I have for sometime argued that the quasi-currency union ‘Dollar Bloc’ is not an Optimal Currency Area and that it therefore is doomed to fall apart.
The latest ‘member’ of the ‘Dollar Bloc’ left today. This is from Bloomberg:
Azerbaijan’s manat plunged to the weakest on record after the central bank relinquished control of its exchange rate, the latest crude producer to abandon a currency peg as oil prices slumped to the lowest in 11 years.
The third-biggest oil producer in the former Soviet Union moved to a free float on Monday to buttress the country’s foreign-exchange reserves and improve competitiveness amid “intensifying external economic shocks,” the central bank said in a statement. The manat, which has fallen in only one of the past 12 years, nosedived 32 percent to 1.5375 to the dollar as of 2:30 p.m. in the capital, Baku, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Caspian Sea country joins a host of developing nations from Vietnam to Nigeria that have weakened their currencies this year after China devalued the yuan, commodities prices sank and the Federal Reserve prepared to raise interest rates. Azerbaijan burned through more than half of its central bank reserves to defend the manat after it was allowed to weaken about 25 percent in February as the aftershocks of the economic crisis in Russia rippled through former Kremlin satellites.
The list of de-peggers from the dollar grows longer by the day – Kazakhstan, Armenia, Angola and South Sudan (the list is longer…) have all devalued in recent months as have of course most importantly China.
It is the tribble-whammy of a stronger dollar (tighter US monetary conditions), lower oil prices and the Chinese de-coupling from the dollar, which is putting pressure on the oil exporting dollar peggers. Add to that many (most?) are struggling with serious structural problems and weak institutions.
This process will likely continue in the coming year and I find it harder and harder to believe that there will be any oil exporting countries that are pegged to the dollar in 12 months – at least not on the same strong level as today.
De-pegging from the dollar obviously is the right policy for commodity exporters given the structural slowdown in China, a strong dollar and the fact that most commodity exporters are out of sync with the US economy.
Therefore, commodity exporters should either float their currencies and implement some form of nominal GDP or nominal wage targeting or alternatively peg their currencies at a (much) weaker level against a basket of oil prices and other currencies reflecting these countries trading partners. This of course is what I have termed an Export Price Norm.
Unfortunately, most oil exporting countries seem completely unprepared for the collapse of the dollar bloc, but they could start reading here or drop me a mail (email@example.com):
If you want to hear me speak about these topics or other related topics don’t hesitate to contact my speaker agency Specialist Speakers – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.