Many emerging market currencies experienced a slump in the six-month period between the March and September 2018 surveys, while the US dollar bounced back strongly from previous lows. As well as the big falls in Turkey and Argentina, India saw the rupee fall to an all-time low against the US dollar while the Indonesian rupiah fell to a 20-year low and in Russia the rouble plummeted again. Such changes can have a significant impact on the lives of assignees moving into or out of affected countries, and this article will help you gain a clearer understanding of the issues facing your assignees around the world.
ECA has prepared this interactive map to help you understand and explain to assignees how key events around the world have affected cost of living indices during our survey period. This should act as a useful guide when considering whether to amend assignee cost of living allowances to ensure that spending power is maintained.
If you require any assistance or would like additional information or data on the 479 locations included in our survey, or need advice regarding currency fluctuations, please get in touch with your ECA representative.
Since the September 2018 survey was prepared there have been some significant changes that could impact your assignees. Zimbabwe is one country that has deteriorated particularly quickly almost overnight as the country ran short of hard currency when they introduced a tax on non-cash payments on 1 October. Prices rose immediately with official data suggesting a 16% rise in October alone.
Also in October, the Sudanese government devalued their currency significantly from USD 1 = SDG 28.15 to around USD 1 = SDG 48, the second such devaluation this year. This will push up prices of imports and inflation is likely to rise again but indices for Sudan will be much lower as less home currency is now needed to buy the same goods and services as previously.
Venezuela’s downward spiral continues to pick up pace, but the official exchange rate has not been keeping pace with the black market after the initial devaluation when they were briefly aligned and there is now an enormous and quickly widening gap. This is unlikely to be sustainable and we can expect further devaluations.
In better news, the Turkish lira has bounced back strongly from previous lows, perhaps indicating an improvement in the economic outlook there, though the country still faces a period of hardship with rising prices.
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ECA’s interim surveys
We are currently undertaking interim surveys for the following countries due to high inflation expectations: Argentina, Iran, Sudan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. The results will be available in January 2019.
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ECA publishes cost of living data for 479 cities around the world. It is available from ECA in several forms: as part of a subscription in a calculator which allows you to experiment with different types of index and review the outputs; in reports, providing background detail for specific indices; and as part of the Build-up Calculator for performing balance-sheet calculations.
Cost of living data is also pre-populated in ECAEnterprise, our Assignment Management System, and in our Net-to-Net Calculator.