Another stain on EM story: Social unrest underway

With Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil groaning under the burden of Covid-19 epidemics, low commodity prices and miserable growth prospects for China, the EM story doesn’t have much credibility, but thank to Fed and ECB, investors would believe any excuse to deploy money in EM.  Yet, too many stains are emerging on the face of this “story” which dollar and Euros may not suffice to conceal. Newest fly in the ointment?  Social unrest coming our way!.  

Dozens of emerging and frontier markets are likely to face mass protests in the coming months as lockdowns imposed to control the coronavirus pandemic ease and the dire economic impact of the virus hits home, according to new research, reported Reuters.

Thirty-seven countries are at risk, mostly concentrated in Africa and Latin America, including Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Venezuela and Peru, said global risk analysis company Verisk Maplecroft.

Congo and Ethiopia, as well as Belarus, Bulgaria and Serbia in Europe, are among countries to have been shaken by protests in recent days as dissatisfaction with governments boils over.

This follows a drop in unrest in emerging and frontier markets in March, according to Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED), after the widespread introduction of lockdowns.

“The total number of protests in frontier and emerging markets has almost rebounded to pre-pandemic levels,” said Verisk Maplecroft Principal Analyst Miha Hribernik.

“With many countries still in lockdown, and the full economic shock of the outbreak yet to be felt, we expect the number of protests to surge over the next 2-3 months.”

The International Monetary Fund has forecast growth in emerging markets and developing economies will shrink by 1 percent in 2020.

Verisk Maplecroft said the outlook was particularly concerning for frontier and emerging markets where the post-pandemic economic picture is bleak.

Nigeria, Iran, Bangladesh, Algeria and Ethiopia face a “perfect storm” of grassroots anger as protests driven by the pandemic’s economic fallout aggravate unrest over pre-existing grievances about issues ranging from poverty to food supply, it said.

“Our base case from January – that 2020 will see a surge in protests and that the coming decade is set to be a one of unprecedented unrest – still stands,” said Hribernik. “But in the countries least prepared to bounce back from the pandemic, it now looks like a best-case scenario.”

India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey face risks that are only slightly less acute and still constitute a significant threat to stability, the report added.

Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.