Emerging Markets’ Euro Nemesis
BRUSSELS – Emerging markets’ currencies are crashing, and their central banks are busy tightening policy, trying to stabilize their countries’ financial markets. Who is to blame for this state of affairs?
A few years ago, when the US Federal Reserve embarked on yet another round of “quantitative easing,” some emerging-market leaders complained loudly. They viewed the Fed’s open-ended purchases of long-term securities as an attempt to engineer a competitive devaluation of the dollar and worried that ultra-easy monetary conditions in the United States would unleash a flood of “hot money” inflows, driving up their exchange rates. This, they feared, would not only diminish their export competitiveness and push their external accounts into deficit; it would also expose them to the harsh consequences of a sudden stop in capital inflows when US policymakers reversed course.
At first sight, these fears appear to have been well founded. As the title of a recent paper published by the International Monetary Fund succinctly puts it, “Capital Flows are Fickle: Anytime, Anywhere.” The mere announcement that the Fed might scale down its unconventional monetary-policy operations has led to today’s capital flight from emerging markets.
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