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Wednesday November 14, 2007 - 22:47:30 GMT

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Forex Research - Bernanke: Getting More Serious About Inflation

Wednesday, 14 November 2007 21:28:25 GMT

Written by Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist
- British Pound: Possible Rate Cut in 2008
- Euro Struggling to Stay Afloat

Bernanke:  Getting More Serious About Inflation

Ben Bernanke is making major changes at the Federal Reserve, ones that will probably be apart of his legacy. According to Bernanke’s speech this morning about changing FOMC communications, the Fed will be looking at the “overall inflation rate” to determine whether they have met their mandated objectives of maximum employment and price stability.  Although they stopped short of announcing an actual inflation target, the fact that they will be publishing their projections for overall inflation and core inflation 3 years forwarded and updating them quarterly instead of biannually indicates that at least internally they have an inflation target.  To the market, this can be considered inflation targeting lite.  Bernanke also pointed out the importance of using the entire inflation rate and not just the core rate in determining the current level of price stability.  This tells us that they Federal Reserve really doesn’t want to lower interest rates even though last week the Fed Chairman warned that the downside risks to growth far outweigh the upside risks to inflation.  The changes made today also confirm that the US has a central bank that prefers tighter over looser monetary policy.  Even though the US dollar has strengthened slightly following these changes, they are not groundbreaking enough to cause a big move in the currency markets because we all already know that Bernanke earned his nickname printing press Ben years ago.  Retail sales and producer prices were equally unsatisfying.  Retail sales rose more than expected last month but consumer spending growth slowed materially when compared to the prior month.  Monthly producer price growth was weaker than expected, but the annualized pace of growth rose to a 2 year high and interestingly enough the increase was driven primarily by the rise in food and not energy prices.  This means that we should see the contribution of higher energy costs in the November numbers.  Tomorrow we are expecting US consumer prices along with the Empire State and Philly Fed manufacturing surveys.  We are still looking for stronger numbers overall which should be dollar positive. 

British Pound: Possible Rate Cut in 2008

The British pound was the only high yielding currency pair to not rally against the US dollar today.  Fundamental and technical factors are calling for major losses in the British pound.  To the surprise of the market, the Bank of England’s Quarterly Inflation report revealed a central bank that is still struggling to balance weaker growth with stronger inflation.  They revised their 2008 GDP forecasts from 2.7 percent down to 2.4 percent which is a big change and warned that they expect the inflation rate to rise above their 2 percent target next year before falling back below it in 2009.  The uncertainties surrounding inflation and growth are both increasing leading Bank of England Governor King to forecast more difficult times ahead.  Over the past few weeks, UK economic data has revealed cracks in the economy prompting some traders to call for an interest rates cut by the Bank of England in the first quarter of next year.  Meanwhile the labor market remains tight with the unemployment rate at a 2.5 year low which suggests that retail sales tomorrow could surprise to the upside.

 Euro Struggling to Stay Afloat


The Euro is struggling to stay afloat despite stronger economic data. GDP growth in the third quarter rose to 0.7 percent, which was slightly higher than the market’s expectations.  Growth in Germany and France both improved highlighting the region’s ability to handle a strong currency.  According to the comments from ECB officials today, the inflation risks are still skewed to upside due to high food and energy prices.  ECB member Hurley also warned that the risk is for further dollar weakness versus the Euro. However stronger economic data and hawkish comments have not helped the Euro hold onto its gains in the US trading session.  The single currency sold off from its intraday high of 1.4721 down to 1.4637.  Eurozone consumer prices are due for release tomorrow.  The annualized rate of inflation is expected to remain above the ECB’s 2 percent target well into the New Year. 

Australian and New Zealand Dollars Strengthen but Canadian Dollar Continues to Weaken

The best performing commodity currency today was the New Zealand dollar which staged a strong rally on the back of a sharp rise in producer prices last quarter. Retail sales were weaker but not very market moving.  The Australian dollar also gained ground but the rise was limited because of consumer sentiment which fell to an 11 month low.   Canadian leading indicators and motor vehicle sales were also weaker than expecting causing the Canadian dollar to be the only one of the three currencies to underperform the US dollar.  Commodity prices are higher today but their limelight was stolen by the broad volatility in the equity markets. 

Dow Reverses in Last Hour of Trading, Will Carry Trades Resume Their Losses?

It is no secret that Carry Trades are moving in lockstep with the Dow which leads us to wonder whether the last hour selloff in the US stock market suggests that carry trades could resume their losses.  We believe this may the case especially since the VIX has turned higher once again.  The financial markets are becoming extremely volatile which makes it difficult for carry trades to do well.  The Yen came under pressure last night after Mizhuo announced a 17 percent drop in net income, largely due to subprime related losses.  There was no other Japanese data released last night and the tertiary activity index is the only piece of data worth watching tonight which means that the moves in the Nikkei will determine whether or not we see follow through selling in the Yen crosses (read our Special report for more on Will Carry Trades Resume their Losses).


By Kathy Lien, Chief Strategist of



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