Why Buy Asian FX (Part 1)

Given all the attention on Greece and European fiscal/debt woes over recent weeks it’s been easy to forget about the success story of Asian economies. Of course, there has been a lot of attention on China and the international pressure to revalue its currency. However, the stability and resilience of Asian economies has been impressive throughout the financial crisis and recent Greek saga, helping to boost the attraction of Asian currencies.

Asia has managed to avoid the fiscal/debt problems associated with many developed economies, due to much better fiscal management over recent years. There are a couple of exceptions however, including the Philippines and India, but the fiscal positions in these countries have seen an improvement and are unlikely to lead to anywhere near the same sort of problems associated with Greece and other European countries.

So far this year capital inflows into Asian equity markets have much been stronger than 2009, albeit after a rocky start to the year when flows dried up due to rising risk aversion. Since then inflows have resumed strongly. The comparison to 2008 is even more dramatic as much of Asia registered significant capital outflows that year. South Korea, India and Taiwan, respectively, have led the way in term of inflows into equity markets in 2010, with inflows of $4.3 billion, $3.7 billion and $3.3 billion, respectively.

It is no coincidence that Asian currencies are most sensitive to the performance of Asian equity markets, with strong capital inflows and rising equities leading to stronger currency performance. Asia is set to continue to be a strong destination for equity flows over coming months, which given the high Asian equity correlation with local currencies, will lead to further appreciation in most Asian FX. A likely CNY revaluation in China will also help to fuel further Asian FX upside.

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