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Regional Fixed Income Market Watch | March 2019

12 Apr, 2019

Highlights

  • US real GDP growth in 4Q18 was revised down to an annualized 2.2% (3rd estimate), from 2.6% initial estimate. Unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.8% in March 2019.
  • In February 2019, economic growth accelerated and came in at 7.6% y/y in Armenia, 4.6% y/y in Georgia, 4.3% y/y in Kazakhstan and 2.1% y/y in Russia, based on rapid estimates. In 2M19, real GDP growth was 3.0% y/y in Azerbaijan and 0.8% y/y in Belarus.
  • According to the IMF’s 2019 World Economic Outlook, real GDP growth projections for 2019 remained unchanged for Georgia (4.6%), Ukraine (2.7%) and Russia (1.6%), while it was reduced for Armenia (-0.2ppts to 4.6%), Azerbaijan (-0.2ppts to 3.4%), Belarus (-1.3ppts to 1.8%) and Turkey (-2.9ppts to -2.5%); real GDP growth projection was revised upwards for Kazakhstan (+0.1ppts to 3.2%).  
  • Annual inflation in the US was 1.9% in March 2019, up from 1.5% in previous month. Based on the Eurostat flash estimate, annual inflation in EU19 was 1.4% in March 2019, down from 1.5% in February 2019.
  • In March 2019, annual inflation was above the target level in Georgia (3.7%), Russia (5.3%), Belarus (5.8%), Ukraine (8.6%) and Turkey (19.7%); inflation was within the target range in Kazakhstan (4.8%), and below the target in Armenia (1.9%).
  • Monetary policy rate was cut by 0.25bp to 6.5% in Georgia, by 0.25bp to 9.0% in Azerbaijan and has remained unchanged in other countries in March 2019.

 

Please see the full report for detailed coverage of the fixed income markets of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.


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Tbilisi Airbnb Market Outlook

11 Apr, 2019

Airbnb supply in Tbilisi growing at an astonishing pace. Over 2016-2018, the average monthly Airbnb rentals in Tbilisi increased 2.5x from 4,200 properties in 2016 to 10,300 in 2018, generating a market worth US$ 23mn.

Such a dramatic growth of the market raises questions: 

  • Is Airbnb profitable for hosts?
  • How Airbnb affects long-term rental rates?
  • Is Airbnb price competitive with hotel industry?
  • Will Airbnb’s market share increase?


Please see the full note here to get answers along with up-to-date Airbnb data, peer comparison, and outlook of the sector.


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Georgia's Tourism Sector - Tourism Market Watch | March 2019

8 Apr, 2019

Tourist arrivals increased 4.3% y/y in March-19, after growing 5.1% y/y in previous month. Same-day arrivals were up 5.0% y/y in March-19, after 10.7% y/y drop in previous month. As a result, total international visitors to Georgia were up 4.6% y/y to 0.5mn persons in March-19.
Russia was the largest source of visitor growth, followed by Azerbaijan and Israel in March-19. Visitors from the EU were up 25.9% y/y to almost 21k visitors, with Germany and Poland driving growth.

From major source markets, visitors from Turkey continued to fall for a 7th consecutive month, but on a much slower rate in March-19 compared to previous months. Arrivals from Iran more than halved (down since Jun-18 with the exception of Nov-18), and is the major reason behind slowdown in tourist growth figures.

We expect tourist arrival growth to accelerate from 2H19, due to high season and fading effect of reduced visitors from Iran and Turkey.

Please see the full note here, which brings together tourist arrival data for reporting month, most recent statistical information available in the sector and 2019 forecast.


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Georgian Economy - Generating Savings

26 Mar, 2019

Executive Summary
Georgia’s economy delivered solid 4.7% growth in 2018, remaining resilient to negative developments in its largest trading partner, Turkey. This growth was supported by booming tourism and a significant increase in exports and remittances. These flows provided positive spillovers to the major sectors of the economy, along with solid growth in the banking sector’s credit portfolio. Meanwhile, the fiscal deficit reduced to 2.5% of GDP and the CA deficit narrowed to 8.0% of GDP in 2018. Importantly, Georgia recorded its first ever current account surplus of 0.3% of GDP in 3Q18 with the CA balance expected to improve further in 2019.

We project GDP growth at 4.5% in 2019, slightly up from 4.3% projected in October 2018, mostly as a result of higher spending on public infrastructure as well as monetary easing. We see risks to growth stemming from domestic factors mostly - possible delays in public infrastructure spending and/or a sharper than projected credit slowdown. Notably, Georgia’s macro fundamentals remain strong with its track record of resilience to negative external developments. This was acknowledged by a one-notch rating upgrade from Fitch in February 2019 and positive assessments of Georgia’s implementation of its ongoing IMF support program.

Price pressures remain contained with annual inflation at 2.3% in February 2019 and annual average inflation at 2.6% in 2018 overall. There is no inflationary risk in sight as household demand is expected to be subdued due to softer consumer lending and low imported inflation. The NBG cut the policy rate in January and March 2019 to support demand and keep inflation near its target of 3.0%.

The GEL depreciated in early August 2018 and has appreciated again since mid-November 2018, following its seasonal pattern. Despite periods of weakness against the USD in 2018, the GEL’s strengthened NEER and REER reflected its gains against the TRY and RUB. This enabled the NBG to purchase nearly US$ 200mn on the FX market in 2018 and US$ 186mn YTD to build up its reserves. With reserve accumulation high on the agenda and new instrument for building reserves activated, we expect the GEL’s seasonal pattern to be smoother in 2019 with the average rate against the US$ higher than the equilibrium rate of 2.5.

Government reforms in recent years – importantly corporate profit tax reform along with VAT refunds – have improved corporates’ financial conditions after suffering GEL depreciation-related losses in 2015-16. The total equity of corporates increased 17.7% y/y to GEL 21.8bn in 2017 – the highest since 2014 – and ROE reached 27.6%. This was also reflected in significant growth of national savings in 2017-18, improving the CA deficit. The newly launched pension fund along with the government’s commitment to reducing the fiscal deficit will also help to raise Georgia’s level of national savings over the coming years. This in turn will likely reduce Georgia’s CA deficit and external debt.


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