Business Strategy and Outlook| Michael Miller |
The challenge for Itaú Unibanco will be to navigate an increasingly volatile Brazilian economy and uncertain political environment, which has been hit by the dual shocks of the pandemic and rapidly rising inflation, which exceeded 12% in April 2022. In response, the Brazilian central bank has rapidly increased interest rates, taking the SELIC rate from 2% at the start of 2021 to 13.75% by September 2022. The bank benefits from rising interest rates, as Brazil's central bank attempts to fight inflation, but there is risk that economic fallout from rapidly increasing rates could lead to lower loan growth and higher credit losses for the bank. That said, in the last remaining months of 2022 inflation has shown significant improvement, falling back into the single digits, and the opportunity for the Brazilian Central bank to achieve a soft landing remains open.