currency controls

Venezuela keeps fidgeting with its tight foreign exchange controls. Earlier this week President Nicolás Maduro announced the government was restructuring the way it allocates greenbacks in its import-dependent economy.

He said the government was establishing the “National Centre of Exterior Commerce”, an umbrella organisation to oversee the main foreign exchange agency, Cadivi, as well as the country’s forex auction mechanisms

By Jake Maxwell Watts and Gwen Robinson in Bangkok

The heated debate in Thailand about whether the central bank should intervene to stem the biggest rise in the baht in 16 years intensified this week as a survey of Thai companies revealed that almost 10 per cent of entrepreneurs claim they would go out of business if the baht rose further to 27.90 to the dollar.

Thailand’s currency was hovering around 28.90 to the dollar on Thursday, down from 28.56 last week, but still nearly 6 per cent higher than at the beginning of the year. The baht’s steady appreciation has been largely driven by inflows of foreign capital seeking strong returns from Thailand’s booming economy and exiting Japan. 

The Thai baht hit a 16-year record on Tuesday, appreciating another 0.8 per cent and falling below 29 to the dollar for the first time since the Asian financial crisis of 1997.

The baht touched 28.93 to the dollar at one point, before weakening to just over 29. It’s a worry for policy makers, who have seen the baht appreciate by over 5 per cent already this year alone, but who don’t seem to have a lot of options. 

Just how merry a lot of Venezuelans will be this Christmas depends to some degree on how many dollars the government decides to make available.

But with currency controls in place since 2003, it is becoming increasingly clear that the government is not terribly inclined to dish out too many dollars just now – only on Thursday the central bank president was forced to declare on national television that one of the official mechanisms for obtaining dollars was not in fact “paralysed”. 

Any dollars under there?

With Ukraine’s currency plunging to a three-year low of 8.27 hryvnia to the dollar, and central bank reserves dwindling, the administration of President Viktor Yanukovich has turned to hardball tactics to preserve stability.

A series of new currency market rules adopted early this week aim to force impoverished citizens and oligarch-owned exporters into coughing up their hard currency cash.