Oct 24, 2019 - Economy

Capital markets feel the global protest wave

A doll effigy of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. Photo: Cristóbal Venegas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Violent protests in Chile, an OECD member long known as Latin America's slow, steady and stable credit, continued for the sixth night in a row Wednesday.

Why it matters: Markets are responding much more quickly to the state of unrest, with Chile's capital markets already pricing in negative outcomes.

Details: Blowback against an increase in public transit costs has continued despite the government offering concessions that increase public subsidies and taxes on the wealthy to rein in sky-high income inequality.

  • The Chilean peso saw its worst drop in more than six years on Monday, and its benchmark Ipsa blue-chip index has shed nearly 5%, including the largest one-day fall in two years, since protests began last week.
  • Chile's state-controlled mining company, Codelco, the world's top copper producer, said one of its mines had closed and other industries across the country are bracing for similar stoppages as trade unions have joined with protesters, Reuters reports.
  • JPMorgan strategists say they are selling Chile's stocks thanks largely to the "added social-political instability."

The big picture: Protests have erupted around the globe recently as young people, blue-collar workers and others have turned out to express outrage at austerity measures in Ecuador, law changes in Hong Kong, the jailing of separatist leaders in Spain and against corruption and a lack of economic reform in Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon.

  • "Experts discern a pattern: a louder-than-usual howl against elites in countries where democracy is a source of disappointment, corruption is seen as brazen, and a tiny political class lives large while the younger generation struggles to get by," the New York Times reports.

The bottom line: Hong Kong's protests already have wiped hundreds of billions of dollars from its stock exchange and reduced GDP expectations and real estate values. If oases of stability like Hong Kong and Chile can boil over into chaos, it's likely more is coming and that could put additional strain on the global economy.

Go deeper ... In photos: Violent weekend protests break out around the world

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