South Africa’s rand dropped the most in almost a decade and Mexico’s peso declined Monday as Turkey’s ongoing economic crisis sent investors fleeing from emerging-market assets.
The currencies plunged as Turkey’s lira extended its precipitous slide after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed no signs of backing down in a standoff with the U.S. administration. As investors worry about the country sliding toward a full-blown financial crisis, traders are taking the opportunity to reduce positions in developing-nation securities.
The decline in the lira “may fuel volatility in emerging market assets and dampen investor sentiment in the near term, as markets are already skittish,” said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “But the drivers of the lira’s decline are very specific to Turkey—therefore it should not derail the positive fundamentals in other emerging markets over a longer-term.”
Investors had already turned cautious against emerging markets this year as the rising prospect of a prolonged trade war compounds a backdrop characterized by a more hawkish Federal Reserve and European Central Bank. In South Africa, uncertainty about the ruling party’s policies on land and mining has also contributed to the currency’s almost 17 per cent drop against the dollar so far this year.
The rand fell almost five per cent as of 11:57 a.m. in Tokyo after sliding as much as 9.4 per cent to 15.5517 per dollar, the most since 2008. Mexico’s peso declined as much as 2.3 per cent against the US currency, the biggest drop since January 2017. The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index slid to a more than one-year low, slipping 0.8 per cent.