Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega claimed that an “international currency war” has broken out but the government will buy all “excess dollars” in the market to curb the appreciation of the local currency Real.
Brazil won’t allow the Real to appreciate excessively as other countries weaken their currencies to gain market share for exporters, Mantega said Tuesday during a business event in Sao Paulo.
“We are experiencing a currency war,” Mantega said. “Devaluing currencies artificially is a global strategy”.
A weaker exchange rate makes a country’s exports cheaper helping to boost the economy out of the global downturn. However the problem is when the policy proliferates which makes it most difficult to co-ordinate the issue globally.
The Real has gained 35% against the US dollar since the beginning of 2009, making Brazilian exports more expensive in dollar terms and cutting into profits for exporters. The comments echo Mantega’s words last September 15, when he pledged that Brazil is “not going to lose this game.”
The Brazilian official comments coincide with the latest interventions in Asia where South Korea, Taiwan and Japan have intervened in money markets in an effort to make their currencies cheaper.
South Korea that is hosting next November the G-20 is reluctant to include the issue in the agenda given the position of neighbouring China and Beijing’s Yuan policy criticized by the US. China is South Korea’s main partner and the world’s second largest economy.
Mantega reiterated Brazil is considering new taxes on short-term, fixed-income investments, without providing details. Brazil doesn’t plan to tax long-term investments, he said.
“The Brazilian government has an arsenal of instruments to cope with the situation and will not let the Real strengthen too much and much less suffer harming effects from other countries’ exchange rate policies”, warned Mantega.
However the currency was little changed at 1.7106 per U.S. dollar. It has posted gains for six consecutive weeks, the longest winning streak in 11 months.
“We’re already buying a bigger volume of currency -- we’ll keep buying,” Mantega told reporters. “We’ll buy any excess dollars in the market.”
Last week, central bank President Henrique Meirelles said his institution is prepared to buy or sell dollars in the foreign exchange market to manage liquidity levels, adding that excessive capital inflows represent an “important risk” throughout the global economy.
Brazil announced last week it will use its 17.9 billion Real (10.5 billion USD) sovereign-wealth fund to buy dollars in the spot market. The fund will be managed by the Treasury and operated by the central bank.
Brazil has been flooded by greenbacks lately, as much as one billion dollars a day over the past weeks (ten times normal activity) attracted by the country’s oil and gas corporation Petrobras shares issue which totalled 67 billion US dollars.