MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Remittances to Mexico posted their biggest jump in over ten years in November in a possible reaction to the U.S. election victory of Donald Trump, who threatened to block the transfers and eroded confidence in the peso currency during the campaign.
Mexicans abroad sent home nearly $2.4 billion in transfers in November, 24.7 percent higher than a year earlier, marking their fastest pace of expansion since March 2006, according to Mexican central bank data on Monday.
President-elect Trump ran a campaign steeped in anti-Mexican rhetoric and threatened to halt transfers from Mexican nationals unless Mexico agreed to pay for the massive wall he has vowed to build on the U.S. southern border to keep out illegal immigrants.
Trump’s surprise Nov. 8 election triumph also sent the Mexican currency to record lows in a sell-off fueled by his threats to scrap a trade deal between Mexico and the United States, and to levy punitive tariffs on Mexican-made goods.
Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos said in a client note the weak peso fanned the remittance surge, noting workers could be “strategically front-loading” transfers to avoid potential taxes or restrictions from the incoming U.S. administration.
The value of the remittances considerably exceeds that of Mexico’s oil exports, Ramos noted.
The payments from Mexicans living in the United States are a key source of income for many families in Mexico, where around half the population lives in poverty.
Bank BBVA Bancomer has forecast that those Mexicans will have sent a record $27 billion in remittances into Mexico in 2016, an increase of more than $2 billion over 2015.
Mexico’s central bank governor Agustin Carstens said last month that a rise in remittances was due to a weak exchange rate, more U.S. jobs and fears over Trump’s policies.
Mexico’s government said in November that it is ready to lobby the U.S. Congress and use all legal means possible to stop Trump blocking remittances.
Reporting by Alexandra Alper, editing by W Simon