It Starts: Broad Retaliation Against China in Currency War

Thursday, August 20, 2015
By Paul Martin

by Wolf Richter
August 20, 2015

The biggest global “tail risk” is China’s deteriorating economy and an emerging market debt crisis, according to BofA Merrill Lynch’s monthly poll of fund managers. And 48% of them were expecting the Fed to raise rates, despite languid growth and low inflation expectations.

Hot money is already fleeing emerging markets. Higher rates in the US will drain more capital out of countries that need it the most. It will pressure emerging market currencies and further increase the likelihood of a debt crisis in countries whose governments, banks, and corporations borrow in a currency other than their own.

This scenario would be bad enough for the emerging economies. But now China has devalued the yuan to stimulate its exports and thus its economy at the expense of others. And one thing has become clear on Wednesday: these struggling economies that compete with China are going to protect their exports against Chinese encroachment.

Hence a currency war.

It didn’t help that oil plunged nearly 5% to a new 6-year low, with WTI at $40.55 a barrel, after the EIA’s report of an “unexpected” crude oil inventory buildup in the US, now, during driving season when inventories are supposed to decline!

And copper dropped to $5,000 per ton for the first time since the Financial Crisis, down 20% so far this year. Copper is the ultimate industrial metal. China, which accounts for 45% of global copper consumption, is the bull’s eye of all the fretting about demand. 5,000 is the line in the sand. A big scary number. Other metals fared similarly.

The Rest…HERE

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