Brazil’s central bank’s two-day policy meeting kicks off later on Tuesday with all bets placed on a fourth straight interest rate increase, despite growing consensus that the country is headed for its worst economic recession in 25 years.
Just as ECB President Mario Draghi announced a massive bond-buying program to revive Europe’s economy and fend off deflation fears, news of shockingly low inflation popped up elsewhere in the globe: consumer prices in Mexico dropped 0.19 percent in early January, far below all 19 forecasts in a Reuters poll.
Brazil’s newly-re-elected government is set to announce on Friday that the recession that began at the start of 2014 is now over. But a minefield of risks surrounding Latin America’s largest economy recommends caution before celebration.
Brazil’s unemployment rate has been a mystery for months: a strike in the country’s statistics agency, ironically enough, disrupted its main job market survey. The numbers will finally come out in a few hours, less than two weeks before a tight presidential election, and will help voters understand just how bad the recently-confirmed recession has been.
Now that Brazilian food prices are finally settling down, it looks like El Niño will strike back in a couple of months to throw the world’s weather into disarray.
A hot, dry spell in southeastern Brazil has pushed up energy prices, stretched government finances and raised the threat of water rationing in its largest city, Sao Paulo, just months before it hosts one of the world’s largest sport events, the soccer World Cup.
Brazil’s current account deficit will probably narrow this year. That may sound as a reassuring (or rather optimistic) forecast after the recent sharp sell-off in emerging markets, which prompted Turkey to raise interest rates dramatically to 12 percent from 7.75 percent in a single shot on Tuesday. But that was the outlook of three major banks – HSBC, Credit Suisse and Barclays - in separate research published earlier this week.
It may be too early to herald a revival of Latin America’s manufacturing following a recent currency decline, according to a report by London-based research firm Capital Economics.
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.
Local currency bonds in emerging markets, like most financial assets, have enjoyed a solid rally on the back of ample global central bank liquidity. But the good times may be coming to an end, according to a report from Capital Economics. That’s because there’s only so much boost the securities can get out of the monetary easing efforts of the Federal Reserve and other major central banks, the firm says.