NEW YORK: The dazzling rise of the US dollar, which has hit one record after another, is raising fears of a currency crash of a severity not seen since the 1997 Asian financial crisis reverberated around the world.
The Federal Reserve’s rapid, steep interest rate increases and the relative health of the US economy has caused investors to flood into the dollar, driving the greenback up and sending the British pound, Indian rupee, Egyptian pound and South Korean won, and others to uncharted depths.
“The moves are definitely getting extreme,” said Brad Bechtel of Jefferies, warning that the exchange rates could fall further creating a “dire situation.”
Most other major central banks also are forcefully tightening monetary policy to bring down inflation, but so far the moves have not helped stabilised the currency market, nor has Japan’s direct intervention to support the yen last week.
Many fear that the same will be the case with the Bank of England’s plan announced Wednesday to conduct emergency purchases of government bonds to support the pound.
“We have our doubts that the BoE’s plan will be the silver bullet to kill all of the angst that has been pressuring the pound […] considering its plan doesn’t have permanency,” said Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com.
Others, especially emerging market countries, are even worse off. The Pakistani rupee has lost 29 percent of its value against the US dollar in the past year, and the Egyptian pound has weakened by 20 percent.
Those countries, and others like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which “benefitted from cheap and plentiful liquidity,” when interest rates were low during the pandemic, “are all suffering from tighter global liquidity,” said Win Thin, head of currency strategy at BBH Investor Services.
“Those countries with the weakest fundamentals are likely to be tested first but others may join them,” he warned.
Those countries rely on imported oil and grain which have seen prices soar, widening their trade deficits and fueling inflation, massive blows to their currencies.
The appreciation of the US currency has exacerbated the problem, since many commodities are denominated in dollars.
Already in a fragile position, Pakistan was hit with historic flooding in August, which prompted the government to discuss a restructuring of its debt.
“There are severe pressures on the financial system now. And it’s only a matter of time until there’s a larger crisis somewhere in the world,” warns Adam Button of ForexLive.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen earlier this week said she has not yet seen signs of “disorderly” financial market developments amid the interest rate hikes.
For countries like Taiwan, Thailand, or South Korea, which also dependent on energy imports, China’s zero-COVID policy has caused their exports to this key trading partner to plummet.
Larger economies like China and Japan have contributed in recent weeks to the turbulence on the foreign exchange market. The Japanese yen plunged its lowest level in 24 years, while the Chinese yuan hit its weakest in 14 years.
Fear of destabilisation brings back memories of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which was triggered by the devaluation of the Thai baht.
Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia followed, which panicked foreign investors and led to massive outflows of capital, pushing several countries into a severe recession and South Korea to the brink of default.
At the time, the collapse of the baht was in part linked to its fixed parity with the dollar, which forced the Thai government to support its currency, depleting its foreign exchange reserves, which was unsustainable in the face of market forces.
Argentina eventually was forced to abandon its peg to the dollar and defaulted in late 2001 — the largest sovereign default in history.
Erik Nelson of Wells Fargo said that is a key difference between 2022 and 1997.
“Now there’s not a lot of fixed exchange rates,” he said. “I’m frankly more worried about developed markets right now.”
Lebanon, one of the few to still peg its currency to the greenback, on Thursday announced a drastic devaluation, taking the country’s pound to 15,000 to the dollar from the previous fixed value of 1,507.
In the United States, by contrast, where inflation has soared to a 40-year high “the Fed sees strong dollar as a blessing,” said Christopher Vecchio of DailyFX, noting that it helps “insulate the economy from more significant price pressures.”‘
A strong currency means the country pays less for its imported products.
Pakistani authorities have ‘delivered’ on economic front, says top IMF official
- IMF official says Pakistan ‘important’ country in the world.
- “Our country is destined to succeed,” says Masood Khan.
- Nathan Porter hails actions and policies of Pakistani govt.
WASHINGTON: Bahador Bijani, an Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has noted an overall improvement in the economic situation, saying, the “Pakistani authorities have delivered”.
He made these remarks at an event hosted by Pakistan’s ambassador to the US in honour of friends of Pakistan from International Financial Institutions including IMF, International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank (WB), and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), at Pakistan House in Washington.
“I think the future for Pakistan is very bright. Pakistan is not just any country. It’s one of the most important countries in the region and in the world. Pakistanis deserve much more,” the IMF executive director was quoted as saying in an official statement.
The meeting took place as Islamabad awaits the IMF board’s meeting to approve a staff-level agreement on the first review of a $3 billion bailout, which will unlock $700 million in funding for the country.
Addressing the event, Ambassador Masood Khan observed that the past year was difficult for Pakistan. “We have passed through a wrenching transition and we are moving toward a new phase of stability,” he added.
“Have faith in Pakistan. Our country is destined to succeed,” he said.
“Our confidence stems from the people of Pakistan. We have a growing middle class and our human capital is increasing at a very fast pace,” he added.
Addressing a gathering of over 40 guests from the IFIs, the ambassador said that we were grateful to IFIs for their steadfast support in navigating through a difficult economic period.
Nathan Porter, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, speaking on the occasion, expressed satisfaction over the recently concluded staff-level agreement. He said that the actions and policies of the current government reflected its commitment to steer the country towards stabilisation.
“With that base, hopefully, we can build on and be able to move forward to reforms to build a stronger, prosperous and inclusive Pakistan,” he said.
He also appreciated the cooperation and the policies pursued by the State Bank of Pakistan for ensuring fiscal stability in the country.
Athanasios Arvanitis, Deputy Director Middle East and Central Asia Department IMF, also spoke on the occasion and expressed the hope that the elections in Pakistan would usher into a new beginning of undertaking a reform process that the country needed to make progress and address some of its structural issues.
Thanking them for their strong support, Ambassador Khan observed that the digitisation of Pakistan’s economy was creating new opportunities in the country for its youth and professionals taking the lead role in steering the country towards a bright future.
Lauding the professional achievements of Pakistanis working in the IFIs, the ambassador observed that Pakistani professionals have proved their mettle and have made the entire nation proud of their accomplishments.
“We are a nation of talented people. If you can make it, Pakistan will also make it,” observed the ambassador.
Syed Ali Abbas, Advisor Mission Chief UK, European Department IMF, in his remarks, expressed the hope that with the successful completion of the electoral process in Pakistan, the country would move towards a long-term and more durable approach which would change the trajectory of Pakistan.
Aftab Qureshi from the World Bank and Sidra Rehman from the IMF also spoke on the occasion and assured their continued cooperation.
The ambassador thanked the members of the IFIs and said that the country looked forward to working with its development partners.
SNGPL demands 137% increase in gas tariff
- SNGPL’s prescribed gas prices amount to Rs1,715.49 per MMBTu.
- Company seeks revision of rate to Rs2,961.98/MMBTu.
- SNGPL calculates cost of RLNG’s service at Rs72.16bn.
ISLAMABAD: To address the looming revenue shortfall, the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) is yet again demanding a significant 137% increase in the average prescribed gas prices, amounting to Rs1,715.49 per MMBTu.
The state-owned company, responsible for supplying gas to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has submitted a formal request to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) for the fiscal year 2023-24, seeking a revision of the rate to Rs2,961.98/MMBTu, effective from July 1 of the current financial year.
The company’s petition to Ogra outlines an estimated revenue requirement for FY24 at Rs179.16 billion, including Rs697 million allocated for LPG air-mix projects in Gilgit for the ongoing fiscal year.
On this basis, SNGPL is seeking a hike in the average prescribed gas price by Rs506.35/MMBTu, effective from July 1, 2023. It has notably incorporated the cost of re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) diverted to domestic consumers into the overall cost of gas, in alignment with a decision by the federal cabinet on October 10, 2023.
Additionally, the utility has factored in Rs427.83 billion to offset shortfalls from previous years. To justify a 137.6% increase in average prescribed prices to Rs2,961.98/MMBTu from July 1, 2023, SNGPL cites the rise in the cost of gas/RLNG and other components outlined in its petition.
Furthermore, SNGPL has calculated the cost of RLNG’s service at Rs72.16 billion (equivalent to Rs293.07/MMBTu) for the current fiscal year. The company indicates that the subject petition is undergoing revisions based on actual cost data and sales figures for July and August 2023, resulting in a reduction of the indigenous gas business shortfall from Rs181.516 billion to Rs179.160 billion.
The revised segment-wise shortfall and RLNG business cost for FY2023-24 are detailed as Rs179.160 billion for indigenous gas business and Rs427.830 billion for shortfalls from previous years. The total indigenous gas business shortfall, inclusive of previous years’ shortfalls, amounts to Rs606.990 billion, with an additional Rs72.160 billion designated as the RLNG cost of supply, as stated in the petition.
Ogra has invited comments from all interested and affected parties, including gas consumers and the general public. A public hearing on the petition is scheduled for December 11, 2023, in Lahore, where the regulatory authority will determine the gas prices.
PSX sets new record as KSE-100 crosses 63,000 mark
KARACHI: Bulls on Monday gripped the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) as the benchmark index achieved a new milestone by crossing the 63,000 mark for the first time.
According to the PSX website, the benchmark KSE-100 index gained 447.13 points or 0.71% to reach 63,403.15 points during the intraday trading at 10:59am.
Pakistan-Kuwait Head of Research, Samiullah Tariq, told Geo.tv that major catalysts for the recent bull run in the equity market include strong profitability, attractive valuation, and expectations of a reduction in interest rate — scheduled to be announced on December 12.
He added that the “market should remain bullish in the coming days”.
A day earlier, stocks were boosted by expectations of improved economic conditions following signs of progress in securing financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and friendly countries.
Benchmark KSE-100 index rose 0.74% or 463 points to close at 62,956 points.
Investors were confident about the outlook for the economy, which has shown some improvement in key indicators such as trade deficit, remittances and exports. The local currency also remained stable and gained for the sixth consecutive session.
“There is a positive sentiment in the market, driven by optimistic expectations of an improved economic landscape,” said analyst Naveed Nadeem at Topline Securities.
“This positive outlook is supported by anticipated financial inflows from the IMF and friendly countries. Additionally, there is speculation about a potential reduction in interest rates in the upcoming monetary policy committee meeting, further enhancing the positive environment.”
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