Sunday, February 11, 2007

Forex Blog on the US Dollar

This post from the Forex Blog sums up the basic problems the US dollar faces. It also explains why the US dollar is probably headed lower. I think this commentary explains the basic problems facing the dollar, which are structural in nature. Therefore, they can't be cured with quick fixes.

The USD has begun 2007 in neutral, idling against most of the world’s currencies, even gaining a few PIPS. However, this current period most likely represents a respite-rather than a reversal-from the USD’s long-term downward trend. The fundamentals behind the USD haven’t changed; if anything, they have worsened. Meanwhile, as the price of oil sinks back to sustainable levels and Central Banks move to diversify their reserves, governmental demand for USD-denominated assets may begin to stall.

The British Pound and Euro represent suitable alternatives to the USD. Both are strong currencies backed by political and monetary stability, as well as strengthening economies and rising interest rates. Risk-averse investors can already earn comparable returns from the side of the Atlantic opposite the US. In addition, as European capital markets expand and develop, foreign investors are discovering new assets to scoop up. Private equity and other forms of alternative investing are booming in Britain and the EU, which means even investors in search of risk have options in Europe.

Moreover, Asia and the Middle East are in early stages of developing regional currencies, which would also pose a threat to the dominance of the USD as the world’s reserve currency. As the global economy becomes more stable and as European and Asian capital markets surpass their American counterparts in size and clout, investors will no longer feel compelled to pool their wealth in American securities.

As former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin recently noted, the only thing that is propping up the USD is that the demand for US assets (i.e. stocks and bonds) still exceeds supply. However, as equity prices approach levels never before seen and as the supply of bonds either dries up or yields are driven down to completely unattractive levels, the US will certainly lose its appeal to foreign investors and the USD will follow the foreign demand for US assets downward.