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Tuesday March 3, 2009 - 15:42:36 GMT
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Maybe Australia is First Out; Maybe Not.

Key News
• Swiss Economy Enters Recession With Its Biggest Contraction in Four Years (Bloomberg)
• Australia Unexpectedly Leaves Benchmark Interest Rate Unchanged at 3.25% (Bloomberg)
• U.S. rescue efforts may risk double-dip recessionU.S. rescue efforts may risk double-dip recession (Reuters)

Key Reports Due (WSJ):
8:55 a.m. Redbook Retail Sales Index For Feb 28: Previous: +0.9%.
10:00 a.m. Jan Pending Home Sales: Expected: -3.5%. Previous: +6.3%.
4:30 p.m. API Oil Industry Report For Feb 27
5:00 p.m. ABC/Wash Post Consumer Conf For Feb 28: Previous: -48.

“Confidence is always overconfidence.”

         Robert Byrne

FX Trading – Maybe Australia is First Out; Maybe Not.

Worried about your countries currency? The easy solution to your worries: don’t cut rates when the market expects it.

The Reserve Bank of Australia announced their latest monetary policy decision overnight. Sitting at 3.25%, most analysts figured that was plenty of room for the RBA to knock a few more basis points of their benchmark.


Even though the RBA slashed about 4% off their benchmark since September, they opted not to make any changes this time around. Australian dollar? Zoom, Zoom!

Yeah, the Aussie rocketed-up once the market realized the RBA wasn’t budging this month. This inaction shored-up confidence (perhaps only temporarily) in Australia’s economy ... effectively saying, “Things aren’t really as bad down here as they are most everywhere else.”

For now it seems they’re content in Australia with government stimulus and previous rate cuts. For now they don’t expect growth to roll off a cliff. For now their economy looks set to out-under-perform (i.e. slow less sharply than its counterpart countries).

And while rather subdued from its glory days just over a year ago, the Australian dollar was able to achieve the title of best performing major currency in the month of February. Unfortunately, a pause in the interest rate downtrend isn’t going to be enough to stop its longer-term downtrend versus the US dollar.

We’ve mentioned it plenty of times recently – Jack especially – but we’re targeting another 46% downside for the commodities complex from current levels. That is, in the chart below we’re looking to at least retake the levels from Oct 2001 when the rocket took off.

 (Chart unavailable in text format.)

The commodities dynamic is an important one for Australia. To the same point, demand from its biggest trading partners is also critical. China’s slowdown is huge; and the major slump in the US and Japan doesn’t help either. These components are shaping up quickly to reveal a softer trade picture for Australia. Even with the government handouts, can Australia’s domestic consumer force pick up the slack?

Well, the longer this global recession lasts, the greater the chance for jobs to be adversely impacted. Australia has been better off in this area thus far – job worries haven’t been the huge burden they’ve become in the US and elsewhere. But eventually, if the global hangover has several quarters still to last as we think it does, jobs and businesses in Australia will suffer further. Investment will recede; spending will sink deeper.

We’re seeing this reflected in global stock prices; Australia’s markets are not immune to these same dire expectations. And as we know, risk aversion is no friend of the Australian buck.

So while the big boys in Australia stress confidence in their economy, we caution not to get complacent or over-optimistic on Australia’s dollar. Overcoming gravity is not easy, no matter how much you think you can fly.’s article this morning on the RBA indecision sounded a rather promising tone for Australia’s economy -- relatively anyway. But earlier comments today from Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan – a member of the Swan contingent with which we identify – made a succinct point and the one we choose to highlight:

He noted that when Australia’s December GDP is reported tomorrow, it’s going to show the first contraction in eight years. He also added, “As I said on a number of occasions, things will get worse before they will get better.”


John Ross Crooks, III
Black Swan Capital LLC


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