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Country Forecast Brazil February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Brazil February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5313264


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  • Governability will weaken as campaigning for the October 2018 elections brings legislative business to a gridlock by the second quarter. The presidential race is unusually open, as the incumbent, Michel Temer, is unlikely to stand for re-election. The Economist Intelligence Unit assumes that a candidate from a centre-right party (we tentatively think this is likely to be Geraldo Alckmin) will prevail, but there are downside risks.
  • We now expect full approval of social security reforms (complementing a bill approved by Congress at end-2016 capping spending to inflation) to be delayed until 2019, sustaining concerns about the fiscal outlook. As revenue picks up with economic recovery, the fiscal and debt dynamics will gradually stabilise. Equally, as the primary fiscal deficit swings to a surplus, the rise in the public debt/GDP ratio will slow, but will nonetheless exceed 80% in 2019-22.
  • The Banco Central do Brasil (the central bank) is nearing the end of a long easing cycle with what will probably be a final 25-basis-point cut in the Selic policy rate, to 6.75%, at the February 2018 rate-setting meeting. The monetary authorities are more committed to achieving the mid-point of the inflation target range (3-6% currently but set to fall incremen-tally in the next few years) than in the past, and we now expect fairly close target convergence in 2018-22.
  • Policy adjustments will consolidate the recovery that began in 2017 after a deep recession in 2014-16. A slowdown in China in 2018 and in the US in 2020 will dampen the upturn, however. Brazil's GDP growth will average 2.5% annually in 2018-22, assuming that the next government pursues sound policies.
  • The current-account deficit will widen from an estimated 0.5% of GDP in 2017 (reflecting weak import demand) to 2.7% of GDP by 2022 as the recovery boosts imports. The Real will weaken to close to R3.9:US$1 by end-2022, staying vulnerable to volatility from changes in global conditions.
  • Brazil has the world's fifth-largest population. Following the 2014-16 recession, a gradual economic recovery is finally underway, and will enhance Brazil's market size (US$2.5trn by 2022) and attractiveness.
  • Despite some simplifications to the tax system, it will remain very burdensome-and one of the weakest areas of the business environment. Investment in infrastructure through a concessions programme will help to ease logistical bottlenecks, but upgrading and extension will take time.

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