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    Chile Investors Brace for Two-Year Debate Over New Constitution

    Abstract:Chileans voted overwhelmingly to change their constitution Sunday, triggering a wave of celebrations across the country and ushering in as much as two years of debate over the new charter.

      People celebrate at Plaza Italia in Santiago on Oct. 25. Chileans will return to the polls in April to elect a constitutional convention to write the new charter.

      Chileans voted overwhelmingly to change their constitution Sunday, triggering a wave of celebrations across the country and ushering in as much as two years of debate over the new charter.

      Many will hope the vote marks the end of the protests and violence that have wracked the country for the past year. Others will worry it paves the way for renewed controversy and ultimately, a more interventionist state.

      Chile to Scrap Pinochet-Era Constitution in Landslide Vote

      The current constitution was drawn up under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and enshrines the free-market policies that have fueled more than 30 years of growth -- and steep inequalities. In April, Chileans will return to the polls to elect a constitutional convention to write the new charter.

      That vote will be the “true litmus test” of how much Chile is going to change, according to Fernan Gonzalez, an analyst at Citigroup Global Markets Inc.

      Here is what analysts had to say about yesterdays vote:

      Emily Weis, a macro strategist at State Street Corp. in Boston:

    •   The vote “introduced a good deal of uncertainty into the outlook for local equities, sovereign bonds and FX markets”

    •   The constitutional convention is likely to resemble the current make up of Congress and every clause of the new charter will require approval from 2/3 of delegates, limiting the scope for radical change

        {20}

    •   “Other market factors will take over in the shorter term until the referendum comes back in focus in April 2021”

        {20}

    •   “If there was no re-write, many of the grievances around inequality in education, health-care, and public investments would remain unaddressed. Thus the re-write is necessary to address these issues now”

      Federico Kaune, the New York-based head of emerging markets fixed income at UBS Asset Management:

    •   The vote showed the “desire for broad and profound changes towards a more progressive and socially inclusive constitution”

    •   “The process is likely to take a couple of years and could end up weakening the pillars of Chiles economic success of the past four decades”

    •   “Investors will likely focus on the new constitutions rules and incentives and their potential impact on long- term growth and fiscal sustainability.”

      Patrick Esteruelas, head of research at Emso Asset Management in New York:

    •   A narrower margin of victory “could have potentially fueled more protests and been more destabilizing”

    •   There are a couple of features that could limit the possibility of wholesale change

      •   Current established political parties will likely dominate in the new Constituent Assembly,

      •   A new constitution will require two-thirds majority support

      Gonzalez at Citigroup:

    •   The “convention should reflect the ideology Chileans have and should therefore be more balanced,” he wrote in a note

    •   Markets priced in this result, and any negative reaction may be short-lived given the absence of violence

    •   Valuations in Chile are still attractive

        {35}

      BBVA strategists Mario Castro and Alejandro Cuadrado:

      {35}

    •   “Markets could stay cautious ahead of such a possibility, as it opens up a broader debate on the countrys political and economic structures and could be seen as a bigger fiscal drag,” they wrote in a note

    •   “Chile is likely to migrate towards a welfare-state constitution in which the government guarantees access to key public services, such as education, health care and pensions”

        {39}

    •   Sundays vote is likely to steepen the rates curve on the outlook for more fiscal spending, and put a floor under local rates

        {39}

    •   It should also act as a “more permanent drag on the CLP”

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