Balance of payments deficits widened over 2013 in four of the “Fragile Five” emerging economies, highlighting their heavy reliance on foreign capital.
South Africa, Turkey, India, Indonesia and Brazil earned the collective name after bearing the brunt of a sell-off provoked by a hint from the U.S. Federal Reserve at the end of May that it could start winding down its economic stimulus.
Measured in 12-month rolling terms, current account deficits widened in all the countries except India in the four quarters to September 2013, the following graphic, based on UBS data, shows:
South Africa’s deficit was 6.19 percent of annual economic output in the third quarter of 2013, almost a percentage point wider than in December 2012, while Turkey’s widened slightly to 7.18 percent, the graphic shows.
On a seasonally-adjusted annual rate basis, South Africa’s third quarter gap was even larger at 6.8 percent, official data showed last month.
Brazil’s deficit widened by 1.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent, while Indonesia’s increased by 0.8 points.
India’s deficit, however, narrowed a percentage point to 4.35 percent in the July-September 2013 quarter, due to official curbs on gold imports.
“To some extent the improvement in India is artificial but at the same time their export performance has also been very good,” Christian Keller, Barclays’ head of EEMEA research said.
The improved deficit and a flurry of reforms have helped the rupee to recover more than 10 percent from record lows in August 2013, Keller noted. The rand, lira and rupiah, however, have continued to weaken .