Are Emerging Market Foreign Currencies Finally Attractive?


Emerging market foreign currencies (EMFX) have sold off dramatically in the past two years since the 2013 Taper Tantrum. Accounts in the financial media often center on the role of the strong U.S. dollar, sensitivity to developed market (DM) monetary policy, or the fall in commodity prices. In this paper, we try to answer the question of whether or not, after the recent sell-off, are EMFX finally at attractive levels. We do this by presenting our long-term and medium-term framework for analyzing currencies. We first apply it to EMFX as an aggregate, and argue that EMFX is beginning to look compellingly attractive by both long-term and mediumterm valuation standards. On a long-term basis, EMFX real effective exchange rates (REERs) have adjusted significantly, and are now well below long-term averages. Our medium-term framework shows EMFX to be 1.2 standard deviations cheap compared to “fair value”, a level of undervaluation greater than that seen during the Global Financial Crisis. We gauge these findings against terms of trade, changing country fundamentals and global factors. Finally, we use our frameworks to identify potential winners and losers in the EMFX sell-off.

Morgan Stanley Investment Management

Co-author: Jens Nystedt

Teal Emery
Teal Emery
Independent Research Analyst

I turn messy data into actionable insights.