Latin American central banks are watching today's Federal Reserve meeting very closely. Some are ready to raise their own interest rates, even if Yellen does not pull the trigger now.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is fighting for political survival less than a year after being re-elected. Several reasons have been pointed exhaustively to explain how things got so bad in such a short period of time: chief among them are the burgeoning corruption scandal at state-run Petrobras and stubbornly high inflation, out of sync with the rest of the world.
Felipe Larrain, Chile's finance minister is facing a new job come March when incoming center-left government of President-elect Michelle Bachelet takes over. An academic by profession, he intends to either make his way back into the cloistered lecture halls of a university, not necessarily in Chile, or work for some kind of international organization that is outside of the corporate or financial world.
The outlook for emerging market economies over the next decade looks more challenging as long-term interest rates start to bottom out in the United States. Here is another complicating factor: ageing populations.
Rate decisions last week in emerging markets well anticipated this week's crop of economic data.
Latin America has defied one of the most elementary rules of macroeconomics in the past decade, Citigroup economists Joaquin Cottani and Camilo Gonzalez found in a report.
The big easing continues. A major surprise today from the Bank of Thailand, which cut interest rates by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent. After repeated indications from Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul that policy would stay unchanged for now, few had expected the bank to deliver its first rate cut since January. But given the decision was not unanimous, it appears that Prasarn was overruled. As in South Korea last week, the need to boost domestic demand dictated the BoT's decision. The Thai central bank noted:
The currency war is back.
Since last week when the Fed started its third round of money-printing (QE3), policymakers in emerging markets have been busily talking down their own currencies or acting to curb their rise. These efforts may gather pace now that Japan has also increased its asset-buying programme, with expectations that the extra liquidity unleashed by developed central banks will eventually find its way into the developing world.