8 World Currencies That Took a Hit in 2016

By Tim Lemke on 17 January 2017 0 comments

It's been a tough stretch recently for global currencies. Economic uncertainty, political shake-ups, and other world events have sent the value of currencies down sharply over the past year in many countries. Moreover, the decision of some nations to float their currency on the foreign exchange market has had troublesome results. Currencies in South America have been hit especially hard, but others in Europe and Africa haven't been immune to weakening.

Here are eight currencies that dove in 2016.

1. British Pound

Thanks, Brexit! The UK's vote to leave the European Union stunned the world and sent the pound plunging over fear of the move's impact on the British and global economy. Right now, the British pound equals about $1.23 U.S., or nearly 20% less since June, 2016. The pound was worth $1.50 right before the Brexit vote. It dropped nearly 15% immediately and kept declining before rebounding slightly at the end of 2016.

2. Mexican Peso

In the spring of 2016, one U.S. dollar was worth about 17 pesos, but the value of the Mexican currency has been tumbling ever since. The anti-immigration and anti-trade message coming from Donald Trump during the presidential campaign led to a weakening of the peso, and Trump's election in November made matters worse. The dollar/peso trade is now above 21, marking a 23% decline in value for the peso.

3. Venezuelan Bolivar

The Venezuelan economy is a mess, with massive inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and general mismanagement. This has led to a collapse of the nation's currency, with the value dropping by more than 36% in late March of last year. But accurate data from Venezuela is so hard to come by that the actual value of currency is anyone's guess.

4. Argentine Peso

Argentina's currency began falling right at the start of 2016, then rebounded in the summer before enduring a long decline since. The U.S. dollar is now worth about 16 pesos. That means the value of the peso is down about 17% since this time in 2016. This drop is largely blamed on the decision to begin floating the currency on the foreign exchange market. The move was supposed to encourage foreign investment, but that has yet to bear out, and the currency has taken a hit as a result.

5. Turkish Lira

National security fears and inflation have hammered Turkey's currency, which hit a new all-time low in early January. The currency began tumbling last spring, and is now off more than 23% since a peak in April. Interest rate hikes in the U.S. have created additional pressure; it now takes about four lira to equal a U.S. dollar.

6. Egyptian Pound

Egypt's currency tumbled in October, after the nation's government announced it would free float its currency. The Egyptian pound's 45% loss in a single day is believed to be a record. The pound had been trading at an 8:1 ratio to the U.S. dollar, but now it takes 18 pounds to make a dollar. Observers say that in the long run, a weaker currency could boost exports and tourism, but there is concern about inflation in the short term.

7. Nigerian Naira

Nigeria also free-floated its currency in 2016 in an effort to lure investment, and results were not quite as bad as in Egypt. After being pegged to the dollar for more than a year, the naira dropped 30% in a day in June. One U.S. dollar is now worth about 315 naira, compared to 199 naira before the slide. To make matters worse, a decline in the value of oil has not helped the currency for this OPEC nation.

8. Euro

General concern about the European economy has depressed the value of the currency used by more than 330 million people on the continent each day. One euro is now worth about $1.05 U.S. It had been trading above $1.15 before enduring a long, slow decline over the second half of 2016.

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