Correlations are curious things. Take the gyrations in Mexico’s financial markets. These probably had more to do with the turmoil in emerging markets generally than the country’s electoral rollercoaster. Still, it is oddly reassuring that Mexican equities staged an impressive recovery, just as Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftwing firebrand, regained frontrunner status in the July 2 presidential vote.
Felipe Calderón, the other main contender, has relentlessly been predicting economic meltdown, should he lose. That was always a little cheeky, as his rise in the polls coincided with a tumble in Mexican shares and the peso falling to its lowest level in 18 months. All the main parties appear keen on keeping macroeconomic fundamentals solid and whoever wins will probably face a divided Congress. Mr Calderón’s emphasis on structural reforms is welcome but his paltry record during a brief spell as energy minister suggests that he might struggle to deliver these. By contrast, Mr López Obrador’s plans on how to fund higher social spending look flimsy. But he was a fairly able administrator when running Mexico City. His electoral trump card may prove that he is somewhat less beholden to Mexico’s powerful elites, which could also help in promoting competition and tackling corruption. Unfortunately for investors, Mexico is even more dependent than most emerging markets on developments in the US. That alone could well translate into a rocky ride, no matter who wins.
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