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For most of last year, the consensus expectation was that rising inflation in the US would be transitory, keeping Federal Reserve rate hikes muted. So the Fed’s recent hawkish pivot has led to a dramatic shift in market sentiment, raising fears that emerging-market currencies could be in for a turbulent year.

SA, as a small commodity-producing emerging market with a history of large current account deficits, and facing rising inflation, waning growth and high levels of public debt, would typically be considered highly vulnerable to US monetary policy tightening. The rand would be a one-way bet...

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