currency war

It’s been a few years since the guns of the international currency wars fell silent, or at least until the main combatants turned most of their attention to other things.

With the strength of the dollar, however, the issue might easily re-emerge. If it does, even if the eurozone and Japan are the main initial targets, emerging markets are unlikely to be able to sit out a renewed burst of hostilities. Read more

As Brazil’s outgoing finance minister, Guido Mantega, bids “tchau” to his former job , he has at least one thing to feel good about.

While the economy is a shadow of what it was when he took office eight years ago, he does seem to have succeeded in at least one major policy – his campaign to weaken Brazil’s currency, the real.

The man who is credited with making the term “currency war” his own seems to have won his battle to weaken the Brazil’s currency in the face of a tide of foreign speculative hot money. Read more

Brazil’s cutting its IOF financial transaction tax to zero for foreign investments in local bonds makes perfect sense. The logic of its introduction, after all, was that Brazil faced a tsunami of hot money inflows as a result of the developed world’s aggressively loose monetary policies following the crisis of 2008-09. Those inflows made the currency stronger and eroded Brazil’s competitiveness. It needed a flood barrier. Now that the tide of those flows has turned, the obvious response is to take the barrier away.

If only things were that simple. Read more

By Jeong Young-Sik of Samsung Economic Research Institute

With the won/yen exchange rate plummeting from 1,432 to 1,107 per 100 yen since last October, Korea’s exports, which largely compete head-to-head with Japan, are feeling the pinch. The true impact of the weak yen, however, has yet to be felt, as the real economy lags behind major moves in foreign exchange rates but there is little doubt that the effect will grow. Read more

Thailand became the latest of several Asian countries to actively encourage the depreciation of its currency on Wednesday, continuing a trend that is likely to leave other regional economies with little choice but to follow.

Its central bank cut interest rates by 25 basis points from 2.75 per cent to 2.5 per cent a year, in an attempt to stem a rise in the baht, which hit a 16-year high last month. The Thai finance ministry is considering adding capital controls to the mix. Read more

Complaining about the effect of Japan’s monetary easing on the value of the yen is virtually de rigeur among the country’s trading partners. But Chart of the week shows that the most vocal critics of Japan are not necessarily those with the most to shout about. Read more

For the eighth time in 10 months, Peru’s central bank has raised deposit requirements on dollar-denominated accounts to stem the flow of hot money into its fast-growing economy and dampen currency appreciation. Read more

By Daniel Hui of JPMorgan

“It is said that enlightened governments… do not mobilise when there is no advantage, do not act when there is nothing to gain, do not fight when there is no danger.” – Sun Tzu

Markets have been captivated by the prospect and imagery of a “currency war” following Japan’s dramatic shift in monetary policy, and the recent 20 per cent depreciation of the yen. The narrative goes something like this: The sharp devaluation of the Japanese yen will be the casus belli which will provoke retaliatory devaluations by other Asian economies in self-defence.

All very colorful, dramatic and scary, to be sure. But to-date this is purely hypothetical, and likely to remain so. Read more

By Humayun Shahryar of Auvest Capital Management

While the world is focused on the ongoing currency war, not enough attention is being paid to the rise in global protectionism. The number of trade disputes at the World Trade Organization in 2012 is estimated to be more than in 2010 and 2011 combined, with the G20 countries accounting for 80 per cent of the protectionist measures. While the recent stock market rally, resolution of the US fiscal cliff and the perceived easing of the European crisis may have taken attention away from falling global demand and slowing economic growth, a sharp rise in protectionism is on the cards in the coming months as governments react to rising unemployment, growing income inequality and slowing economic growth. Read more

Global squabbles over exchange rates have emerged as a key concern for South Korea, as policy makers struggle to battle strong headwinds from Japan’s expansionary monetary policy.

A Bank of Korea report on Monday showed conflicts over currencies listed for the first time among the top five risks facing the country’s financial system, while concerns about China’s economic hard-landing and a delayed recovery in the US economy have subsided. Read more

What? Hulk no smash currency appreciation?

Just as other countries look like they are relaunching the global currency war – see Japan – it seems like Brazil may be tiring of its long-fought and ultimately unrewarding campaign.

After some inconsistent statements, Brazil’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, signalled on Friday that the government’s attention was swinging back to inflation. Read more

As Philipp Hildebrand explained in Tuesday’s FT, there is no such thing as a global currency war. But – as John Paul Rathbone outlined the next day – that hasn’t prevented the spread of currency fears across Latin America.

Policy makers have faced those fears in different ways. Munir Jalil and Jose Vicente Romero of Citi Research argue that Colombia has turned to some fancy accounting. Read more

How have emerging market currencies fared at the start of the year compared with 2012? Foreign currency investors say that the grip of so-called risk on, risk off trading has faded this year and that fundamental reasons for buying or selling a currency are dominating investment choice.

But the rise of currency wars is also playing a major role in determining which currencies rise or fall, as investors respond to rhetoric from central bankers and place bets on which countries are most likely to take action to weaken their currency this year. Chart of the week takes a closer look. Read more

Guido Mantega, Brazilian finance ministerTrying to understand what Guido Mantega is up to can be exhausting, especially when it comes to his favourite topic: currency wars.

The real weakened early on Wednesday after Brazil’s finance minister warned the government was ready to correct any excessive moves in the exchange rate, adding that a weaker currency makes domestic industry more competitive. Read more

Hot money is known in Latin America as “swallow” capital, like the migratory birds that arrive in the springtime, build a nest and raise their chicks, only to fly away elsewhere with all their brood.

But, rather than swallows, the dollars that have flooded into Costa Rica in recent months have been “real weapons of mass destruction” for the Central American nation’s economy, according to the president, Laura Chinchilla. Read more

Turkey cut interest rates and raised reserve requirements on Tuesday. It looks like a stylish balancing act: cut interest rates to make the lira less attractive, raise reserve requirements to compensate for the associated easing, and with luck you’ll get a weaker currency without stoking inflation. An exemplary piece of currency warfare.

If only things were that simple. Read more

Russia lambasted Japan and other countries this week for deliberately weakening their currencies to gain competitive advantage in global trade. Alexei Ulyukayev, the central bank’s first deputy chairman said: “We’re on a threshold of very serious, confrontational actions in the sphere that is known… as currency wars.”

So how come Russia itself is buying dollars to weaken its own currency? Read more

Readers already know that Brazil is at the helm of the currency war when it comes to Latin America. However, increasingly, Colombia, Peru and even Costa Rica are turning into brothers in arms, determined to ease the appreciation of their own currencies, the peso, the sol and the colón, respectively. Read more

Russia has piled into the latest outbreak of the currency wars, with a top central banker warning of serious consequences of what he said were Japan’s moves to weaken the yen in a bid to boost its stagnant economy.

According to Reuters, Alexei Ulyukayev, the central bank’s first deputy chairman, said on Wednesday: “We’re on a threshold of very serious, confrontational actions in the sphere that is known… as currency wars.”

With Russia holding the G20 presidency this year, these words will resonate, especially as they came only hours after an intervention from South KoreaRead more

The currency war rumbles on. As Bloomberg reports on Wednesday – under the headline “emerging markets backlash” – South Korea wants a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Moscow next month to focus on the adverse affects of easy money in the US, EU and Japan.

Korea has certainly been feeling the heat. The eurozone crisis dampened demand for its exports throughout 2012. Seoul says exports remain under threat from a stronger won and growing protectionism around the world. But will words translate into actions? Read more