When China sneezes, the world catches a cold. Alternatively, when China devalues, the rest of the (exporting) world scrambles to not be the last (exporting) nation standing, and to do so next, before everyone else does.
Case in point, at least three major emerging market nations announced they are bracing for currency war.
First India, where NDTV ask rhetorically “How China’s Devaluation of Renminbi Impacts India” and answers:
1) The Indian rupee slipped to a two-month low of 64.26 against the US dollar on Tuesday tracking the devaluation of the renminbi. Other currencies such as the Australian dollar and the South Korean won also lost ground.
2) The over 0.5 per cent fall in the rupee weighed on traders’ sentiments, resulting in a drop in equity markets. Both the BSE Sensex and the Nifty traded with 0.4 per cent losses.
3) According to SV Prasad of Chime Consulting, renminbi’s devaluation may push the Reserve Bank of India to cut interest rates in India. Lower interest rates will put off foreign investors and will further weaken the rupee, he added.
4) However, fund manager Sandip Sabharwal said India should not be too worried about the devaluation in renminbi. “Analysts are out with predictions of how a 1.5 per cent fall of Chinese currency will lead to a sharp increase in dumping etc. However the Indian rupee has also fallen nearly 0.8 per cent in sympathy and is now down 5 per cent over the last one year. It is hard to see a major impact of this on Indian stock markets or the economy unless yuan depreciation becomes a trend which seems unlikely at this stage,” he said.
5) A fall in the value of the rupee is good for Indian exporters and sectors such as IT and pharma are seen gaining from the depreciation in the rupee. IT stocks were the top performers in stock markets today. However, China-focused Indian companies saw selling pressure because the devaluation of renminbi will make imports costlier in the country. As a result metal stocks saw selling pressure and underperformed broader markets.
Then there is Thailand, where the senior executive vice president of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Pakorn Peetathawatchai, said that “China is a very important market and a weaker yuan makes our exports there more expensive.” He added that weaker yuan also increases travel costs for Chinese tourists.
Well, yes, it’s called “war” for a reason.
Finally, there is Russia whose economy is already in a tailspin now that the dead cat bounce in oil has ended, and where moments ago RIA said that the Yuan devaluation puts pressure on RUB, other EM currencies. Still, the Russian Economy Ministry sees no domestic factors for ruble devaluation, RIA adds even as it admits crude prices to stay under pressure in 2015.
We give Russia, Thailand and India (as well as the rest of the EM countries, actually make that all countries, the US included) at least a few days (hours may suffice) before they all realize that in a beggar-thy-neighbor global currency war, where the ZIRP (or NIRP) liquidity trap is already stalking at least half of the entire world, there really is no choice.
Expect a dramatic surge in interest rate cuts over the next several weeks as the rest of the world realizes this is not some bad dream and responds, and the tit-for-tat FX defection regime (also known elsewhere as “war”) goes thermonuclear.
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