Macro Notes provide analysis on key macro and geopolitical developments. They complement the existing IIF product line up, which includes Global Macro Views, Economic Views, in depth country reports and data.
EM are experiencing an unprecedented and synchronized growth slowdown in ‘20. Restrictions remain in place in many countries, as the health crisis is far from over. The fiscal response has been uneven in EM, with some running out of policy space. Most EM central banks cut rates aggressively, and QE has become part of the toolkit. Asset price recovery and a modest return of capital flows should provide support.
We downgrade our forecast and now expect an output contraction of 3.2%. The collapse in tourism has had the most immediate impact on the region. Shutdowns weakened domestic demand and exports declined markedly. Monetary and fiscal countermeasures will only partially offset this effect.
Ukraine has secured a $5 bn, 18-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF. This stopgap will help finance fiscal spending and external debt repayments. Improved market conditions will allow Ukraine to build up reserves further. We project an output contraction of 6.9% despite aggressive interest rate cuts. Further structural reform efforts are critical for robust growth going forward.
Non-resident flows to emerging and frontier markets will contract sharply in 2020. Remittances have become an important, countercyclical, source of inflows for EM. In 2020, however, they will likely be much lower due to the global nature of shocks. High-frequency data show that the deceleration had already begun in the 1st quarter. Central America and the Caribbean, the Philippines, and Egypt are most exposed.
We now expect an even deeper output contraction of 5.7% in the CEEMEA region. Effects of the COVID-19 shock are increasingly visible in the data for March-April. We downgrade growth in South Africa, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Russia. The fall in activity prompted authorities to implement fiscal stimulus measures. Together with cyclical revenue weakness, additional spending will widen deficits. CEEMEA central banks cut rates and some began government bond purchases.
Russia’s assets are stabilizing, and investors are showing renewed interest. The “Fortress Russia” strategy has reduced macroeconomic vulnerabilities. We expect both the fiscal and monetary policy responses to remain modest. As the economy is set to reopen, COVID-19 infections continue to spread.
Pressure on SSA assets has intensified due to COVID-19 related shocks. In this note, we analyze the composition of external flows to the region. SSA has become more globally integrated and reliant on portfolio flows. This makes the region more exposed to swings in investor sentiment.
COVID-19 presents a challenge to BoPs in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Lower commodity prices will sharply reduce exports in many countries. Dependence on tourism and remittances will also have a negative effect. C/A deficit financing is going to be challenging due to risk-off sentiment. Multilateral funding can cover some gaps, but solvency is an issue as well.
COVID-19 is exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The global recession and drop in commodity prices hit the region hard. We present a framework to summarize SSA’s exposure to different risks. Multilaterals need to play an important role in the region going forward.
Growth across Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to slow down markedly. This is a result of lower global demand and falling commodity prices. Lower growth will inhibit advances in living standards across the region. We are concerned that COVID-19 outbreaks in SSA could be disastrous. Multilateral support, including from the IMF, is needed going forward.