Dollar Trouble

By Mike Whitney

October 21, 2009 "
Information Clearing House" -- The dollar is not going to crash. In fact, many economists believe that the dollar will rally when the Fed ends its quantitative easing program (QE) sometime in early 2010. The Fed is on track to buy nearly $2 trillion dollars of mortgage-backed securities, US Treasuries and agency debt. In other words, the Fed is printing money and pumping it into the housing market to keep the market from collapsing. This keeps interest rates low, but it also weakens the dollar. When the program ends, long-term interest rates will rise and the dollar will strengthen.

There is also a correlation between stock prices and the dollar which should be considered. As equities have soared, the dollar has plunged. That's because investors have become less risk-adverse than they were after Lehman Bros. collapsed. Now they have resumed speculation. Still, the S&P 500 is up over 60 percent since March 9, (which prices in a full three year recovery) which is "too much too fast." According to John Hussman, "90% of stocks (are) suspended above their 50- and 200-day moving averages for as sustained a period as we have now observed." (Hussman Funds Weekly Market Comment) That suggests that stocks are wildly overbought and that the market will soon correct, perhaps, violently.

Also, there is no shortage of investors and central banks willing to buy US debt which supports the greenback. Consider this report in last week's Bloomberg:

"Investors can’t get enough Treasuries even as the U.S. budget deficit climbs beyond $1 trillion, the government sells a record amount of debt and the dollar declines to the weakest level since August 2008.

Foreign buyers increased their holdings for a fourth consecutive month in August, to an all-time high of $3.45 trillion, according to Treasury Department data released Oct. 16. U.S. demand is being spurred by a rising savings rate and concern the economic recovery may falter. Fixed-income funds have attracted 18 times more money than stock funds this year, according to data compiled by Morningstar Inc. and Bloomberg." (Bloomberg News)

Long-term, it is likely to be tough-sledding for the dollar, as government spending increases and fiscal deficits keep piling up. But in the short-term, investors believe that deflation is the biggest problem facing the economy. The surge in US Treasuries proves that point.

The notion that the dollar will crash, has become an article of faith among doomsayers, Libertarians, survivalists, leftists and goldbugs. (I'm as guilty as anyone) But is the theory supported by the facts?

First of all, "crash" is an ambiguous term. I take it to mean a plunge in the value of the currency to a hyper-inflationary range. What we are seeing now, however, is the Fed managing the value of the dollar downward to increase exports and reduce the real value of household and financial sector debt. That is not a crash; it is a planned demolition with the intention of improving the US's position vis a vis its main trading partners. It is a type of currency warfare which is making the dollar more competitive at the expense of people who save. It's exactly what Bernanke wants.

All the Zimbabwe talk is pure nonsense.

The reserve currency system is inherently unfair and invites all kinds of abuses. It gives the United States greater access to credit and elevates the dollar above all the other currencies. The dollar should be dethroned as the de facto international currency so that there can be greater parity between the currencies.
 

 

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