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Currencies get crushed around the world

Currency values displayed in Buenos Aires. Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Over the past few weeks, half a dozen countries around the world have seen their currencies collapse in the worst self-off in more than 5 years.

The big picture: Since the global financial crisis in 2008, many “emerging markets” (countries in the middle of the global pack in per capita GDP) saw huge growth because of a few important things: the European and U.S. central banks were practically giving away free money, which many investors threw into fast-growing (riskier) economies; global trade was humming along, helping lower-wage countries that export manufactured goods; and oil prices were generally low, a problem for petro-states but a good deal for most other countries which import the stuff. Now, all of those things are changing.