TOKYO -- The interest-rate-driven strength of the dollar has battered currencies of energy-importing economies like Turkey, Brazil and South Korea, adding to the pressure from high crude oil prices.
The Turkish lira was down 8% against the greenback on Tuesday compared with the end of August. The South Korean won touched a 15-month low against the dollar. That day, Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol indicated that the central bank may intervene to prop up the national currency.
Weaker currencies risk putting a damper on these economies by raising prices of imports. The dollar and oil rallies are evolving into risks for the global economy alongside uncertainty over Chinese growth.
Higher U.S. interest rates are fueling the dollar's rise. With the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates sooner rather than later on the view that inflation will remain elevated, the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds touched the 1.6% range on Friday -- the highest in roughly four months.
The impact of the dollar's gains varies. The Singapore dollar and the Thai baht softened by roughly 1% to 3% between the end of August and Tuesday. The yen has depreciated into the 113 range against the greenback, its weakest in 34 months.
By contrast, resource-rich Russia, Canada and Australia have seen their currencies gain strength.
Currency weakness leads to the outflow of investment funds and magnifies dollar-denominated debt. Brazil's ratio of government debt to gross domestic product is 90.6%, while South Africa's is 68.8%, according to International Monetary fund projections. Both the real and the rand have weakened sharply since late August.
Both countries were once dubbed the so-called Fragile Five -- nations whose high reliance on foreign investment for growth makes them vulnerable to external shocks -- along with India, Indonesia and Turkey.
Surging crude oil prices have accelerated the dollar's gains. The Refinitiv/CoreCommodity CRB Index is at highs not seen in approximately six years and 10 months.
For central banks, these conditions pose a dilemma. The BOK raised its policy rate in August, but this failed to stem the won's depreciation. The bank worries that tolerating a weak won could cause import prices to rise and worsen economic conditions.
A high oil price risks worsening the current-account balances of resource importers, a prospect that opens up further selling of their currencies. The current-account deficits of Turkey and Thailand come to 2.4% and 0.5% of GDP, according to IMF projections.
Both countries are economically reliant on tourism, an industry hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, signs of an economic slowdown in China bode ill for economies that depend on it as a market. Chinese goods imports missed analysts' estimates in September, rising 17.6% on the year in dollar terms. Weaker Chinese demand has an impact on the currencies of countries like South Africa, which counts China as its top export destination.