2024: Romanian markets in election-watch mode
The heavy 2024 election year should kick-start with the European elections on June 9. Local, general, and presidential ballots should be held in the last four months of the year. Opinion polls currently point to continuity for the current grand coalition beyond 2024. With fiscal uncertainties looming post-elections and EU money pending on state budget consolidation and further structural reforms, the markets will closely scrutinize the results from the European elections and closely watch the opinion polls. Both consumers and corporates are likely to remain cautious when making long-term investment decisions.
Pay hikes, mainly minimum wage and public sector salaries, and substantial increases in pensions, should support household demand, while ongoing public investment projects are likely to continue to have a positive spillover effect on the private sector. Hence, we could see GDP growth accelerating a bit vs. 2023, while remaining below potential levels. Softer-for-longer external demand, domestic uncertainties, and bottlenecks in accessing RRF funds could weigh on GDP growth prospects. Falling inflation should help boost further real income, with real wages already surpassing pre-commodity shock levels at the end of the summer. Core inflation is forecasted to remain stubbornly above the headline over the next couple of years, which, combined with a tight labor market and strong real wage growth, should delay NBR rate cuts vs. CEE peers.