In recent weeks, global financial markets have been increasingly spooked by an intensifying crisis in emerging market currencies including those of Turkey and Argentina. Add to this the ongoing currency crisis in Venezuela and the currency problems of Iran. While all of these countries have economy specific reasons that explain at least some of their currency weakness, there are some common themes such as a stronger US dollar, high domestic inflation rates, economic mismanagement, reliance on foreign borrowing, and in some cases economic sanctions imposed by the US.
As one currency plummets, this intensifies emerging market risk across the entire asset class, and it’s not unreasonable at this time to at least speculate whether the contagion could spread. The Brazilian Real and South African Rand have come under pressure and in Asia, the Indonesian Rupiah and Indian Rupee are also now weakening against the US Dollar.
It is against this backdrop that physical gold is being increasingly mentioned within these emerging economies, with gold coming to the fore as it always does in times of crisis. It is for this reason that its interesting to take a look at a number of these currencies and examine how gold is playing the role of safe haven for these countries’ citizens as well as creating a challenge for these nations’ leaders and central banks.
Buying up Gold as the Turkish Lira Plunges
With ongoing currency and external debt problems, Turkey, with a population of 90 million, has played a central role in the current currency crisis and remains a catalyst for potential risk contagion across other troubled emerging market currencies.
Turkey’s currency woes come against a backdrop of a stronger US dollar, domestic inflation of 15%, increasing default risk, market skepticism about the independence of Turkey’s monetary policy, and a series of US sanctions against the Turkey economy.
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