Alongside the renewed fall in equities, EMs and especially EM currencies have been taking it on the chin. With western markets seizing up and oil prices tumbling it is a double whammy for emerging markets. EMs are hurt by declines in oil, but are doubly wounded by the risk-off mood that is pervading markets. Treasuries have seen big yield declines as investors flooded in, and that has meant outflows from EMs, which have seen their currencies drop considerably. The Rand and Lira have been hurt most.
FINSUM: This ship probably won’t be righted until western markets exercise their demons.
A couple of weeks ago investors seemed ready to accept that the brief emerging markets selloff was just a minor Turkey-induced tantrum, but would not blossom into something worse. Well, that view seems to be waning, as the selloff in EMs has spread and is starting to have all the hallmarks of a full crisis. One analyst summarized the situation this way, explaining that this has all the hallmarks of an EM crisis: “a large dose of debt and an associated domestic credit bubble, including misallocation of capital into uneconomic trophy projects or financial speculation. Then add: a weak banking sector, budget deficits, current-account gaps, substantial short-term foreign-currency debt and inadequate forex reserves”.
FINSUM:EMs are facing a lot of headwinds, but the economies in most of them seem healthy, so hopefully the problems will be contained to just the most troubled (e.g. Turkey and Argentina).
Investors may be watching the markets anxiously, and with good reason. Turkey is in the middle of a full blown financial crisis, and the threat of it leaking into western markets via European banks seems tangible. Emerging market stocks are down 18% from their peak in January and there is pressure on other EMs like South Africa, China, Russia, and India. However, the worries over a full-scale emerging markets meltdown seem overdone, especially considering the economies of EMs are actually quite strong and healthy at the moment, which should keep things from falling into dire straits.
FINSUM: EMs currently have good currency reserves and many are running budget surpluses, so they are not entering this period of turmoil in weak shape.
Emerging markets had a rough first half to the year. Between rising western rates and a trade war, there was not a lot to be happy about in EM assets. Then, a few weeks ago, many sources were saying the bear market was over and it was time for a rally. However, investors need to stay sharp, as EM currencies are still sliding, which will lead to lower growth. Weaker currencies also make it hard to pay back Dollar-denominated debt, which could hurt credit. There are also country-specific issues, like the growing trade battle between Turkey and the US.
FINSUM: There are still a lot of macroeconomic developments moving against EMs, but to be fair, the best rallies start in the darkest hours.
Whether investors like it or not, a lot of signs are currently pointing to a pending recession. The yield curve has flattened dramatically, and the trade war and hawkish Fed loom large. With that in mind, JP Morgan has put out a piece telling investors which currencies to own when a recession hits. According to Paul Meggyesi of JP Morgan, it will be best to own the US Dollar, Swiss France, Japanese Yen, and Singapore Dollar, and to get rid of any emerging market currencies. The Yen and Dollar look best, as in a deleveraging scenario, the whole world needs to buy back Dollars as it is the default funding currency.
FINSUM: No surprises here, but given how long it has been since a recession, it is always useful to revisit the logics and strategies to use during one.