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Tuesday July 22, 2008 - 21:39:58 GMT

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Forex Research - The 3 Ps Lifting the US Dollar

• Is the Euro Overvalued?
• Will the Bank of England Minutes Crush the British Pound?

The 3 Ps Lifting the US Dollar

The US dollar has strengthened against all of major currencies thanks to 3 Ps – Paulson, Plosser and the price of oil.  US officials were out in force this morning talking up the greenback in hopes of turning it mighty once again. Treasury Secretary Paulson said that “a strong dollar is really very important” while Fed President Plosser called for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates “sooner rather than later.” Plosser has traditionally been more hawkish than his counterparts, but it was interesting to hear him say that the Fed shouldn’t wait for an economic turnaround to raise interest rates.  Although the Fed is still stuck between a rock and a hard place, their predicament is becoming a lot easier as oil prices continued to fall.  The greenback gained momentum as oil prices dropped below $126 a barrel intraday.  Since last Monday, crude prices have fallen 14 percent to a monthly low.  If oil prices reach $100 a barrel, half of the Fed’s problems would be solved; Consumers would become more liberal with their spending while businesses would become more optimistic. For companies like American Express, more liberal consumer spending is exactly what they need.  According to last night’s earnings report, the bank’s most affluent cardholders spent less on discretionary purchases in the second quarter.  However despite the drivers for today’s dollar rally, there is still cause for concern. Oil at $126 a barrel only provides temporary relief for US consumers, but pending layoffs and credit card delinquencies suggest that consumer spending could still falter.  Wachovia and United Airlines have announced combined layoffs of more than 13,000 employees.  The greater the number of layoffs, the less willing consumers will be to spend.  The rally in the US stock market has been very impressive, particularly in the last half hour of trading.  As we have said in Friday’s Daily Fundamentals, it is a new week but the same drivers. Stocks and oil will continue to have a big impact on the price action of the US dollar.  However keep on an eye on tomorrow’s Beige Book report, which will shed more light on how the Fed districts are doing. 

Is the Euro Overvalued?

The Euro has weakened against the US dollar despite hawkish comments from ECB officials.  Bini Smaghi and Liebscher are the latest monetary policy committee members to support higher interest rates.  According to Bini Smaghi, interest rates are in no way restrictive since inflation is at 4 percent and will probably stay above 3 percent for a few months.  Liebscher agrees that inflation is a cause for concern which suggests that for the ECB, another rate hike could still be on the table.  In their eyes, a stronger Euro could actually help rather than hurt current conditions – granted of course their priorities are on inflation. Experts like John Lipsky the deputy managing director at the IMF however is becoming increasingly concerned that the euro is now overvalued while the US dollar is closer to its medium term equilibrium.  According the Economist Magazine’s Big Mac Index, Lipsky is right.  As of July 2, when the EUR/USD was trading at 1.5885, it was calculated to be 22 percent above its fair value.  The currency that is most overvalued is the Icelandic Kronur at 123 percent. The most undervalued currency is Chinese Yuan at 58 percent.  Meanwhile the Swiss Franc received no help from the stronger than expected trade balance. The country’s trade surplus hit a record last month due largely to declining imports. 

Visit the Euro Currency Room for resources dedicated specifically to the Euro.  

Will the Bank of England Minutes Crush the British Pound?

The minutes from the most recent Bank of England monetary policy meeting are due for release tomorrow and the big question for the British pound is whether or not the central bank has grown more dovish.  The central bank left interest unchanged earlier this month but economic data and recent comments from BoE officials suggest that more members could have favored a rate cut.  Back in June, Blanchflower was the only MPC member to vote for a 25bp cut and he is likely to have done the same this month, especially after his comment yesterday that the UK economy is headed for a recession.  Chancellor Darling also feels that the fallout from the global credit crunch is proving worse than expected. 

Visit the British Pound Currency Room for resources dedicated specifically to the British Pound.

Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Dollars Come Under Selling Pressure

The Canadian, Australia and New Zealand dollars have come under selling pressure on the combination of weaker commodity prices and disappointing economic data. Retail sales in Canada fell short of expectations despite the stronger wholesale numbers reported earlier this month.  Consumer spending rose 0.4 percent as consumers cut back on clothing purchases to compensate for spending more on gasoline.  Confidence fell to the lowest level in 13 years last month and it is now clear that this pessimism has also affected their spending habits.  Canadian and Australian consumer prices are due for release over the next 24 hours – softer numbers could send the commodity currencies even lower. 

Tell us what you think on the Canadian dollar Forum.

USD/JPY Continues to Track US Equities

Yesterday, there was a high profile article in the Wall Street Journal that talked about how correlations across financial markets are beginning to break. One of the correlations mentioned was USD/JPY and the S&P500.  For the past 24 hours, it appears that the correlation is still holding as the rally in stocks drives USD/JPY above 107.  We continue to believe that oil and stocks will be the primary driver of the FX market this week.  Japanese economic data was surprisingly strong with convenience and supermarket store sales beating expectations.  However despite this improvement, the Japanese economy still faces more downside than upside risks.

Visit the Japanese Yen Currency Room for resources dedicated specifically to the Yen.




By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of

Contact Kathy Lien about this article at [email protected]


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