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Three Strikes Against the U.S. Dollar

Currencies / US Dollar Mar 08, 2008 - 02:52 PM GMT

By: Money_and_Markets

Currencies

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleOutside of my family, the two great loves of my life are currencies and baseball. And there are so many parallels between the two it's not even funny. Take the notion of a "rebuilding season" ...

Here in Florida, I get a chance to closely follow Major League Baseball's spring training — that magical time once a year when fans get an up-close sneak peek into the season ahead.


Veteran ballplayers get back in the swing of things ... rookies show what they're made of ... and analysts toss out the first bold predictions of the new-fangled season.

And as a fan, the worst thing that can be said about your favorite team is, "It looks like a rebuilding year for these guys."

That's a nice way of saying "Your team stinks." Sure, there are always a few surprises, and that's what keeps us tuned in all season long no matter what the critics say. But it also makes you less likely to place much faith in a World Series Championship.

And when it comes to the currency markets, I hate to tell you that ...

This Is Going to Be A Rebuilding Year For the Greenback

The U.S. dollar might be our home team, but when I look at the upcoming season without bias I don't see many positive signs.

As was evident by a housing and credit collapse, the U.S. economy finished off last year on a major slide. Going into 2008 analysts were expecting a rough road for the world's largest economy. And now, after a pathetic first quarter, I think we have to face the fact that this will be a rebuilding year.

After all, you can't expect much success when your offense is slumping, your pitching staff is getting hammered, and your defense is full of holes.

By my count, that's three strikes against the dollar ...

Strike #1: Consumer Spending

You've heard it over and over again — consumption makes up nearly three-quarters of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). When consumers are buying, the U.S. stands head and shoulders above all other major economies.

But today that dynamic is shifting. John Q. Consumer has dug himself quite a hole. Debt as a percentage of GDP has spiked to around 130% — talk about being behind in the count!

Plus, tightening credit and surging inflation are barreling down on consumers like a Nolan Ryan fastball.

Week after week, we get new word of financial institutions increasing their loss estimates to cover their exposure to bad debt, and mortgage companies owning up to hundreds of millions of dollars in subprime-related losses.

The end result: Fewer and fewer institutions are willing to lend money while they try to shore up their balance sheets. That doesn't bode well for consumers, who need loans to spend.

Strike #2: A Weakening Employment Picture

A healthy labor market is necessary for a successful economy. That's because steady job growth bolsters consumers' spending power and positively impacts an economy's bottom line.

Weakening U.S. employment will hurt the greenback ...
Weakening U.S. employment will hurt the greenback ...

Without workhorses driving production, earning money and pumping it back into goods and services, the economy risks spiraling out of control. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The latest numbers look bad:

Arrow Average weekly jobless claims figures are running 20,000 units higher than last year's average ...

Arrow The U.S. economy lost 17,000 jobs in January ...

Arrow And just yesterday we learned that February was an even bigger let-down, with the economy shedding 63,000 jobs!

It only gets worse when you look at workers' wages. Factoring in rising consumer prices, real average weekly earnings fell 0.5% in January and changed very little in February.

Strike #3: A Wishy-Washy Federal Reserve

When your offense is powerless and your pitching is demoralized, you can't expect your defense to seal up a victory all by itself. Nevertheless, they at least need them to stop the bleeding.

U.S. Dollar Index

That's what the Federal Reserve is there to do — respond to incoming growth and price data and do their best to keep it all under control.

Monetary policy must be "strong up the gut," but this Federal Reserve is anything but strong. As the data comes flying at them, they remain inflexible and flat-footed.

Heck, Ben Bernanke is out there in left field creating a comedy of errors!

He's lowering rates even though banks have no desire to lend it back out to consumers ...

He's ignoring inflation concerns along the way ...

And he's showing a complete disregard for the health of the country's currency!

My Pep Talk for the Home Team ...

As a fan, it's hard to watch the U.S. strike out, and I'm certainly rooting for a comeback.

But as a currency trader, I'm not going to place any bets on the greenback until the country gets its act together.

So for goodness' sake, Ben, grit your teeth, patch up the weak spots, and do what's best for the economy in the long-run!

Don't drag us slowly from the grips of recession and then straight into the mouth of inflation. Give consumers the opportunity to save, let the job market work out the kinks, and the dollar just might conquer the global economy once again.

It's a rebuilding year for crying out loud!

Best wishes,

Jack

P.S. There's more than one way to skin this cat! Currencies are my favorite way, but the falling dollar is also pushing commodity prices through the roof — and new commodity ETFs give you the ideal way to profit.

Next week, my colleague Sean Brodrick is set to release historic recos designed to help you take full advantage of the huge profit potential in this smoking hot market — and take my word for it: You do NOT want to miss them.

Just click here for the details ...

This investment news is brought to you by Money and Markets . Money and Markets is a free daily investment newsletter from Martin D. Weiss and Weiss Research analysts offering the latest investing news and financial insights for the stock market, including tips and advice on investing in gold, energy and oil. Dr. Weiss is a leader in the fields of investing, interest rates, financial safety and economic forecasting. To view archives or subscribe, visit http://www.moneyandmarkets.com .

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