Rupee Plunges to All-Time Low Amidst Turkey’s Currency Crisis
The rupee fell as much as 1.6 percent, the most since September 2013, to close at 69.93 versus the dollar. Image used for representational purpose.
The rupee fell as much as 1.6 percent, the most since September 2013, to close at 69.93 versus the dollar. Image used for representational purpose.(Photo: iStock)

Rupee Plunges to All-Time Low Amidst Turkey’s Currency Crisis

The Indian rupee hit a fresh low on Monday, 13 August as a slide in emerging-market currencies led by the Turkish lira spurred demand for haven assets.

The rupee fell as much as 1.6 percent, the most since September 2013, to close at 69.93 versus the dollar. The Indian currency has been the worst performer in Asia this year.

“The move today is obviously related to what happened with the Turkish lira and the lack of confidence in emerging markets,” said Bhaskar Panda, vice president of HDFC Bank Ltd.'s treasury advisory group.

(Photo Courtesy: BloombergQuint)

The lira slumped for the fourth day to a new low after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed no signs of backing down in a standoff with the US, The MSCI Emerging Market Index slumped to its lowest in more than a year.

The Indian currency has lost over 8 percent this year over worries surrounding the US-China trade war and Turkey's financial crisis. “It is only a matter of time before the Reserve Bank of India allows the rupee to depreciate more,” Dhananjay Sinha, head of research for institutional equities at Emkay Global, told BloombergQuint. The rupee could breach the 70-per-dollar mark, Sinha added.

The strategy appears to be that the RBI will allow the currency to drift lower gradually instead of a volatile movement.
Dhananjay Sinha, Head Of Research of Institutional Equities, Emkay Global

HDFC Bank's Panda disagrees. “We’ll see some more depreciation, but I think 69-70 seems too far-fetched,” he said.

Neelkanth Mishra, research analyst at Credit Suisse, said concerns over the rupee have abated. Despite making the largest one-day move in more than a year, the Indian unit is only tracking the US dollar, he wrote in a note. “We are unlikely to see meaningful weakness and volatility specific to the rupee.”

Mishra admitted that Credit Suisse was “worried about the rupee since the beginning of the year”. Over the past few months, concerns on the rupee have reduced, he said, because gross inbound foreign direct investment flows picked up and capital flight in the form of net jewellery imports declined.

Also Read : Will Freeze Assets of US Officials in Turkey: President Erdogan

Turkey Contagion Fears Justified?

“Turkey’s troubles are unlikely to affect India much beyond a mild impact on the currency -- which, in any case, mostly reflects broader dollar strength,” wrote Abhishek Gupta, who covers India for Bloomberg Economics.

We expect the Reserve Bank of India to intervene to support the rupee. This should prevent further weakness unless the dollar continues to strengthen and volatility in the India’s stock market increases significantly.
Abhishek Gupta, Bloomberg Economics said

Turkey is currently running “a very high inflation rate and the indebtedness of the private sector has doubled over the last decade,” JPMorgan Securities Senior Economist James Glassman told BloombergQuint. However, the contagion is unlikely to spread into broader markets, according to Glassman.

Because Turkey depends so much on external funding you can understand why this is becoming a currency crisis...This is not likely to spread around the world.
James Glassman, Senior Economist, JPMorgan Securities

While Asia is still largely insulated from the Turkey turmoil, what is apparent is that the deficit currencies such as the peso, rupee and the rupiah are more vulnerable when risk-aversion picks up and capital flows start taking a hit, Mitul Kotecha, senior EM strategist at TD Securities, told Bloomberg News.

Turkey’s central bank on Monday, 13 August, announced measures including reducing reserve requirements to stabilise the lira and improve liquidity in the banking system. The US-Turkey relationship took a turn for the worse on Friday, after President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Turkey for the detention of an American priest. Erdogan struck a defiant note in his speeches on Sunday, saying Turkey was ready to say "bye-bye" to its alliance with the US.

Also Read : Turkey Currency Crisis Explained: Why is the ‘Lira’ in Free Fall?

(This story was originally published on BloombergQuint.)

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