Currency trouble could be the ‘crack in the system’

The dramatic drop in oil is leaking into yet another corner of the global market.

The currencies of commodity-dependent countries have continued their yearlong slide in 2016, as the price of oil fell to its lowest level since May 2003. These include the Brazilian real and the Russian ruble, which hit an all-time low against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday.

According to Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management, the pressure of these falling currencies may devolve into social crises in their respective countries. And while recent economic turmoil has already taken a toll on emerging markets, political risk could be the next big driver of markets around the world, he said.

"All these governments have tremendous amount of welfare that they simply could not afford to spend because of such low oil prices," Schlossberg said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "We could have geopolitical impact that could be very, very bad going forward for the market."

Schlossberg recommends keeping an eye on Saudi Arabia's currency, which has been pegged to the dollar for decades. However, as the price of oil breaks to new lows, market watchers have begun to speculate on whether the Saudi Arabian riyal's peg to the dollar will be broken or disowned.

Major oil-exporting nations like Brazil and Canada may be other weak points given the fall in oil, Max Wolff of Manhattan Venture Partners said Wednesday. The Brazilian real has plunged 36 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past year, and the Canadian dollar has fallen 16 percent in that same time.

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Plaguing commodity-focused countries further, Wolff said, is the fact that debts will be harder to pay off as revenue from commodities weakens, and other major currencies strengthen in relation to their own.

"As we've seen a lot of these emerging markets be major borrowers in international hard currencies, they now have to pay them back, with lower-priced commodities, and in currencies that have now appreciated," he said on "Trading Nation." "I'd keep my eyes there if you're looking for a real crack in the system."

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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