Nomura: 'America First' means emerging markets last

PUBLISHED: Mon, 30 Jan 2017 06:40:14 GMT

Newly elected President Donald Trump‘s “America first” policies were likely to be an overall negative for emerging markets, but not all will be hit equally, Nomura said in a note on Friday.

While Trump’s plan to boost U.S. fiscal stimulus might provide an economic fillip to emerging markets, that’s unlikely to be felt before late 2017, Nomura said.

But it pointed to two other, stronger forces set to batter emerging markets, which tend to be more trade-oriented and geopolitically delicate, before then.

“One is a faster Fed hiking cycle and a strengthening of the U.S. dollar, which exposes emerging markets – many of which have become heavily indebted since 2008 – to capital outflows and credit defaults,” it said. “The other is what is shaping up to be at the heart of team Trump’s ‘America First’ policies and negotiating strategy: the triumvirate of rising U.S. trade protectionism, tougher immigration rules and a reassessment of U.S. foreign policy positions.”

Nomura’s note was published before Trump signed an executive order on Friday to block refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Syrian refugees were indefinitely banned. Passport holders of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen faced a three-month hold, while refugees from those countries faced a four-month ban.

Attorney generals from California, New York, Washington DC and 13 other states have condemned the move and pledged to fight the “unconstitutional” move, Reuters reported.

“Green-card” holders, or those already granted the right to live in the U.S., were not exempted.

The executive order set off large-scale protests across the U.S., particularly in places where immigrants were detained as they tried to enter the country.

In its note, Nomura added that the “America First” policy wasn’t likely to strike all emerging markets equally, with some countries even potentially set for benefits.

“Emerging markets’ economic starting positions already vary greatly and Trumponomics stands to further widen this chasm,” Nomura said, adding that while Mexico was most vulnerable, Hungary, Israel, Russia and Peru were least vulnerable.

“Mexico is singled out as the most exposed but, over time, we believe U.S. trade protectionism could be strongest against Asia,” it said, noting the U.S. trade deficit with China, which dwarfs the one with Mexico.

“China also masks Asia’s massive supply chain: a large share of the value-added in China’s exports come from other Asian countries, which is reflected in the high share of China’s imports in other Asian countries’ gross domestic products (GDP),” it said.

In a downside risk scenario of tougher policies, faster U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and additional U.S. dollar appreciation, “Turkey’s already very fragile economy is hit hardest and the wind is also taken out of the sails of the Latin American recoveries,” Nomura said.

But the bank noted that there were some likely beneficiaries.

“Trump’s warmer tone towards Russia has increased expectations that sanctions may be lifted or relaxed, but we do not expect it to happen this year. India too could benefit as President Trump seems to believe that a nuclear India is the real check to Pakistan,” it said.

While Nomura noted that India was vulnerable to the Trump administrations’ new immigration restrictions, it added that the sub-continent’s economy was driven by internal factors, with less exposure to trade.

—By CNBC.Com’s Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter@LeslieShaffer1

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