Blink and you missed it. The day after the US Federal Reserve appeared on Wednesday to put back the date of its long-awaiting interest rate rise, analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote to clients: “Emerging market currencies temporarily halted their losing streak with a dovish Federal Open Market Committee sending the USD lower.”

“Temporarily” is right. The Brazilian real closed at about R$3.21 to the dollar on Wednesday from its open of R$3.24, a rare day’s gain in a two-month slide. But on Thursday it was back on course, falling quickly beyond R$3.30 before recovering a bit, an intraday move of nearly 3 per cent. In less dramatic manner, the Turkish lira, Russian rouble and South African rand all resumed their downward slides, too. Read more

It was a cathartic weekend for Brazilians, as more than a million people took to the streets to show their discontent with the government in scenes not seen since the mass demonstrations that preceded the impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Mello more than a decade ago.

Sadly, any idea that such a “cleansing of the soul” (as they sometimes say in Brazil) would be followed by a fresh optimistic start on Monday quickly evaporated as the central bank’s weekly round of consensus forecasts showed no end to the deepening gloom. Read more

The International Monetary Fund will hold discussions in May and make a decision in November on whether to add the Chinese renminbi to the four currencies it uses to value its Special Drawing Right (SDR), the international reserve asset created by the Fund.

China is keen for this to happen, as the deputy governor of its central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), reiterated at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday. There is a snag: the renminbi is not and may never be a convertible currency, which is a standard pre-requisite of a reserve currency. But as David Lubin of Citi Research argues in a note also published on Thursday, that consideration is likely to be put aside. Read more

How isolated is Venezuela’s government from the people it supposedly represents? Very isolated indeed, according to a study commissioned by beyondbrics from Marco Ruediger and colleages at FGV DAPP, the department of public policy analysis at the Fundação Getulio Vergas in Rio de Janeiro.

The study, derived from activity on Twitter, demonstrates the extreme polarisation of opinion in the country and suggests that Venezuela’s media, often either controlled or suppressed by the government, is increasingly lining up with opposition voices.

Source: FGV DAPP

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The Brazilian real continued its collapse on Monday, passing the barrier of R$3.10 to the US dollar just three trading days after going through the R$3.00 barrier. The currency is at its weakest for more than a decade and has lost half of its value since its peak of R$1.54 to the dollar in July 2011.

There is little reason to expect a recovery any time soon. Read more

It is news to no-one that Ukraine is suffering fall-out from Russia. But in a study to be published on Thursday that isolates the impact only of trade, remittances and investment flows, analysts at Fitch Ratings say the sharp slowdown in Russia’s economy is a “significant shock” for neighbouring economies, including Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

Source: Fitch

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Brazil, it seems, simply can’t put its house in order. The real hit R$3 to the US dollar during trading on Wednesday for the first time in more than a decade, after Renan Calheiros, president of the Senate, rejected a presidential decree that would have raised payroll taxes. The measure is seen as essential to meeting ambitious fiscal targets set by Joaquim Levy, the market-friendly finance minister installed in January to rescue the economy, and was the subject of a public rift between Levy and President Dilma Rousseff last weekend.

Failure to meet those targets – or even the fear of failure – puts Brazil’s hard-won investment grade credit rating in jeopardy. Markets were especially jittery on Wednesday, economic daily Valor Econômico reported, as a team from Standard & Poor’s, one of the three global ratings agencies, arrived in Brazil to evaluate the country’s credit risk. Read more

As Brazil’s monetary policy committee sits down in Brasília the consensus view is that it will attempt to regain some credibility in the fight against inflation and raise its policy interest rate by 50 basis points for a third consecutive time. That would bring its target overnight rate, the Selic, to 12.75 per cent a year. Even after discounting inflation of about 7.5 per cent, that is still a very hefty 5.25 per cent a year. So whatever the Copom announces on Wednesday evening after two days of deliberation – it will be either 50bp or 25bp – it will raise protests from labour unions and others worried about the impact of high interest rates on consumption and jobs.

But policy makers may well feel that, right now, inflation matters more. Read more

Another week goes by and the outlook for Brazil’s economy gets gloomier still. The consensus on GDP is now for a 0.58 per cent contraction this year, according to the central bank’s latest weekly survey of market economists, while industrial production is expected to contract by 0.72 per cent. Inflation is expected to rise to 7.47 per cent; the central bank’s policy interest rate is seen ending the year at 13 per cent.

The survey was published on Monday after a weekend that saw yet another apparent rift open up at the top of government, along with some surprising behaviour by President Dilma Rousseff. Read more

So much is going wrong in Brazil that it is hard to keep up. For years, critics have accused the government of incompetence. Now its actions are looking catastrophic – so much so that there are good reasons to think President Dilma Rousseff, who began a second four-year term only on January 1, may not last much longer.

Here is our list of 10 things that threaten to bring her down. Read more

Back in November, we wrote about an analysis of tweets in Brazil that illustrated the extreme polarisation of the country’s voters on the eve of the presidential election on October 26. A striking image (seen in miniature on the left) generated by Marco Aurélio Ruediger and colleagues at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas, an educational institution in Rio de Janeiro, showed voters on each side of the two-way race talking exclusively among themselves and almost never to each other.

Three more snapshots produced by Ruediger and his team since the election suggest a big change has happened in the debate taking place on social media – but that supporters and opponents of the government remain as polarised as ever. Read more

How much bang do fund managers give for their investors’ bucks? It’s a question that has provoked plenty of debate in the FT recently, prompted not least by the “scandalous index cloning epidemic” in which supposedly active managers charge high fees for simply following a benchmark.

EM investors are far from immune. So they may be interested to hear of a new service offered by Copley Fund Research, which tracks the performance of 100 of the biggest global emerging market equity funds, with a combined $265bn of assets under management. Read more

Developed country central banks that see quantitative easing as a route to recovery are merely inflating bubbles, driving up the prices of assets held by rich people and failing to deliver growth on the ground. So says Atiur Rahman, governor of the central bank of Bangladesh.

“QE will lead to bubbles and overheating,” he said during a visit to beyondbrics on Friday. “They are creating liquidity in the air and never really touching the ground.” Read more

Turkish lira per US dollar, 3 months to Feb 4. Source: Thomson Reuters

The Turkish lira went on a fresh slide on Wednesday, adding to its losses over the past fortnight. Investors have no doubt been alarmed by the pressure piling on Turkey’s central bank from the luscious new presidential palace in Ankara. But the lira’s new weakness may also signal an unwinding of some strongly bullish positions on Turkish local debt taken by foreign investors in recent months. Read more

Just what are we to read into this? Mainstream and social media in India are abuzz with the revelation that, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama on Sunday, the pinstripes of his suit were not pinstripes at all but his full name, Narendra Damodardas Modi, spelt out in block capitals over and over again. Read more

PIB = GDP, IPCA = CPI. Black lines = 2015, red lines = 2016. Source: central bank

The task facing Brazil’s new economics team came further into focus on Monday morning with inflation expectations rising and the consensus on economic growth falling, both for the fourth consecutive week. The central bank’s latest weekly survey of market economists has GDP rising just 0.13 per cent this year, down from the 0.55 per cent expected four weeks ago, while consumer price inflation is seen ending the year at 6.99 per cent, up from 6.53 per cent four weeks ago and some way beyond the upper limit in the government’s target range of 4.5 per cent plus or minus two percentage points. Read more

Investors are often known to buy on the rumour and sell on the fact but on Thursday, following the announcement of the European Central Bank’s €60bn-a-month asset-buying programme, they carried right on buying.

That’s true, at least, of central and eastern European currencies, if you measure them against the freshly-weakened euro. Read more

After building expectations for so long, it will come as a disappointment today if the Eureopean Central Bank does not promise to buy (or have others buy) €50bn’s worth of assets every month for at least the next year.

Assuming Mario Draghi delivers as hoped, what will it mean for EM? Will ECB QE pick up where the US Federal Reserve’s variety left off, floating EM asset prices once again? Beyondbrics has been asking around. Read more

The gloom continues to darken over the outlook for Brazil’s economy this year but, for the time being, investors are betting that the country’s very high interest rates are worth the risk.

The central bank’s latest weekly survey of market economists shows the consensus on economic growth this year falling yet again, to just 0.38 per cent. Inflation expectations, meanwhile, have crept up again, to 6.67 per cent, beyond the upper limit of the government’s target range. Read more

Those who relish irony will have found much to savour in the Swiss central bank’s actions on Thursday when, as Mohamed El-Erian comments, we were reminded of the dangers of substituting financial engineering for real economic reform.

The choicest item is the way that Hungary’s authorities have emerged, as analysts at Commerzbank put in on Friday morning, looking like “financial experts of the highest calibre” – not an opinion often heard on financial markets. Read more