Sorry people, but Ukraine and Venezuela and Argentina are not eligible for this designation, any more than you can give “Most Likely to Succeed” to LeBron James. Have I mentioned lately that emerging market corporate debt doubled over the course of 2012-2014? But where exactly is the pot most likely to boil over next?
Here are a few contenders:
The currency declined nine percent last month, prompting reactions such as:
“It is incredible to see how dauntingly fast things are deteriorating,” Enestor dos Santos, an economist at BBVA, said from Madrid. “It’s been hard to nail down a projection.”
According to some polls, seventy percent of the population favors the impeachment of President Rousseff; political dysfunction adds to the brew and the various scandals only seem to be growing worse. Moody’s has downgraded the country to Baa3, right on the margin of junk. The economy is expected to contract 1.7 percent this year and the current account deficit is coming in higher than forecast. Financial crises are a tradition.
The country is headed for snap elections, in light of ongoing political instability, while fighting a two-front war and it has a growing current account deficit. Hmm…
That said, the economy grew at 2.4 percent last year, exports are relatively diversified, and I suspect the current dire situation will prove manageable. The Greek and Turkish ten-year yields are now about the same (which country should be happy with that comparison?). On the down side, the country is especially dependent on short-term financing, which can prove volatile.
The Russian economy shrank by 4.6 percent in the quarter ending June. Although the media has focused on the stability in Moscow and maybe St. Petersburg, the economic decline in Russian provinces has been much more serious.
Debt in Russia’s 83 regions has risen by 100 to 150 percent since 2010. Russia’s economic minister suggested that possibly 60 of those 83 regions are in crisis mode, and 20 may have already been defaulting on their debt.
The economy still hasn’t recovered from the 2008-2009 crisis, and it doesn’t seem the price of oil will be bouncing back anytime soon.
A few days ago Ivan Krastev wrote: “The Kremlin is populated not by mere survivors of the post-Soviet transition but by survivalists, people who think in terms of worst-case scenarios, who believe that the next disaster is just around the corner, who thrive on crises, who are addicted to extraordinary situations and no-rules politics.”
On the bright side, they have $541 billion in reserves. I say that’s overrated when everything else is turning sour.
The economy shrank 3.3 percent in the first half of this year, and the government responded by increasing borrowing. For further information, see Russia.
They are hanging on, and the freeing up of previously held government payments will deliver the economy a decent burst of stimulus. Still, they are one EU spat, or one coalitional collapse, away from being back in the doghouse with closed banks, Grexit, higher austerity, and plummeting exports. That said, the Not Very Serious People turned out to be the Not Very Serious Person and things are looking much better than they did a few weeks ago. Even the Finns are on board with the bailout. Staying in the euro may not be good for Greece in the longer run, but for now it means they are unlikely to win this particular tournament.
For all the current problems, I still don’t think they are next in line. Their production is crashing, but that’s not the same as a financial crisis. They don’t seem to have their debt distributed “in just that right way.” The $3.6 trillion in foreign exchange reserves — down from $4 trillion I might add — doesn’t hurt either. Still, this year China is on the list of nominees, and for the first time.
The bottom line: I’ve got to go with Russia and Belarus. Runner-up is Brazil.
Honorable mentions include Indonesia, Jamaica, and Belize (decent growth but a widening current account deficit). The dark horse pick? Colombia, with a peso down 36 percent against the dollar in the last year and a heavy dependence on oil exports. Alternatively, Malaysia. Thailand isn’t doing well, but it seems like more of a slow burn. South Africans are economically miserable, but the country does not really fit the financial crisis profile.
Here is my discussion from 2014, Ukraine ended up as the exemplar. The sad thing is that this year’s post is longer than last year’s.