“Gonna leave this brokedown palace
On my hands and my knees I will roll, roll, roll”. The Grateful Dead, “Brokedown Palace”
CONCLUSION AND OVERVIEW
The gradual depreciation of the broad real trade-weighted United States dollar (“TWD”; Federal Reserve Board, H.10 statistics; monthly average; March 1973=100) that began in December 2016/January 2017 at about 102.8 probably will continue for at least the next several months. Dollar cross rate patterns against assorted individual currencies (such as the Euro FX, Chinese renminbi, and Japanese Yen) are not necessarily the same. In principle and practice, the dollar may rally against one counterpart while getting feebler against another. Nevertheless, the similar weakness in recent months of the dollar’s cross rate versus several key American trading partners manifests the widespread underpinnings of the growing overall dollar breakdown. Gold’s bull climb since December 2016 roughly coincides with and reflects (confirms) the greenback’s erosion.
Various entangled factors influence foreign exchange levels and patterns, with monetary policy of course being a key variable. Over the past few months and looking forward, underline the US Federal Reserve Board’s willingness to tighten monetary policy by raising the Federal Funds rate; it also hints at the eventual reduction of its bloated balance sheet. Moreover, such Fed action and its forward guidance wordplay contrasts with the ongoing highly accommodative policy of many key central banks (such as the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan). Yet the dollar nevertheless has weakened. In this context, the TWD’s slump over the past few months therefore portends future dollar depreciation. The Fed meets 6/13-14/17, 7/25-26/17, and 9/19-20/17.
Moreover, most believe that US real GDP growth will remain relatively strong. The dollar’s downturn in New Year 2017 is ominous from this perspective as well.
The 1/20/17 inauguration of President Trump very closely connects in time with the TWD peak. Is this merely a coincidence? Probably not.
Comments during the 2016 election season and its aftermath by Trump and some members of the supporting cast allied with him indicate that he probably wanted some dollar depreciation to help boost US economic growth. Note their criticism of some key European trading partners and China. Isn’t it unfair to the US if the Euro FX or Chinese renminbi are “excessively weak”?
But much more than a willingness by the Trump Administration to permit some dollar bearishness probably explains the dollar’s decline in calendar 2017. After all, the US dollar rallied for several weeks after Trump’s November 2016 victory.
America’s notable political, economic, racial, religious, age, gender, and other divisions and related quarrels preceded Trump’s political showmanship and electoral triumph. But such conflicts arguably have worsened since Trump took office.
Examine the ongoing intensity of the carnival of media coverage relating to such divisions, even after the contentious national election. Look at ferocious debates over Obamacare, fiscal priorities, immigration policy, and climate change. In Washington’s political circus, note the significant disagreements in Congress on assorted key issues. The Republicans control the Presidency, House, and Senate, but they squabble. How likely will there be significant tax “reform” or substantial new infrastructure spending? The degree and scope of Russian involvement in American politics, including relationships with some people within or linked to the Trump Administration, capture headlines.
America’s highly partisan budget battles likely will continue, and its existing long run debt problems will not magically evaporate. Moreover, marketplace wizards generally agree that the enactment of the President’s budget plan (sketch) will widen the deficit dramatically relative to current trends. Of course other nations have big debt problems. Look at Japan’s mammoth government debt, and see China corporate debt (and property, local government, and shadow banking issues). Yet America’s increased indebtedness, particularly if Trump’s vision becomes law, is “newer news” than what has been going on within Japanese and Chinese debt festivals.
In addition, US consumer indebtedness is not small, and it has been creeping higher in absolute terms. The New York Fed reported that total US indebtedness as of end first quarter 2017 was about $12.7 trillion. This placed overall household debt $50 billion above its prior peak of third quarter 2008, and 14.1 percent higher than the trough attained in 2Q13.
And very significantly, many people at home and abroad believe President Trump’s leadership has been and likely will remain erratic. Compare his language and behavior with that of his predecessors.
Given the nation’s significant political (and other interrelated cultural) conflicts and doubts regarding the quality and predictability of Presidential- and Congressional- leadership and action, and “all else equal”, this makes the United States dollar (dollar-denominated assets) somewhat less attractive to hold. Widespread falling (low) public confidence in many US politicians, political processes, and political institutions eventually can generate falling confidence (and thus declines) in the dollar.
Thus, in recent months, the victory of an apparently populist leader in America contrasts with the maintenance of power by the establishment in most key American trading partners. And the American President’s rhetoric and actions (at least to some extent) not only are divisive, but also seem rather erratic and confused to many
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US Dollar Theatrics- Depreciating Acts (6-7-17)