Paula Sambo, Ney Hayashi Cruz – Bloomberg Business, 12/16/2015
Brazil’s breathtaking fall from investor favorite to emerging-market pariah shows no signs of slowing.
On Wednesday, Latin America’s largest economy lost its investment-grade status when Fitch Ratings became the second of the three main debt-ratings firms to cut Brazil to junk. And a third downgrade, this time by Moody’s Investors Service, can’t be far behind as fiscal accounts deteriorate and a political stalemate persists, according to Torino Capital LLC’s Jorge Piedrahita.
Instead of rising star, Brazil now has a new title: world’s largest junk-rated sovereign borrower. It’s a stunning reversal from its heyday in the late 2000s when the country, riding the commodities boom, shrugged off the financial crisis that rocked the developed world and won its first investment grade.
Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 11/8/2015
Anything can happen in a free market. But what will become of the weakest currency in the big four emerging markets if the Fed hikes rates next month? Will it to go R$5.00 as some uber-bears are now forecasting?
Brazil’s benchmark consumer price index, the IPCA, rose to 9.9% from a year earlier in October, up from a steady 9.5% in August and September. This is happening in a recession and with interest rates unchanged at 14.25%. Moreover, the currency has actually strengthened by around half a percent over the last month. In monthly terms, Brazil’s inflation index rose a non-seasonally adjusted 0.82% in October, over 10% now in annualized terms, all because of higher domestic food prices and transportation costs. Pass-through of the weaker real was the key driver of inflation, raising the local price of fuel and food, an energy-intensive product. The real is down 26.7% against the dollar over the last six months and has only began to flex its muscles in the last few weeks.
The real’s stabilization since mid-September could help to cool inflation in 2016 if sustained, says Bill Adams, senior international economist with PNC Financial in Pittsburgh.
Tom Beardsworth and Lyubov Pronina – Bloomberg Business, 9/13/2015
Credit growth in China, Brazil and Turkey doesn’t only risk spurring a hangover in bad debt — it also signals a banking crisis is on the horizon, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
A ratio of credit to gross domestic product, a measure of how much private-sector credit has deviated from its long-term trend, stands at 25.4 percent in China, BIS said in a report on Sunday. That’s the highest of any major economy and compares with 16.6 percent in Turkey and 15.7 percent in Brazil.
“Early warning indicators of banking stress pointed to risks arising from strong credit growth,” according to the bank. Historically, a country with a ratio above a 10 percent threshold has a two-thirds chance of “serious banking strains” occurring within three years, BIS said.
Jonathan Wheatley – Financial Times, 9/11/2015
Brazil’s downgrade to junk status this week by Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, is not only a severe blow to investors, policymakers and citizens in Brazil, but it also opens the prospect of a wave of further downgrades across emerging markets, as credit spreads widen and investors become increasingly gloomy about a global economic slowdown.
“We are entering a different phase,” says Bhanu Baweja, emerging market strategist at UBS in London. “For the longest time we have thought that even if EM growth is weak, EM balance sheets, or their ability to service their debts, have been broadly OK. But now things are getting more serious.”
Analysts say the three main global rating agencies — S&P, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings — are increasingly basing their ratings decisions on broad macroeconomic criteria rather than on a country’s narrow ability to service its foreign currency sovereign debts, traditionally the agencies’ main focus.
Maria Levitov – Bloomberg Business, 8/14/2015
Bet on India’s growth stories and shun Brazilian behemoths when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, emerging-market stock-pickers say.
India will probably do best among the 10 largest emerging equity markets after the Fed boosts rates for the first time in nine years, and Brazil the worst, according to a Bloomberg survey of 10 stock fund managers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
A Fed increase, which may come next month, would herald the end to an era of record-low U.S. interest rates that supported demand for riskier assets. Higher U.S. borrowing costs threaten to lure money out of developing nations, making it costlier to finance budget and current-account deficits.
Walter Brandimarte – Reuters, 6/17/2015
Yields paid on Brazil’s interest rate contracts rallied on Wednesday after a central bank director said recent progress in inflation expectations was “not good enough,” while Latin American currencies weakened slightly ahead of a U.S. monetary policy statement.
Brazil’s interest rate futures for January 2017 rallied 8 basis points to 14.04 percent as comments from central bank director Tony Volpon led investors to bet rates would remain high for longer than expected next year.
In a meeting with investors in London, Volpon acknowledged a recent improvement in inflation expectations for 2016 but suggested more must be done to meet the government’s target of 4.5 percent.
Juan Pablo Spinetto, Anna Edgerton, Sabrina Valle – Bloomberg Business, 05/27/2015
Oil was to be the elixir of Brazil’s dreams to build a formidable economy, promote industrial development and fund a more generous welfare state even as it attracted billions in private global investment.
Instead, crisis and disappointment in the oil sector are beckoning Brazil’s leadership to move — if grudgingly — toward more deregulated industries and to temper the government’s hand in using state-run companies to forge broader economic policy.
Which helps explain why, as her second term takes shape, some of President Dilma Rousseff’s ministers have jettisoned the statist language of her first four years in office and those of her popular predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Instead, they are floating some liberal notions more in keeping with the pre-Lula years.