What Does Australia Have in Common With Colombia and Russia?

Excluding the brief fall at the worst point of the global financial crisis, this is the lowest level for the Aussie since 2007

Aussie Dollar Gains as Employers Added More Jobs
Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

Australia's currency has had one of the most rapid depreciations of its real exchange rate, only beaten by a ragged bunch of troubled economies.

Kieran Davies of Barclays Plc estimates that the Aussie's 16 percent fall from 2013 to the end of the second quarter is the fastest after Colombia -- where growth has halved;  Russia, which is in recession; Brazil, which is also in a slump, and Japan.

All these economies bar Japan are struggling with plunging oil and commodity prices as China's economy slows.

"Excluding the brief fall at the worst point of the global financial crisis, this is the lowest level since 2007" for the Australian dollar, said Davies, chief economist at Barclays in Australia, who reckons the real exchange rate has fallen a further 3 percent so far this quarter. The depreciation should add half a percentage point to growth this year and next, he said.

Still, Davies, using the Reserve Bank of Australia's fair value model, estimates the real exchange rate remains 6 percent overvalued this quarter given the larger fall in commodity prices over the period. The central bank's own commodity price index has dropped 37 percent since the start of 2013 in U.S. dollar terms.

As a result, he thinks the RBA is unlikely to alter its negative language on the currency.

"I think they'd be comfortable with it still going lower,'' said Davies, a former Treasury official. "Sometimes the RBA has dropped the reference to the currency drop being necessary and the market's read too much into it and the RBA has then had to backtrack.''

 

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