Analysts raised their forecast for Brazil’s consumer prices this year for the sixth straight time in spite of predicting an even deeper recession.
Economists raised their 2016 inflation forecast to 7.56 percent, more than 1 percentage point above the ceiling of the government’s target range, according to the central bank’s weekly Focus survey of analysts conducted Feb. 5. They also lowered their forecast for gross domestic product this year to a 3.21 percent contraction, lower than their prior 3.01 percent recession estimate.
Brazil’s consumer price increases continued accelerating deeper into double-digits in January, rather than reversing course, as had been expected. That followed a controversial central bank decision to hold borrowing costs unchanged. Policy makers cited the economic malaise and external uncertainties as justification for the decision.
Brazil’s annual inflation rate unexpectedly accelerated in January to 10.71 percent, its fastest since November 2003. That was higher than all but one estimate from 36 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, and the market responded by raising bets on interest rate increases in the coming months. Economists surveyed by the central bank see inflation slowing to 6 percent by end-2017, from 5.8 percent previously.
The contractions they forecast for this year and last would mark the first back-to-back recession in Brazil since 1930 and 1931, according to data from national economic research institute IPEA that dates back to 1901. If economists’ predictions are correct, 2015 and 2016 would be the only time on record the economy contracted more than 3 percent for two straight years.