The IIF covers 30-40 emerging and frontier markets, with a particular focus on economic and financing issues. Our reports feature topical analysis of macroeconomic fundamentals, policy developments, political economy dynamics and downside risks.
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.
Protests have continued since February, with the public calling for an overhaul of the ruling elite, but we expect limited change in the power structure. Economic activity will remain weak, as twin deficits persist and reserves fall. The 2020 budget envisages tightening, but deep reforms are needed.
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.
Iraq’s path to recovery is inhibited by continuous political instability and a lack of institutional capacity. While the PM has resigned, there is much uncertainty on meeting protesters’ demands for economic and political reforms. The economic recovery from the war has been at a slow pace.
Bank lending remains the main policy tool to boost growth. Macroeconomic imbalances seem manageable at this time. Further stimulus, however, could intensify demand pressures.
The PBoC recently lowered interest rates for the first time in four years by 5 basis points, remaining more hawkish than its peers. The PBoC is constrained by elevated CPI, uncertain RMB & outflows, and the housing market. We expect additional slow, gradual interest rate cuts in the coming quarters.
Growth underperformance has amplified social demands for change. While protests will weigh on growth, as in other EMs facing social turmoil, several mitigating factors exist. Bolstering a more inclusive agenda is a tall order, and the risk of erosion of macro fundamentals and institutions is 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.
Lebanon's capital controls may avert short-term crisis. Yet they can pose a long-term cost by discouraging inflows, which play a pivotal role in the country's economic model. Timely formation of a new government with a strong commitment to reform can boost confidence and enable removal of controls.