"Mrs. Watanabe" leaves Brazil

The FT is reporting that a downturn in the world’s second-largest emerging economy, Brazil, has prompted investors in Toshin Funds to pull out $30 billion after predictions of prolonged market weakness. The investors are largely housewives from Japan, the demographic known as “Mrs. Watanabe.”

According to Nomura, Japan’s biggest investment bank by revenue, Japanese retail investors were initially attracted by Brazil’s high interest rates, but Tony Volpon, an economist at Nomura, told the FT that “the Brazilian moment for Toshin funds is over. We’ve seen the peak and it’s just a question of how low it’s going to go”.

Analysts told Financial Times that the trend for “Mrs. Watanabe” to make foreign investment is moving from Brazil to other markets such as Turkey and Australia, triggered by the reduction in interest rates spreading. Brazil’s interest rate has been cut by 400 basis points since August to revive the economy. Policy makers implemented capital controls, including the currency derivative tax last July.

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