7 days of economics
Week of 14 to 18 October 2019
Friday 18
Emerging Countries : Monetary policy is back to the fore
Growth prospects for the emerging countries in 2020 (EC) have dimmed with the slowdown in export markets and the climate of uncertainty that reigns with the US-China trade war. This uncertainty has increased the volatility of portfolio investments since last summer, although external financing conditions are still favourable on the whole. The majority of countries have also eased monetary policy, and the pass-through of key policy rates to lending rates is functioning rather well. Yet private sector debt has risen sharply over the past decade, which could hamper monetary easing if credit risk were to rise.
François FAURE 10/18/2019
China : Difficult policy choices
Since Q2 2018, Beijing has let the yuan depreciate against the dollar each time the US has raised its tariffs on imported goods from China. Yet, exchange rate policy as an instrument to support economic activity is expected to be used moderately in the short term. There is also little room to stimulate credit given the excessively high debt levels of the economy and the authorities’ priority on pursuing efforts to clean up the financial system, the public sector and the housing market. Torn between stimulating economic growth and deleveraging, the authorities’ dilemma could get worse if recent fiscal stimulus measures do not have the intended impact on domestic demand, or if the external environment were to deteriorate further.
Christine PELTIER 10/18/2019
India : In need of investment
Economic activity slowed sharply in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019/2020 and second-half prospects are looking morose, even though the monetary authorities and the government have taken major stimulus measures. Monetary easing resulted in a mild decline in lending rates. The recently announced cut in the corporate tax rate should boost domestic and foreign investment in the medium term, although it will not impact growth much in the short term. Companies might decide to consolidate their position rather than to invest in the midst of a sluggish environment.
Johanna MELKA 10/18/2019
Brazil : In the spotlight
The world’s projectors have descended on Brazil following raging fires in the Amazon forest. President Jair Bolsonaro has come under pressure for his lack of engagement and commitment to protecting the environment. The pace of economic growth is still struggling to accelerate. Confidence indicators are ambivalent while investment remains weak. In the wake of a much less buoyant external environment and low inflation risk, the Central Bank has lowered its policy rate by a cumulative 100 basis points since August. The pension reform was approved in the Senate (first round) but was subject to revisions. Throughout the fall, a number of major reforms should be deployed and privatizations and concessions should accelerate.
Salim HAMMAD 10/18/2019
Russia : Resilience but no growth
In August, the rating agency Fitch upgraded Russia’s sovereign rating based on its greater resilience to the external environment. The timing might seem surprising considering that Russian GDP growth slowed sharply in H1 2019 and the central bank had to revise its outlook for 2019-2021 downwards again. Even so, the consolidation of Russian fundamentals is undeniable. Currently the main sources of concern are the sharp increase in household lending and the delays in implementing public spending programmes, which should stimulate growth in the medium term.
Johanna MELKA 10/18/2019
Poland : Loss of momentum
In the first half of 2019, Poland’s economic growth held up well to the deterioration of international conditions. Its economic prospects remain relatively positive in the short term despite the downturn in the cycle. The economic model of competitiveness and low labour costs – the foundation of the economic transition of which Poland is a successful example – will be altered by the more generous social policies introduced by the current government. Cyclical and structural factors argue for a slowdown in investment growth over the short and medium term. Of the factors weighing on medium and long-term growth potential, the demographic decline seems the most potent.
Sylvain BELLEFONTAINE 10/18/2019
South Korea : Double whammy
Korea’s economic growth prospects have continued to deteriorate. Recent trade tensions with Japan have come on top of the slowdown of the Chinese economy and in global demand as well as the conflict between the United States and China, hitting exports and investment. The authorities have some scope to stimulate domestic demand. As has been the case for several years now, fiscal policy will remain expansionary in 2020, whilst the central bank could cut its policy rate in the short term. Stimulus measures will nevertheless not be enough to boost economic growth significantly in 2020.
Hélène DROUOT 10/18/2019
Argentina : Up against the wall
The Macri government faces an emergency situation in the run up to October’s general elections. Confronted with the erosion of foreign reserves and its failure to roll over short-term bonds, the government was forced to 1) delay payment of Treasury bonds held by local institutional investors, 2) announce debt “re-profiling” and 3) tighten capital controls. After this summer’s primary election, the opposition is largely expected to take power. The future government will have to manage numerous priorities and will probably roll back certain economic liberalisation measures. Yet, it has very little manoeuvring room since it cannot risk breaking off relations with the IMF, which is now its main creditor.
François FAURE 10/18/2019
Egypt : Mixed trade performance
Although still showing a significant deficit, the trade balance has improved substantially since 2017. It has benefited from a recovery in hydrocarbon exports, whilst the steep depreciation of the pound has had only limited consequences on trade in non-hydrocarbon goods. A substantial share of imports is incompressible, whilst structural constraints weigh on the country’s export potential. Moreover, the moderate appreciation of the pound over the past year has not helped price competitiveness. Measures have been introduced to support exports, but we remain cautious on the prospects for a significant improvement in international trade over the medium term.
Pascal DEVAUX 10/18/2019
Qatar : The limits of diversification
The Qatari economy is struggling to find new sources of growth beyond the hydrocarbon sector. Given the stability of hydrocarbon production and the ending of infrastructure investment cycle, economic growth is likely to hit a record low in 2019. Over the medium term, the introduction of new LNG production capacity is likely to bolster the economy. Against the background of a sluggish economy, inflation is likely to be dragged into negative territory by the on-going fall in real estate prices. This said, the public finances and external accounts remain solid and are likely to improve further as the gas rent increases over the medium term.
Pascal DEVAUX 10/18/2019
Morocco : Satisfactory performance
Between difficulties in Europe and a poor agricultural harvest, Morocco faces numerous headwinds. Growth slowed in 2019 for the second consecutive year. Yet domestic demand remains robust, bolstered among other factors by low inflation and an accommodating monetary policy. The authorities are also counting on major privatisation proceeds to soften fiscal consolidation without worsening public debt. Above all, the ongoing development of the automobile industry raises hopes for a rebound in GDP growth in 2020, while lower oil imports should help to reduce the current account deficit.
Stéphane ALBY 10/18/2019
Angola : Under the IMF supervision
The country has renewed relationship with the IMF and obtained its financial support in late 2018. Under the Fund supervision, a mild recovery is expected in the near term but outlook remains weak due to a still tight foreign currency liquidity, a troubled banking system and a poor external environment. Amid higher oil price volatility, Angola continues to rely on the oil sector as a source of economic growth, fiscal income and foreign exchange earnings. Despite supportive measures to attract international investors, important deficiencies keep FDI weak. Some fiscal reforms are also ongoing, but governement room for maneuver remains slim.  
Sara CONFALONIERI 10/18/2019
South Africa : Engine failure
Economic growth is forecast at only 0.4% in 2019, after averaging 1% a year in 2015-2018. The Ramaphosa government has little manoeuvring room to implement reforms, and strong structural headwinds continue to hamper economic activity. Illustrating the country’s enormous lack of infrastructure, major power outages disrupted activity in the first months of the year. To address the severe financial troubles at Eskom, the state-owned company behind the power outages, the government had to unblock additional funds to come to its rescue. The latest rescue package will accelerate fiscal deficit slippage and further weaken sovereign solvency in the medium term.
Christine PELTIER 10/18/2019
Wednesday 16
ABOUT US Three teams of economists (OECD countries research, emerging economies and country risk, banking economics) make up BNP Paribas Economic Research Department.
This website presents their analyses.
The website contains 2230 articles and 563 videos