Weak currencies but no quick export fix for emerging markets

Sep 07 2013, 14:29 IST
Comments 0
In those fallen currencies, policymakers are seeing the seeds of their salvation. In those fallen currencies, policymakers are seeing the seeds of their salvation.
SummaryIn those fallen currencies, policymakers are seeing the seeds of their salvation.

Newly cheap currencies may soon start to boost emerging markets' exports but for many that will only soften the bigger blow of imported inflation and the higher interest rates needed to stabilise their exchange rates.

Currencies from the Indian rupee to the Brazilian real have lost 12-20 percent of their value against the US dollar this year in a rout that has wiped billions of dollars off stock indices and put investors to flight right across emerging markets.

In those fallen currencies, policymakers are seeing the seeds of their salvation.

If economic recovery in China, the United States and euro zone stays on course, so will demand for cheaper emerging market exports, the reasoning goes, in turn shrinking the big current account deficits dogging countries such as India and Turkey.

"(Indian Rupee) depreciation can be good for the economy as this will help to increase our export competitiveness and discourage imports," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last week as the rupee crashed to new record lows against the dollar.

He should be right. Textbook economics dictates that a 20 percent currency deflation will be followed by an export boom, as local labour and input costs fall 20 percent for companies with dollar-based sales. That was what powered the emerging markets' turnaround after the 1997-2002 crises.

There are complicating factors this time around, though - not least the still-high oil price and the credit explosion that has taken over as the main growth driver for many economies, in particular for those with current account deficits.

The currency effect is starting to filter through to exports in some emerging markets: Latin American exports rose 2.2 percent year-on-year in July, after contracting an average 0.9 percent in the first half of the year, Capital Economics says.

Exports from South Africa jumped more than 10 percent in July while Brazil's farm exports rose strongly in the first three weeks of August as the real weakened..

Yet a range of investment banks including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have sharply cut their forecasts for emerging markets growth for this year and the next, reflecting pessimism about the extent of an export-led growth bounce.

"Absolutely, weaker currencies will help the export side. The problem is the currency and bond markets move much quicker than current account deficits," said David Hauner, head of EEMEA currency and debt strategy at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

"Net net, I would argue that the earliest you can hope to see an

Single Page Format
Ads by Google
Reader´s Comments
| Post a Comment
Please Wait while comments are loading...