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Commentary

Tue 16 Apr 2019 / Global

Belt and Road delivers crucial capital

China's Belt and Road initiative provides access to capital for connected emerging markets that have not had the necessary investment grade ratings to tap international bond markets. Infrastructure, the core of Belt and Road funding, is and has been the engine of growth for most economies. But these emerging markets have never had the opportunity to attract offshore investors who require ratings dictated by their corporate policies. Nor do those investors have a high enough risk appetite to venture into uncharted emerging markets.

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Thu 11 Apr 2019 / Latin America Caribbean,Middle East,Global

'Submerging markets' pose global threat

Renewed currency weakness in Argentina and Turkey underlines the risks that emerging markets, or rather 'submerging markets', could pose to the global economic recovery. Fortunately, given their relatively small size, the Argentine and Turkish economies cannot by themselves constitute a significant threat. The same, however, might not be said of Brazil and Mexico. Both these countries appear vulnerable to crisis in the light of the seemingly shaky economic stewardship of their respective new presidents.

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Mon 18 Mar 2019 / Latin America Caribbean

Brazil on rough road to reform

Last month the Brazilian government presented its 'New Social Security' proposal to Congress. The government says the reforms are necessary to spark economic growth, though critics argue the new system would put excessive strain on the poor. President Jair Bolsonaro is resisting negotiations with congressional leaders on the basis of the traditional tit-for-tat that has long prevailed in Brasília, illustrated by the large presence of non-politicians in cabinet and in the leadership of state-owned enterprises and regulatory agencies.

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Thu 21 Feb 2019 / Asia Pacific

Financing emerging Asia infrastructure

Despite much discussion and effort, private capital is still not playing the role it can or should in financing infrastructure projects in emerging Asia. Increased geopolitical uncertainty and shifts in terms of sources of infrastructure financing, as well as broader trade and political partnerships, are accentuating market sensitivity in the region. In the light of such uncertainty, multilateral institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank can bolster public investment, given their ability to lend counter-cyclically and take longer-term exposures.

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Tue 12 Feb 2019 / Latin America Caribbean

Venezuela's death spiral

Under President Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has fallen ever further into an economic death spiral. Evidence of this comes from Venezuela's inflation rate, which is running at 139,839% per year. At the same time that Washington declared economic war, Caracas announced it was going to devalue the bolívar in an attempt to allow its value to align with that in the black market. The official bolívar-dollar exchange rate plunged and shot past the black market rate. This realignment carries significant implications.

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Thu 24 Jan 2019 / Global

Emerging market trials persist

Last year's thrashing in all emerging market investment classes, with debt, equity and currencies in simultaneous decline for the first time in a decade, prompted reconsideration of allocation rationale into the next decade. Crises in Argentina and Turkey in 2018 were in part a replay of 2013 Federal Reserve-induced 'taper tantrum', as retail foreign investors sold indiscriminately. Contagion may yet spread, but for now index performance will continue to be subdued without the spectre of uncontrolled crashes.

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Mon 3 Dec 2018 / Africa

Africa must accelerate market reforms

For Africa to grow, it needs a broad, all-inclusive financial market that facilitates investment. Policy-makers must pursue accelerated reforms to the continent's financial markets, principally because these can be used to raise capital to meet the region's significant funding needs, particularly for infrastructure projects. Africa's transformation requires significant resources. For example, to achieve universal energy access by 2025, as much as $55bn annually must be raised in domestic and international capital.

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Fri 16 Nov 2018 / Asia Pacific

Renminbi's global reserve share rising

Asset class diversification continues to be a key theme for central bank foreign exchange reserves managers. Despite a weaker renminbi/dollar rate this year, the Chinese currency has increased its share in global reserves, according to IMF data. The latest report shows a jump in renminbi holdings of around $50bn in the second quarter of 2018. Less than a decade after the launch of the renminbi internationalisation initiative, we estimate that more than 60 central banks have renminbi in their reserves. But allocations are still relatively small.

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Wed 14 Nov 2018 / Africa

Zambia's infrastructure habit

Infrastructure development in Zambia is a powerful tool for swaying public opinion. However, despite its importance to economic growth, it is contentious. Past projects are associated with high costs, opaque tender processes and rising public debt. The tension between development and debt dominates, and the two issues often lead back to China and its funding of Zambian infrastructure projects. In a nation that emerged out of colonialism, fears of its reoccurrence in a different form are well founded.

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Tue 30 Oct 2018 / Europe

Ukraine's thorny IMF relationship

The IMF's relationship with Ukraine has always been among its most high profile and difficult interactions. The US and Europe have consistently encouraged the IMF to remain engaged in Ukraine, viewing this as a means of laying a foundation for greater market orientation, integrating Ukraine with the West and diminishing Russia's regional influence. Though the Fund has spared no effort, the relationship cannot be viewed as a success, and the economic promise of the 2014 revolution is not yet close to fruition.

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