Brazil's currency just dropped to a level it's never seen before

Brazil’s economy is getting absolutely hammered.

Last week Business Insider’s Myles Udland charted the awful data coming out of Brazil. Business and consumer confidence and retail sales are slumping, while inflation and unemployment are picking up.

And the country’s currency, the Brazilian real, is feeling it. On Tuesday it hit a level it’s never seen before — a single US dollar now buys you more than 4 reals.

The currency has halved in value since early 2013, and lost a third of its value since the start of 2015 alone.

Even if you go back much further, the real has never been quite this weak. Less than 20 years ago the currency was actually worth more than the dollar:

The slump in the real (or the surge in the dollar, depending on how you look at it) even outstrips the crisis in the early 2000s.

Capital Economics lists a bundle of reasons that the current sell-off is worse than it was in the early noughties:

  • The dollar: “The turnaround in the real’s fortunes in 2003 was partly due to weakness in the dollar amid concerns about the size of the US current account deficit… However, this time around we expect the dollar to strengthen a little more as the Fed raises interest rates.”
  • Commodities: “Soybeans and iron ore account for around 25% of Brazil’s export basket, and the prices of both have fallen substantially in recent years.”
  • Rising prices: “Persistently higher inflation in Brazil than in its trading partners has required a depreciation of the nominal exchange rate just to maintain the real exchange rate at any given level.”
  • Politics: “Domestic political and debt problems have also been at play and are unlikely to be resolved soon.”

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