Las Desventuras de la Economía Mexicana

jueves, 17 de mayo de 2007

México, las naciones isla del Caribe , y las pequeñas repúblicas del istmo centroamericano son probablemente las economías del mundo son las economías del mundo más vinculadas a los Estados Unidos. Por esta razón, es probable que sean estos países los primeros en sentir los efectos de la desaceleración del crecimiento en Estados Unidos y los que experimenten con mayor intensidad el impacto de la crisis que afecta al sector construcción de la economía estadounidense.

Adjuntamos a continuación una breve nota que resume el impacto inicial en México del nueva fase contractiva.

Mexican 1st-Quarter GDP Growth Slows to 2.6 Percent (Update1)

By Patrick Harrington

May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico's economy grew at the slowest pace in more than a year in the first quarter as construction fell off and automobile output plunged on slumping U.S. demand.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of a country's output in goods and services, grew 2.6 percent from a year earlier, the government reported. Economists had estimated growth at 2.7 percent, according to the median of 18 analysts.

A growth rate of less than 3 percent suggests Mexico is failing to reduce dependence on exports to the U.S., the destination for about 80 percent of the country's sales abroad. Last year's 4.8 percent growth, Mexico's fastest in six years, was driven by strong U.S. demand, while the weakening economy last quarter similarly tracked the U.S. slowdown.

``U.S. import demand has shown a pretty severe downturn at the beginning of this year,'' Gray Newman, chief Latin America economist at Morgan Stanley in New York, said in a telephone interview before today's report. ``Mexico will be hit.''

U.S. imports from Mexico, Latin America's second-largest economy, rose 2.7 percent this year through March, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. For 2006, U.S. Mexican imports rose 16.5 percent.

Several developments spurred a surge in growth last year.

Carmakers such as Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG introduced new models and moved production to Mexico to cut costs, spurring a 23 percent jump in output. During the first quarter of this year, production fell 12 percent from 2006, according to the country's automobile makers association.

Industrial Production

Construction and infrastructure projects, which surged during last year's election season, have slipped. After rising 6.9 percent in 2006, construction fell 0.7 percent in February and rose 1 percent in March, heightening concern domestic growth can't offset a U.S. slowdown.

``We are definitely seeing a deceleration compared with the last quarter of 2006,'' Jose Luis Guerrero Alvarez, chief executive officer of Mexico's largest construction company, Empresas ICA SA, said in a telephone interview. ``This is typical of the start of a new administration. Then they get organized and come up with a lot of projects.''

Mexico's industrial production rose 0.2 percent in March, the fourth straight month of less than 2 percent growth, after remaining unchanged in February.

Revision, Rates

On Feb. 8 Mexican Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said Mexico's economy was ``doing much better than we anticipated.'' April 30 he reversed course and revised down the Finance Ministry's economic growth estimate for 2007 to 3.3 percent from 3.6 percent, citing a cooling U.S. economy.

Carstens also criticized the central bank for raising interest rates last month ``prematurely'' at a time of slowing growth. Mexican economy minister Eduardo Sojo backed Carstens in a May 15 interview in Paris.

``If they tighten too much they could compound the weakening of the economy and then they will have to reverse course,'' said John Welch, a senior Latin America economist with Lehman Brothers in New York in a telephone interview.

Since the central bank's decision economists such as Morgan Stanley's Newman and BNP Paribas's Rafael de la Fuente have changed their forecasts to predict the central bank will raise rates again this year to 7.50 percent as inflation spikes in June or July.

The central bank expects inflation to fall to between 3.5 and 4 percent by the end of the year.


So far, the slowing economy hasn't hurt the popularity of President Felipe Calderon, who took office in December after winning the election by less than a percentage point. His order for a military crackdown on drug traffickers helped boost his approval rating by 10 percentage points this year to 68 percent at the end of April, according to a poll published in El Universal Newspaper May 9.

The nationwide poll of 1,500 people taken between April 26 and May 1 has an error margin of 3.5 percentage points.

Growth may pick up later this year.

Infrastructure spending is likely to increase in late 2007 and early 2008, pushing construction output back into the range of 6 percent or 7 percent, ICA's Guerrero said.

After falling in the first quarter, automobile output rose 11 percent in April, hinting at a recovery. And U.S. industrial output rose 0.7 percent in April following a 0.3 decline in March, a government report showed.

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