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December 16, 2014

Emerging Markets Currency Crisis on Deck

By Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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.

About The Author - Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative and he writes at Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis (EconMatters author archive here)

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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