Latin America: Mexico’s banks brace for Trump stress test
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Latin America: Mexico’s banks brace for Trump stress test

The country’s bankers are confident they can overcome any fall-out from their northern neighbour’s new regime. But falling consumer confidence is adding to pressure on the nation’s economy.

US border barbed wire-600

From the Tequila crisis in 1994 to the global financial meltdown in 2008, Mexico’s banking system is no stranger to turmoil. Now it faces this decade’s first big stress test: newly inaugurated US president Donald Trump.

On the campaign trail, Trump’s antagonistic rhetoric about Mexico – from threatening to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), to pressuring US companies to scale back investment south of the border – left many Mexicans nervous about how a shift in relations with the US might cool the country’s already tepid economic growth.

In the first weeks of his presidency, Trump showed little appetite to ratchet down his populist bluster, insisting he would bill Mexico for his border wall project one way or another. After Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a planned trip to Washington in response, the Trump administration said it would consider imposing a 20% import tax on Mexican goods to finance the wall’s construction.   

[Mexican banks] are very solvent – average capital adequacy ratios are over 15% under Basel III criteria, with every single bank being above 11.5% - Carlos Serrano, BBVA Bancomer

Such posturing has served only to prolong the sense of uncertainty gripping Mexico.

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