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Is There a Global Currency Crisis Underway?

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    December 16, 2014

    As oil continues to slide so does the Ruble. Emerging market currencies have gone on for the ride as have the currencies of Eastern European countries, especially Ukraine. The Russian Ruble, Turkish Lira, and Ukrainian Hryvnia are at or near record lows.

    Russian Ruble – RUB

    Since the beginning of the year, the Ruble has gone from 32.99-per-US$ to 65.51-per-US$. That’s a decline of 49.64%.

    Ukrainian Hryvnia – UAH

    Since the beginning of the year the Hryvnia has gone from 8.21-per-US$ to 15.75-per-US$. That’s a decline of 47.87%.

    Turkish Lira – TRY

    Since the beginning of the year, the Lira has gone from 2.15-per-US$ to 2.37-per-US$. That’s a relatively modest decline of 10.23%. However, the lira slide since the beginning of 2013 (not shown on chart) is 25.74%.

    Traders Pressure Russian Central Bank

    Bloomberg reports Ruble Tumbles Most Since 1998 as Traders Pressure Central Bank.

    The ruble tumbled the most since 1998, sliding past 60 for the first time, as traders tested Russia’s willingness to defend the currency amid an oil slump that’s pushing the economy toward recession.

    The ruble weakened 9.1 percent to 64.0005 per dollar at 7:57 p.m. in Moscow, the steepest slide on a closing basis since the year Russia defaulted on local-currency debt. The 10-year government bond yield rose 23 basis points to 13.23 percent. Three-month implied volatility for the ruble climbed to a six-year high as the rout triggered the Bank of Russia to sell foreign exchange, according to BCS Financial Group and MDM Bank.

    Traders are pressing the central bank to buy more rubles to limit a selloff that has wiped out 22 percent of the currency’s value this month.

    “The collapse of the ruble has intensified amid falling oil prices and a central bank that failed to deliver a decisive actions to counteract the ruble decline,” Bernd Berg, a London-based emerging-market strategist at Societe Generale SA, said in e-mailed comments. “Russia is facing the risk of a currency and confidence crisis.”

    The ruble’s slump takes its 2014 depreciation to 48 percent, surpassing Ukraine’s hryvnia for the first time as the world’s worst performer among peers tracked by Bloomberg.

    Failure to Halt Decline

    Bernd Berg commented the “[Russian] central bank failed to deliver a decisive actions to counteract the ruble decline. Russia is facing the risk of a currency and confidence crisis.

    That’s a true but very misleading statement.

    The worst thing Russia could do would be to blow its currency reserves in a foolish attempt to stop the Ruble slide. Were Russia to blow its currency reserves, Russia would cause or exacerbate a crisis, not prevent one.

    The best thing for Russia to do is let the decline play out.The market will eventually find a level. In the meantime, there is little or nothing Russia can do.

    Global Currency Crisis on Deck
    Yes, Russia is facing a currency crisis. So is Ukraine, Turkey, Venezuela, and numerous other countries.

    I believe a global currency crisis is in the works.

    For more on the global currency crisis thesis, please see Next Phase in Currency Wars: Yen Plunge, Yuan Devaluation, and “Tidal Wave of Westbound Deflation”.

    Images: Flickr (licence attribution)

    About The Author

    Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.  Visit Sitka Pacific’s Account Management Page to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

    You are currently viewing my global economics blog which typically has commentary every day of the week. I am also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education.  Every Thursday I do a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis contribute to many other sites.

    When not writing about stocks or the economy I spend a great deal of time on photography and in the garden. I have over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Some of my Wisconsin and gardening images can be seen at MichaelShedlock.com.


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