Chile's new centre-left government, which was inaugurated on March 11, will face a number of significant challenges in the coming months as it pursues an ambitious reform agenda predicated on raising corporate taxes, introducing higher-quality free education, and writing a new constitution. Foremost will be slowing growth, as economic activity expanded by just 1.4% year-on-year in January, marking the weakest monthly print since February 2010, and posing downside risks to our forecast for real GDP growth of 3.7% in 2014, which already implies a slowdown from estimated growth of 4.3% in 2013. Indeed, we believe that President Michelle Bachelet will face difficulty in balancing her longstanding policy aims, including support for labour unions and indigenous communities, against her imperative to protect Chile's market-friendly business environment as the economy slows. This podcast features Noah Schumer, BMI's Chile Country Risk analyst, and Ben Kutler, from BMI's global Mining team.
Unemployment is often one of the big political issues facing governments worldwide. It is a major source of political risk, and a manifestation of economic underperformance. In Business Monitor Online this week, we have published a key feature on global unemployment.
Despite last week's downward revision to US real GDP growth in Q413, we maintain our forecast for growth to accelerate this year, fuelled by stronger private consumption and fixed investment, as well as a sustained positive contribution from net exports. This podcast features Calvin Garner, BMI's US Country Risk analyst, and Katherine Weber, from BMI's Latin America Country Risk team, discussing the ongoing economic recovery in the US, and its implications for the broader Americas region.
The future of Japan's nuclear energy sector looked highly uncertain following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, but BMI now believes that the high cost of imported fuel will force the country to bring almost half of its idled nuclear facilities back online. Business Monitor's Energy team explained the analysis behind this view in a recently published special report entitled Japan - Economic Realities To Dictate Nuclear Restarts, which examines the outlook for the Japanese energy sector. This podcast features Power Analyst Andrew Shepherd, Country Risk Analyst Esther Ye and Power and Renewables Analyst David Ng, who all contributed to that report.
Russia's intervention in Ukraine has been widely described as the most serious European security crisis since the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Following the publication of BMI's Special Report on the Ukrainian crisis and the regional and global implications of the situation in Crimea, we are joined by four BMI analysts to discuss their views on the risks to Europe and the wider global dynamics. Our special Ukraine podcast features Thaddeus Best, BMI's Ukraine Country Risk analyst, Kate Staykova, our Russia Country Risk analyst, Marina Petroleka, our Head of Energy and Infrastructure Research, and Yoel Sano, our Head of Political Risk.
The Chinese yuan has lost 1.6% against the US dollar since end-January, in line with our Asia team's long-held view that multi-year yuan appreciation was not a one-way bet. While the currency is unlikely to continue depreciating at this pace, Beijing's shift towards a wider trading band for the renminbi implies a period of extended yuan volatility.