CURRENCIES: THE WAITING GAME © Leo Haviland November 4, 2013

Many academic, financial, and political circles have long been married to “free market” ideologies. Nevertheless, the manipulation, maneuvering, or managing of a nation’s currency level and trends often occupies the deliberations and behavior of that territory’s central bankers, finance ministers, and many politicians. As in their efforts to control or at least influence interest rates (or stock marketplace trends), sometimes their reasoning, actions, and targets are explicit, often they are implicit.

Currency considerations are not islands apart from interest rate, stock, real estate, commodity and other marketplaces. So policy makers enamored of free market propaganda do not necessarily restrict their efforts to affect economic results to their home currency (or that currency’s cross rate relationship to one or more key trading partners). For example, picture the Federal Reserve Board’s longstanding yield repression policy, which has pinned the Federal Funds rate close to the ground.

Although the majority of currency observers and strategists focus their attention on crucial cross rates such as the US dollar against the Euro FX, broad real trade-weighted (effective) exchange rates influence important national policymakers. Analysis of these trade-weighted measures can unveil signs as to important (even if implicit) levels watched by central bank, finance ministry, and political guardians. Such trade-weighted foreign exchange measures consequently provide instruction as to potential strategy responses or changes by these often-vigilant sentinels. National and international policymakers of course are not the only ones looking and waiting around in marketplace games; Wall Street and Main Street likewise wait, watch, and act. Because these broad foreign exchange indicators (and the underlying cross rates) interrelate with perspectives on and decisions relating to current and potential elevations of and movements in numerous interest rate, stock, and other marketplaces, they offer insight into past, present, and future levels and trends of these arenas.

Dollar weakness does not necessarily (inevitably; forever) encourage or reflect a strong American economy or continue to help propelling US equities upward. Suppose a significant run against the “dollar in general” (TWD) occurs, whether via Chinese renminbi, Japanese Yen, or Euro FX (or other currency) strength against the dollar. A TWD dollar dive (especially under the July 2011 low) could force the Fed to significantly reduce or even abandon its interest rate repression and quantitative easing (money printing) policies. Consequently the effort by many American leaders and businesses promoting further weakness in the dollar relative to the renminbi may have some enthralling consequences not only for the dollar in general, but also for American (and other international) interest rate and equity marketplaces.

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Currencies- the Waiting Game (11-4-13)