Investors are lining up to short the Russian ruble as the sell-off in emerging markets pushes the currency to historic lows. But several analysts see an upside to the rout, seeing it as “easy money” for the government’s coffers. The dollar has appreciated over 7 percent against the ruble since the start of the year. At 1.00 p.m. London time Thursday, the ruble stood at $35.18 – close to levels not matched since the height of the global financial crisis in 2009, when the dollar peaked at $36.34 against the ruble. The currencies of Turkey, South Africa, Brazil and India have all been hit in this latest sell-off due to Chinese growth fears and the flow of cash back to the U.S. with the Federal Reserve ”tapering” its bond purchases.
These policy changes have exposed large current account deficits in emerging market economies, showing the need to increase the value of its exports relative to the value of imports. It has also brought to the fore a reliance on China. With the world’s second largest economy rebalancing, there are concerns that its demand for raw materials could fall, hitting those that export to the country. Kit Juckes, global head of foreign exchange strategy at Societe Generale said that Russia is a prime candidate for these fears and expects its currency will see more weakness. “I think it remains vulnerable, for sure,” he told CNBC via email. Simon Derrick, chief currency strategist at BNY Mellon said that Russia is prepared to give its currency greater latitude. He added that it will continue to be closely tied to the price of oil. With oil prices expected to show weakness in the longer term, Derrick expects the ruble to follow it lower. More