Consumer sentiment across the key emerging markets of China, Southeast Asia and Latin America has been unable to withstand the impact of the Chinese economic slowdown, writes David Wilder of FT Confidential Research.
In China itself, hopes that consumer activity would hold up as old economic drivers slowed down have faded: there is evidence that growing uncertainty about the country’s financial future is crimping household spending. A stock market crash, a depreciating currency and a sharp economic slowdown have driven Chinese consumer sentiment to record lows in the past few months.
The fortunes of the emerging markets — and the global economy as a whole — are inextricably linked to Chinese demand and, as China has slowed, so consumer sentiment in many countries in these regions has suffered.
China’s slowdown has hurt Latin America, where economic confidence among consumers has, with a few notable exceptions, fallen sharply. Polls of consumers show confidence among Brazilians, Chileans and Peruvians in their economies — always low — has continued to fall away, reflecting their gearing to the large-scale export of commodities to China. In Mexico and Colombia, however, which are more tied to US economic fortunes, sentiment has held up, while the anticipated election of free-marketeer Mauricio Macri to the Argentine presidency saw confidence in Latin America’s third-biggest economy actually rise last year.
Sentiment surveys show consumers in Southeast Asia remain generally upbeat but the China effect means they are also less confident in their economies. China’s slowdown, coupled with the associated fall in commodities prices, has taken its toll on Malaysia in particular, though sentiment among Malaysian and Thai consumers is also weighed down by political uncertainty in those countries. However, Indonesians and Filipinos began feeling more optimistic thanks to increased government spending to counter the slowdown.
FT Confidential Research offers data-based insights into China, Southeast Asia and Latin America