Latin America countries are worried about inflation
Chile’s central bank became the latest in Latin America to hike interest rates this week, startling markets with a decision to double its overnight rate.
Why it matters: Inflation has been running high in parts of Latin America. And central bankers across the region don’t have the luxury of maintaining a “looser for longer” monetary policy the way the Fed and the ECB do.
- That’s because many Latin American countries have a more traumatic past when it comes to runaway inflation — so they’re often quick to act on rising prices, Alonso Cervera, chief economist for Latin America at Credit Suisse, tells Axios.
What's happening: Chile’s central bank hiked its key rate to 1.5%, from 0.75% — and said it expects to keep on hiking all the way to 3.5% within the next six months.
- This, after saying in June that rates would likely end the year at 1.25%.
- Chile’s move was driven by expectations for inflation of 5.7% this year, and a forecast that 2021 GDP growth will heat up by as much as 11.5%.
- Many of the recent rate-hikers don't have nearly the growth expectations of Chile — but are experiencing inflation, Cervera says.
What to watch: Besides the next round of inflation data and central bank meetings — upcoming elections.
- That's because even as central banks seek to pull back from pandemic-era support, social spending demands on the part of the public may intensify — because COVID's impact on jobs and poverty has lingered, Michael Arno, associate portfolio manager at Brandywine Global, tells Axios.
- The Chilean general election will take place in November, followed by Colombia in May and Brazil in October 2022, he notes.