One of the most important things to grasp about the Fed’s September (in)decision is that the FOMC had no viable options when it came to emerging markets.
The combination of low commodity prices, falling demand, slumping global trade, a decelerating China, and the yuan devaluation have all served to accelerate capital outflows for EM and there’s certainly an argument to be made for the contention that a Fed hike and a subsequent spike in the dollar would be just about the last thing EM needs when it comes to stopping the bleeding.
That said, there’s another line of argumentation which says the Fed missed its window to hike long ago and so now, all they’re doing in the Eccles Building is fostering continued uncertainty which is also causing capital to flow out of EM.
In the simplest terms possible: no one really has any idea whether it’s best to rip the band-aid off or not, and adding to the confusion is the fact that the Fed has now telegraphed its own uncertainty by explicitly acknowledging the reflexivity problem, meaning EMs (and everyone else for that matter) are desperately trying to figure out how to incorporate themselves into their own outlook for what the Fed may or may not do.
Here’s how one former Treasury economist framed the latter argument:
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