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.
Looser DM monetary policy and the US-China truce drove flows to EM. 2019 saw an important rebound in portfolio flows compared to 2018. Foreign currency and local debt attracted the bulk of non-resident flows. Going forward, foreign investors will likely focus on idiosyncratic stories.
Ukraine’s new agreement with the IMF is critical for external financing, even though recent flows into domestic bonds have alleviated pressure. The agreement signals confidence in ongoing reform efforts to markets, and will lead to renewed investor interest in local government bonds.
The release of the 2019 MTBPS was a wake-up call for politicians, just like in 2017. The 2020 budget in February, union negotiations, and Eskom resolution are key. Moody’s is likely to downgrade South Africa’s rating to sub-IG sometime in 2020. A deep domestic market and low short-term and FX debt mitigate our concerns. But with deteriorating debt dynamics, South Africa is exposed to external shocks.
EU structural funds have boosted growth in Eastern Europe, allowing for strong income convergence with the rest of the EU. Cuts in the 2021-27 EU budget will lead to smaller contributions, but a sudden slowdown is unlikely, and convergence will continue.
Inflation is trending down in many emerging markets. This is partially due to higher central bank credibility. EM inflation has also become increasingly synchronized. Persistently lower inflation could allow for more easing. Risk of reversals and country-specific shocks remains high.
Russian authorities announced a policy pivot towards growth. National projects exceed 3% of GDP per year over 2019-24. Apart from national projects, policies will likely remain tight. We therefore expect only a modest pickup in Russia’s growth.
Weak growth has led to deteriorating debt dynamics in recent years. Falling business and consumer confidence do not point to a recovery. External imbalances remain despite weak activity and depreciation. Interest payments to non-residents have risen sharply due to high debt. The Rand is vulnerable to shifts in market sentiment and portfolio flows.
Markets were disappointed by the 2019 MTBPS announcement. Revisions to growth, deficit, and debt were worse than expected. This follows an Eskom plan lacking details on debt restructuring. Moody’s changed the outlook to negative but kept the IG rating. Key market concern is no longer the rating, but debt sustainability.
Growth in the Euro area slowed considerably in 2018 and 2019H1. CEE countries are highly integrated into European value chains. We already see evidence of a slowdown in industrial production. However, domestic demand continues to support robust growth. In case of further shocks, policy space is not universally available.
Investors finished the IMF/WB meetings on a less negative note. Concerns remain, but fewer worried about the risk of a recession. Monetary easing and a US-China trade deal would be supportive. Barring surprises from the Dollar, modest flows to EM are likely. The IMF's integrated policy framework remains a key topic for EM.