Tenge Devalued

Rumors of the devaluation of Kazakhstan's national currency, the tenge, came true today. The official bank rate now stands at 141 KZT to the USD dollar; on the street, exchange rates are dropping the value of the tenge as low as 150 to the dollar.

The websites of KazKom as well as the National Bank of Kazakhstan are inaccesible, presumed down. The Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE) site has a news item that announces an expected KZT-USD exchange rate of 150.

In case that site also becomes unavailable, here's the meat of the announcement and a Google translation:

С 4 февраля 2009 года Национальный Банк уходит от поддержания тенге в прежнем неявном коридоре и считает объективно необходимым новый уровень обменного курса национальной валюты. Предполагается, что коридор обменного курса тенге будет находиться около уровня 150 тенге за доллар с колебанием плюс-минус 3% или 5 тенге.

Since February 4th, 2009 National Bank takes on the maintenance of tenge implicitly in the same corridor and objectively considers necessary new level of exchange rate. It is anticipated that Corridor tenge exchange rate will be around level 150 tenge per dollar of fluctuation of plus or minus 3% or 5 tenge.

The previous chairman of the national bank, Anvar Saidenov, before being replaced by Halyk Bank chairman (and also former National Bank chairman) Grigory Marchenko, had stated that it was hoped the fluctuation of the tenge in 2009 would be kept to 5% or 10%. A drop in the tenge's value of 10% at that time would have been about 12 tenge per dollar, equivalent to a rate of 132. The current drop is nearly twice that much.

UPDATE: Bloomberg is reporting that stocks on KASE are surging as a result of the tenge devaluation, and the Roberts Report speculates on the effect the devaluation will have on Kazakhstan's economy (warning: gratuitous Borat references).