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Persons of Working Age Now 69.7 % of Population Published: 27 November 2019

  • Director-General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, says persons falling within the country’s working-age range of 15 to 64 years now stand at 69.7% of the overall population of 2.9Mn.
  • He says this represents the largest figure ever attained in Jamaica’s history and creates a window of opportunity for the country, often referred to as a demographic dividend.
  • Henry noted that an increase in the working-age population, relative to dependents, provides Jamaica with a “tremendous opportunity” to boost economic growth.
  • This, he said, through increased labour force participation and employment, particularly for groups deemed typically under-represented, such as youth, women and persons with disabilities; increased allocation of resources towards savings rather than consumption, as the dependency ratio falls, thereby facilitating investments and growth; and human capital development through the provision of more resources towards strengthening education and health outcomes, “which will contribute to the increased productivity of the labour force”.
  • Henry said leveraging the benefits associated with the demographic dividend will require several key undertakings.

(Source: JIS)

China Slowdown Published: 27 November 2019

  • Early indicators of China’s economic performance don’t look great. They point to a continued slowdown for a seventh straight month, after economic growth was already the slowest in almost three decades in the third quarter.
  • Bloomberg Economics’ gauge aggregates the earliest data from financial markets and businesses. It shows a worsening picture for trade, sales manager sentiment, and factory prices.
  • While tensions with the U.S. have eased since the two sides announced talks toward a so-called “phase one” deal last month, South Korean exports — a renowned indicator for trade flows in Asia — still contracted almost 10% in the first 20 days of November.
  • That’s an improvement from September’s worst result in a decade, but it indicates that high-technology trade across the region is still struggling as the Christmas shopping season approaches. The faster fall in the prices of goods from Chinese factories in November also indicates that domestic demand is weak. If those deflationary effects continue, it will further hurt corporate profits at home.

(Source: Bloomberg)

BOJ to Implement New FX Trading Platform Published: 26 November 2019

  • Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor, Richard Byles, has announced plans to implement a new foreign exchange trading platform in 2020.
  • Byles explained that the new platform will enable foreign exchange traders, both buyers, and sellers, to see all of the bids on daily offers, noting that it is designed to create “a lot more transparency in the market”.

(Source: JIS)

Latin American Sovereigns Face Persistent Rating Pressure Published: 26 November 2019

  • Downward rating pressures will persist in 2020 for Latin American sovereigns, Fitch Ratings says, with seven of 19 on Negative Outlook compared with five (plus one on Rating Watch Negative) at end-2018.
  • Despite our expectations for a mild economic recovery (from a low base) for the region as a whole, fiscal, political and governability risks will continue to challenge economic and rating outlooks.
  • Latin America includes the highest number of Negative Sovereign Outlooks among the world's regions. It has been challenged by persistent lackluster growth over recent years and risks to the downside are likely to persist into 2020.
  • External challenges remain significant. The slowdown in the global economy will restrain the modest recovery forecast next year while several Latin American economies will be exposed in the event of a further escalation of the US-China trade dispute. Notably, previously faster-growing economies, such as Chile and Peru, have also been slowing. Latin America is forecast to remain the weakest-growing emerging market region in 2020.

(Source: Fitch)

US-China Call Published: 26 November 2019

  • Chinese and U.S. top trade negotiators held another phone call this morning Beijing time in which consensus was reached on properly resolving issues holding up the phase-one trade deal, according to a Chinese Ministry of Commerce statement.
  • Should they fail to reach an agreement by Dec. 15, President Donald Trump will have to decide whether to carry out his threat of further tariffs on the Asian nation. 
  • Market reaction to the statement has been muted, with Rabobank strategists including Richard McGuire writing that markets now view positive announcements with “healthy skepticism given how long this has dragged out.”

(Source: Bloomberg)

Fed Likely to Keep Rate Unchanged Published: 26 November 2019

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled interest rates would probably remain on hold, saying that he sees “the glass as much more than half full.”
  • He restated his well-worn caveat that interest rates are not on a preset course, and the Fed would adjust if there were a “material” change to its outlook.
  • Investors and economists meanwhile are touting a further steepening of the yield curve in their hot 2020 trades for Wall Street. 

(Source: Bloomberg)

Gov’t Pumping $66 Million into Health and Wellness Tourism Published: 22 November 2019

  • The Ministry of Tourism will be spending $66 million over the next three years to strengthen and expand Health and Wellness Tourism in Jamaica.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in making the announcement, said that health and wellness tourism is a growing market internationally and Jamaica is uniquely poised to capitalize on the industry.
  • He said research has shown that health tourism represents one of the fastest-growing travel segments, with a 12 percent expansion each year, and Jamaica has much to contribute to all facets of that sector. He also noted that policies and strategies are being developed through the Tourism Linkages Network to enhance Jamaica’s health and wellness products.
  • Minister Bartlett was speaking at the inaugural Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Wednesday.

(Source: JIS)

Increase in Net Remittance Inflows Published: 22 November 2019

  • Net remittance inflows for the period January to August of US$1,407.5Mn increased by 1.4 percent or US$19.8Mn relative to the previous corresponding period.
  • The increase reflected an increase of 2.3 percent or US$35.6Mn in remittance inflows partially offset by an increase of 9.8 percent or US$15.9Mn in outflows. The increase in inflows was mainly attributable to an increase of 15.9 percent in Other Remittances while Remittance Companies remained relatively flat.
  • The largest source market of remittances to Jamaica in August 2019 remained the USA, whose share increased to 64.9 percent, from 63.7 percent recorded August 2018. The remaining share of remittances for August 2019 came from Canada at 12.5 percent, followed by the UK and the Cayman Islands at 10.4 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
  • Overall, the January to August 2019 period had remittance inflows totaling US$1585.4Mn.

(Source: BOJ)

Bahamas Ballooning Deficit Means Government Needs to Borrow $507Mn Published: 22 November 2019

  • The country’s deficit for the fiscal year has ballooned to $677.5Mn because of Hurricane Dorian, prompting the government’s plans to borrow $507.9Mn to meet the shortfall.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said in the house of assembly yesterday that he will table resolutions for the borrowing in two weeks along with a supplementary budget to address expenditures and revenue losses associated with Dorian’s passage.
  • The government initially projected a deficit increase of $430Mn.

(Source: The Tribune)