Forex Blog: Currency Trading News & Analysis.

December 13th 2006

Commentary: The Inevitable Decline of the USD

For years, economists have been arguing that the USD was vastly overvalued, and a fundamental correction was in order. Last month, their claims were born out, as the bottom fell out beneath the USD, and the currency declined by over 10% against most of the world’s major currencies, including the British Pound and Euro. But, was this only the beginning and is there more to come?

In trade-weighted terms, the USD is hovering around its 30-year average, and is just above a 20-year low against the Japanese Yen. Meanwhile, the Yuan is appreciating at a snail’s pace. In real terms, therefore, the correction that has taken place thus far is trivial. The decline against the Euro is unlikely to fix the trans-Atlantic balance of trade. It will certainly make risk-averse investors think twice about investing in the US, especially since Europe and Great Britain now offer comparable returns, but will not cause Americans and Europeans to adjust their patterns of consumption enough to narrow the trade imbalance.

However, further USD appreciation would be inflationary in America by raising the prices of imports. This would therefore deter the Federal Reserve Bank from lowering interest rates, since according to Ben Bernanke, inflation is already “uncomfortably high.” Meanwhile, America’s economy is starting to sputter with productivity lagging and the housing market in tatters. The Fed is in the unenviable position with reconciling the looming recession with the specter of inflation, both of which are to be avoided if possible.

In the long term, the USD must decline, against the currencies of Asia at the very least. At some point, foreigners will either become unwilling to finance the American twin deficits are will run out of assets to purchase and loans to underwrite. This is already happening, as American interest rates are at disconcertingly low levels while equity prices continue to touch record highs. As if this were not enough, Asia already owns over $2 Trillion in USD-denominated assets, and is in the process of shifting its reserves out of US capital markets. In short, it is still a question of when-not if-the USD will decline drastically (by 20% or more) so that the global imbalances can be permanently ironed out.

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Posted by Adam Kritzer | in Commentary, US Dollar | No Comments »

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