Pakistan among 7 countries at ‘high risk of currency crises’

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Japanese bank Nomura has warned that 7 countries, including Egypt, Romania, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Czech Republic, Pakistan, and Hungary, are now at a “high risk of currency crises”.

Reuters quoted Nomura as saying that 22 of the 32 countries covered by its in-house “Damocles” warning system had seen their risk rise since its last update in May, with the biggest increases in the Czech Republic and Brazil.

Since then, the sum of the scores generated on all 32 by the model has increased sharply to 2,234 from 1,744.

“This is the highest total score since July 1999 and not too far from the peak of 2,692 during the height of the Asian crisis,” Nomura economists said, calling it “an ominous warning sign of the growing broad-based risk in EM currencies”.

The model crunches 8 key indicators on a country’s forex reserves, exchange rate, financial health, and interest rates to give an overall score.

Based on data from 61 different EM currency crises since 1996, Nomura estimates that a score above 100 indicates a 64% chance of a currency crisis in the following 12 months.

Egypt, which has already devalued its currency heavily twice this year and sought an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, now generates the worst score at 165.

Romania is next on the list with a 145 score and has been propping up its currency with interventions. Default-stricken Sri Lanka and the currency crisis-regular Turkey generate scores of 138, while the Czech Republic, Pakistan, and Hungary notch 126, 120, and 100, respectively.

State Bank forex reserves tick up $3m to $7.96bn

Nomura also ran the Damocles model on the G7 group of leading economies, with the results showing that all but Japan now have Damocles scores above the 100 thresholds, led by the United States and Britain.

EM economies are still more vulnerable. Most have not fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and now face high inflation, limited fiscal space, negative real interest rates, a weaker balance of payments, and diminished FX reserve cover.

“It is somewhat surprising that there have not been more full-blown EM currency crises this year,” Nomura added.

Pakistan’s fiscal deficit nears Rs1 trillion in first quarter of FY23

“Then again, EM challenges are far from over… The late Professor Rudiger Dornbusch once said, A crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought”. — Agencies

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