bne:Chart - CEE/CIS currencies tank

By bne IntelliNews January 19, 2015

Henry Kirby in London -


bne IntelliNews' interactive forex tracker shows that few countries in Central and Eastern Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) have escaped from the current currency fracas. Almost all have seen their currencies devalue in the last year, and three of them have crashed. In many cases, the fall has as much to do with the rising value of the dollar as with any problems at home, but exchange rates remain extremely volatile at the moment.

The only currency to escape so far has been the Azerbaijani manat. Thanks to the level of control its government holds over the economy, its currency has been the most stable in the region.

From the rest a few currencies stand out as big losers. Anticipating the problems in Russia, Kazakhstan unilaterally devalued its tenge in February 2014 to give itself some wiggle room and it has managed to keep the exchange rate stable after that. However, analysts in Astana say almost all the benefits of that devaluation have been used up and the tenge is under pressure again due the double whammy of falling oil prices and the collapsing Russian ruble, and may have to devalue again soon.

No currency has plunged more than the Russian ruble, which has lost about half its value over the past year. The collapse of the currency has led to a storm of speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin's days are numbered. Real wages are set to sink this year while prices on staples will soar. However, the most recent polls show that Putin's popularity remains high and he would walk the next presidential election in 2018, should he choose to stand, according to a poll released in January.

The only other currency that comes remotely close to doing as badly as the ruble is Ukraine's hryvnia, which has fallen as much as the ruble in several large stepdowns over the last year. The collapse of the hryvnia has caused much less comment, but Ukrainians are a lot more upset with their government than Russians are with theirs.

Toward the end of 2014, two leading sociological institutes in Kyiv, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DI), conducted extensive research on the public mood in Ukraine and

The other currency that really stands out is the Belarusian ruble. As the Belarusian economy remains heavily dependent on Russia as its biggest export market, Russia's problems spilled over into Belarus in January and its currency went into a tailspin and has yet to stabilise.



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