(Bloomberg News) The largest emerging markets, whose economies grew more than four-fold in the past decade, are making losers out of everyone from central bankers to Procter & Gamble Co. as their currencies post the biggest declines since at least 1998.
For the first time in 13 years, the real, ruble and rupee are weakening the most among developing-nation currencies, while the yuan has depreciated more than in any other period since its 1994 devaluation. P&G, the world's largest consumer-goods maker, cut its profit forecast for the second time in two months last week in part because of currency losses. Brazil's Fibria Celulose SA, the biggest pulp producer, asked banks to loosen restrictions on dollar loans as the real hit a three-year low.
Investors are fleeing the four biggest emerging markets, known as the BRICs, after Brazil's consumer default rate rose to the highest level since 2009, prices for Russian oil exports fell to an 18-month low, India's budget deficit widened and Chinese home prices slumped. Investors are bracing for more losses as economic growth slows.
"I am quite bearish," Stephen Jen, a managing partner at hedge fund SLJ Macro Partners LLP and a former economist at the International Monetary Fund, said in a phone interview from London. "When the global economy and capital flow slow down, it's going to expose a lot of problems in these countries and make people stop and ask questions. A run on the currency could be particularly ugly."
A decade after Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s Jim O'Neill coined the term BRIC, China has become the second-largest economy while Brazil, India and Russia are among the 11 biggest worldwide. Their combined gross domestic product rose to $13.3 trillion last year from $2.8 trillion in 2002 as their share of the global economy increased to 19 percent from 8 percent, according to IMF data. Together, they control $4.4 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, about 40 percent of the total.
The MSCI BRIC Index of shares has surged 281 percent during the past decade, compared with 34 percent for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index as the real and the yuan strengthened more than 30 percent. Local-currency debt in the BRIC nations returned an average 86 percent in dollar terms since data for JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes on all four countries began in October 2005, versus a 48 percent increase in U.S. Treasuries.
Weaker currencies will stimulate economic expansion by making exports more competitive, said Warren Hyland, an emerging-market money manager at Schroder Investment Management, which oversees about $319 billion worldwide. He's been buying ruble bonds of Russian companies.
Earnings at the nation's commodity producers, including OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel and Polyus Gold International Ltd., will get a boost because their sales are in dollars while the bulk of their costs are in rubles, New York-based Morgan Stanley said in a report this month.
Weaker currencies are hurting U.S. companies that rely on developing-nation revenue to offset slower growth in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
P&G, led by Chief Executive Officer Bob McDonald, said in a June 20 presentation at the Deutsche Bank Global Consumer Conference in Paris that foreign-currency fluctuations will cut 2013 earnings growth for the maker of Tide washing detergent and Bounty paper towels by about 4 percentage points. China is the Cincinnati-based company's second-largest market and some of the firm's biggest businesses are in Russia and Brazil, P&G said.