2008 REVISITED: JAPANESE YEN STRENGTH, GLOBAL ECONOMIC WEAKNESS (c) Leo Haviland June 4, 2012

The long running bull march in the Japanese Yen from early summer 2007 to the current time generally coincides with a continuing worldwide economic crisis. The Yen’s robust strength mirrors the failure by central bankers and politicians around the globe to cure the lamentable financial ills. National policies often differ. The international guardians frequently coordinate their rescue and stimulus programs. Yet measures such as deficit spending, money printing, efforts to keep government interest rates near the floor, and struggles to maneuver currency rates merely have patched and postponed severe problems, not genuinely repaired them. Worrisome debt and leverage issues revealed in 2007-08 lurk on in various forms.

The rally in the Japanese Yen on an effective exchange rate basis since around July 2011 warns that an acceleration of the worldwide crisis, as in mid-2008, may be underway or very near to commencing. Significantly, the climb in the Yen cross rate versus the US dollar since mid- March 2012 also fits the ongoing international economic weakness story. Recall that as the world economy deteriorated more and more quickly around mid-2008, not only did the US dollar rally on a broad real trade-weighted basis, but also the dollar weakened relative to the Yen. The strong dollar equals weak stocks (and weak commodities in general), weak dollar equals strong equities (and bullish commodities) chant remains popular.

The world and perspectives on it are not immutable, so 2012 does not precisely duplicate 2008. Yet given the experience of 2008, what does a rally by the dollar in general, if accompanied by a rally in the Yen (effective exchange rate), and especially if the Yen also marched higher against the dollar on a cross basis, portend? This would hint that the disturbing international crisis is in the process of becoming more fearful. And since March 2012, that seems to be what has been happening.

The current dangerous situation in the ongoing worldwide economic crisis, if it further worsens (and it probably will worsen to some extent, even if the deterioration is not nearly as severe as in 2008), will be sufficiently severe to induce policy makers around the globe to take further substantial steps in their struggles to provide long-lasting remedies. Perhaps such actions by central bankers and political leaders may occur relatively soon. These may issue from individual nations in somewhat piecemeal fashion. Yet there is a substantial chance that intervention will be relatively coordinated, especially if an encore of second half 2008 looks more and more to be underway.

But in the meantime, for the near term, the Japanese Yen probably will keep rallying on an effective exchange rate basis; it probably will breach the 1/16/12 daily low of 187.5. The Yen likely will retest the Y75 level against the dollar. However, the US dollar (TWD) will remain fairly strong. The bear trend in worldwide equities and commodities in general therefore probably is not over. Renewed sustained weakness in both the Yen and the dollar would indicate an easing of the current stage of the global crisis.

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2008 Revisited- Japanese Yen Strength, Global Economic Weakness (6-4-12)