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April currency review

Forex markets can seem unfeeling at times, but in April investors showed considerable support for two big changes of political regime which raise hopes of better times ahead for the countries' long-suffering citizens.

Firstly, the Sudanese pound was the world's strongest currency during the month of April after the miltary there took their cues from masses of protestors to end the 30-year rule of Omar Bashir. The ousted president has mired the country in ruinous corruption and several brutal conflicts, while doing little to reduce poverty. Talks between democracy advocates and the military are ongoing.

The Ukrainian hryvnia was the other beneficiary of regime change, albeit one that resulted from a democratic vote. The defeated president, Petro Poroshenko, had actually made some useful reforms and arguably improved the economy and workings of the state, but he also did too little to address corruption. Voters elected instead former comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, who has vowed to do much more.

If things go well, Sudan and Ukraine could see many more international assignees coming to live and work in subsequent years - always a sign of burgeoning economic development. Forex investors are not the only ones hoping for such outcomes.

Countries experiencing largest currency gains in April
Country
Currency code Movement v EUR
1 - 29 Apr 2019 (%)
Inflation
(%)
Ghana GHS +3 9.3
Mexico MXN +3 4.0
Sudan SDG +6 44.3
Ukraine UAH +3 8.6

Speaking of regime change, there still hasn't been one in Venezuela, despite the best efforts of self-declared 'acting president', Juan Guaido. Guaido began his campaign to try to force the collapse of Nicolas Maduro's regime in January and is backed by more than 50 other countries and about 80% of Venezuela's people, according to polls. This week he launched what he called the "final phase", but it is unclear whether the subsequent fighting seen on the streets amounted to a coup or just an increase in protests. Either way, Maduro still appears to be in control of at least some parts of the state machine. The Venezuelan bolivar is almost worthless following two decades of economic mismanagement, but it somehow became even more worthless this month. It would be fascinating to see what happens to the currency if Guaido ever succeeds.

Countries experiencing largest currency losses in April
Country
Currency code Movement v EUR
1 - 29 Apr 2019 (%)
Inflation
(%)
Argentina ARS -3 54.7
Jamaica JMD -6 3.4
Turkey TRY -5 19.7
Venezuela VES -33 1623656.0
Zambia ZMW -3 7.5

In other currency news, the International Monetary Fund has again urged the government of Nigeria to unify its multiple exchange rates, but opinion is deeply divided among those analysts who see this as unlikely, and those who think it more possible. If rates are unified, the official one would need to be significantly devalued and inflation would be likely to rise.

Another interesting article this month details how Vietnam and Thailand are leading the drive to make south-east Asia cashless.

Not currency related as such, but definitely of interest to global mobility teams managing expatriate staff into and out of the United Kingdom, and further to our blog posts about Brexit, the CIPD has done an excellent job of detailing some of the challenges and opportunities which might arise if and when the UK changes its immigration policies.

And finally, here is this month's selected currency movements table:

Selected currency movements (v EUR)
Country Currency code % movement to 29 April 2019 v EUR since: Latest official annual inflation (%)
    1/4/19
(1 month)
28/1/19
(3 months)
29/10/18
(6 months)
30/4/18
(12 months)
 
Argentina ARS -3 -17 -19 -51 54.7
Australia AUD 0 +1 +2 +1 1.3
Brazil BRL 0 -3 -5 -5 4.6
Canada CAD 0 +1 -1 +4 1.9
Chile CLP +2 +1 +4 -3 2.0
China CNY 0 +2 +5 +2 2.3
Egypt EGP +2 +6 +6 +11 14.2
India INR 0 +3 +6 +3 2.9
Indonesia IDR +1 +1 +9 +6 2.5
Japan JPY 0 0 +2 +6 0.5
Kenya KES 0 +1 +2 +7 4.3
Korea Republic KRW -1 -2 +1 0 0.4
Mexico MXN +3 +2 +5 +7 4.0
Nigeria NGN +1 +2 +3 +8 11.5
Norway NOK 0 0 -2 0 2.9
Philippines PHP +2 +3 +5 +7 3.3
Poland PLN 0 0 0 -2 1.7
Russia RUB +1 +4 +4 +5 5.3
Singapore SGD 0 +1 +3 +5 0.6
South Africa ZAR +2 -3 +4 -7 4.5
Sweden SEK -2 -3 -2 -1 1.9
Switzerland CHF -2 -1 0 +5 0.7
Turkey TRY -5 -11 -4 -35 19.7
United Kingdom GBP 0 0 +3 +1 1.9
United States of America USD +1 +2 +2 +8 1.9
Venezuela VES -33 -60 -99 -99 1623656.0
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