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Friday September 17, 2004 - 14:56:03 GMT
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Forex: It's A Forrest Gump Market

It's A Forrest Gump Market

When market participants can buy dollars on a strong New York Fed Empire Index number for September and see a 1% move and the next day sell dollars on a weak Philadelphia Fed business diffusion index also for the month of September for 0.5% move, then we are surely in a Forrest Gump market...stupid is as stupid does. Don't get me wrong, racking up 1.0-1.5% on these two numbers is not stupid. Like the movie character, there is much to be said about simplicity. So what would Forrest Gump do with the euro/dollar ahead? He would get out his ruler and connect the dots from May drawing a line for the highs and a line for the lows and sell them near 1.23 and buy them near 1.20. More seriously the broad equilibrium in the global economy I spoke of earlier is still well entrenched and not about to break down allowing a move outside of broadly speaking 1.19-1.25 range...or more simply a return to a trending market and a trending market with some duration. And maybe I am being a bit cavalier with the importance of the New York Empire manufacturing index...a state that manufacturers more chevre than Chevys. But I think not. And the fact that New York and Philadelphia are signaling two very different things about the manufacturing sector in September is no surprise. But then again Forrest knew a lot about statistics (and random walks) without knowing much about statistics when he said "Life's a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get."

Despite all sorts of questions about the sustainability of the global recovery among financial market participants, monetary authorities across G7 seem quite confident that the slow patch is in the past and good times are ahead. This assumption is key to most central banks who are now in the process of normalizing interest rates from near record lows. The Swiss National Bank rate hike today was accompanied by the quarterly Monetary Policy Review and it was more than cautiously optimistic about future was confident. Comments from ECB officials also uniformly reflect a growing confidence (and a desire to conform with its peers...get on board the normalization train). The Fed is certainly on this train and ignoring the uneven landscape along the way. But not all are having the Kool-aid or perhaps green tea. The Bank of Japan's Ueda in the last two days sounds downright concerned that Japan and the global economy have not secured an exit from the malaise the world economy has encountered since 2001...stagnation in Japan, the jobless recovery in the US and to some extent stagnation in the Euro Zone (Germany, France and Italy mainly). Ueda
talked about possibly having to ease again and stated it was too risky to even consider an early exit from quantitative easing. Ueda is not Fukui, but perhaps his very public remarks reflect a broader consensus. Fukui has after all insisted there would be no early end to quantitative easing. Arguably there is a trade here. Long euro/yen, long chf/yen, long C$/yen, long NZ$/yen, and long dollar/yen. It is a central bank trade. Long currencies of central banks normalizing rates and short ones where slowing concerns are rising and rate hikes out of the question (perhaps stg and A$ belong in the short camp). These are trades for the duration of the equilibrium I am sticking to the longer-term view that the dollar will buckle most when the global equilibrium moves from steady state, to tentative, to over. Meanwhile, a Forrest Gump approach to euro/dollar looks as sound as any.

David Gilmore


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