Fitch: Latam Economies Diverge as Political, Inflation, Rate Risks Creep Up

NEW YORK--()--Macroeconomic differences among Latin American countries are becoming more pronounced as continued deceleration and advancing political, inflationary and interest rate risks take their toll, according to Fitch Ratings.

While Fitch believes the balance of risk in the region remains skewed to the downside, economic ties to the U.S. are stabilizing some countries including Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. However, growth in Colombia, Peru, Chile and Ecuador and Brazil will continue to be contained by commodity price dependence and slowing global demand.

With its largest economy facing a deep and prolonged recession, the region's average GDP will contract by 0.6% in 2015, and grow 0.6% next year and 2.1% in 2017. The slowdown has affected government and corporate revenues and also begun to weigh on the region's labor market. Weaker job creation, rising unemployment, and stagnant real wages are all causes for concern - particularly for a region where consumption by a growing middle class has been such an important growth factor in recent years. Higher debt, inflation, and rising interest rates represent additional risks to consumer performance over the near term.

"Slumping growth, falling currencies, and inflationary pressures have added complexity to the region's macroeconomic challenges -- putting some central banks between a rock and hard place policy-wise," says Rui Pereira, Managing Director and Regional Credit Officer. "As currency declines have stoked inflation above target levels in several countries, the region's policy makers may face unpalatable side effects: raise rates to stem inflation but potentially compromise already-weak growth."

In addition, rising funding costs and limited capital markets access pushed a number of issuers into the local capital markets and private bank financings. While refinancing risk has been mostly contained so far, funding needs are expected to grow over the next 24 months with LATAM corporates facing USD14.2 billion in maturities in 2016 and USD27.6 billion in 2017.

Throughout the region, downgrades have outpaced upgrades by a ratio of 3:1 in the year to end-October, with Brazil accounting for more than 75% negative actions. Despite the negative ratings drift, nearly 25% of Fitch's Issuer Default Ratings continue to have a Negative Rating Outlook.

Fitch's Latin America Risk Radar frames the potential impact macroeconomic risks could have on Fitch's ratings portfolio in the region and their relative urgency. Interconnected markets mean similar issues may have an impact on multiple asset classes. The Risk Radar provides independent and objective views on potential risks not currently incorporated into Fitch's base case analysis, and their potential ratings impact by asset class.

The full report, 'Latin America - Risk Radar Update 3Q2015,' is available at www.fitchratings.com

Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

Risk Radar Latin America 3Q15

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=873515

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Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Media Relations
Alyssa Castelli, New York
+1-212-908-0540
alyssa.castelli@fitchratings.com

Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Media Relations
Alyssa Castelli, New York
+1-212-908-0540
alyssa.castelli@fitchratings.com