Asia has been under pressure following from tighter global liquidity in 2018, led by a rapid pace of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve (Fed) of the Unites States (US). Narrowing interest rate differentials have led to slimmer risk premiums for investors in Asian emerging markets (EMs).
This drove capital flows away from the region and into US dollar-denominated assets. Capital outflows also resulted in depreciation relative to the US dollar, leading a number of central banks in the region to hike rates and to intervene in markets to defend their currencies. The Fed is expected to continue hiking rates in 2019, which could further aggravate outflows. Our index measuring relative vulnerability to outflows points to divergence in Asia.
Turkey is experiencing a severe economic slowdown, coupled with a jump in inflation, as a result of the sharp depreciation of the lira during 2018 . This sharp depreciation has resulted in reduced consumption, and has impacted investment dynamics in the domestic market. The import-dependent structure of production has pushed the inflation rate to all time high levels, which forced the central bank to deliver a large rate hike in September. Although this rate hike has helped the Turkish lira to recover from these historical weak levels, it caused borrowing costs to rise extremely high, making funding extremely costly for both businesses and households. Growth is expected to remain very subdued and inflation at double digits.
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The Chinese economy experienced some challenges i n 2018. Corporate bond defaults in US dollars quadrupled, reaching an amount of USD 16 billion, while the number of bankruptcy cases settled through the Supreme Court of the People’s Republic of China spiked to 6,646. Deleveraging
efforts led to tighter liquidity conditions during the first half of 2018. This coincided with an escalation of trade tensions between the United States and China, which eroded consumer sentiment, resulting in weaker domestic consumption.