Yesterday, November 17, Mexico’s central bank raised interest rates for the fourth time in 2016. The new rate of 5.25% is the highest since 2009. The Mexican peso traded today, November 18, at 20.5626 to the dollar as of 2 p.m. New York time.
And that’s just one example of the damage that a stronger dollar is doing to emerging market currencies. Central banks including China’s Peoples Bank and the Reserve Bank of India are intervening in markets by selling dollars in order to support their own currencies.
The Malaysian ringgit fell 0.6% forcing the central bank to attempt to support the currency. The Chinese yuan fell to its weakest level since 2008. The Indian rupee weakened past 68 rupees to the dollar for the first time since June. State-run banks in India sold dollars in an effort to support the rupee.
If the example of Mexico’s peso says anything, however, emerging market currencies aren’t done with their retreat. Most economists and apparently most currency traders had expected a bigger increase of 0.5 percentage points or more from Mexico’s central bank, and the peso kept falling even after the central bank move. The Mexican peso is now down 15% for 2016.
Higher interest rates and a stronger dollar aren’t good for growth in developing economies and the combination is especially bad news for companies that have raised debt denominated in what are now more expensive dollars.
The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) is down 0.2% today as of 2 p.m. New York time. The ProShares Short MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EUM) is up 0.16%. (The ProShares Short ETF is a member of my Jubak Picks portfolio.)