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Rand's woes are so bad, the lira is starting to look good

Jun 10 2019 18:19
Dana El Baltaji

With debt-laden state-owned companies and political infighting weighing on the rand, the notoriously volatile lira appears a little more attractive in comparison.

The lira has risen 2.9% against the rand in June, after capping the best return since October last month. The gains have put the cross at its 50-week moving average, a level it hasn’t been able to stay above for more than a few weeks since 2016.

That isn’t to suggest all is well with the lira. Bearish bets on the currency are the highest in the world, according to risk reversals. So is its implied volatility. Investors are on edge over Turkey’s planned purchase of a S-400 missile defense system from Russia, a move that could see the U.S. impose sanctions on the country. And there’s always the risk the central bank will ease borrowing costs before the market is ready.

But in comparison to the rand’s woes, which include disagreements within the ruling African National Congress and a government that has “no choice” but to increase support for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the recent calm in the lira may be alluring to brave yield chasers.

Societe Generale SA sees the rand depreciating further “if the bearish EM FX cycle continues,” strategists Jason Daw and Marek Drimal wrote in emailed note.

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