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How a strong US dollar is endangering other currencies

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NEW YORK: The dazzling rise of the US dollar, which has hit one record after another, is raising fears of a currency crash of a severity not seen since the 1997 Asian financial crisis reverberated around the world.

The Federal Reserve’s rapid, steep interest rate increases and the relative health of the US economy has caused investors to flood into the dollar, driving the greenback up and sending the British pound, Indian rupee, Egyptian pound and South Korean won, and others to uncharted depths.

“The moves are definitely getting extreme,” said Brad Bechtel of Jefferies, warning that the exchange rates could fall further creating a “dire situation.”

Most other major central banks also are forcefully tightening monetary policy to bring down inflation, but so far the moves have not helped stabilised the currency market, nor has Japan’s direct intervention to support the yen last week.

Many fear that the same will be the case with the Bank of England’s plan announced Wednesday to conduct emergency purchases of government bonds to support the pound.

“We have our doubts that the BoE’s plan will be the silver bullet to kill all of the angst that has been pressuring the pound […] considering its plan doesn’t have permanency,” said Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com.

Others, especially emerging market countries, are even worse off. The Pakistani rupee has lost 29 percent of its value against the US dollar in the past year, and the Egyptian pound has weakened by 20 percent.

Those countries, and others like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which “benefitted from cheap and plentiful liquidity,” when interest rates were low during the pandemic, “are all suffering from tighter global liquidity,” said Win Thin, head of currency strategy at BBH Investor Services.

“Those countries with the weakest fundamentals are likely to be tested first but others may join them,” he warned.

Those countries rely on imported oil and grain which have seen prices soar, widening their trade deficits and fueling inflation, massive blows to their currencies.

The appreciation of the US currency has exacerbated the problem, since many commodities are denominated in dollars.

Already in a fragile position, Pakistan was hit with historic flooding in August, which prompted the government to discuss a restructuring of its debt.

“There are severe pressures on the financial system now. And it’s only a matter of time until there’s a larger crisis somewhere in the world,” warns Adam Button of ForexLive.

Bad memories

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen earlier this week said she has not yet seen signs of “disorderly” financial market developments amid the interest rate hikes.

For countries like Taiwan, Thailand, or South Korea, which also dependent on energy imports, China’s zero-COVID policy has caused their exports to this key trading partner to plummet.

Larger economies like China and Japan have contributed in recent weeks to the turbulence on the foreign exchange market. The Japanese yen plunged its lowest level in 24 years, while the Chinese yuan hit its weakest in 14 years.

Fear of destabilisation brings back memories of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which was triggered by the devaluation of the Thai baht.

Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia followed, which panicked foreign investors and led to massive outflows of capital, pushing several countries into a severe recession and South Korea to the brink of default.

At the time, the collapse of the baht was in part linked to its fixed parity with the dollar, which forced the Thai government to support its currency, depleting its foreign exchange reserves, which was unsustainable in the face of market forces.

Argentina eventually was forced to abandon its peg to the dollar and defaulted in late 2001 — the largest sovereign default in history.

Erik Nelson of Wells Fargo said that is a key difference between 2022 and 1997.

“Now there’s not a lot of fixed exchange rates,” he said. “I’m frankly more worried about developed markets right now.”

Lebanon, one of the few to still peg its currency to the greenback, on Thursday announced a drastic devaluation, taking the country’s pound to 15,000 to the dollar from the previous fixed value of 1,507.

In the United States, by contrast, where inflation has soared to a 40-year high “the Fed sees strong dollar as a blessing,” said Christopher Vecchio of DailyFX, noting that it helps “insulate the economy from more significant price pressures.”‘

A strong currency means the country pays less for its imported products.

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In four months, FBR found Rs 800 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.

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Over the last four months, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has discovered a Rs800 billion tax refund scam.

The Inland Revenue and Customs reforms were considered at a review meeting that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened. During this time, the board allegedly discovered the Rs800 billion tax refund fraud.

According to the conference, there are 83,579 outstanding tax cases totaling Rs3.2 trillion, of which about 63 cases, or Rs44 billion, have been settled as a consequence of various government measures.

In an effort to speed up the resolution of tax issues, the prime minister also ordered the creation of 100 tribunals.

The gathering also featured the identification of around five million new taxpayers, of whom fifteen thousand retailers have enrolled since April 1, 2024.

View more:More than 46,000 traders have signed up for the Tajir Dost Scheme: FBR.

The prime minister has instructed the tax authorities to promptly include the five billion tax evaders in the tax system and has placed a strong emphasis on working with merchants to improve system efficiency.

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PM Gives FBR Instructions To Speed Up Digitization Work: An investigation revealed a Rs. 800 billion tax refund scam.

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Noting favorable results of FBR’s digitization efforts, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif revealed an 800 billion rupee tax refund scam discovered in the last four months.

Shehbaz Sharif stressed improving the tax refund system further while presiding over an important meeting on FBR reforms and digitization in Islamabad.

Regretting the delays in putting various reform programs into action, he emphasized that FBR changes had the potential to increase income.

There is a total of 3.2 trillion rupees worth of ongoing tax cases in various courts and tribunals, according to the briefing given to the conference. With 63 lawsuits worth 44 billion rupees resolved in the last four months, the current government has taken action to resolve these outstanding matters.

The prime minister has directed that efforts be made to attract as many of the 4.9 million potential taxpayers who are wealthy into the tax system as possible without putting undue strain on the impoverished.

Fifty thousand merchants have enrolled so far for the mobile phone retailer registration effort, which began in April.

He also emphasized the necessity for a consolidated approach for continuing reform initiatives and the complete digitization of FBR’s fraud detection and investigation department.

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Mining in Balochistan: Mari Pvt Ltd Secures Exploration License

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Licenses for mineral prospecting in the Chagai District of Balochistan have been obtained by Mari Mining Company Private Limited.

501 square kilometers and 513 square kilometers, respectively, are covered by the licenses that the Directorate General Mines and Minerals Balochistan awarded.

Mari Petroleum Company Limited has formed Mari Mining Company as a subsidiary. Major player in Pakistan’s natural gas sector, Mari Petroleum manages the country’s largest gas deposits in Sindh’s Dakhri Gas Field.

With a success record of 70%, which is much greater than many of its peers both domestically and internationally, Mari Petroleum is a major oil and gas exploration and production business.

Because of the efforts of organizations like the International Monetary Fund, Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and natural resources, is developing quickly.

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