Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Latin American currencies claw their way back, partially due to IMF lending

Bloomberg.com, "Mexico stocks rise on rate-cut bets, stronger peso; Homex gains"
El Comercio.com.pe, "Precio del Nuevo sol y Bolsa de Valores de Lima suben en apertura"
Bloomberg.com, "Peru Stocks Go to First From Worst as Metals Rebound"
Bloomberg.com, "Mexico Peso, Stocks, Bonds Rally as Calderon Seeks IMF Line"
El Universal.com, "México puede endeudarse ante caída de ingresos: OCDE"
Bloomberg.com, "Peru Bank reduced on slowdown in spending, loans"

The IMF has been lightening loan conditions for emerging nations that need short-term assistance, and Latin American countries have been taking advantage of the new, resulting opportunities. Mexico, Latin America’s second biggest economy, is a key example: Mexico announced that its government is seeking a USD47 billion credit line to shore up its foreign reserves. Expectations for the IMF-backed credit line gave the peso enough firepower to rise to its strongest level since December. A rally in commodities and stocks also buoyed demand for emerging-market assets. Thanks to these factors, Mexico is experiencing its best economic rebound since April 1995. Mexico’s currency had declined over 30% during the past six months but has recovered over 19% this month alone, which constitutes the largest gain of the world’s 16 major currencies.

Mexico hopes to re-attract investors by reducing the concerns about its foreign reserves. According to Mexico’s central bank the country spent $21.1 billion of its foreign reserves since October to shore up the peso. The global crisis, which eroded demand for Mexico’s exports and throttled remittances from Mexican workers in the United States, continued to pound the currency until late March. This week, as the Mexican economy shows signs of an eventual recovery, lending rates in the country are to be cut to further boost growth.

Like Mexico, other Latin American economies also rallied after they were closed for the Easter holiday weekend. Perú’s sol regained some muscle against the U.S. dollar last week, and Peru’s central bank accelerated interest rate cuts after data showed consumer spending and the bank lending had slowed more than policymakers expected. Peru has also benefited from a rebound in raw-material prices, which helped Peru’s economy grow faster than any other Latin American economy in recent weeks. Brazilian stocks also rose on speculation that thawing credit markets will bolster economic growth and demand for the country’s exports.

Is the partial recovery of major Latin American currencies a short break from the downturn or a sign of lasting stabilization and recovery?

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