Not a Member? Join Now!   Already a Member? Sign In!

Emerging Currencies

Euro retreats from 2009 Highs

In forex, timing is everything. If I had written this post a couple weeks ago, the headline would read “Euro Touches 2009 High.” Perhaps if I had waited another week, it would have read, “Euro Approaching 2009 High.” But alas, I chose today to write about the Euro, and the headline I chose is probably the most appropriate under the circumstances.

Brazil Real Edging Up, Despite Efforts of Central Bank

The Brazilian Real has been one of the world’s best performers in 2009, having risen by a solid 25%. The currency is now close to pre-credit crisis levels, and is even closing in on an 11-year high. When you consider that only six months ago, most analysts were painting doomsday scenarios and predicting currency devaluations and bond defaults for the entire continent, this is pretty incredible!

Korean Won Rebounds Strongly

Last year the Korean Won was one of the world’s weakest currencies- and that’s saying a lot when you you consider how many currencies tanked at the onset of the credit crisis. The Won lost nearly half of its value, driven by concerns that Korean creditors would be unable to pay their foreign debts. Since March, however, the currency has rebounded by an impressive 25%, as the government took action: “To avert a crisis, South Korea forged a dollar-swap agreement with the U.S., pumped money into the banking system, boosted fiscal spending, set up funds to replenish bank capital and cut rates.”

Bank of Israel Steps up Intervention on Shekel

Over the last year, Israel has quietly amassed one of the world’s largest repositories of foreign exchange reserves. On average, the Central Bank of Israel has purchased $100 million worth of Dollars every day since July 2008, bringing its total reserves to $52 Billion. The Bank’s goals are twofold: to sterilize the inflow of speculative money pouring into Israel in order to mitigate inflation, and to stem the appreciation of the Shekel.

Towards this latter, the Bank received a boost by the credit crisis, which caused an outbreak of risk aversion and sent investors rushing to shift funds into so-called safe haven countries/currencies. As a result, the Israeli stock market tanked, and the Shekel plummeted 30% in a matter of months.

Eastern European Currencies Recover, but Risks Remain

Emerging market currencies have soared over the last few months, thanks to a commensurate recovery in investor risk appetite. This trend is on full display in Eastern Europe, where, “The Hungarian currency, which has dropped 14 percent in the past year, has been the best performer in the past three months of the 26 emerging-market units tracked Bloomberg, having advanced 10 percent.” The Polish Zloty, meanwhile, can claim the distinction of best performer against the Euro, having risen 6% in the last month alone. [The chart below, which plots both currencies against the USD, is inverted].

Brazilian Real Surges Ahead

In the last three months alone, the Brazilian Real has risen by an impressive 15% against the Dollar alone. What’s driving this impressive importance? The lead paragraph for one article offered the following encapsulation: “Brazil’s real climbed to the highest in more than nine months as stronger-than-estimated corporate earnings, rising equities and higher metal prices bolstered the outlook for Latin America’s largest economy.”

Investors Disagree over Emerging Markets

Since touching a low in March, the emerging market class has risen by 50%, according to one measure. This led to concerns that another bubble was forming, a swift pullback ensued. The bulls, however, point out that valuations remain well below 2007-2008 bubble levels and that according to some measures, fundamentals are actually quite strong.

Emerging Market Currencies Witness “Correction” as Risk Aversion Rises

Since peaking in the beginning of June, the MSCI emerging markets index has fallen nearly 10%. While this is small potatoes compared to the 60% rise that the index cranked out in the previous three months, it could signal the beginning of a “correction.”

Bubble in Emerging Markets FX?

What’s wrong with a little optimism? Well, nothing, in theory. In practice, however, unbridled investor optimism usually spells disaster. Consider that emerging market stocks (based on the MSCI emerging-markets index) now trade for 15x-earnings, the highest level since December 2007. Does anyone remember what happened next? The index plummeted 22% in a matter of months.

Bubble in Emerging Markets FX?

What’s wrong with a little optimism? Well, nothing, in theory. In practice, however, unbridled investor optimism usually spells disaster. Consider that emerging market stocks (based on the MSCI emerging-markets index) now trade for 15x-earnings, the highest level since December 2007. Does anyone remember what happened next? The index plummeted 22% in a matter of months.

Syndicate content