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May 7th 2008

Commentary: The Dollar Conundrum

The Dollar is currently teetering on the edge of a precipice.  Many analysts are predicting that, having recently retreated from a record low against the Euro, the Dollar’s best days are still in front of it. On the other hand, the economic data and interest rate pictures remain nuanced, and still favor the Euro on paper. In this article, we aim to sort through this morass, and produce a clear summation of the factors which bear on the Dollar in the short term.

Let’s begin with the bullish side of the equation, which is supported by the Dollar’s recent upside swing. First of all, while interest rate differentials are currently hurting the Dollar, the Fed is probably near the end of its loosening cycle, while the ECB has yet to begin. The best-case scenario would be a tightening of US monetary policy simultaneous with a loosening of EU policy. Next, there is the economic picture. The most recent GDP data indicates an economy that is still growing, albeit slowly. In addition, the unemployment rate declined in the most recent month for which data is available. The US stock market has regained half the value it lost in the first three months of 2008, and the overall P/E ratio is close to its long-term average, which suggests the markets could appreciate further. Finally, the economic stimulus package that was approved by Congress in March will go into effect this month, as tax rebates worth $150 Billion are distributed to consumers and businesses.

On the bearish side, let’s return to the interest rate story. While the future certainly bodes well for the US, the present still favors the EU. US interest rates are currently negative in real terms, and investors have already turned the Dollar into a funding currency for carry trades. Moreover, negative real interest rates implies high inflation. US CPI is hovering around 4.0%, and could continue to climb in proportion with surging food and energy prices. In fact, inflation is now viewed by economists as more problematic than the economy, itself. While US exporters have benefited from the resulting cheap Dollar, US consumers- which account for 75% of the US economy- have not. The economic downturn still has not officially been labeled a recession by the Bureau of Economic Research, but the situation remains tenuous, and the scales could easily be tipped by a few pieces of negative economic data.

The wild card in this mess is housing. In certain regional markets, real estate prices have tumbled by 30%.  In other markets, they have hardly budged. While an estimated $350 Billion in subprime debt has already been written down, analysts disagree over the eventual total.  Estimates vary from $1 Trillion to less than $350 Billion, which would imply "write-ups" on debt that was erroneously declared worthless. The difference represented here amounts to 6% of GDP, which could mean the difference between growth and contraction, a strong Dollar and a weak Dollar, respectively.

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

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© 2004 - 2018 Forex Blog.org. Currency charts © their sources. While we aim to analyze and try to forceast the forex markets, none of what we publish should be taken as personalized investment advice. Forex exchange rates depend on many factors like monetary policy, currency inflation, and geo-political risks that may not be forseen. Forex trading & investing involves a significant risk of loss.