The peso fell 16 percent in two days, easily the worst performer among emerging markets.
Turkey’s national currency, the lira, hit multiple record lows in recent weeks as investors worried about the fallout of a corruption scandal that threatens to destabilize the government. Having a stable government for the past 10 years has been one of the key ingredients in the country’s economic revival.
The lira hit an all-time low of 2.33 against the dollar on Friday — from around 2 per dollar in December — despite a $3 billion-intervention by the central bank in foreign exchange markets.
Beyond political problems, the countries that have seen their currencies fall most are those that rely heavily on exports of raw materials used in manufacturing. The Russian ruble was trading at 34.58 per dollar, from below 34 on Thursday. The South African rand weakened to 11.13 per dollar, from 10.98 the day before.
China and global growth
Since the recession, the global economy has relied heavily on China and other emerging markets as the developed economies of the United States, Europe and Japan struggled.
But China’s economy is decelerating. It grew 7.7 percent in October-December 2013 from a year earlier, down from the previous quarter’s 7.8 percent growth. Factory output, exports and investment all weakened. On Thursday, the preliminary version of HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index of Chinese manufacturing fell to 49.6, the lowest reading since July’s 47.7. Anything below 50 signals a contraction.
China’s growth is still is far stronger than the United States, Japan or Europe, but is down from the double-digit rates of the previous decade.
Many economists are troubled less by the slower growth numbers than by China’s over-reliance on trade and investment instead of spending by its consumers.
“China, and the world at large, would benefit from its shift to a lower but more sustainable pattern of growth that is not so heavily dependent on investment-led growth fueled by bank credit,” Cornell’s Prasad said.