The Currencies Most Affected by Falling Oil Prices

In 2015, oil prices have plunged globally in the wake of rising oil production and concerns about global economic growth. Prices have fallen by roughly half since June 2014, plummeting to levels that markets have not seen since the near-total collapse of world trade during the Great Recession of 2009. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that average oil prices will hover around $70 per barrel in 2020. While oil executives anticipate that it could be much longer until prices return to a range of $90 or $100 per barrel.

In the United States, more than 100,000 workers have lost their jobs as companies slash budgets and begin to re-evaluate the production of oil at current price levels. Ultimately, though the U.S. hasn't been dramatically impacted by declining oil prices because its economy is diverse. 

Meanwhile, certain countries and their currencies are struggling significantly under the pressures of falling oil prices. A currency that is significantly impacted by the rising and falling oil prices is commonly known as a petrocurrency. In short, a petrocurrency is the currency of an oil-producing nation — like Russia or Canada — that has significant amounts of oil exports as a percentage of its entire export portfolio. Given such a large share of exports, the currency will rise and fall in correlation with the price of oil.

This article outlines five currencies with significant exposure to fluctuating oil prices and the impact on their economies.

The Canadian Loonie

In September 2015, Stephen Poloz, Governer of the Bank of Canada predicted that the country’s economy would bounce back from multi-year lows in oil prices. However, can it come back from a weakened currency?

Around the globe, the Canadian dollar is increasingly viewed as a petrocurrency. In August, the loonie hit an 11-year low due to a decline in global oil prices. The nation is the fifth-largest producer of oil in the world, and oil comprises 14% of all its exports, according to the Economist.

As explained in the image below, a strong correlation exists between the movement of the CAD/USD currency pairing and the price of oil over the last 14 years. (For more, read: Forex Currencies: Commodity Pairs (USD/CAD, USD/AUD, USD/NZD)

From June 2014 to September 2015, the Canadian dollar fell 19.15%. (For more, read: Do Falling Oil Prices Hurt the Canadian Economy?)

The Russian Ruble

As one of the world’s largest oil producers, Russia has seen its economic conditions decline in the wake of falling commodity prices.

In fact, the nation was forced to resort to hiking its interest rate to 17% to stave off capital flight from its struggling economy, which relies massively on oil-and-gas production. According to Russian statistics, the nation’s energy exports account for more than 70% of all exports, and energy incomes comprise more than 50% of the nation’s federal budget intake.

The World Bank has issued a dire warning about Russia’s inability to diversity its economy. For every $1 that oil prices decline, the nation loses roughly $2 billion in revenue.(For more, read: How Does the Price of Oil Affect Russia's Economy?)

On June 19, 2014, North Sea Brent crude prices declined by 49%; meanwhile the Russian ruble fell by 49.05% during the same period

The Colombian Peso

Tucked in the northern edge of South America, not many think of Colombia as a nation with a steep reliance on energy exports. However, Colombia is one of the most energy-dependent countries in the Western Hemisphere when it comes to generating revenue for its economy.

Roughly 45% of all exports in Colombia are tied to oil and gas products, making the Peso susceptible to price swings during times of commodity volatility. Like Russia and other companies with a steep reliance on energy exports, the nation is attempting to diversify its employment sectors to bring its emerging market economy into developed status. However, such diversification will take time, education, and resources.(For more, read: Is Colombia an Emerging Market Economy?).The Colombian peso has declined by 37.86% since oil prices began retreating in June 2014.

The Norwegian Krone

Oil is central to Norway's higher-than-average Gross Domestic Product and GDP per capita. The nation's economic success has been accelerated by a non-disrupted source of crude oil. Norway’s petroleum sector is its most important industry—the petroleum sector accounts for 21.5% of its GDP, and almost half (48.9%) of total exports. However, as a result of poor oil prices, the Norwegian Krone has been down 25.69% since June 2014. (Read more, here: Norway, the Safest Oil Economy?)

The Brazilian Real

The Brazilian real recently hit an all-time low against the U.S. dollar as falling commodity prices weaken South America’s largest economy. The nation's largest energy company Petrobras has been crippled by a massive corruption scandal and falling crude prices.

Brazil hopes the 2016 Olympics will reinvigorate the economy; however, systemic problems related to a lack of economic diversity, weak infrastructure, and an over-reliance on commodity production will continue to plague Brazil’s currency long after the final gold medal has been issued. While the nation has a smaller percentage of oil exports than other companies on this list, falling commodity prices in metals, grains, and other agricultural commodities have pulled the Real down. Since June 2014, the Real has declined by 42.8%.

The Bottom Line

Falling oil prices can have an adverse impact on countries who's currencies rely on energy exports to fuel economic growth and development. Currencies with the highest correlation between oil prices and the value of the nation's money are traditionally known as petrocurrencies. Additional exporting countries whose currencies have a strong link to oil prices include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela (For more, read: Can a Venezuela Revolt Impact Oil Prices?)

Should oil prices rise in the coming months, these currencies would likely appreciate against the dollar and the currencies of nations that are net importers of energy commodities. 

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