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Covid-19’s Lingering Impact is Fading Investor Optimism, Says IMF

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IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva

The IMF is warning in its latest Global Financial Stability Report that Covid-19’s lingering impact is fading optimism among investors, which could lead to financial tightening in the medium term, Tuesday (October 12).

“Amid the prolonged and painful pandemic, financial stability risks have been contained so far. Financial conditions have eased since the start of the pandemic. This reflects the continuing monetary and fiscal support for the economy, which helped spur a rebound from 2020. Yet the sense of optimism which had propelled markets in the first half of the year has faded somewhat,” said Tobias Adrian, the IMF’s Financial Counsellor and Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets.

Key world economic policymakers are gathering in Washington, DC for the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank.

“Uneven vaccine access, along with the mutations of the virus, have led to a resurgence of infections. Investors are increasingly worried about the economic outlook amid great uncertainty about the strength of the recovery. Anxiety about the inflationary pressures has recently pushed yields higher. As sudden and sustained repricing of risk could interact with underlying vulnerabilities, that could lead to a tightening of financial conditions, which could put growth at risk in the medium term,” said Adrian ahead of the report’s release.

A prolonged period of extremely easy financial conditions during the pandemic—which certainly has been needed to sustain the economic recovery—has allowed overly stretched asset valuations to persist. If that overstretch continues, it may, in turn, intensify financial vulnerabilities.

“Financial vulnerabilities continue to be elevated in a number of sectors, although vulnerabilities have eased in some areas since April. Policymakers are now confronted with a difficult tradeoff. They must continue to provide near-term support to the global economy, yet they must simultaneously try to avoid the buildup of medium-term financial stability risks. After more than a year, complacency appears as a real risk. Asset valuations remain stretched and risk taking persists. If left unchecked, such vulnerabilities could become structural legacy issues,” added Adrian.

Adrian urged policymakers to continue to provide near-term support to the global economy, even as they must simultaneously try to avoid the buildup of medium-term financial-stability risks.

“Policymakers should formulate action plans that would guard against unintended consequences. Monetary and fiscal policy support should be more targeted and tailored to the country’s specific circumstances, given the varying pace of the recoveries across countries. Central banks should provide clear guidance about the future approach to monetary policy and remain vigilant to avoid an unwarranted and abrupt tightening of financial conditions. If price pressures turn out to be more persistent than anticipated, they should act decisively to avoid an unmooring of inflation expectations. Policymakers should take early action and tighten selected macro prudential tools to target pockets of elevated vulnerabilities,” said Adrian.

In a context of higher price pressures, investors are now pricing in a rapid and fairly sharp tightening cycle for many emerging markets, although the increase in inflation is expected to be temporary.

“In emerging markets and frontier economies, policymakers should rebuild buffers and implement structural reforms. Some of those economies remain exposed to the risk of a sudden tightening in external financial conditions. Rebuilding buffers and implementing enduring reforms to boost structural growth prospects will be pivotal to cushion the adverse impact of capital flow reversals or an abrupt increase in financing costs,” said Adrian.

Adrian concluded his remarks by advising that now is the far-sighted policy action.

“With vulnerabilities intensifying and with policy support for economic growth having already been asserted to an unprecedented degree. This is a time for far sighted policy action. Policy action must be carefully crafted, aiming to avoid unintended consequences, which could put growth at risk, and which could lead to an abrupt adjustment in the financial market.” Said Adrian

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Nigeria’s Growth Forecast Lowered to 3% for 2025, Higher than Most Emerging Markets

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IMF global - Investors King

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected a 3% growth rate for Nigeria in 2025, slightly down from the 3.1% forecasted for 2024.

Despite this slight decline, Nigeria’s projected growth remains higher than that of many emerging markets as detailed in the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook released on Tuesday.

In comparison, South Africa’s economy is expected to grow by 1.2% in 2025, up from 0.9% this year. Brazil’s growth is projected at 2.4% from 2.1% in 2024, and Mexico’s growth forecast stands at 1.6% for 2025, down from 2.2% in 2024.

However, India is anticipated to see a robust growth of 6.5% in 2025, although this is slightly lower than the 7% forecast for 2024.

The IMF’s projections come as Nigeria undertakes significant monetary reforms. The Central Bank of Nigeria has been working on clearing the foreign exchange backlog, and the federal government recently removed petrol subsidies.

These reforms aim to stabilize the economy, but the country continues to grapple with high inflation and increasing poverty levels, which pose challenges to sustained economic growth.

Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is expected to see an improvement in growth, with projections of 4.1% in 2025, up from 3.7% in 2024. This regional outlook indicates a modest recovery as economies adjust to global economic conditions.

The IMF report underscores the need for cautious monetary policy. It recommends that central banks in emerging markets avoid easing their monetary stances too early to manage inflation risks and sustain economic growth.

In cases where inflation risks have materialized, central banks are advised to remain open to further tightening of monetary policy.

“Central banks should refrain from easing too early and should be prepared for further tightening if necessary,” the report stated. “Where inflation data encouragingly signal a durable return to price stability, monetary policy easing should proceed gradually to allow for necessary fiscal consolidation.”

The IMF also highlighted the importance of avoiding fiscal slippages, noting that fiscal policies may need to be significantly tighter than previously anticipated in some countries to ensure economic stability.

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Nigeria’s Inflation Rises to 34.19% in June Amid Rising Costs

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Food Inflation - Investors King

Nigeria’s headline inflation rate surged to 34.19% in June 2024, a significant increase from the 33.95% recorded in May.

This rise highlights the continuing pressures on the nation’s economy as the cost of living continues to climb.

On a year-on-year basis, the June 2024 inflation rate was 11.40 percentage points higher than the 22.79% recorded in June 2023.

This substantial increase shows the persistent challenges faced by consumers and businesses alike in coping with escalating prices.

The month-on-month inflation rate for June 2024 was 2.31%, slightly up from 2.14% in May 2024. This indicates that the pace at which prices are rising continues to accelerate, compounding the economic strain on households and enterprises.

A closer examination of the divisional contributions to the inflation index reveals that food and non-alcoholic beverages were the primary drivers, contributing 17.71% to the year-on-year increase.

Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels followed, adding 5.72% to the inflationary pressures.

Other significant contributors included clothing and footwear (2.62%), transport (2.23%), and furnishings, household equipment, and maintenance (1.72%).

Sectors such as education, health, and miscellaneous goods and services also played notable roles, contributing 1.35%, 1.03%, and 0.57% respectively.

The rural and urban inflation rates also exhibited marked increases. Urban inflation reached 36.55% in June 2024, a rise of 12.23 percentage points from the 24.33% recorded in June 2023.

On a month-on-month basis, urban inflation was 2.46% in June, slightly higher than the 2.35% in May 2024. The twelve-month average for urban inflation stood at 32.08%, up 9.70 percentage points from June 2023’s 22.38%.

Rural inflation was similarly impacted, with a year-on-year rate of 32.09% in June 2024, an increase of 10.71 percentage points from June 2023’s 21.37%.

The month-on-month rural inflation rate rose to 2.17% in June, up from 1.94% in May 2024. The twelve-month average for rural inflation reached 28.15%, compared to 20.76% in June 2023.

The rising inflation rates pose significant challenges for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as it grapples with balancing monetary policy to rein in inflation while supporting economic growth.

The ongoing pressures from high food prices and energy costs necessitate urgent policy interventions to stabilize the economy and protect the purchasing power of Nigerians.

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Inflation to Climb Again in June, but at a Reduced Pace, Predicts Meristem

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Nigeria's Inflation Rate - Investors King

As Nigeria awaits the release of the National Bureau of Statistics’ report on June 2024 inflation, economic analysts project that while inflation will continue its upward trajectory, the pace of increase will moderate.

This comes after inflation rose to a 28-year high of 33.95% in May, up from 33.69% in April.

Meristem, a leading financial services company, has forecasted that June’s headline inflation will rise to 34.01%, a slight increase from May’s figure.

The firm attributes this persistent inflationary pressure to ongoing structural challenges in agriculture, high transportation costs, and the continuous depreciation of the naira.

Experts have highlighted several factors contributing to the inflationary trend. Insecurity in food-producing regions and high transportation costs have disrupted supply chains, while the depreciation of the naira has increased importation costs.

In May, food inflation grew at a slower pace, reaching 40.66%, but challenges in the agricultural sector, such as the infestation of tomato leaves, have led to higher prices for staples like tomatoes and yams.

Meristem predicts that food inflation will persist in June, driven by these lingering challenges. Increased demand during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration and rising importation costs are also expected to keep food prices elevated.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile items like food and energy, was at 27.04% in May. Meristem projects it to rise to 27.30% in June.

The firm notes that higher transportation costs and the depreciation of the naira will continue to push core inflation up.

However, they also anticipate a month-on-month moderation in the core index due to a relatively stable naira exchange rate during June, compared to a more significant depreciation in May.

Cowry Assets Management Limited has projected an even higher headline inflation figure of 34.25% for June, citing similar concerns.

The firm notes that over the past year, food prices in Nigeria have soared due to supply chain disruptions, currency depreciation, and climate change impacts on agriculture.

This has made basic staples increasingly unaffordable for many Nigerians, stretching household budgets.

As inflation continues to rise, analysts believe the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will likely hike the benchmark lending rate again.

The CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 650 basis points this year, bringing it to 26.25% as of May 2024.

At a recent BusinessDay CEO Forum, CBN Governor Dr. Olayemi Cardoso emphasized the MPC’s commitment to tackling inflation, stating that while the country needs growth, controlling inflation is paramount.

“The MPC is not oblivious to the fact that the country does need growth. If these hikes hadn’t been done at the time, the naira would have almost tipped over, so it helped to stabilize the naira. Interest rates are not set by the CBN governor but by the MPC committee composed of independent-minded people. These are people not given to emotion but to data. The MPC clarified that the major issue is taming inflation, and they would do what is necessary to tame it,” Cardoso said.

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