By Eliman Dambell
Currency markets are always the most volatile in times of crisis. From the dotcom crash in 2000, to the housing market crash in 2008. General market uncertainty usually creates panic in foreign exchange markets. Recent weeks have been no different, with the rapid spread of COVID-19, a variety of global currencies have experienced significant levels of volatility as a response to the health threat.
This comes as nations the world over have locked down their doors, meaning some already struggling economies, will now face even greater levels of economic uncertainty as the strength of their economy begins to diminish.
So which currencies have experienced the most turmoil in recent months, and is there any hope for a recovery both within the currency and the economy as a whole?
South African Rand
The rand is typically one of the most popularly traded currencies in the world, especially when crossed with the US Dollar. Many traders view this as a good way to diversify their portfolios and gain access to emerging markets. In recent years with the US economy booming, and experiencing it’s longest bull market in history. Adding to the fact that South Africa has been in the midst of economic and political turmoil has seen USDZAR continue to weaken to all time highs. Just under 8 years ago you could be in a position to receive 10 rand for every dollar. Now that amount has almost doubled.
As seen below on the chart, where each candle represents 1 month. The beginning of 2020, prior to the Coronavirus begin labelled a pandemic by the WHO, the rate of USDZAR was 15.38, which was the ceiling or rate resistance for the last 8 years. However as the virus worsened leading to both nations closing down their borders, it was the economy of south Africa which was most impacted, with the rate going from 15.38 – 19.08 in all but 2 months.
With South Africa more reliant on tourism, and other more contact based services. The calls to “stay at home” has meant the livelihoods of many have been lost.
Moving away from emerging currencies to more major currencies tells a different story. EURUSD is the world’s most traded currency pair. Has all but continued it’s trajectory of the last few years. This has seen the EUR continue to gain strength against the USD. In February and mid March when the virus was impacting Europe more than the United States, we saw a slight push back from USD, with the rate of $1 moving from a low of €1.06 – 1.15.
Since then the US has by some distance, has become the most affected country in the world, and as a result has once again fallen, and now trades at €1.08. So although there has been some movement, even within currency markets. The historical trend has continued in the trajectory it had pre-pandemic.