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Сегодня, 25 Марта
Walking a tightrope (Eng)
Our macroeconomic view on Ukraine is based on the key ideas regarding the upcoming developments in the economy in 2H11 and 2012-13. They are the following:
Global economy. Past and current imbalances of trade and capital flows between major economies are not finding a resolution of coordinated policymaking to decisively increase aggregate demand in the global economy. As an example, the US economy is being propped up by sizable fiscal and monetary stimuli which have failed to reduce unemployment and caused a side-effect of rapidly rising prices for commodities, especially of crude oil. Larger EM economies and the Euro-zone economy are being cooled down by central banks due to inflation rising above comfortable levels. With slower global demand and US unemployment still high, monetary conditions in the US will still feature an extension of the Fed current policy of historically low interest rates, as well as an additional quantitative easing programme later in 2011 and likely into 1H12. This will bolster commodity prices, which, as we note below, are likely to trend lower as global demand growth slows.
Commodities. Among commodities most vital for Ukraine-crude oil and steel-we expect the price of crude oil to recede after the 1H spike, as demand conditions this trend. However, a geopolitical factor (Lybia, unrest on one of the major oil exporters) may undermine this notion as it would send price for crude oil upward. Steel prices are factored into our macro model as being relatively stable in the forecasting period and broadly equal to the average of past several months - indeed CIS export steel prices (HR coil) reported by Bloomberg rose substantially, repeating the highs of 2008. Importantly, higher energy prices will drive this year's inflation and the policymakers' reaction. Indeed, higher energy prices is encouraging faster shift of the NBU towards targeting inflation and allowing greater flexibility of the USD/UAH exchange rate to range within a likely 7.8-8.0/USD band, i.e. a 2% deviation from the current FX rate.
IMF. Due to the nature of Ukraine's current economic conditions-which feature twin deficits in public finance (elections loom on the horizon) and external balance (high and sticky energy prices)-its dependence on external financing is still a major factor shaping other developments. Ukraine's tendency to have a diversity of financing sources eventually makes the IMF story (i.e. implementation of conditions for the next tranches under the current Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF) as not so dire as perceived at the end of 1Q11, when a number of issues appeared stalled. Privatisations may appear unlocked in time for BoP support. In the face of persistent high crude oil prices that push imports higher, growing risks to the authorities arise from extending a greater subsidy to Naftogaz as inflationary pressure retail market gasoline prices higher, leading to expected tariff hikes that will also put pressure on the CPI.
Domestic economy. Prospects of softer global growth provides little hope for external demand to boost growth in Ukraine in 2H11. External demand acceleration is likely to be very gradual in 2012. We expect the growth rate of real GDP to fall below 5% this year, followed by a gradual acceleration in 2012 to 5.2% YoY primarily because of infrastructure spending for Euro-2012, which will boost fixed-investment as one of the key drivers of GDP growth.
Local rates and currency. Domestic interest rates should rise alongside a tighter stance by the central bank, shifting upwards the short part of the local currency yield curve. The current inflation bout in Ukraine's economy has a short-lived nature as it was caused by external factors like the energy commodity price surge, which is already reversing its trend downwards. Inflationary pressures should subside later this year or in early 2012, primarily because of a moderate rebound of demand from the deep recession in 2008-09. Meanwhile, the USD/UAH exchange rate is poised to be a bit more volatile reaching the weaker edge of the allowed corridor of fluctuations (the 8.2/USD side) quite shortly when these fluctuations become tolerable by NBU. However, eventually the UAH should strengthen in nominal terms back to 8.0/USD and possibly 7.8/USD thanks to the hawkish stance by the NBU on inflation, which ultimately spells higher interest rates that could be attractive to foreign portfolio investors.
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