The pace at which emerging market economies are losing FX reserves is staggering.
In March, emerging economies lost around $1.5 billion in foreign exchange reserves per day, according to Bloomberg.
Saudi Arabia alone lost $27 billion in reserves in March, according to Goldman Sachs, and it is one of the countries with the best capacity to endure the current crisis.
China, that still hods $3 trillion in FX reserves despite the crisis, is also among the strongest countries in FX reserves, but the apparently large level is offset by a large US-dollar denominated debt liability. As such, China’s 60% of China’s reserves are there to cover existing liabilities.
India is also one of the strong countries. As a large importer of commodities, the current slump in activity and lower commodity prices has allowed India to maintain a very healthy level of reserves.
Which countries are suffering the most? Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey rank among the most impacted.
What is causing this collapse in reserves and rising dollar shortage?
The “Sudden Stop” in emerging economies that I warned of in my book Escape from the Central Bank Trap (BEP 2017) is happening in front of us. It means that even with massive easing from the Fed, many economies will not see a large flow of funds into local investments, and the countries with the largest fiscal and monetary imbalances simply stop receiving foreign funding.
Some readers may see this as a great opportunity for China to extend massive loans in Yuan to address the rising shortage of dollars. There is only one problem. The economies that face the sudden stop will sell those Yuan to buy US dollars and repay loan commitments which could create a risk of capital flights in China that the country cannot afford, especially when it is managing its reserve base as well as it can.
The only thing that can reverse the sudden stop or mitigate it is a return to normal economic activity. Even so, the likelihood of investors jumping on the “negative dollar carry trade” of the past is very low.
Daniel Lacalle is one the most influential economists in the world. He is Chief Economist at Tressis SV, Fund Manager at Adriza International Opportunities, Member of the advisory board of the Rafael del Pino foundation, Commissioner of the Community of Madrid in London, President of Instituto Mises Hispano and Professor at IE Business School, London School of Economics, IEB and UNED. Mr. Lacalle has presented and given keynote speeches at the most prestigious forums globally including the Federal Reserve in Houston, the Heritage Foundation in Washington, London School of Economics, Funds Society Forum in Miami, World Economic Forum, Forecast Summit in Peru, Mining Show in Dubai, Our Crowd in Jerusalem, Nordea Investor Summit in Oslo, and many others. Mr Lacalle has more than 24 years of experience in the energy and finance sectors, including experience in North Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. He is currently a fund manager overseeing equities, bonds and commodities. He was voted Top 3 Generalist and Number 1 Pan-European Buyside Individual in Oil & Gas in Thomson Reuters’ Extel Survey in 2011, the leading survey among companies and financial institutions. He is also author of the best-selling books: “Life In The Financial Markets” (Wiley, 2014), translated to Portuguese and Spanish ; “The Energy World Is Flat” (Wiley, 2014, with Diego Parrilla), translated to Portuguese and Chinese ; “Escape from the Central Bank Trap” (2017, BEP), translated to Spanish. Mr Lacalle also contributes at CNBC, World Economic Forum, Epoch Times, Mises Institute, Hedgeye, Zero Hedge, Focus Economics, Seeking Alpha, El Español, The Commentator, and The Wall Street Journal. He holds a PhD in Economics, CIIA financial analyst title, with a post graduate degree in IESE and a master’s degree in economic investigation (UCV).