increase the funds rate by 25bp, to 1-to-1¼%, on Wednesday. Currencies moved only slightly after the decision and asset markets were relatively stable. Yesterday, some currencies retreated marginally as investors digested the relatively hawkish message from the Fed and Chair Yellen's press conference.
We look for the Fed to increase rates today by 25bp to a range of 0.25%-to-0.50%. The FOMC will likely say that policy remains very accommodative and that rate hikes will be slow. Unfortunately, this will provide only temporary relief to LatAm. According to our Chief Economist, Ian Shepherdson, faster wage gains next year in the U.S. will disrupt the Fed's intention to move gradually. If wages accelerate as quickly as we expect, the Fed will need to raise rates more rapidly than it currently expects, which is also faster than markets anticipate. That, in turn, will put EM markets and currencies under further pressure.
LatAm assets did well in Q1, on the back of upbeat investor risk sentiment, low volatility in developed markets and a relatively benign USD.
Most LatAm currencies have been under pressure recently, with the Brazilian real and the Chilean peso breaking all-time lows versus the USD in recent weeks.
Idiosyncratic developments have driven market volatility in LatAm in recent weeks.
LatAm assets have done well in recent weeks on the back of upbeat investor risk sentiment, low volatility in developed markets and a relatively benign USD. A less confrontational approach from the U.S. administration to trade policy has helped too.
LatAm assets have struggled in recent days as it has become clear that the Fed will hike next week. But we don't expect currencies to collapse, as domestic fundamentals are improving and the broader external outlook is relatively benign.
Global economic conditions have been improving for LatAm over recent quarters.
The Fed's 50bp rate cut last week, aiming to shield the U.S. economy against Covid-19, has opened the door for some central banks in LatAm to emulate the move.
As it became clear that Donald Trump would beat Hillary Clinton to win the U.S. presidency, EM currencies came under severe pressure, fearing his economic and immigration policies. Some of the initial pressure is easing as markets digest the news and following Mr. Trump's conciliatory tone in his victory speech. But the proposals have been made and the MXN and other key LatAm assets likely will remain very stressed in the near term.
LatAm Cyclical Recovery is Set to Resume, but Threats Still Remain
Latam H1 2019 Outlook
The big four LatAm economies, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, released September inflation this week and the data showed three clear--and contrasting--trends. Inflation is accelerating in the Andes, whereas the headline rate hit another historic low in Mexico. Inflation in Brazil is still the depressing outlier, with annual CPI inflation hovering around 9.5% year-over-year in recent months, well above the rates of its regional peers. But it is close to peaking, at last.
LatAm financial markets have performed solidly in the first sessions of the year, with most regional currencies trading more strongly against the USD.
LatAm markets and central banks have been paying close attention to developments in the U.S. The FOMC left rates on hold on Wednesday, as expected, but underscored its core view that inflation will rise in the medium-term, requiring gradual increases in the fed funds rate.
The U.K.'s unexpected decision to vote to leave the E.U. will have serious ramifications for the global economy, and LatAm economies are unlikely to emerge unscathed. It is very difficult to quantify the short-term effects due to the intricacies of the financial transmission channels into the real economy.
LatAm currencies and stock markets have suffered badly in recent weeks, but Monday turned into a massacre with the MSCI stock index for the region falling close to 4%. Markets rebounded marginally yesterday, but remain substantially lower than their April-May peaks. Each economy has its own story, so the market hit has been uneven, but all have been battered as China's stock market has crashed. The downward spiral in commodity prices--oil hit almost a seven-year low on Monday--is making the economic and financial outlook even worse for LatAm.
The U.K.'s unexpected vote for Brexit means a stronger USD for the foreseeable future, pressure on EM currencies and increasing risk premiums. LatAm fundamentals will a sideshow for some time. The focus will be on the currencies, which will be the main shock absorbers.
Multiple factors have shaken LatAm financial markets this week. China's market turmoil, commodity price oscillations, currency volatility, and political mayhem in every corner of the region, have all conspired against markets. But market chaos has also driven some central banks to rethink their monetary policy plans. For EM, in particular for LatAm, the stance of the Federal Reserve is key, given the region's close ties to the U.S., and the dollar.
The data in LatAm were all over the map while we were out.
Consumption remains an important source of economic growth in LatAm.
The downturn in LatAm is finally bottoming out, but the economy of the region as a whole will not return to positive year-over-year economic growth until next year. The domestic side of the region's economy is improving, at the margin, thanks mainly to the improving inflation picture, and relatively healthy labor markets.
It has been a nasty start to the year for LatAm as markets have been hit by renewed volatility in China, triggered by the coronavirus.
LatAm economies this year have faced a tough external environment of subdued commodity prices, weaker Chinese growth, the rising USD, and the impending Fed lift-off. At the domestic level, lower public spending, low confidence, and economic policy reform have clashed with above-target inflation, which has prevented central bankers from loosening monetary policy in order to mitigate the external and domestic headwinds. In these challenging circumstances, LatAm growth generally continues to disappoint, though performance is mixed.
LatAm's economies are gradually rebounding, boosted by easier monetary policy in most countries, falling inflation, and a relatively calm external backdrop.
Latam activity and markets are improving......but volatility will rise in Q4 due to global factors
The apparent thaw in the U.S.-China trade dispute is great news for LatAm, particularly for the Andean economies, which are highly dependent on commodity prices and the health of the world's two largest economies
In one line: Rates on hold as the economy falters.
Inflation data in Brazil, Mexico and Chile last week reinforced our view that interest rates will remain on hold, or be cut, over the coming meetings. The recent fall in oil prices, and the weakness of domestic demand, will offset recent volatility caused by the FX sell-off, driven mostly by the coronavirus story.
Industrial production in Mexico surged 2.6% year-over-year in February, up from a 0.8% increase in January. A favourable calendar effect, however, is a key part of this story. Once adjusted for the leap year, which added an extra working day, industrial production rose only 0.8%, down from a 1.6% expansion in January.
A mix of political and economic events have triggered outflows of capital from emerging markets this year. Tensions in Europe, due to the "Grexit" saga, together with China's slowdown and concerns about Fed lift-off have weighed on EM flows. In recent months, though, some of the pressure on EM currencies has eased as the markets have come to expect fewer U.S. rate hikes in the near term.
In one line: The cautious approach continues as the economy struggles and uncertainty remains high
In one line: Inflation pressures are starting to ease.
Pantheon Macroeconomics is pleased to make available to you our Outlooks for the second half of 2017 for the US, Eurozone, UK, Asia, and Latin America. These reports present our key views, giving you a concise summary of our economic and policy expectations. If you are interested in seeing publications which you don't already receive, please request a complimentary trial
Latin American markets and policymakers are bracing for another complicated week, after the second, and more aggressive, Fed emergency move over the weekend.
The global economy is heading towards a new scenario, triggered by the impending start of the monetary policy normalization process in the U.S. In some major economies, notably the Eurozone, the Fed's actions will not derail or even jeopardize the cyclical economic upturn.
Mexico's economy continues to withstand several headwinds, especially the sharp currency depreciation--shown in our first chart--falling commodity prices, and the tough external environment. The country is still one of the economic bright spots in the region, thanks to its resilient domestic demand. June retail sales rose 5.4% year-over-year, well above expectations, and up from 4.1% in May. The underlying trend is positive, averaging 4.8% in the second quarter, well above its 2014 pace.
A long period of extremely accommodative U.S. monetary policy generated sizable capital inflows and asset price appreciation in EM countries.
President Trump tweeted yesterday that he wants to re-introduce tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Brazil and Argentina, after accusing these economies of intentionally devaluing their currencies, hurting the competitiveness of U.S. farmers.
Weakness across EM asset markets returned after the April FOMC minutes, released last week, suggested that a June rate hike is a real possibility. The risks posed by Brexit, however, is still a very real barrier to Fed action, with the vote coming just eight days after the FOMC meeting.
Policymakers and governments are gradually deploying major fiscal and monetary policy measures to ease the hit from Covid-19 and the related financial crisis.
We expect growth in Latin America--except Mexico--to improve in 2017, especially during the second half...
The Fed deferred, but did not cancel, the start of its rate normalization last week. As a consequence, December is now the most likely meeting for the first hike. The Fed's core view of the U.S. economy remains the same, but policymakers want a bit more time to see how global developments affect the U.S. Our Chief Economist, Ian Shepherdson, expects the strength of the employment data, better Chinese numbers and calm financial markets to prevent any further postponement beyond Q4.
The sell-off in equity markets and increases in volatility have put EM assets under pressure. EM equities and bonds, however, have been outperforming their U.S. and global market counterparts.
In one line: Rates on hold; trade tensions are a key risk to start policy normalization.
In one line: Inflation pressures are finally easing, but the MXN--that is, President Trump's actions--is the key variable now for policymakers.
In one line: Another ugly report, and Mexico's prospects have deteriorated significantly.
In one line: The economy did very badly in Q1, and risks are still tilted to the downside.
In one line: A poor start to the year due to broadbased weakness.
In one line: A big downside surprise.
In one line: A bad-looking start to Q2, but the y/y rate was hurt by an unfavourable base effect.
In one line: A sharp increase on the month, but underlying pressures remain tame.
Colombia's peso has been one of the most battered currencies in LatAm this year, due mainly to the sharp fall in oil prices, the country's primary export. The COP has dropped about 23% this year against the USD. At the same time, other temporary factors, most notably the impact of El Niño on food prices, have done a great deal of inflation damage too. October's food prices increased 1.4% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 8.8% from an average of 6.6% in the first half of the year. Overall inflation has jumped to 5.9% in October from 3.8% in January, forcing BanRep's board to act aggressively.
The Coronavirus Is A New Economic Threat....Bad News For Latam's External-Driven Economies
Inflation pressures remain under control in most LatAm economies, allowing central banks to keep interest rates on hold, despite the challenging external environment.
This week's Monetary Policy Committee meetings in Chile, Mexico and Colombia look set to dominate market events in LatAm. On Friday, we expect Mexico's Banxico to keep rates on hold at 3.75%, after its unexpected 50bp increase in mid-February. At that time, the board cited growing concerns about financial markets, Mexico's weakened currency, and the country's fiscal situation, as reasons for its move.
Volatility and risk will remain high in L atAm for the foreseeable future. President-elect Donald Trump's uncertain foreign policies could have a considerable impact on LatAm economies in the months and years ahead.
LatAm, particularly Mexico, has dealt with Donald Trump's presidency better than expected thus far. Indeed, the MXN rose 10.7% against the USD in Q1, the stock market has recovered after its initial post-Trump plunge, and risk metrics have eased significantly.
Colombia's sluggish growth and near-term economic outlook resembles that of most other LatAm economies. Domestic demand is weak, credit conditions are tight, and confidence is depressed. The medium term outlook, however, is perking up, slowly.
The tumultuous political and economic crises in Brazil continue to feed off each other, grabbing most of the LatAm headlines. Sentiment will remain depressed, and volatility and uncertainty will persist, hampering any real signs of stabilization in the near-term. The Pacific Alliance countries, by contrast, managed to grow at relatively solid rates during the first half of this year, after absorbing the hit from falling commodity prices.
The Latamrecovery continues...but the em financial rout has dented expectations
LatAm financial and FX markets have behaved relatively well in recent sessions, thanks to the array of monetary and fiscal measures taken to counter the severe risk-off environment.
Latam Struggles in Q4 And Early Q1...But Improving Global Conditions Will Help
This has been a very complicated week for LatAm policymakers, who are particularly uneasy about the performance of the FX market.
Latam Economies Will Remain Resilient in Q4...But Idiosyncratic Factors are Rising Red Flags
LatAm fundamentals are improving...but shaky commodity markets highlight threats
Latam's economies are improving...but political risks are a big threat
Latam's recovery continues...but external threats have increased lately
Three of the big LatAm economies-- Brazil, Colombia and Chile--released October inflation last week; the data are still showing the pass-through effects of currency depreciation during the first half of the year into prices, though, at different degrees. LatAm currencies have been hit by the weakness in commodity prices and negative sentiment towards EM generally.
It is still premature to make fundamental changes to our core views for the global or LatAm economy, following President Trump's plan to slap hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, potentially escalating into a global trade war.
Latam's economies remain resilient...but global threats still loom
LatAm domestic demand is stabilizing...fading political risk will help
Covid-19: A Savage Toll On Latam's Economy...Prospects Have Turned Bleak
Latam Prospects Are Gradually Improving....Easing Trade Tensions Are Helping
Inflation in most economies in LatAm is well under control, allowing central banks to keep a dovish bias, and giving them room for further rate cuts.
Latam started the year in low gear...but expect a gradual acceleration in Q2 and Q3
Latam economies remain under strain...The case for interest rate cuts is building
EM risk sentiment remains grim as the Trump administration dispenses protectionist trade measures. LatAm's biggest economies, Brazil and Mexico, have been hit the hardest, with their currencies falling 3.3% and 2.2% respectively in the last week, the most in the EM world.
Latam Economic Prospects Are Improving...A Trade Deal Between The U.S. And China Will Help
A Dovish Fed is Helping Latam Policymakers...Rates to Remain on Hold
LatAm economic activity is stabilizing...but the recovery will be modest in Q3.
External Conditions Are Helping Latam...But Political Risks Will Constrain The Rebound
Fears of a Chinese hard landing have roiled financial and commodity markets this past year and have constrained the economic recovery of major raw material exporters in LatAm.
Colombia was one of the fastest growing economies in LatAm in 2018, and prospects for this year have improved significantly following June's presidential election, with the market-friendly candidate, Iván Duque, winning.
Colombia was the fastest growing LatAm economy in 2019, due mostly to strong domestic demand, offsetting a sharp fall in key exports.
Thursday and Friday were busy days for LatAm economy watchers. In Brazil, the data underscored our view that the economy is on the mend, but the recent upturn remains shaky, and external risks are still high.
LatAm Politics Now Threatening Growth....Just As The Trade War Appears To Be Easing
Inflation pressures in LatAm are moderating, and governments have been taking steps to pursue fiscal consolidation. These factors, coupled with a relatively favourable external environment, are providing policymakers with the opportunity to start relaxing monetary policy.
Colombia's GDP report, released last week, confirmed that it was the fastest growing economy in LatAm and everything suggests that it likely will lead the ranking again this year.
Uncertainty about the U.S. economic and political outlook, following Donald Trump's presidential win, likely will cast a long shadow over EM in general and LatAm in particular. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump argued for tearing up NAFTA and building a border wall.
External Factors are Hurting Latam...But Most of the Domestic Economies Remain Sound
LatAm assets and currencies had a bad November, due to global trade war concerns, the USD rebound and domestic factors.
Economic and financial conditions continue to deteriorate sharply in LatAm.
LatAm's economies are starting to expand at a relatively healthy pace, inflation is more or less under control and near-term growth prospects are positive.
The data in LatAm have been all over the map in recent weeks.
Data released this week in LatAm are the last calm before the coronavirus storm.
Politics will be the key factor in LatAm over the coming quarters, as presidential and legislative elections take place throughout the region.
Chile's central bank, the BCCh, admitted defeat in the face of the inflationary effects of the CLP's depreciation, increasing interest rates by 25bp to 3.25% last Thursday, the first hike since mid-2011. Chile is the third LatAm economy in a month to increase rates in response to currency weakness, despite sluggish economic growth.
Inflation is under control in most LatAm economies, and we expect headline rates to remain close to current levels in the very near term.
Survey data have been signalling a resilient Brazilian economy in the last few months, despite the broader challenges facing LatAm and the global economy in 2019.
Most countries in LatAm are now fighting a complex global environment; a viral outbreak of biblical proportions and plunging oil prices, after last week's OPEC fiasco.
LatAm's growth outlook is deteriorating, despite decent domestic fundamentals and political transitions toward more market-oriented governments in some of the region's main economies.
The ramifications of continued disappointing Asian growth, particularly in China, and its impact on global manufacturing, are especially hard-felt in LatAm.
LatAm governments and central banks have been busy implementing additional measures to contain the spread of the virus, and acting rapidly to ease the effect on the economy.
Last week's events highlighted the seriously challenging global environment for LatAm equities and currencies. Trading in Chinese shares was stopped twice early last week, after falls greater than 7% of the CSI 300 index reverberated around the world. Markets were calmer on Friday but the volatility nevertheless reminded investors that LatAm's economies are floating in rough waters and their resilience will be put to the test again this year. The Fed's policy normalization, the unwinding of the leverage in EM, the continued slowdown of the Chinese economy, low commodity prices and currency depreciation are all real threats across the continent.
Latam started the second half strongly...But risks remain, politics in particular
The Busy Electoral Year in Latam is Over...But Political Uncertainty is Far From Over
Recent inflation numbers across the biggest economies in LatAm have surprised to the downside, strengthening the case for further monetary easing.
This week's Fed meeting eased many LatAm investors' minds, fuelling rallies in most of the region's currencies. We think the U.S. labour market is going through a genuine soft patch but will regain momentum over the coming months, prompting policymakers to hike rates in September.
Latam Recovery Remains Subpar...But Low Inflation Is Allowing Interest Rate Cuts
The U.S. Presidential election will set the tone for LatAm's markets this week. Hillary Clinton's dwindling lead over Donald Trump in recent polls has unleashed pressure on EM assets.
Last week's data supported our view that monetary policy across LatAm will continue to diverge in the short term. Brazil will have to prolong its monetary tightening cycle, while economies such as Colombia and Chile will remain on hold despite the recent slowdowns in their economic cycle.
With the exception of Mexico, November inflation was or below expectations in LatAm. Mexico's overshoot increases the likelihood that Banxico will hike its reference rate at the next board meeting on December 20.
Investors will increase their focus on exchange rates as the US presidential election and the Fed's next rate hike approach. Markets are becoming concerned that a surge in the USD could trigger another spike in LatAm currency volatility, depressing the good year- to-date performance of most local market assets.
The recovery of some key commodity prices, policy action in China, and stronger expectations that the U.S. Fed will start hiking rates later during the year, have helped reduce volatility in LatAm financial markets. Oil prices have rise by around 20% year-to-date, iron ore prices are up about 60% and copper has risen by 7%.
Industrial activity in LatAm, at least in the largest economies, is taking different paths.
LatAm markets reacted relatively well to the Fed's rate hike on Wednesday, which was largely priced-in. The markets' cool-headed reaction bodes well for Latam central banks. But it doesn't mean that the region is risk-free, especially as Mr. Trump's inauguration day draws near.
Most LatAm currencies traded higher against the USD yesterday, adding to the gains achieved after Donald Trump's inauguration last Friday. The MXN, which was the best performer during yesterday's session, was up about 0.8%; it was followed by the CLP, and the BRL. The positive performance of most LatAm currencies, especially the MXN, is related to positioning and technical factors.
The Colombian economy--the star of the previous economic cycle in LatAm--is now slowing significantly, due mostly to strong external headwinds. Exports plunged by 40% year-over-year in January, down from -29% in December, with all of the main categories contracting in the worst performance since 1980.
More evidence indicating that the recovery in global industrial activity is underway and gaining momentum- has poured in. In particular, trade data from China, one of LatAm's biggest trading partners, was stronger than the market expected last month. Both commodity import and export volumes increased sharply in January, and this suggests better economic conditions for China's key trading partners.
Recent global developments lead us to intensify our focus on trade in LatAm.
The manufacturing indexes for January showed a small improvement for the biggest economies in LatAm: Brazil and Mexico. In Brazil, the PMI manufacturing index increased marginally to 50.7 in December from 50.2 in November, thanks to stronger output and new orders components, which rose together for the first time in ten months.
Andres Abadia named top Latam FX Forecaster for 2017 by Reuters
August inflation surprised to the downside across most of LatAm, as food price surges proved transitory, and the lagged effect of the FX depreciations last year faded. Brazil appeared to be the exception last month, but the underlying trend in inflation is downwards.
Chief LatAm Economist Andres Abadia on the Argentina Election
Chief Latam Economist Andres Abadia on Argentina
Inflation in the Andean economies ended 2019 well within central banks' objectives, despite many domestic and external challenges.
Hard data for Brazil and Mexico, released last week, support the case for further interest rate cuts.
The two biggest economies in the region have taken divergent paths in recent months, with the economic recovery strengthening in Brazil, but slowing sharply in Mexico.
Pedro Kuczynski, the centre-right candidate of the Peruvians for Change party, won the presidential election held in June 5th. Mr. Kuczynski, a former finance minister and World Bank economist, defeated Ms. Keiko Fujimori, the candidate of the conservative Fuerza Popular party, and the daughter of jailed former leader Alberto Fujimori. Mr. Kuczynski's margin of victory over Ms. Fujimori was fewer than 43K votes, or just 0.2%.
Evidence of accelerating economic activity in Colombia continues to mount, in stark contrast with its regional peers and DM economies.
Banxico will meet tomorrow, and we expect Mexican policymakers to cut the main interest rate by 25bp, to 7.25%.
Brazil's December economic activity index, released last week, showed that the economy ended the year on a relatively weak footing. The IBC-Br index, a monthly proxy for GDP, fell 0.3% month- to-month, pushing down the adjusted year-over- year rate to 0.3%, from a downwardly-revised 0.7% increase in November.
Polls suggest that Ivan Duque has comfortably beat Gustavo Petro to become Colombia's president.
Brazil's consumer resilience in Q3 continued to November, but retail sales undershot market expectations, suggesting that the sector is not yet accelerating and that downside risks remain.
Incoming activity data from Colombia over the past quarter have been surprisingly strong, despite many domestic and external threats.
The new Argentinian president, Alberto Fernández, will have to make a quick start on the titanic task of cleaning up the economic and social mess left by his predecessor, Mauricio Macri.
The busy electoral calendar that lies ahead for the region is beginning to come into focus. Colombia kicks off the process, followed by Mexico and Brazil.
Data released yesterday from Brazil support our view that the economic recovery continues, but progress has been slow.
Mexico's industrial sector did relatively well in Q3, due mainly to the resilience of the manufacturing sector, and the rebound in construction and oil output, following a long period of sluggishness.
Domestic fundamentals are improving...despite rising political and protectionist threats
Economic Activity Was Poor In Q1...But We See Encouraging Signs Of Gradual Rebound
Activity in Colombia cooled at the end of the first quarter, in the face of many domestic and external headwinds. Retail sales, for example, plunged 2.9% in March after a 4.6% leap in February. The headline likely was depressed by the early Easter, as March had one fewer trading day than February.
Chile's central bank left its policy rate on hold last Friday at 3.0%, in line with market expectations, amid easing inflationary pressures and a struggling economy.
Economic Activity Remains Sub-Par... But Downside Risks are Gradually Easing
Economic activity remains sluggish...and prospects are grim, due to the trade war
The Recovery Gathered Speed in Q4...But External Chaos Has Hit Domestic Markets
A Gradual Economic Recovery Continues...But Downside Risks Prevail
The economy is still under strain...but downside risks are gradually easing
Andean economies are gathering strength...while larger countries are facing mounting risks
The Brazilian Central Bank's policy board-- COPOM--voted unanimously on Wednesday to cut the Selic rate by 50bp to 5.00%, as expected.
Recent inflation and activity data in Mexico were dovish.
The Brazilian central bank cut its benchmark Selic interest rate by 50bp to 4.50% on Wednesday night.
Thursday's CPI report in Mexico showed that inflation is edging lower. We are confident that it will continue to fall consistently during Q1, thanks chiefly to the subpar economic recovery, low inertia and the effect of the recent MXN rebound.
Chile's market volatility and high political risk continue, despite government efforts to ease the crisis.
It was no surprise that Banxico cut its policy rate by 25bp to 7.00% yesterday, following similar moves in August, September, November and December.
The Mexican economy gathered strength in Q3, due mainly to the strength of the services sector, and the rebound in manufacturing, following a long period of sluggishness, helped by the solid U.S. economy and improving domestic confidence.
Yesterday's minutes of the February 4-to-5 COPOM meeting, at which Brazil's central bank, the BCB, cut the benchmark Selic rate by 25bp to 4.25%, reaffirmed the committee's post-meeting communiqué.
Data released in recent days have supported our base case for further interest rate cuts in Mexico over the coming meetings.
Recent activity data in Mexico have been soft and leading indicators still point to challenging near-term prospects, due mainly to relatively high domestic political risk, stifling interest rates and difficult external conditions.
Brazil's inflation rate is in double digits for the first time in 12 years. The benchmark IPCA price index rose 1.0% month-to-month in November, lifting the year-over-year rate to 10.5%, the highest since November 2003. The core IPCA increased 0.7% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate in November up to 8.9% from 8.6% in October.
Mexico's latest forward-looking indicators are showing tentative signs of stabilisation in the wake of recent evidence that growth slowed quicker than markets have been expecting.
Inflation in Brazil Ended 2019 Above the BCB's Target; 2020 will be Fine
All the evidence indicates that growth in Mexican consumers' spending is slowing, despite the better- than-expected November retail sales numbers, released yesterday.
Brazil's December industrial production report, released yesterday, confirmed that the recovery was stuttering at the end of last year.
The key story in Brazil this year remains one of gradual recovery, but downside risks have increased sharply, due mainly to challenging external conditions.
Brazil's external position continue to improve, but we are sticking to our view that further significant gains are unlikely in the second half, given the stronger BRL. For now, though, we still see some momentum, with the unadjusted trade surplus increasing to USD7.2B in June, up from USD4.0B a year earlier. Exports surged 24% year-over-year but imports rose only 3%.
Economic conditions are deteriorating rapidly in Chile, despite the relatively decent Imacec reading for Q3.
Brazil's industrial sector is on the mend, but some of the key sub-sectors are struggling.
Colombia's central bank has found a relatively sweet spot.
Data released yesterday confirm that Brazil's recovery has continued over the second half of the year, supported by steady capex growth and rebounding household consumption.
The massive hit from low oil prices, Covid-19 and President AMLO's willingness to call snap referendums on projects already under construction is putting pressure on Mexico's sovereign credit fundamentals and ratings.
The news in Brazil on inflation and politics has been relatively positive in recent weeks, allowing policymakers to keep cutting interest rates to boost the stuttering recovery.
Mexico's central bank, Banxico, last night capitulated again to the depreciation of the MXN and increased interest rates by 50bp, for the third time this year. This week's rebound in the currency was not enough to prevent action.
Yesterday's first estimate of full-year 2019 GDP in Mexico confirmed that growth was extremely poor, due to domestic and external shocks.
The economic calendar in Mexico was relatively quiet over Christmas, and broadly conformed to our expectations of poor economic activity in Q4.
Data released on Wednesday, along with the BCB's press release on Tuesday, supported our longstanding forecast of further rate cuts in Brazil in the very near term.
Headline inflation in Brazil remained low in October, and even breached the lower bound of the BCB's target range.
Brazil's industrial sector was off to a soft-looking start in Q1, but the fall in January output was chiefly payback for an especially strong end to 2017.
Survey data have been signalling a relatively resilient Brazilian economy in the last few months, despite intensified political risk, and hard data are beginning to confirm this story.
Economic growth in Chile slowed in Q1, despite a relatively strong end to the quarter, and the chances of an accelerating recovery remains disappointingly low, due to both global and domestic headwinds.
Monday will see 5% tariffs going into effect on Mexican exports to the U.S.--which totalled about USD360B last year--unless President Trump steps back from the brink.
Argentinians are heading to the polls on Sunday October 27 and will likely turn their backs on the current president, Mauricio Macri.
Yesterday's minutes of the October 31 COPOM meeting, at which the Central Bank cut the Selic rate unanimously by 50bp at 5.00%, reaffirmed the committee's post-meeting communiqué, which signalled that rates will be cut by the "same magnitude" in December.
The Brazilian central bank cut the benchmark Selic interest rate by 25bp, to 4.25%, on Wednesday night, as expected.
Data released on Friday showed that November inflation was in line with, or below, expectations in Brazil, Colombia and Chile.
Chile's near-term economic outlook is still negative, but clouds have been gradually dispersing since late Q4, due mostly to better news on the global trade front, China's improving economic prospects, and rising copper prices.
Recently released data in Colombia signal that the economy ended last year quite strongly.
Sentiment has been improving gradually in Mexico in recent weeks, reversing some of the severe deterioration immediately after the U.S. presidential election. Year-to-date, the MXN has risen 10.3% against the USD and the stock market is up by almost 8%. We think that less protectionist U.S. trade policy rhetoric than expected immediately after the election explains the turnaround.
Brazil is back on global investors' radar screens. Financial market metrics capture a relatively robust bullish tone, especially since the presidential election.
Prospects for further rate cuts in Brazil, due to the sluggishness of the economic recovery and low inflation, have played against the BRL in recent weeks.
The ongoing weakness in DM has been a feature of the global landscape over the last year.
Brazilian inflation is off to a bad start this year, but January's jump is not the start of an uptrend, and we think good news is coming.
Brazil's inflation rate remained well under control over the first half of February.
Argentina's inflation ended 2019 badly, and it is still too early to bet on a protracted downtrend, even after the renewed economic slowdown.
Chile's stronger-than-expected industrial production report for December, and less-ugly-than- feared retail sales numbers, confirmed that the hit from the Q4 social unrest on economic activity is disappearing.
Data on Friday showed that the downward trend in Brazil's unemployment continued into this year. The unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 11.2% in January, slightly below the consensus, and down from 12.0% in January last year.
Chile's Q3 GDP report, released yesterday, confirmed that the economy gathered speed in the third quarter, but this is now in the rearview mirror.
Banxico cut its policy rate by 25bp to 7.25% yesterday, as was widely expected, following similar moves in August, September and November.
Mexico's economic and financial outlook is deteriorating rapidly and hopes of a gradual recovery over the next three-to-six months are fading away after AMLO's missteps in recent months.
Inflation in the biggest economies in the region remains close to cyclical lows, allowing central banks to ease even further over the next few months.
High interest rates and inflation, coupled with increasing uncertainty, put Mexican consumption under strain last year.
Retail sales in Mexico fell in Q4, but we think households' spending will continue to contribute to GDP growth in the first quarter, at the margin.
Data released yesterday confirmed that Mexico's economy ended Q4 poorly, confounding the most hawkish Banxico Board members.
Recent polls in Argentina suggest that Alberto Fernández, from the opposition platform Frente de Todos, has comfortably beaten Mauricio Macri, to become Argentina's president.
Mexico's political panorama seems to be becoming clearer, at least temporarily. This should dispel some of the uncertainty that has been hanging over the economy in recent months.
Brazil's current account deficit rose to USD6.9B in April, from USD5.8B in March. The deficit totaled USD100.2B, or 4.5% of GDP on a 12-month rolling basis, marginally better than 4.6% in March; the underlying trend is flat. The services and income accounts improved slightly compared to April last year.
Brazil's external accounts were a relatively bright spot again last year.
The dovish members of Banxico's board garnered further support on Friday for prolonging the current easing monetary cycle over coming meetings.
While we were out, data released in Mexico added to our downbeat view of the economy in the near term, supporting our base case for interest rate cuts in the near future.
The BRL remains under severe stress, despite renewed signals of a sustained economic recovery and strengthening expectations that the end of the monetary easing cycle is near.
Mexico's final estimate of third quarter GDP, released yesterday, confirmed that the economy is still struggling in the face of domestic and external headwinds.
In one line: Brazilian inflation is well under control, giving the COPOM room for manoeuvre.
In one line: Low inflation keeps the door open for further rate cuts.
In one line: Low inflation still gives the BCB board room for manoeuvre.
In one line: Underlying pressures are tame, despite the CLP sell-off in early Q4.
In one line: Underlying pressures are modest, and food prices are starting to stabilise.
In one line: A bold cut, and further easing in Q1 is live.
In one line: An unexpected fall, strengthening BCCh doves.
In one line: Inflation falls sharply helped, by a favourable base effect and a sluggish economic recovery.
In one line: A bold cut to help the economic recovery, more to come.
In one line: A sharp m/m rebound, but it won't impede a rate cut in December.
In one line: A modest m/m increase, but the CLP sell-off in November poses upside risks.
In one line: A sharp rebound, but the weakness of growth and fading one-time shocks will cap inflation soon.
In one line: Pressures are well under control; the BCCh to remain on the sidelines, for now.
In one line: Ugly; but pressures likely will ease in the near term.
In one line: Undershooting consensus, inflation pressures are tame.
In one line: Manufacturing remains resilient, but downside risks looms.
In one line: Inflation edged lower in August, leaving the door open for further interest rate cuts.
In one line: A modest increase, but underlying inflation is stable.
In one line: A poor start to the fourth quarter, due to broad-based weakness.
In one line: A weak headline, but the details are not as grim.
In one line: Undershooting expectations, but we expect a modest rebound in Q3.
In one line: A modest rate cut, and the COPOM signals the end of the easing cycle.
In one line: Manufacturing gain fails to offset weakness elsewhere.
In one line: Inflation ended 2019 above the target, due mainly to the meat-price shock.
In one line: Overshooting consensus, due to Covid-19 hit?
In one line: Well-behaved inflation in September supports the case for further monetary easing.
In one line: Beef prices drive up inflation, but underlying pressures will remain low.
In one line: Underlying pressures will remain low, despite the food-related shock.
In one line: No serious inflation threats, at least for now.
In one line: A sharp increase, but due mainly to temporary factors.
In one line: A sharp fall helped by a favourable base effect; underlying pressures are tame.
In one line: Disinflation resumes as the economy falters.
In one line: Inflation is well under control; the BCB will cut rates next week.
In one line: A good start to the second quarter but downside risks remain.
In one line: A decent rebound, but risks remain.
In one line: Poor and downside risks remain.
In one line: Resilience in private spending, but the weakness of the labour market is a risk.
In one line: Robust, but downside risks remain.
In one line: A soft Q1, and the outlook remain challenging.
In one line: A weak report, but Q3 as a whole was decent.
In one line: A soft end to the year, but consumption likely will improve slightly in Q1.
In one line: Decent momentum in private consumption, but threats are rising.
In one line: The slow recovery of the Brazilian labor market continues.
In one line: A solid end to 2019 for Brazil's labour market.
In one line: The labor market is gradually deteriorating.
In one line: A substantial improvement, but not in line with fundamentals.
In one line: Resilient manufacturing output offsets weakness elsewhere.
In one line: Unemployment nudges higher in Q3.
In one line: The gradual recovery of the labour market continues.
In one line: Improvement continued through February, but the labour market will deteriorate soon.
In one line: The improvement continues.
In one line: A solid rebound, but downside risks remain.
In one line: A poor first quarter for retailers.
In one line: The economy was on the mend before the virus, but Covid-19 will hit hard.
In one line: Another signal of feeble economic activity
In one line: A modest increase, but an uptrend is consolidating.
In one line: The economy is on the mend, unevenly.
In one line: Another bold cut and more stimulus is likely.
In one line: A bold rate cut, and the COPOM will act again if required.
In one line: Another bold cut, but the easing cycle is nearly over.
In one line: A poor finish to 2019, but we expect a modest recovery in Q1.
In one line: Demand was stuttering even before Covid-19.
In one line: A strong Q3 and upside risks to private consumption looking forward.
In one line: Poor, growth slowed rapidly in Q2.
In one line: Stronger than expected, but threats persist.
In one line: A good report; on track for another solid quarter.
In one line: A decent report boosted by Black Friday sales and severance funds.
In one line: A solid m/m increase; the quarter as whole should be decent.
In one line: On hold for now; progress on pension reform is the key.
In one line: A decent start to the year, but the good news won't last.
In one line: On hold, but the BCRP will cut rates soon.
In one line: Adopting a dovish stance as the economy fails to gather speed.
A decent start to the year, but the coronavirus hit to the economy is looming.
In one line: On hold; and in no rush to move rates in the foreseeable future.
In one line: On hold; and in no rush to move rates in the foreseeable future.
In one line: On hold; playing it safe due to the PEN sell-off, but rate cuts loom.
In one line: On hold, but the coronavirus is a threat.
In one line: Rates on hold, and the statement suggests no easing in the near term.
In one line: Another hefty cut as the economy is heading for a deep recession.
In one line: A bold rate cut, and more will be needed, despite a cautious Board.
In one line: More rate cuts on the horizon as the economy weakens.
In one line: Joining the party with a bold rate cut.
In one line: Rates on hold, due to uncertainty about inflation and the CLP.
In one line: A surprise hefty rate cut; policymakers respond to the subpar recovery and trade war fears.
In one line: Another hefty cut as the economy struggles, and the door is open to further stimulus.
In one line: Policymakers surprise markets by cutting rates.
In one line: On hold, but ready to cut if the economic recovery falters.
In one line: Inflation falls close to target, allowing Banxico to cut rates.
In one line: Headline up, but core down.
In one line: Underlying inflation pressures continue to ease.
In one line: Bad weather has pushed inflation up, temporarily.
In one line: Lower energy prices push inflation down at the end of Q2.
In one line: Undershooting consensus; Banxico to cut rates next week.
In one line: A downside surprise, and the underlying trend is falling, for now.
In one line: Consumers remain gloomy.
In one line: Disinflation will resume in Q2; core pressures are easing
In one line: Inflation falling rapidly as the economy comes under severe strain.
In one line: Underlying inflation pressures are falling, and we expect further declines across the year due to the recession.
In one line: Underlying pressures are in check, despite the modest uptick in headline inflation.
In one line: Sentiment remains resilient, but that won't last.
In one line: Inflation edges lower to Baxico's target, and the downtrend will continue.
In one line: The easing cycle will continue; the economy is weakening rapidly.
In one line: Rate cuts are looming as the economy loses momentum.
Colombia's July activity numbers, released on Friday, portrayed still-strong retail sales and a reviving manufacturing sector, with both indicators stronger than expected.
Peru's central bank kept the reference rate unchanged at 3.5% at Thursday's meeting, in line with our view and market expectations.
Central banks in Chile, Peru, and Mexico hogged the market spotlight last week. Chile left its main interest rate at 3.0% on Thursday, for the fourth consecutive meeting.
Most of the Andean economies have been hit by the turmoil roiling the global economy in the past few quarters. But modest recovery in commodity prices in Q3, and relatively solid domestic fundamentals helped them to avoid a protracted slowdown in Q2 and most of Q3.
While we were away, EM growth prospects and risk appetite deteriorated significantly, due mainly to rising geopolitical risks, weaker economic prospects for DM, and, in particular, the most recent chapter of the global trade war.
Central banks in Mexico, Colombia and Chile raised interest rates last week in tandem with the Fed, underscoring the almost mystical importance of the FOMC's actions in Latin America. In Colombia and Chile, their decisions were also helped by rising inflation pressures, due mainly to pass-through effects from currency depreciation.
While we were away, EM growth prospects and risk appetite deteriorated, due mainly to rising geopolitical risks and Turkey's currency crisis.
We have set out in recent Monitors the differences in the economic and political environment across Latin America, but the plunge in oil prices adds a new element to the analysis.
Last week, Banxico, the BCCh and the BCRP all left their reference rates on hold. Their currencies have remained relatively stable in recent months and inflation pressures are under control. In Mexico, Banxico has adopted a more discretionary approach, following two 50bp hikes this year.
Brazilian inflation hit its lowest rate in almost seven years in March, while Mexico's rate is the highest since July 2009. Yet we expect Mexico to tighten policy only modestly in the near term, while Brazil will ease rapidly.
Mexican manufacturing sector kicked off the year on a soft note, due mainly to the sharp drop in oil prices, and the sharp weather-induced slowdown in the U.S. Mexico's northern neighbor is its largest trading partner, by far, accounting for about 85% of total exports last year and close to 80% of total non-oil exports.
Yesterday's CPI report in Mexico confirmed that headline inflation edged higher, to 5.0% in September from 4.9% in August, as the mid-month inflation index suggested.
Inflation appears no longer to be an issue for Mexican policymakers. The annual headline rate slowed to 3.0% year-over-year in February from 3.1% in January, in the middle of the central bank's target range, for the first time since May 2006.
On Monday we highlighted the grim state of the Brazilian industrial sector, where output fell by a huge 5.8% year-over-year in November. By contrast, the outlook for Mexico's industrial sector is much brighter.
Mexican inflation pressures eased towards the start of Q2. Inflation fell to 2.5% year-over-year in April from 2.6% in March, due to a sharp fall in energy inflation--as a result of the introduction of new electricity tariffs in the warm season--and a fall in the rate of increase of fresh food prices. Depressed energy prices will continue to constrain inflation in coming months, but base effects will reduce the drag later this year.
No surprises from Chile's central bank last week, after leaving rates unchanged for the third consecutive month, in the light of recent data confirming the sluggish pace of the economic recovery. In the communiqué accompanying the decision, the BCCh kept their tightening bias, signaling that rates will rise in the near term.
Latin American markets have been relatively resilient this year, despite Fed tightening and high global political risks. The LACI index has risen more than 5% year-to-date, and the MSCI index has been trending higher since late last year.
In one line: On hold, but challenging external conditions will force BanRep to cut rates in late Q4 or Q1.
In one line: Fernández victory presages dramatic change in Argentina; but a balanced Congress gives slight room for optimism.
In one line: On hold, patience persists.
In one line: On hold and on the sidelines in the near term due to high uncertainty.
In one line: A modest rate cut, and most of the Board is cautious.
In one line: A modest rate cut, by a cautious Board.
In one line: Surprisingly resilient, but Banxico will continue cutting rates.
In one line: A soft start to the second half of the year; Banxico will continue cutting rates.
Tomorrow, Mexico's INEGI will release its inflation report for the second half of May, which is of key importance for Banxico's monetary policy. The Bank, in particular governor Agustin Carstens, has said on many occasions that it will watch external conditions and their impact on consumer prices closely. We expect inflation to edge down to 2.9% year-over-year in May, thanks to a 0.1% increase in the second half.
The sharp drop in commodity prices, especially oil prices, has dampened the growth prospects for most countries in Latin America. But the most damage, so far, is in the currencies, which have dropped sharply.
Brazil's central bank is in a very delicate situation. The economy is on the verge of another recession, but at the same time the BRL is falling, inflation expectations are rising and the inflation rate is overshooting. Fiscal policy is also tightening to restore macro stability magnifying the squeeze on growth.
In one line: Avoiding a technical recession by small margin.
In one line: A modest m/m fall, but the trend likely will stabilise soon.
In one line: Inflation is well under control, around Banxico's target.
In one line: A bold rate cut, and more to come.
In one line: A modest upturn, but downside threats have increased recently.
In one line: Capex is struggling; the outlook remains challenging.
In one line: A poor start to Q3; investment will remain a drag in the near term.
In one line: An ugly start to the fourth quarter; expect more weakness ahead.
In one line: Poor headline; investment remains a drag.
In one line: Early signs of stabilisation, but the rebound remains fragile.
In one line: Soft industrial data, and external conditions for EM economies are becoming increasingly challenging
In one line: A weak-looking report but hit by calendar effects; capex will stabilise as uncertainty fades.
In one line: Poor capex in Q3, and consumer confidence is deteriorating.
In one line: A solid end to the year, but downside risks have increased lately.
In one line: Resilient, but downside risks are emerging .
In one line: The first q/q fall since 2016 due to an array of domestic and external challenges.
In one line: A decent end to 2019, but plunging capex and the coronavirus are threats.
In one line: Consumption and capex boosted GDP growth last quarter.
In one line: A resilient economy despite many shocks.
In one line: Good industrial production numbers; the labour market is still struggling.
In one line: A marginal improvement in manufacturing, offset by poor mining activity.
In one line: A decent start to Q4 for the industrial sector.
In one line: Weak, but expect better data ahead.
In one line: Sluggish, but production rose in Q3.
In one line: Ignore the un-adjusted headline; production did well at the start of Q2.
In one line: A soft end to the year, but the underlying trend is stabilizing.
In one line: A mixed industrial picture; manufacturing output is weakening, but other sectors seem to be reviving.
In one line: An ugly end to the first quarter, but output likely will stabilize in Q2.
In one line: A soft start to the quarter, but leading indicators point to a decent Q3 as a whole.
In one line: A soft start to Q2, following an ugly Q1.
In one line: Political uncertainty will weigh on the economy in Q4.
In one line: A strong m/m increase, but downside threats remain.
In one line: Struggling, and external conditions point to challenging times ahead.
In one line: Core inflation is finally edging down.
In one line: The modest industrial recovery continues, but Covid-19 will make things worse.
In one line: A soft start to the year, but we expect better numbers ahead.
In one line: A good start to the year, but the virus will be a big drag.
In one line: Solid, and further gains likely in coming months.
In one line: The modest recovery is on track, but risks remain.
In one line: The recovery continues; risks are titling to the upside.
In one line: A marginal improvement, but poor mining activity remains a drag.
In one line: A decent end to the year as the hit from the social unrest eases.
In one line: A surprising rebound in activity.
In one line: A decent improvement, and we expect further good news ahead.
In one line: A soft end to the year, but the modest recovery continues.
In one line: Inflation pressures in check, allowing Banxico to cut interest rates further.
In one line: Q4 hit by the protest, 2020 will be thrashed by Covid-19
In one line: Modest inflation pressures amid subpar economic activity.
In one line: A poor start to 2020 for Mexico, even before Covid-19.
In one line: The modest uptrend continues.
In one line: An ugly start to the second quarter, despite a modest improvement in sectoral data.
In one line: A solid start to the year, but Q2 will be awful.
In one line: Better domestic conditions offset by rising external risks.
In one line: Disappointing, and the outlook remains challenging due to high external risks.
In one line: Robust, but backward-looking; Q4 will be grim.
In one line: A weak end to the year, due to falling industrial activity.
In one line: A soft Q1, and the outlook remain challenging.
In one line: Great, but rising external risks suggest that the recovery will stutter.
In one line: A solid rebound but the trade war remains a key risk.
In one line: An ugly headline, but the detail are not as horrible.
In one line: Disappointing, and the outlook remains challenging due to high external risks.
In one line: Economic activity its rebounding following the social unrest.
In one line: Soft start to the third quarter; the trade war is a huge drag.
In one line: Social unrest puts the economy on its knees.
In one line: A modest rebound, but the trend is improving.
In one line: A soft headline and a near-term misery looms.
In one line: A poor start to the third quarter and downside risks remain.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economy in LatAm but over the last few quarters the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency--fearing higher U.S. interest rates--and rising inflation, have depressed confidence and dragged down economic activity.
Peru's central bank, the BCRP, admitted defeat again in the face of the inflationary effects of the PEN's depreciation and El Niño, increasing interest rates by 25bp to 3.75% last Thursday, following its 25bp increase in September. Peru is the third LatAm economy in the last few months to raise rates in response to currency weakness, despite sluggish economic growth. The key problem for Peru is that inflation has been trending higher since early 2013 and has remained stubbornly high, above 2.8% all this year. "Temporary" factors just keep on coming.
The latest developments on the coronavirus outbreak are not encouraging; for LatAm markets and economies.
LatAm economies are being battered by high inflation triggered by currency sell-offs and El Niño supply shocks, so rates have had to rise despite the challenging global environment. Peru's central bank, the BCRP, was forced to increase interest rates by 25bp to 4.25% last Thursday, the fourth hike in six months, as inflation is far above the central bank's 1-to-3% target range.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economies in LatAm but over the last few quarters the country has been adjusting to the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency and rising inflation. But the slowdown, especially on the domestic side of the economy, has been less dramatic than expected, so far. Our main scenario is that the adjustment process to challenging external conditions will continue over the coming quarters.
The Fed's insistence this week that U.S. rates will rise only twice more this year helped to ease pressures on LatAm markets this week, particularly FX. The way is now clear for some LatAm central banks to cut interest rates rapidly over the coming months, even before U.S. fiscal and trade policy becomes clear. We expect the next Fed rate hike to come in June, as the labor market continues to tighten. If we're right, the free-risk window for LatAm rate cuts is relatively short.
Banxico is one of the few central banks in LatAm to have hiked rates in 2016, and we expect it to remain relatively hawkish in the face of external risks.
Colombia is more vulnerable to falling oil prices than most other LatAm economies. That's why the COP has dropped by 20% since June, outpaced only by the rouble, which has problems beyond falling oil prices.
Mexico's structural reforms, robust fundamentals, and its close ties to the U.S. should have conferred a degree of protection from the turmoil in EMs over the past year. But its markets have been hit as hard as other LatAm countries by the sell-off in global markets in recent weeks. The MXN fell about 5% against the USD in January alone, and has dropped by 20% over the last year.
Colombia was likely the fastest growing economy in LatAm in 2015, but it is set to slow this year as monetary and fiscal policy are tightened, and commodity prices remain under pressure during the first half of the year, at least. Economic activity was surprisingly resilient during 2015, especially during the second half, despite the COP's sell-off, high inflation, and subdued consumer confidence.
China and commodities still hurting Latam....But Brazil has severe domestic woes
Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday might mark the beginning of a new era for both the U.S. and the global economy. For commodity-producing Latam countries, such as Chile, Peru and Colombia, attention will shift to Trump's proposed tax reforms, pro-business agenda and planning infrastructure spending. Mexico, on the other hand, will be grappling with Mr. Trump's trade and immigration policies.
With the Mexican Elections on July 1st, our Chief Latam Economist Andres Abadia has received many questions about the possible outcomes and how this will affect the Mexican economy going forward.
Mexico is the only major LatAm economy not struggling with inflation. The headline April CPI fell 0.3% month-to-month, with the year-over-year rate unchanged at 3.1%, in the middle o f Banxico's 2-to-4% target. Inflationary pressures have been broadly absent since the beginning of the year, with the annual core CPI rate slowing to 2.3% in April from 2.5% in March.
Mexico has been one of LatAm's highlights in terms of financial markets and currency performance in recent months.
In yesterday's report we discussed the recent performance of current inflation and inflation expectations in the biggest economies in LatAm, highlighting that risks are tilted to the upside, given the recent FX sell-off and rising political and external risks.
Mexico's inflation remains the envy of LatAm, having consistently outperformed the rest of the region this year. Headline inflation slowed marginally to 2.5% in October, a record low and below the middle of Banxico's target, 2-to-4%, for the sixth straight month. The annual core rate increased marginally to 2.5% in October from 2.4% in September, but it remains below the target and its underlying trend is inching up only at a very slow pace. We expect it to remain subdued, closing the year around 2.7% year-over-year. Next year it will gradually increase, but will stay below 3.5% during the first half of 2016, given the lack of demand pressures and the ample output gap.
LatAm currencies have suffered in recent weeks. Each country has its own story, so the currency hit has been uneven, but all LatAm economies share one factor: Fear of the start of a Fed tightening cycle.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony this week reinforced our view that the first U.S. rate hike will be in June. The transition to higher U.S. rates will require an unpleasant adjustment in asset prices in some LatAm countries.
Inflation and growth paths remain diverse across LatAm, but in the Andes, the broad picture is one of modest inflationary pressures and gradual economic recovery.
The data in LatAm have been all over the map in recent weeks. Brazil's cyclical stabilization continues, while Mexican numbers confirm that the economy has come under pressure in recent months.
Colombia has been one of LatAm's outperformers this year.
Recent inflation numbers across LatAm have surprised, in both directions. On the upside, Brazil's IPCA index rose 0.2% month-to-month in September, above the market consensus forecast of 0.1%.
LatAm assets and currencies enjoyed a good start to the week, following the agreement between the U.S. and China to pause the trade war.
While we were out, the economic news in LatAm was mostly positive. The main upside surprise came from Mexico, with the IGAE activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--rising 2.9% year-over-year in August, up from 1.2% in July, and an average of 2.4% in Q2. A modest rebound was anticipated, but the headline was much better than we and the markets expected.
The coronavirus pandemic looks set to spread rapidly throughout LatAm.
LatAm currencies have risen against the USD so far this year, easing the upward pressure on imported good prices and allowing most central banks to cut interest rates. The first direct effects of stronger currencies should be felt by firms which import high-turnover intermediate or final goods.
Colombia, the third largest economy in LatAm, has not been immune to the headwinds of the global economy since the financial crisis in 2008, though it remains one of the fastest growing economies in the region. GDP growth slowed sharply to just 1.7% in 2009, but that was still much better than the 1.2% contraction of the region as a whole.
Colombia and Peru have been among the top performers in LatAm currency markets in recent weeks, both rising above 4% against the dollar. Higher commodity prices seem to be driving the rally as domestic factors haven't changed dramatically.
Colombia was the fastest growing economy in LatAm last year but it faces major challenges. The collapse of oil prices--which account for about half of exports--the COP depreciation, rising inflation and Fed's impending monetary policy normalization, are dragging down economic activity and damaging confidence.
Rising inflation is pressuring some LatAm central banks to take a cautious stance at a time when growth is subpar, particularly in the two biggest economies of the region.
The MXN remains the best performer in LatAm year-to-date, despite some ugly periods of high volatility driven by external and domestic threats.
The risk of higher US rates put LatAm currencies under pressure during the first half of the week, before the US FOMC meeting on Wednesday. But they recovered some ground yesterday, following the Fed's decision to leave rates on hold.
Mexico's inflation has been LatAm's odd one out over the last few years. In the decade through 2014, Mexico's inflation rate was broadly in sync with those of its regional fellows, as shown in our first chart.
Early results project that Andrés Manuel López Obrador--AMLO--will become the new Mexican president with 53.4% of the votes, against Ricardo Anaya's 22.6%, and José Antonio Meade's 15.7%. AMLO has declared victory and thanked his opponents, who recognized his triumph.
Senior International Economist Andres Abadia on Latam currency risks.
Senior LatAm Economist Andres Abadia on Colombia
Andres Abadia authors our Latin American service. Andres is a native of Colombia and has many years' experience covering the global economy, with a particular focus on Latin America. In 2017, he won the Thomson Reuters Starmine Top Forecaster Award for Latam FX. Andres's research covers Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, focusing on economic, political and financial developments. The countries of Latin America differ substantially in terms of structure, business cycle and politics, and Andres' researchhighlights the impact of these differences on currencies, interest rates and equity markets. He believes that most LatAm economies are heavily influenced by cyclical forces in the U.S. and China, as well as domestic policy shocks and local politics. He keeps a close eye on both external and domestic developments to forecast their effects on LatAm economies, monetary policy, and financial markets. Before starting to work at Pantheon Macroeconomics in 2013, Dr. Abadia was the Head of Research for Arcalia/Bancaja (now Bankia) in Madrid, and formerly Chief Economist for the same institution. Previously, he worked at Ahorro Coporacion Financiera, as an Economist. Andres earned a PhD in Applied Economics, and a Masters Degree in Economics and International Business Administration from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and a BSc in Economics from the Universidad Externado de Colombia.
What do the protests mean for Chile's economy?
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