CONCLUSION AND OVERVIEW
The broad real trade-weighted United States dollar probably peaked at 103.2 in December 2018 (“TWD”; Federal Reserve Board, H.10; monthly average, March 1973=100). Significantly, that elevation links with the critical TWD pinnacle of December 2016 at 103.4/January 2017 at 103.3, thereby building a formidable double top barrier. This double top ends the glorious long-running major bull move which commenced in July 2011 at 80.5.
Unlike the broad real trade-weighted dollar, the broad nominal trade-weighted dollar has daily data. The broad nominal US dollar probably also formed twin peaks. It achieved an initial summit on 12/28/16 (at 128.9) and 1/3/17 (at 128.8). The nominal TWD’s recent high, 12/14/18 at 129.1, edged less than one percent beyond the 2016/17 summit.
The decline in the broad real trade-weighted dollar from its 103.2/103.4 summit probably will be fairly close to and quite possibly more than ten percent. This retreat likely will last at least for several months. The broad TWD’s wall of resistance at 103.2/103.4 probably will not be broken anytime soon. If it is, the breach likely will not be substantial; dollar depreciation will resume.
What interrelated phenomena currently are sparking, or will tend to encourage, near term and long run US dollar weakness?
Growing faith that America’s Federal Reserve Board will slow down (at least for a while) its current program of raising the Federal Funds rate represents a key factor in the establishment of December 2018’s TWD ceiling. Both the Fed Chairman and other US central bank guardians recently spoke of the need for “patience” on the rate increase front. For example, note Chairman Powell’s remarks before the Economic Club of Washington, DC (see the NYTimes, 1/11/19, pB3). Read the transcript of his 1/4/19 comments in an Atlanta, GA conference with other past Fed Chairs.
By reducing the likelihood of (at least) near term boosts in the Federal Funds rate, and thereby cutting the probability of notable yield increases for US government debt securities, the Fed makes the US dollar less appealing (less likely to appreciate further) in the perspective of many marketplace players. The Fed’s less aggressive rate-raising scheme (at minimum, a pause in that “normalization” process) mitigates enthusiasm for the US dollar from those aiming to take advantage of interest rate yield differentials (as well as those hoping for appreciation in the value of other dollar-denominated assets such as American stocks or real estate relative to the foreign exchange value of the given home currency). Capital flows into the dollar may slow, or even reverse to some extent.
Another consideration constructing a noteworthy broad real TWD top is emerging optimism that tariff battles and other aspects of trade wars between America and many of its key trading partners (especially China) will become less fierce. Both the US and China increasingly are nervous regardless the ability of their nations to maintain adequate real GDP increases.
The current United States China 90 day negotiation deadline is 3/1/19. The NYTimes reported signs of Chinese concessions (1/9/18, ppA1, 8). US trade deals with China and other noteworthy nations reduce the incentive for those countries to depreciate their currency relative to the dollar in order to maintain market share for their goods and services within America. Such deals with China may well be vague or not amount to much in actual practice, but even cosmetic progress on the trade war battlefields will tend to weaken the dollar.
Signs of an armistice with China would bolster confidence that US trade feuds with Europe (particularly Germany) will subside. For the near term, the late 2018 deal between the US Administration with Canada and Mexico changing NAFTA treaty arrangements has lessened marketplace agitation regarding trade conflicts in that arena. Whether Congress eventually will enact this deal or a version close to it remains uncertain.
The current US Administration may seek a weaker US dollar relative to current heights in order to stimulate the economy as election season 2020 approaches.
The substantial and worsening United States debt situation, particularly in the federal sector as a result of the end-December 2017 tax “reform” legislation, nowadays encourages and increasingly will assist long run dollar depreciation. In its bearish implications for the broad real TWD, this ominous US debt variable at present is somewhat independent of near term Federal Reserve Board and other key central bank policy action and rhetoric as well as the outcome of trade negotiations. However, it nevertheless entangles with these phenomena.
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Facing a Wall- Emerging US Dollar Weakness (1-15-19)