Emerging

Emerging

    Emerging - 11 October 2022
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    Excluding China, activity in emerging countries was stagnant in Q2 2022 and business and household confidence surveys indicate that the economic slowdown will continue. Inflation continues to rise and is being accompanied by new decisions of monetary tightening, including by central banks in Asia. The deterioration in external demand and tighter domestic financial conditions have combined with the monetary tightening in the United States and USD appreciation to trigger the slowdown in activity. This is a double whammy for emerging countries. But developing countries, which are also facing the food crisis and a situation of over-indebtedness, are in a more worrisome situation.
    The recovery in activity since the end of the lockdowns imposed in Shanghai in the spring has been very gradual. It picked up in August, notably supported by public investment and tax measures, but it is likely to lose steam again in September. As exports begin to suffer from weaker global demand, the continuation of the zero-Covid strategy and the serious crisis in the property sector continue to weigh heavily on confidence, private consumption and investment. An easing of the health policy and more wide-ranging actions to support the property market seem to be the only measures capable of lifting the Chinese economy out of its current gloom. The 20th Congress of the Communist Party, which will open in Beijing on October 16th, will thus take place in a fragile economic environment.
    Although it remains dynamic, economic growth slowed in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. Monetary policy tightening, a very mixed monsoon season and disruption to global value chains are expected to weigh on activity during the next two quarters. The central bank has revised its economic growth forecasts downwards for the current fiscal year as a whole. At the same time, pressures on external accounts and the rupee are set to remain strong. Despite this rather unfavourable environment, enterprises and banks are holding up well. 
    During the first six months of 2022, the economy proved to be quite resilient to the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine and China’s zero-Covid policy. In particular, it benefited from the higher prices of exported commodities (mainly coal and palm oil). Its public finances and external accounts consolidated despite rising subsidies and net capital outflows. However, the situation could deteriorate in the fourth quarter and the medium-term outlook is less favourable. Although the fiscal deficit and government debt remain modest, refinancing risks will increase in 2023 in conjunction with the end of purchases by the central bank of government’s bonds, which have been in place since 2020. Moreover, pressures on the rupiah will intensify with the fall in commodity prices.
    The recovery is continuing in Thailand. The rebound in private consumption and the gradual return of tourists should help, at least in the short term, to compensate for the slowdown in exports. However, the risks to growth remain on the downside, due to rising inflation, monetary tightening, the weakness in global demand and the absence of Chinese tourists. In the run-up to the elections in May 2023 political tensions could increase again. However, medium-term strategic investments, including the Eastern Economic Corridor programme, should not be jeopardised.
    The economic slowdown is likely to continue in the coming quarters. Poland is facing several challenges. Firstly, the country is highly dependent on coal imports, and the price of this commodity has soared since the end of 2021. The Central Bank has moved towards a less restrictive monetary policy despite high inflationary pressures. Finally, the moratorium on mortgage repayments in 2022 and 2023 will have a negative impact on banks’ balance sheets in the short term. However, the Polish economy does have numerous strengths and should show resilience. 
    All growth drivers weakened in the second quarter of 2022. With a high exposure to Russia for its oil and gas supplies, Slovakia could be amongst the most affected Central European countries by the consequences of the war in Ukraine. The steep rise in energy costs, as well as supply disruptions, will have an adverse impact on industrial activity, which has not yet returned to its pre-Covid level. Moreover, inflation has increased rapidly but is still more moderate compared to other countries in the region. Finally, public and external accounts will deteriorate in the short term, but this situation remains manageable.
    Accelerating growth, slowing inflation, falling unemployment and the interruption of monetary tightening differentiate Brazil from most of the world’s major economies. These developments, which are largely attributable to fiscal stimuli (higher social transfers, reduction in taxes and fuel prices), are complicating the task of monetary authorities by partially diluting the restrictive effects of their policy. In the second half of the year, the maintenance of fiscal stimulus should again help limit the slowdown in activity. Brazil’s solid economic performance has allowed financial assets to hold up well despite the general elections and a deteriorating global environment.
    The economic dynamism seen in the first half of 2022 is waning. The rebound in private consumption is being held back by rising inflationary pressures, while exports are weakening due to slowing growth in the United States and global demand. Structural weaknesses in the economy (low investment, lack of infrastructure) are also limiting the growth recovery. Moreover, a deterioration in public finances is increasingly likely in the medium term. The very limited rise in fiscal income will not be enough to compensate for the necessary increase in government spending that is expected in the coming years. In addition, sovereign wealth funds have been used over the past two years and the government no longer has any reserves.
    Egyptian external accounts have been under pressure since the beginning of the year and the outlook is uncertain. Although the current account was able to withstand external shocks thanks to the rise in gas revenues, only the massive support of the Gulf countries enabled Egypt to cope with portfolio investment outflows and to avoid a foreign exchange crisis. The dynamic remains negative in the short term, given the drop in net foreign currency assets in the banking system and persistent exchange rate pressures, despite depreciation of more than 20% since the beginning of the year. In the short term, support from the IMF and the Gulf countries, as well as a favourable gas outlook, are positive factors, but, in the medium term, external financing needs are high and are rising, and dependence on volatile capital flows remains significant.
    The Qatari economy, which is poorly diversified and based on long-term gas export contracts, has not experienced the same volatility as elsewhere in the Gulf during the last five years. In the short term, high oil prices and the forthcoming World Cup will support growth and enable a return to substantial external and budgetary surpluses. Likewise, the reduction in banks’ external liabilities should continue. Inflation will remain relatively moderate thanks to government intervention and the impact of the stronger dollar on import prices. In the medium term, the macroeconomic outlook is very positive as a result of the significant increase in gas revenues. However, it is less certain in the longer term, in the context of the energy transition. The status of natural gas as a transition fuel is a significant advantage for Qatar, but its reliance on hydrocarbons will remain very high.
    Two years after the shock of the pandemic, Tunisia is now being hit hard by the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine. The rise in commodity prices is leading to a dangerous deterioration in external accounts and public finances. Inflation is at historically high levels, weighing further on economic activity, which has already been struggling to recover since the 2020 crisis. In the absence of any financial room for manoeuvre, Tunisia is hoping to obtain support from the IMF to ease macroeconomic tensions. There are pressing needs.  
    In 2020-2021, thanks to its diversified economy, Kenya was relatively more resilient to the shock of the pandemic than other sub-Saharan African economies. But in 2022-2023, the recovery will be constrained by the indirect effects of the war in Ukraine and subject to significant downside risks. The country faces a deterioration in its terms of trade. Accelerating inflation will weigh on domestic demand, with the risk of fuelling social instability. This could complicate fiscal consolidation efforts, which are necessary to maintain the support of multilateral creditors, particularly the IMF. The new president has ruled out the option of preventive debt restructuring. But the government’s external liquidity and solvency remain fragile.
    Emerging - 08 July 2022
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    Emerging countries have recently faced a series of unexpected and severe shocks that will significantly dampen their economic performance in 2022. Global inflation has increased due to rising commodity prices and world supply disruptions resulting from the conflict in Ukraine. The lockdowns in China’s industrial regions during the spring have aggravated supply problems and further worsened the global economic outlook. Moreover, monetary policies have tightened in most countries, while external financing conditions have also deteriorated due to the weakening in global investor sentiment and US monetary policy tightening. Emerging markets have already faced a bout of large capital outflows since the beginning of the year. In this context, the emerging borrowers most exposed to potential payment difficulties include speculative-grade sovereign entities in countries currently posting both weak public finances and widening current account imbalances. They are not so many facing this situation. 
    Economic activity contracted in April and May 2022 as a result of severe mobility restrictions imposed in industrial regions such as Shanghai. Since late May, these restrictions have been gradually lifted, and activity has begun to bounce back. However, downside risks to economic growth remain high. The authorities therefore continue to ease their policy mix cautiously. On the fiscal front, support measures remain focused on infrastructure projects and aid to enterprises. On the monetary front, interest rates have been cut since the beginning of the year, and targeted lending programmes have been extended. However, the effectiveness of the central bank’s action is reduced by the weak demand for credit. Moreover, the international environment and the risks of capital outflows could limit its room for manoeuvre. 
    At the end of the 2021/2022 fiscal year, India’s real GDP exceeded its pre-crisis level, and economic activity indicators were positive in April and May 2022. Activity has been supported by a recovery in domestic demand and dynamic exports. Faced with rising inflation and downward pressure on the rupee (due to capital outflows and a widening trade deficit), the monetary authorities raised their policy rates in May and June – further increases are expected. Conversely, fiscal policy is more expansionary than anticipated. Multilateral institutions and India’s Central Bank have revised their growth forecasts downwards (between 6.9% and 7.5% for the 2022/2023 fiscal year vs. 8.7% in the previous year). However, the public debt-to-GDP ratio should continue to decline thanks to the sharp rise in nominal GDP. The country is taking advantage of the embargo imposed by the US and EU on Russian oil imports to try to reduce its energy bill. 
    Korea’s solid macroeconomic fundamentals have made it one of the countries that has best withstood the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic growth prospects remain relatively positive. The new government, in office since May, spelled out its intention to continue the reforms begun during the previous administration, and, in particular, aims to increase research and development expenditure. Household debt rose rapidly in 2021 and is high, but the macro-prudential measures put in place by the authorities seem to be bearing fruit: the rise in debt has slowed and financial stability risks are contained.
    The Taiwanese economy has been very resilient to the multiple external shocks of the past two years. The export sector has benefited greatly from the rise in global demand for high-tech goods. In addition, domestic demand has benefited from fiscal support and an accommodative monetary policy. In 2022, economic growth is constrained by many factors (the wave of Omicron in the spring, supply disruptions linked to the chaotic situation in China, rising inflation and monetary policy tightening, and a less favourable international environment). The economic growth slowdown may lead only to a limited deterioration in the quality of bank loans. Nevertheless, the real estate sector, after a sharp rise in prices since 2019, could see a correction.
    The economic situation in Turkey offers striking contrasts between (i) sustained growth until Q1 2022 and stubbornly huge inflation, (ii) much greater confidence among companies than among households, (iii) a primary budget surplus and a deteriorating current account deficit due to the surge in the price of energy, and (iv) domestic borrowing conditions for the State at an unprecedented negative real rate despite massive outflows from portfolio investments. Economic policy still combines a deliberately accommodative monetary policy and a competitive exchange rate to stimulate investment, exports and import substitution. The government will now use fiscal leverage to mitigate the economic cost of inflation and is multiplying ad hoc measures to stabilise, unsuccessfully so far, foreign exchange reserves.
    Economic growth remained very dynamic until the first quarter of this year. Strong wages growth and significant government measures to back up purchasing power over this period have supported consumer spending. Inflation rose sharply in recent months but remained lower compared to other Central European countries, due to a price cap on certain food and energy related goods. Economic growth is expected to slow down significantly in 2023, owing to the deterioration in the international environment, monetary and fiscal tightening from H2 2022. The temporary suspension of European funds presents a serious challenge given that budget and current account deficits have increased and external liquidity has eroded.  
    The last two quarters have been marked by slower growth in economic activity. This is mainly attributed to weaker levels of consumer spending. Furthermore, the country is still very exposed to supply chain disruptions in the automotive sector to a great extent, which adversely impacts both industrial activity and exports. The expected slowdown in the global economy in 2022 will also affect growth given the country’s high exposure to trade. Inflation has probably not yet peaked, which means that monetary tightening is likely to continue in the short term.
    Economic activity held up well in the first half of the year, but a slowdown in GDP growth is coming and expected to intensify over the second semester. The recovery of the labour market continues. However, the retreat of unemployment has come at the cost of a temporary drop in productivity. Inflation, which has registered double digits growth over the past nine months, is spreading more widely throughout the economy. Looking forward, monetary policy could be increasingly constrained by the announcement of new fiscal support. The latter coupled with the continued weakening of the main fiscal rule could weigh on risk premia and inflation expectations. The enthusiasm that prevailed earlier in the year for Brazilian assets is losing steam.
    Peruvian GDP returned to its pre-crisis level thanks to the strong upturn in activity recorded in 2021. However, the country’s capacity to rebound further is limited and short-to-medium-term growth prospects are moderate. Firstly, inflation pressures are weighing on private consumption and disruptions in the value chains are hampering the export sector. Secondly, the continuing political crisis is dampening the investment outlook. In addition, public finances have deteriorated over the past two years. It is not so much the level of debt, which is still moderate, but its composition which is worrying and is making the country more vulnerable to changes in investor sentiment.
    The economic recovery should be sustained in 2022 due to the sharp increase in hydrocarbon production following the OPEC+ agreements and due to stronger growth in household consumption. The current oil trend is favourable to public finances, while the process of fiscal consolidation and revenue diversification is expected to continue. It has already led to a significant reduction in the fiscal breakeven oil price and therefore less exposure to oil market volatility. In the meantime, tensions have emerged on the interbank market and have required an injection of liquidity by the central bank. The fast growth in bank lending and less pro-cyclical management of budget surpluses have forced banks to use external resources, and therefore to reduce their net external assets, in order to finance their activity. 
    Following five consecutive years of recession, Angola’s economic outlook is brightening: the country should return to growth, expected to be +3% in 2022, benefiting from a favourable economic situation marked by the upward trajectory of the oil price and a resumption of national production of hydrocarbons.  The resulting increase in budget revenues and exports should support the kwanza. This dynamic is helping to ease the pressures on the country’s external financing needs and debt sustainability, which has improved thanks to the reprofiling agreement concluded with China in early 2021. Nevertheless, the Angolan economy remains prone to significant vulnerabilities. The authorities should pursue reform efforts by taking advantage of the current situation in order to reduce the country’s economic dependence on the oil cycle.
    The Nigerian economy is experiencing mixed fortunes. Its low level of oil production does not allow it to benefit fully from the rise in oil prices. The current account balance is expected to return to a surplus this year, though the persistence of a rigid exchange rate regime continues to weigh on the economy’s attractiveness and the availability of liquidity in dollars. The commodity price shock is exacerbating already strong inflationary pressures, and the budget deficit will remain high due to the continuation of an energy subsidies policy that has become too expensive. For the time being, this is not jeopardising the strength of the economic recovery. However, the weakening macroeconomic stability leaves the economy vulnerable to further setbacks in the future.

On the Same Theme

Central Europe: Higher funding costs in bond markets 6/13/2022
Over the past few weeks, Central Europe has experienced a spike in Government bond yields. Five-year yields have surged respectively by 338 bp in Poland, 331 bp in Hungary, 350 bp in Romania and 216 bp in Czech Republic since January 2022 and are at present similar to 2008 levels. The trend is also the same for 10-year yields. The recent move can be explained to some extent by markets’ overreaction as regards to the relatively high exposure of Central European countries to Russia in terms of exports and energy supply. Moreover, their geographical proximity with Ukraine and Russia have contributed to markets’ perception of higher geopolitical risk. In the meantime, monetary policy tightening, a consequence of higher inflationary pressures (respectively +16.0 % YoY in May in Czech Republic, +14.5 % in Romania, +10.7 % in Hungary), has also pushed up yields. The magnitude of the increase in Poland’s bond yields is puzzling. The country stands out in the region, showing better resilience to the macroeconomic consequences of the war in Ukraine. Besides, Poland is well prepared to a cut-off from Russian gas owing to past investments, geared towards diversifying its suppliers. The country could also benefit from the unblocking of EU funds under certain conditions. The cost of Government funding in local bond markets has increased markedly for all countries. Some of them could therefore prefer to tap international markets to cover their funding needs. This situation would entail a rise in governments’ foreign currency debt and a higher exposure to currency risk. Currently, the share of public foreign currency debt to GDP is moderate for Central European countries overall.
The monetary policy dichotomy in emerging economies 12/13/2021
The recovery in emerging economies since mid-2020 has been accompanied by a tightening of monetary policy in Latin America and Europe but not in Asia so far (except South Korea). The main reasons for this lie in the level and dynamics of inflation. Inflation is strong and accelerating in Latin America and Europe, more modest and still contained in Asia. A comparison between the most highly industrialised countries of Central Europe and of Asia shows that although the recent acceleration in inflation results in part from common economic factors (higher energy and food prices), the differences in underlying inflation, that were apparent before the pandemic and have persisted since, relate to more lasting/structural factors (pressure on wages and the labour market, exposure of economies to supply-side shocks). The dichotomy in monetary policy looks likely to last.
Inflation pressures in emerging economies 10/19/2021
Emerging economies have faced mounting inflation pressures since the beginning of 2021. Headline inflation has continued to accelerate over the summer (except in Asia), primarily reflecting the rise in food and energy prices and weaker currencies against the USD. However, core inflation has also accelerated across the board. As a result, a growing number of central banks in Latin America and Central Europe have started to raise their policy rates. In Asia, inflation has remained low (North Asia) or has levelled off (India), allowing central banks to stay accommodative. So far, central banks engaged in a tightening cycle have increased their policy rate cautiously; even the more reactive ones (in countries such as Brazil and Russia) have remained behind the curve (i.e. the real policy rate is still negative or the central bank has not raised its policy rate as much as the acceleration in inflation). Whether the increase in inflation is transitory or may become permanent is an open question. On the one hand, the impact of the strong recovery in oil prices is expected to subside with the scheduled increase in OPEC+ production quotas and assuming that global supply-chain disruptions fade rapidly. On the other hand, however, there is a risk of persisting price pressures in case of a lagged pass-through from higher food and energy prices to headline inflation, if supply bottlenecks take time to wane and induce supply-demand mismatches, and/or if nominal wages catch up rapidly with prices, entailing the potential de-anchoring of inflation expectations. Persistently high inflation could pose a downside risk to the economic growth outlook in emerging countries. Moreover, food price increases have been higher in countries where food insecurity is more prevalent, putting poorer households under greater stress and fueling a risk of social unrest.

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