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Tuesday October 21, 2008 - 15:45:15 GMT
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The Dollar’s Side of the Teeter-Totter is Least Heavy

Key News
• Euro May Slide to $1.26 as ECB to Cut Rates, Citigroup's Fitzpatrick Says (Bloomberg)
• Swiss Exports Fall for First Time Since 2005; Global Slowdown Damps Orders (Bloomberg)
• Thaksin Found Guilty of Corruption (WSJ)

“I think if you have some principles and know what you're doing, the market responds. They see that you have some structure to your actions, that it isn't just ad hoc -- you'll do this today but you'll do something different tomorrow. And the market respects people in supervisory positions who seem to be on top of what's going on. So I think if you're tough about firms that have invested unwisely, the market won't blame you. They'll say, 'Well, yeah, it's your fault. You did this. Nobody else told you to do it. Why should we be saving you at this point if you're stuck with assets you can't sell and liabilities you can't pay off?'”

         Anna Schwartz

FX Trading – The Dollar’s Side of the Teeter-Totter is Least Heavy

So what’s changing?

Well, credit market indicators have improved. The first signs of improvement came as last week finished up. And so far this week the improvement has stuck.

The global soup de jour is now State-backed private debt. Kind of an oxymoron, I know. But in other words, governments around the world decided that guaranteeing debt of their country’s respective banks would be the newest best way to insight confidence, reduce counterparty risk and stem the lending crisis.

So far it seems that was a step in the right direction ...

Key money-market rates, Libor rates and various spreads have come down from uncomfortable and “unhealthy” levels. Stocks actually gained substantial ground on Monday.

Are these key, long-term indicators that mean the worst is behind us? No. But it’s quite refreshing ... at least.

Keep in mind the US dollar had become a huge recipient of risk-aversion capital flow, moving almost step-for-step in the opposite direction as stocks. So it would now seem natural that the buck would begin to weaken as investors became a bit more willing to take some risk.

When the currency market opened on Sunday, this is exactly how the ball got rolling. But into Monday’s session the European currencies were pounded. The dollar reversed its early losses on these fronts, but it wasn’t an across-the-board reversal at first.

It quickly became one though. And now the buck is off to new highs after a short period of consolidation:

 (Chart unavailable in text format, please see PDF.)

Expectations that the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will now cater to the economy (ala interest rate cuts) is hitting hard. The Swiss franc, historically a safe-haven type currency, isn’t escaping unscathed either.

A critical level of daily chart support for Swiss franc futures goes back about 11 months. And that level looks to be in jeopardy of giving way.

 (Chart unavailable in text format, please see PDF.)

We just learned that year-over-year Swiss exports fell for the first time in well over three years. That came to a 4.4% drop from September 2007. And from August to September of this year exports plunged 8.2%.

This highlights the growing problem that’s weighing on not only developed economies but also emerging economies. The global economy is not the same as it was a year ago, or even six months ago. The global lending crisis has led the turn lower. This downturn, and the subsequent slump still to work itself out, is the simple explanation for a global capital shift.

It seems unexplainably perverse to many that the US would benefit in this scenario. But perhaps that’s because so many prematurely counted-out the US. Perhaps too many were too quick to jump in and denounce the United States and its economic affairs. 

It’s seems like it became a very emotional trade. In much the same way that baseball fans want to see the New York Yankees fail to make the playoffs and the Boston Red Sox fall short of the World Series, investors around the globe (and even in the US) had no problem seeing the world’s economic empire embark on a catastrophic collapse.

But perhaps those hopes/fears were overplayed.

If we now accept the need for a rebalance in the currency market we’ll begin to understand that markets are here to humble us. When we think we know, we’re quickly reminded we don’t know much at all.


John Ross Crooks, III
Black Swan Capital LLC


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