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Volatility and opportunity
Weekly investor research
02 March 2020
Ecuadorian bonds experienced considerable price volatility due to inaccurate journalism. Uruguay’s new government was sworn in and announced a positive reform agenda. India GDP showed signs of an economic rebound. The South Africa budget delivered the first real effort at reform under President Cyril Ramaphosa by embedding a wage freeze for the next three years. In Brazil, the rate of unemployment declined further amidst a significant primary surplus in January. In Argentina, a mission from the International Monetary Fund arrives this week. South Korea kept interest rates unchanged. China’s purchasing managers index collapses as expected, but the People’s Bank of China pledged to make ample liquidity available and to cut rates. Mexico recorded a current account surplus in Q4 2019. The Romanian President appointed another Prime Minister, who is unlikely to obtain enough support to win a confidence vote. In Malaysia, the government announced a sizeable fiscal stimulus in response to coronavirus. In global news, financial markets the world over were extremely volatile due to fears over the spread of coronavirus. The prospect of Bernie Sanders winning the Democrat Party nomination may also have weighed somewhat on sentiment in US markets, but the odds of Bernie Sanders winning now appear to be dwindling somewhat, although Super Tuesday (3 March 2020) could change all that. Late last week, in response to serious declines in the US stock market, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powel issued an unusual statement signalling a rate cut in the upcoming March meeting. Coordinated global central bank easing cannot be ruled out and would likely have a positive impact on asset prices in the short term. The combination of easier monetary policy in the US plus fiscal stimulus in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy and other countries could usher in a “v-shaped” recovery, if, as we expect, coronavirus turns out to be transitory.