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Latin America Banking Outlook 2017: A Timid Recovery

Latin America Banking Outlook 2017: A Timid Recovery

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Following a decade of strong economic growth during which Latin American banks rapidly expanded lending to both companies and individuals, the region has faced a market slowdown in recent years. Economic and political crises pushed major markets Brazil and Argentina into recession in 2016, while the fall in global commodities prices has negatively affected raw materials exporters such as Chile, Colombia and Peru, contributing to a reduction in private investment and pressuring government spending. The weakening of local currencies against the dollar has also contributed to inflationary pressures in recent years in major Latin American markets. In general terms, Latin American banks have addressed this changing scenario well, taking measures to protect asset quality and reducing loan growth, particularly to higher-risk segments. Nevertheless, lower growth and increased provisioning requirements has pressured profitability levels. For 2017, expectations of a return to economic growth in Brazil and Argentina, a mild improvement in countries such as Colombia and Peru and falling inflationary pressures are fueling expectations of a timid recovery in credit growth for banks following a significant slowdown in 2016.

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