Update 3: Well that wasn't supposed to happen... Having swapped almost $3 billion to buy reals, the second major intervention in a week by the Brazilian Central Bank has utterly failed again...
Next stop 4.00 and contagion.
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Update 2: Einstein would be proud. The market clearly has its eye on Brazil as after intervening 'successfully' selling its 40,000 FX swaps, the Real is fading back to the lows of the day - in other words: intervention failure #2 for the week...
And BRL is back at the lows of the day...
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Update 1: As the Real plunged to 3.90, Brazilian authorities have decided it is time to intervene once again (having failed just two days ago). While the intervention has not occurred yet (Brazil to auction up to 40,000 FX swaps between 10:20am to 10:30am ET), there is no 'pricing in' effect at all in the Real spot market.
Finally, by popular demand from many of our Brazilian readers, there is a silver lining - things are much worse in Argentina and Turkey, so that's something!
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Mohamed El-Erian warned overnight that Brazilian policy makers are "in quite a tricky position -- and there’s little room for error," and judging buy this morning's rout in the real, he is dead right.
Crippling nationwide trucker strikes, which prompted the resignation of Petrobras CEO, and forced Brazil and Argentina to roll back their planned fuel-price increases have, according to Bloomberg's Davison Santana, undermined their already fragile currencies and deter investors eager for signs authorities are serious about putting fiscal accounts in order.
Brazil’s projected budget deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product stands at 7.4 percent, the highest among major emerging-market peers.
The gap, as El-Erian explained succinctly, leave government with a stark choice: keep borrowing or cut spending.
As Santana notes, borrowing more isn’t a healthy option. Higher deficits make currencies less attractive, leading to rising interest rates that reduce growth and erode government revenue in a cycle that ends up, you guessed it, swelling the deficit. Reining in spending typically makes more sense. That’s why it’s all the more remarkable that Brazil recently capitulated in their efforts to remove artificial price controls that kept fuel costs low. After all, it’s much harder to reduce spending while maintaining subsidies.
So where does this leave the real? It means authorities will have to keep intervening in currency markets, a costly use of foreign-exchange reserves that can only stop for good once the nations tackle their underlying fiscal problems. And indeed, after Brazil’s real tumbled to a two-year low on Tuesday, the government effectively tripled its support - which has already failed dismally.
A month ago we explained how critical the Brazilian Real is to identifying just when the Emerging Market turmoil will go viral.
How can one decide if the Emerging Market turmoil is about to sweep across the entire sector, and result in DM contagion? According to Bank of America the answer is simple:
"EM FX never lies and a plunge in Brazilian real toward 4 versus US dollar is likely to cause deleveraging and contagion across credit portfolios."
In other words, the best indicator of imminent emerging market turmoil is shown in the chart below: if and when the BRL starts sliding, and approaches 4, it may be a good time to panic.
And one glimpse at the chart below makes it very clear, Brazil is now flashing bright red on the EM turmoil SHTF index...