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.
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.
We expect non-oil growth to accelerate to 3.0% as private sector confidence improves and the monetary stance eases. However, overall growth will likely drop to 0.5%, dragged down by a significant cut in crude oil production.
Current account deficits in Frontier LatAm are wide by EM standards, largely due to energy trade imbalances, but lower oil prices since 2014 have helped ease financing gaps. Despite global headwinds and regional tensions, we project CA deficits to stay contained in 2019-20, broadly financed by FDI.
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.
Non-resident capital inflows to the MENA region are projected to rise from $165bn last year to $200bn in 2019 before moderating to $173bn in 2020. With the increasing inflows, inclusion into global indices, and ongoing reforms, the MENA region is becoming more prominent on the EM investment map.
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.
Activity in China slowed markedly in the first half of 2018, but softened just marginally when trade tensions picked up. Policy support to credit-intensive sectors largely offset tariffs, but investment in high value-added tradable sectors suffered. Scope for more policy support remains if growth falls further.
Nationwide protests continue, triggered by economic strain and deep-rooted dissatisfaction with the sectarian-based leaders. Permanent fiscal measures and deeper structural reforms are needed to achieve macroeconomic stability and raise growth.
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.