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Emerging markets pale into shadows

By unknown | Jul 29, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

In their final stability update yesterday the Intentional Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that emerging market (EM) risks are rising.

In their final stability update yesterday the Intentional Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that emerging market (EM) risks are rising.

The IMF said that while emerging markets had remained relatively resilient to the credit turmoil, as the crisis remains protracted, external funding conditions are tightening and some emerging markets are coming under increased scrutiny.

Notably, they said this involved policies to address rising inflationary pressures.

"There are now clear signs that investors are becoming more cautious about adding to positions," said the IMF.

The IMF researchers noted that EM equity markets have marginally under-performed mature market equities since the recent mid-May peak.

"Outflows from EM equity funds have been concentrated on Asian markets where inflation and downside growth risks are most elevated," they said.

Countries like South Africa with high current account deficits were pinpointed.

"As commodity prices rise, risk appetite wanes, and external financing conditions tighten, markets have become increasingly discriminating with regard to the risks posed by large external imbalances," said the IMF.

The IMF said that risk premiums for EM countries with external imbalances (defined as a current account deficit of 5percent of GDP or more and thus including South Africa at 9percent) were returning to their mid-March highs.

And equity markets were under-performing those of countries with smaller external imbalances.

South Africa's current account deficit hit a new record of R194677billion in the first quarter of 2008 from the R157658billion seen in the fourth quarter of last year.

The previous record was R163309billion, set in the third quarter of last year.

As a percentage of GDP, the current account deficit was recorded at 9,0percent in the first quarter from 7,5percent in the fourth quarter.

All of this comes against the main finding of yesterday's report, which paints a sombre backdrop: "Global financial markets continue to be fragile and indicators of systemic risk remain elevated.

"Credit quality across many loan classes has begun to deteriorate with declining house prices and slowing economic growth." - I-Net Bridge


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