Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Election Forecast 2015 - Opinion Polls Trending Towards Conservative Outright Win - Nadeem_Walayat
2.UK Solar Eclipse - End Time Sign, Judgement Day, Doomsday! - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Gold And Silver - When Will Precious Metals Rally? Not In 2015 - Michael_Noonan
4.Preparing for the Next Stocks Bear Market - Forecast 2015-2016 - Gary_Savage
5.Is a Stock Market Crash Imminent? - David Eifrig
6.Gold Price Slumps as US Dollar Soars, What's Next? - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Dollar Forex Pairs and Gold Chartology - Rambus_Chartology
8.Election Forecast 2015: The Day Labour Lost the General Election - Nadeem_Walayat
9.The ECB Should End QE Next Month - EconMatters
10.Silver Price Poised to Surge - Zeal_LLC
Last 5 days
Stock Market Downward Spiral of Dumbness - 26th Mar 15
The Monetary Approach Reigns Supreme - 26th Mar 15
Stock Market Large Gap Down, Despite the Algos' Push Back - 26th Mar 15
Crude Oil Surges, Gold price Spikes as Middle East Tensions Escalate - 26th Mar 15
The U.S. Housing Market Recovery Is Fabricated Optimism - 26th Mar 15
Why Yemen Is The Next Saudi-Iranian Battleground - 26th Mar 15
The Crude Oil Price Crash and China Economic Slow Down - 26th Mar 15
Global Financial Markets Are More Distorted Than Ever Before - 26th Mar 15
One More Stock Market Rally and Then a Huge Drop Expected - 26th Mar 15
Danger Will Robinson - Stock Market Crash Warning - 25th Mar 15
Learn the Basics of Corrective Elliott Waves - 25th Mar 15
Why CNBC Is Hazardous to Your Financial Health! - 25th Mar 15
Will Your Retirement Accounts Survive The Coming Tax Code "Revolution"? - 25th Mar 15
US Dollar - Americas Phoenix - 25th Mar 15
California’s Epic Drought: Only One Year of Water Left! - 25th Mar 15
What’s Wrong With Silver? - 25th Mar 15
SPX Futures Appear Weak. WTIC and Gold May Be at Max Retracement - 25th Mar 15
We’re at the Dawn of a “New Energy Age” - 25th Mar 15
A Very Weak U.S. Economic Recovery - 25th Mar 15
Zero UK CPI Inflation Rate Prompts Deflation Danger Propaganda For Fresh Money Printing - 25th Mar 15
Stock Market NYSE Hi-Lo Index Aggressive Sell Signal - 24th Mar 15
Palladium Commodity Price Forecast - 24th Mar 15
Bitcoin Price Gearing Up for a Fall - 24th Mar 15
Safety Deposit Boxes In UK Being Closed By ‏HSBC – Not Closing Gold Vaults - 24th Mar 15
Japan Short Term Gains And Long Term Disaster - 24th Mar 15
China's Fragile Evolution - 24th Mar 15
David Cameron Announces Resignation Even Before Being Re-elected, Handing Labour 6 Seats - 24th Mar 15
City of London's Ownership of American Colonies - 24th Mar 15
Stock Market Reversal May Have Begun - 24th Mar 15
Casey Gathers Top Gold Experts to Share Secrets for Making Money in Any Market - 24th Mar 15
Thoughts on The Current Crude Oil Market - 24th Mar 15
U.S. Economy Still on Life Support - What Your Governments Hiding From You... - 24th Mar 15
UK Election Forecast 2015 - Budget Bribes Fail, SNP Insurgency Catastrophe - Video - 24th Mar 15
Is Stock Market Minor Top Taking Hold? - 23rd Mar 15
Greece and EU Running Out of Time as Bank Runs Intensify - 23rd Mar 15
Stock Market Slightly Negative Expectations Following Last Week's Rally - 23rd Mar 15
This Rising Interest Rates Play Could Make You a Quick 55% - 23rd Mar 15
Platinum Commodity Price False Break Low - 23rd Mar 15
The Real Reason The American Dream is Unraveling - 23rd Mar 15
Election Forecast 2015 - Budget Bribes Fail to Impress Voters, Tory's Lose Seats in Opinion Polls - 23rd Mar 15
Silver Price Reliance During U.S. Dollar Rally - 23rd Mar 15
Gold Price Outlook Dramatic Improvement Following US Dollar Topping Action - 23rd Mar 15
Wall Street Doesn't Want You to Do This - 22nd Mar 15
The "Natural Interest Rate" Is Always Positive and Cannot Be Negative - 22nd Mar 15
Exploring The Gold Market: The Fed, The Charts. The COTS and GLD - 22nd Mar 15
Stocks Bull Market Continues - 22nd Mar 15
Gold And Silver - China's AIIB Spells U.s. Dollar Demise, Not Clear For Precious Metals - 22nd Mar 15
Cocoa Commodity Price Technical Outlook - 21st Mar 15
Yield Curve, Futures, Suggest No U.S. Interest Rate Hike Until December - 21st Mar 15
Three Iconic Stocks Are Poised for a Dive - 21st Mar 15
We're All Hedge Funds Now! - 21st Mar 15
Why Stock Market Seasonality May Be Critical in 2015 - 20th Mar 15
Yellen's Tiger Riding Dilemma Keeps Interest Rates Near Zero - 20th Mar 15
FOMC is boxed in, Gold and Silver - 20th Mar 15
Silver Price Poised to Surge - 20th Mar 15
Why Aren’t These Investors Worried About The Gold Price? - 20th Mar 15
Gold Price Downside $850/oz; Upside Jump to $2,000/oz on ‘Grexit’ - 20th Mar 15
Cheap Paper Money - Precious Metals Technical Outlook - 20th Mar 15
Best Cash ISA vs Budget 2015 Scrapping Tax on Savings Interest on First £1,000 - 20th Mar 15
GDXJ / Gold Ratio - 20th Mar 15
What the “Yellen Effect” Ultimately Means for Crude Oil - 20th Mar 15
Sharp Fall In USD Index And Its Implications - 20th Mar 15
UK Solar Eclipse - End Time Sign, Judgement Day, Doomsday! - 19th Mar 15
How Many Shale Oil Plays Make Money At $37 Per Barrel? - 19th Mar 15
Gold Price Rises 2.1% – Fed Signals Loose Monetary Policies to Continue - 19th Mar 15
The Hottest Investment Opportunities in Tech Stocks Sector Right Now - 19th Mar 15
China's Deflationary Economic Bust and Beyond: Anne Stevenson-Yang Presentation - 19th Mar 15
T-Mobile CEO: "Sprint couldn't give away service...their network is completely dead" - 19th Mar 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

US Economy Still on Life Support

The Rising U.S. Dollar Myth

Currencies / US Dollar May 01, 2013 - 04:38 AM GMT

By: Axel_Merk

Currencies

Year-to-date, the U.S. dollar is up; does that mean we are in a rising dollar environment? Or is it an opportunity to diversify out of the greenback?


Last year, with all the turmoil in the Eurozone, the euro was up 1.79% versus the dollar; that appeared to be the best the U.S. dollar could do in times of turmoil. Of the major currencies only the Japanese yen was down versus the U.S. dollar:

Year-to-date, the dollar index, a trade weighted index comparing the U.S. dollar to a basket of six major currencies, is up 2.95% as of April 29, 2013. What many are not aware is that this index has not really been updated since it was first created in the early 1970s, giving the euro a 57.6% exposure. The dollar’s downward trend has been slowed in recent years in large part by the turmoil in the Eurozone. Additionally, the New Zealand dollar for example, which is not in the index, is up 3.37% year-to-date.

To ascertain what may happen to the dollar, let’s look at the greenback from a couple of different angles:

Myth: U.S. dollar’s safe haven status

In recent years, when there has been talk about a “flight to quality” benefiting the U.S. dollar, we had a couple of observations:

•Flight to quality may be a misnomer: our analysis suggests the dollar tends to be in demand in times of turmoil because of liquidity, not quality considerations;
•Since the onset of the financial crisis, each time the pendulum swings in favor of the U.S. dollar, it may be swinging there less so;
•The balance sheet of the U.S. appears to be deteriorating at a faster pace than the balance sheets of much of the rest of the world;
•Wherever there is a crisis, it is being “patched up”, suggesting that when the pendulum once again favors risky assets, more money might flow towards those assets; and when the pendulum swings once again in favor of the U.S. dollar, it may be less and less of a beneficiary.

In other words, the safe haven status of the U.S. dollar may slowly be eroding.

Myth: a rising rate environment favors the U.S. dollar

Assuming one believes interest rates are to head higher, it may be an expensive proposition to buy the U.S. dollar: as foreigners have historically had a major appetite for U.S. debt, their enthusiasm is historically trimmed back as the bond market turns into a bear market. As a result, early to mid phases of tightening by the Federal Reserve (Fed) have historically often been associated with a weaker dollar. It’s the late phases of a tightening cycle that the dollar historically tends to benefit, as the next bull market is anticipated for bonds. There may be little historic precedent for the environment we are in, but a rising rate environment, in our assessment, does not favor the U.S. dollar.

Myth: the Fed’s exit is near

It was just about a year ago that Fed Chair Ben Bernanke pronounced in a press conference: Let’s be humble. He then clarified that meant that liquidity should not be mopped up too early; that we have to be sure that the recovery is firmly entrenched before one should consider an exit from the highly accommodative monetary policy.

To understand Bernanke, consider that in his own words, he has repeatedly stated that he believes one of the biggest mistakes during the Great Depression was to raise rates too early. As a result, the Fed has promised to keep rates low, purchased longer-term bonds, and engaged in Operation Twist. All of these policies reflect an effort to keep long-term rates low. Yet, a little over a year ago, a series of good economic data points caused the bond market to sell off rather sharply on the long end. In our assessment of Bernanke’s thinking, that was undesirable as the recovery was nascent. Hence, the Fed doubled down by announcing an unemployment rate numerical threshold that would guide rate policy, moving the focus evermore away from inflation and towards employment. Not surprisingly, inflation expectations inched higher. The below chart is one of the many ways one can look at inflation expectations:

Bernanke has emphasized the Fed’s communication strategy and the importance of guiding market expectations. Without getting too technical about the chart, our assessment is that Bernanke is comfortable with inflation expectations at the upper range of this chart and may even consider more aggressive monetary easing when inflation expectations drop, as has occurred in recent weeks. A lowering of inflation expectations may suggest to the Fed that all the monetary action, all the “money printing” hasn’t been enough.

Myth: economic growth will support the U.S. dollar.

Skeptics still point out that it doesn’t really matter whether the “exit” will come tomorrow or down the road: the “exit” is now coming closer and, with it, the market has to start pricing it in. Well, if it does, we might be in for another surprise. In our analysis, the biggest threat to the U.S. dollar may be economic growth. Let all the money that’s been created by the Fed “stick” (economic growth may drive excess bank reserves to work), and it may be rather difficult to mop up the liquidity that’s been made available to the system:

•Technically, the Fed has pretty much ruled out selling the securities it has acquired. That’s because the Fed might have to sell them at a loss.
•The Fed has indicated it may increase the interest it pays on reserves to mop up liquidity when the time comes. Not only may that result in no longer paying over $80 billion in “profits” to the Treasury (the more securities the Fed buys by creating money with the stroke of a keyboard, the more interest it earns, the higher the Fed’s “profits”), but it will lead to tens, if not hundreds, of billions in direct payments to large banks. While there may be an academic justification to make such payments, the political fallout could lead Congress to suspend the Fed’s ability to pay interest on reserves, botching the exit strategy.

Additionally, it’s likely that economic growth would drive interest rates higher across the yield curve. More important than the technical restrictions mentioned above may be the fact that the U.S. government cannot afford a high cost of borrowing to service the national debt. The average cost of servicing U.S. debt has come down from about 6% in 2001 to just over 2%. That cost of borrowing should continue to drift downward for a while as higher coupon Treasuries mature and are refinanced with lower coupon Treasuries. We are not predicting that the average cost of borrowing will zoom back up to 6% in the short-term, but what can come down, can also go back up. Even at 4%, discretionary spending by Congress will be crowded out by interest payments. Importantly, it may matter little what cost of borrowing the government can bear; more relevant may be the perception of the sustainability of U.S. government debt. Spain had very prudent debt management, with an average maturity of about 7 years for its debt outstanding; yet it took very little time for Spain’s government to be on the brink of a bailout.

The U.S. bond market does not currently reflect serious concern about the sustainability of U.S. debt. However, without major entitlement reform, in particular in social security and Medicare, the numbers simply don’t add up. Many have argued that, over time, Congress will come to its senses and indeed engage in reform. We are actually quite optimistic ourselves: however, we believe that the only language politicians listen to is that of the bond market. The Eurozone is proof that policy makers choose between the cost of acting versus the cost of not acting. Whenever possible, politicians kick the can down the road. But unlike the Eurozone the U.S. has a current account deficit. That is, the U.S. dollar may be far more vulnerable to a bond market that’s imposing reform on policy makers than the Euro has ever been.

The reason we put this discussion under the header of economic growth is that it may well be good economic data that help to unravel the perception that U.S. debt is sustainable as yields return to more historic levels.

For a more detailed outlook on currencies, please read the Merk Gold and Currency Outlook. For purposes of this analysis, we want to show that it’s far from clear that the U.S. dollar will benefit in the environment to come. Indeed, the downside risks to the dollar might be as high as ever. Ultimately, there may be no such thing as a safe asset anymore and investors may want to take a diversified approach to something as mundane as cash. Please make sure you sign up for our newsletter to be the first to learn as we discuss global dynamics affecting the dollar. Please also register to join an upcoming Webinar; our next Webinar is on Thursday, May 23, expanding on the discussion herein.

Axel Merk

Manager of the Merk Hard, Asian and Absolute Return Currency Funds, www.merkfunds.com

Rick Reece is a Financial Analyst at Merk Investments and a member of the portfolio management

Axel Merk, President & CIO of Merk Investments, LLC, is an expert on hard money, macro trends and international investing. He is considered an authority on currencies. Axel Merk wrote the book on Sustainable Wealth; order your copy today.

The Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund seeks to generate positive absolute returns by investing in currencies. The Fund is a pure-play on currencies, aiming to profit regardless of the direction of the U.S. dollar or traditional asset classes.

The Merk Asian Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in Asian currencies versus the U.S. dollar. The Fund typically invests in a basket of Asian currencies that may include, but are not limited to, the currencies of China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Merk Hard Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in hard currencies versus the U.S. dollar. Hard currencies are currencies backed by sound monetary policy; sound monetary policy focuses on price stability.

The Funds may be appropriate for you if you are pursuing a long-term goal with a currency component to your portfolio; are willing to tolerate the risks associated with investments in foreign currencies; or are looking for a way to potentially mitigate downside risk in or profit from a secular bear market. For more information on the Funds and to download a prospectus, please visit www.merkfunds.com.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of the Merk Funds carefully before investing. This and other information is in the prospectus, a copy of which may be obtained by visiting the Funds' website at www.merkfunds.com or calling 866-MERK FUND. Please read the prospectus carefully before you invest.

The Funds primarily invest in foreign currencies and as such, changes in currency exchange rates will affect the value of what the Funds own and the price of the Funds' shares. Investing in foreign instruments bears a greater risk than investing in domestic instruments for reasons such as volatility of currency exchange rates and, in some cases, limited geographic focus, political and economic instability, and relatively illiquid markets. The Funds are subject to interest rate risk which is the risk that debt securities in the Funds' portfolio will decline in value because of increases in market interest rates. The Funds may also invest in derivative securities which can be volatile and involve various types and degrees of risk. As a non-diversified fund, the Merk Hard Currency Fund will be subject to more investment risk and potential for volatility than a diversified fund because its portfolio may, at times, focus on a limited number of issuers. For a more complete discussion of these and other Fund risks please refer to the Funds' prospectuses.

This report was prepared by Merk Investments LLC, and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward-looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute investment advice. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, distributor.

Axel Merk Archive

© 2005-2015 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014