Our monthly coverage of the Americas includes a post-election update on Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff only narrowly secured a second term at a run-off held in late October, and both her party, the PT, and its main ally, the PMDB, suffered a double-digit loss of seats at legislative elections held earlier in the month. Rousseff’s coalition still claims a majority in both legislative chambers, but the president will need to address the public grievances that contributed to her close call if she hopes to avoid a renewed slump in her popularity that opens up cracks in her coalition. The report will assess her prospects for success in that regard, focusing on the impediments President Rousseff faces in her second term, which will begin under conditions of worrisome economic weakness.
Analysis for Western Europe includes a detailed risk assessment of the Netherlands, where economic recovery prospects and the coalition government’s solid fiscal record are at risk from the downturn in Germany and other parts of the euro zone. We evaluate the two-party coalition government’s survival prospects against the backdrop of the European election results in May, growing protests over the country’s role in the western campaign against ISIL, and challenges posed by Russia’s retaliatory sanctions on the EU.
The country’s deteriorating bilateral relations with Russia are evaluated alongside its status within the EU in light of the latter’s recent demand for increased budget payments. We also analyze the contrasting consumer spending and export trends, examine the risk of deflation, assess the outlook for financial stability in the wake of the ECB’s most recent round of stress tests, and look at the implications of a new risk framework for pension funds.
In Eastern Europe, the spotlight will be on Czech Republic, where recent Senate and local elections have increased the leverage of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s coalition partners, especially the moderately euroskeptic ANO, whose leader, Andrej Babiš, serves as finance minister in the CSSD-led government. The report will discuss the risks associated with the adjustment to the balance of power within the coalition, including the danger that slower growth—a distinct possibility against the backdrop of a sanctions war between the EU and Russia that is reinforcing a loss of economic momentum across the euro zone—might tempt Babiš to more fully indulge his populist inclinations. PRS will examine the implications of such a development for both the stability of the coalition and market confidence, and more generally assess the near-term prospects for the Czech economy.
In Asia, PRS will revisit Thailand this month for a fresh examination of the implications of the military takeover and the prospect of elections returning the country to democracy over the next few years. We assess the effects of the new National Assembly stuffed with military shirts, and the junta’s controversial economic policies taking a swipe at the middle income and wealthy investors who largely supported the takeover. The report also focuses on the rising tide of resentment to the coup and how the rejection of supporters of the former Thaksin government from the formulation of a new constitution will affect prospects for peace, alongside the problems related to the southern insurgency continuing.
Our report rounds out with a detailed assessment of the economic outlook, with a particular focus on external trade, tourism and consumer spending as well as fiscal and monetary trends when factoring in the central bank’s likely reaction function and the government’s tax and spending plans.
In North Africa and the Middle East, PRS will examine recent developments in Saudi Arabia, where government officials are attempting to play an active role in addressing threats to regional stability while remaining mindful of the danger that close cooperation with the US and other western powers could leave the kingdom itself vulnerable to extremist violence. Analysis will include an assessment of the reasons behind the government’s unexpected policy departure with regard to oil production, and the implications of the fall in global prices for the economy in 2014–2015.
Our extensive coverage of Sub-Saharan Africa this month includes an update on Kenya, where security risks stemming from terrorist violence remain high in the wake of a deadly attack earlier this year carried out by Al-Shabaab militants. Recent policy-related developments on the security front include the imposition of a four-month curfew in the coastal region of Lamu, the scene of the worst atrocities.
Various other risk-related topics include the virtual collapse of a criminal court case against President Uhuru Kenyatta and the appearance of cracks in the unity of the governing Jubilee Coalition. The report will also examine the near-term prospects for the economy, focusing in particular on the impact of falling tea prices and tourism earnings on Kenya’s twin deficits, a source of concern given the danger that a tightening of monetary policy in the US could trigger capital flight from less stable markets.