We talked in class today about Sweden's need to raise overnight lending rates to ridiculous levels in its attempt to defend the kroner in the fall of 1992. I read tonight that Romania has a current account deficit of 14 percent of GDP and has pushed overnight rates to 900 percent to defend its peg against the euro.
As was the case with Sweden, this is likely insufficient. "Merrill Lynch has advised its clients to take "short" positions against the leu. "The fundamental picture suggests that Romania may face a currency crisis in the near term, similar to what Hungary has gone through over the last week," it said. The bank also warned that Turkey and the Philippines are vulnerable."
Things look pretty grim for emerging markets and western Europe. "Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley, says the emerging market crash .. threatens to become “the second epicentre of the global financial crisis”, this time unfolding in Europe rather than America.:
- "Austria’s bank exposure to emerging markets is equal to 85pc of GDP – with a heavy concentration in Hungary, Ukraine, and Serbia."
- Exposure is 50pc of GDP for Switzerland, 25pc for Sweden, 24pc for the UK, and 23pc for Spain.
- Spanish banks have lent $316bn to Latin America, almost twice the lending by all US banks combined ($172bn). Hence the growing doubts about the health of Spain’s financial system as Argentina spirals towards another default, and Brazil’s currency, bonds and stocks all go into freefall.
- The US figure is just 4pc.