Romania: Leu weakens to an all-time low in late December amid protests against judiciary reform
The Romanian leu (RON) came under pressure in late December amid unrest caused by protests against government plans to reform the judicial system. On 29 December, the leu closed the day at an all-time low against the euro of 4.67 RON per EUR, which represented a slight 0.6% depreciation over the same day of the previous month. As of 29 December, the leu had lost 2.8% of its value year-to-date and was also 2.8% weaker compared to the same day last year.
In 2017, the leu hit several record lows, as controversial decisions by the Social Democrat-led government coalition prompted widespread protests. Romanians have been protesting over claims that the government wants to overhaul the justice system to debilitate the fight against corruption. At the end of November, the U.S. State Department called on Romania’s parliament not to approve laws that could hamper the judicial fight against corruption, and in late December seven EU member states urged the government not to weaken the independence of the judiciary.
All told, currency-related distress is likely to mitigate going forward. The economy remains buoyant, and the Central Bank is expected to tighten its monetary stance; however, political unrest could continue, and the current account balance will remain in deficit due to the country’s capital imports. The currency is thus expected to remain broadly stable against the euro this year and appreciate slightly in 2019.