A report from the world’s biggest bank, HSBC, tells us the dollar’s days are numbered.
“The dollar looks awfully like sterling after the First World War,” said David Bloom, the bank’s currency chief.
“The whole picture of risk-reward for emerging market currencies has changed. It is not so much that they have risen to our standards, it is that we have fallen to theirs. It used to be that sovereign risk was mainly an emerging market issue but the events of the last year have shown that this is no longer the case. Look at the UK – debt is racing up to 100pc of GDP,” he said
The Telegraph reports:
“Crucially, China and rising Asia have reached the point where they can no longer keep holding down their currencies to boost exports because this is causing mayhem to their own economies, stoking asset bubbles. Asia’s ‘mercantilist mindset’ of recent decades is about to be broken by the spectre of an inflation spiral.
“The policy headache was already becoming clear in the final phase of the global credit boom but the financial crisis temporarily masked the effect. The pressures will return with a vengeance as these countries roar back to life, leaving the US and other laggards of the old world far behind.
“A monetary policy of near zero rates – further juiced by quantitative easing – is completely incompatible with circumstances in most of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Divorce is inevitable. The US is expected to hold rates near zero through 2010 to tackle its own crisis.
“What is occurring is an epochal loss in the relative wealth and economic power of the old G10 bloc of rich countries compared to rising regions of the world. The euro, yen, sterling, Swiss franc and other mature currencies will be relegated along with the dollar in this great process of rebalancing, but the Greenback will bear the brunt.”
That said, we repeat a headline from Seeking Alpha:
“Dollar shorts should look out.”
We agree with HSBC and the Telegraph: the dollar will probably slide – especially against Asian currencies – for the next few decades.
But that’s the long term. In the relatively short term we still face the shock of another leg down of the credit contraction crisis. Risk is likely to make a comeback. When that happens – and it could happen in a ‘Red October’ – the dollar will seem like a relatively solid refuge. This is what happened last year. We wouldn’t be surprised by a replay of that ‘flight to safety’ we saw at the end of last year.
But we know what you’re thinking: what? When did the dollar become a ‘safe currency?’ Of course, it’s not safe. But when the end of the world approaches, it will seem safe.
For a while.
for Markets and Money