Juice The Stock Market And Destroy The Dollar!! (#GotBitcoin?)
Investors are ramping up wagers on the falling currency, believing the surge in coronavirus cases will hamper U.S. business activity and drive even more government spending. Juice The Stock Market And Destroy The Dollar!! (#GotBitcoin?)
The dollar has made a sharp U-turn this summer following a long rally, confounding many traders but potentially adding fuel to this year’s surprising stock-market rebound.
The ICE Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of other major currencies, in July notched its worst month in nearly a decade and recently hit a two-year low. The fall extended a reversal that began in late March, spurred lately by ballooning worries that mounting coronavirus cases will stall the U.S. economic rebound, even as growth accelerates in countries from China to Germany.
Big-name investors such as Ray Dalio and Jeffrey Gundlach have recently said publicly that the flood of U.S. government spending being injected into the financial system could eventually stoke inflation, eroding consumers’ purchasing power. Surging budget deficits tend to make investors less likely to hold a country’s currency. Fitch Ratings on Friday revised its credit rating outlook for the U.S. to negative from stable, though it maintained its top, triple-A rating.
At the same time, the currency’s slide is adding further support to the booming market rally, lifting stocks and commodities. A weaker dollar boosts multinational companies, which see their products get more competitive abroad and can more easily convert overseas profits into dollars. It also makes products and investments that are priced in the currency cheaper for overseas investors, supporting demand for a host of financial assets. U.S. stocks have climbed near five-month highs recently, while raw materials are paring much of their 2020 decline.
“These things are denominated in dollars, and the dollar is getting crushed,” said Christopher Stanton, chief investment officer of Sunrise Capital Partners. He expects the trend to continue and is directly wagering against the currency, betting on gains in the euro against the dollar and buying gold, which some investors are using as an alternative store of value. Gold recently climbed to all-time highs for the first time since 2011.
The dollar’s decline upends a yearslong climb that was fueled by bets that U.S. economic growth would outpace activity overseas and let the Federal Reserve keep interest rates among the highest in the developed world. Now, the coronavirus is forcing the central bank to keep rates near zero, slicing much of the gap between rates in the U.S. and other nations and limiting investor returns from holding the currency.
Despite the tumble, few on Wall Street believe the dollar is on the brink of losing its status as the world’s reserve currency, held in bulk by global central banks and used to finance most international transactions. The dollar remains relatively strong following its long climb, and analysts say economic data points like export growth justify the reversal. Dollar reserves also tend to increase when the currency weakens because it gets easier for central banks to add to their dollar assets.
Still, its reversal marks a key development for money managers. Investors this week will seek to gauge whether the U.S. economic recovery slowed last month by parsing the July jobs report and purchasing managers’ indexes. The next round of corporate earnings from companies, including Booking Holdings Inc. and Hyatt Hotels Corp., will also provide a window into the prospects for the bruised travel industry.
Firms that earn more money overseas could benefit if the dollar’s recent weakness persists. So could international markets—many have long trailed U.S. stocks, but with growth overseas poised to catch up to domestic economic activity, they are now in position to attract more capital.
“The other houses are now looking just as attractive,” said Nancy Perez, senior portfolio manager at Boston Private, which has recently increased its investments in shares of companies based in emerging markets in its asset-allocation strategies. “They have much more potential than the U.S.”
Hedge funds and other speculators are favoring everything from the Swedish krona to the Brazilian real, positioning for more dollar weakness. Net investor bets on a weaker dollar recently climbed to their highest level since April 2018, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data compiled by Scotiabank show.
“We are in a stage of very high momentum,” said Ed Al-Hussainy, senior interest-rate and currency analyst at Columbia Threadneedle Investments. He is betting that emerging-market currencies such as the Mexican peso and South African rand will extend their recent rebound. “Everybody is getting caught up in it.”
The latest drop in the currency comes with the euro surging Thursday to two-year highs against the dollar after European Union leaders recently agreed on a more-than-$2 trillion spending package.
The aid is bolstering investors’ faith in the bloc’s unity and economic recovery since European countries hadn’t spent as much previously. Many of the countries have also been more successful than the U.S. in containing the pandemic.
“There are now doubts about the idea that the U.S. would end the year in a better place than Europe,” said economist Brad Setser, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Investors say that the economic picture could make this dollar slide longer lasting, with Fed programs also alleviating early-year dollar shortages in overseas funding markets. But some are still wary of reading too much into the recent drop, with November’s presidential election among the factors that could shift already volatile economic conditions.
Some analysts also question whether the weaker dollar will end up boosting exports and other economic data points given the scope of the global recession.
“It’s nearly impossible to figure out exactly what the numbers will end up being,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors.
Yellen Ending Trump Dollar Tumult Promises Cheers In Markets
Now that President-elect Joe Biden has picked Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary, currency markets are growing more confident that the U.S. government’s policy for the dollar will be more clear.
Donald Trump’s administration conjured chaos about the greenback, one moment threatening to intervene or otherwise fretting about the currency’s strength, then — often on the same day — taking a contradictory stance. From Bill Clinton’s administration through Barack Obama’s, the federal government adhered to the position that a strong currency is a reflection of the strength of the U.S. economy.
Prospects that Yellen will returning clarity on dollar policy may help stabilize the $6.6-trillion-a-day currency market that’s the backbone of global finance and commerce. Some traders are hopeful even though the former Federal Reserve chair and her new boss, Biden, are expected to take time to unfold their position on the greenback as they focus initially on fighting the pandemic and its economic damage.
“The Yellen appointment may formulate a more coherent policy for the dollar,” Ben Emons, head of global macro strategy at Medley Global Advisors, said in a note. “The reason is that during Yellen’s tenure as chair, Fed policy uncertainty fueled the strength of the dollar. Her experience and knowledge could see a better, formal setting around dollar policy.”
The U.S. Treasury secretary has historically been in charge of the dollar, with a unit in the department dedicated to foreign exchange policy.
But tradition went by the wayside under Trump. The president and his aides freely discussed the currency, often overstepping Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the administration overall showed far less commitment to a strong dollar due to Trump’s obsession with U.S. trade deficits.
In July 2019, Trump and his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, publicly debated a U.S. intervention to weaken the currency after the European Central Bank signaled looser monetary policy, causing the euro to weaken against the greenback.
Within hours of each other, Kudlow said in a television interview that the administration had decided not to intervene, only to have Trump tell reporters that the idea was still under consideration.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says it’s time for the U.S. to return to the strong-dollar policy established during the Clinton administration.
“It would be unwise to appear actively devaluationist or indifferent to the dollar,” he said earlier this month in an open letter advising the next Treasury chief.
Yellen has in the past noted that a stronger dollar exacerbates the U.S. trade deficit and dampens growth, while a weaker currency does the opposite. She also in 2014 warned her then-Fed colleagues about the risks of commenting on the dollar.
“As a former Fed chair, Yellen also fully understands the impact she could have on markets,” Ian Katz, an analyst at Capital Alpha Partners, wrote in a note. “She will choose her words carefully. Investors shouldn’t worry that she will make off-the-cuff remarks that will spur volatility.”
Any policy changes under Yellen would coincide with growing consensus on Wall Street that the dollar has entered a period of prolonged weakness. A Bloomberg gauge of the greenback’s value just hit a 2 1/2-year low.
“Given that we see the dollar falling through Biden’s term, the issue of dollar policy could be of some significance,” Standard Bank’s head of foreign-exchange strategy, Steven Barrow, said in a note. “More than this, the era of almost non-existent foreign-exchange intervention by developed nations could be about to end as well.”
The U.S. last intervened in currency markets in 2011, along with international peers, after the yen soared in the wake of that year’s devastating earthquake in Japan.
The dollar has fallen more than 11% since March, as measured by the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index.
Dollar bears have been emboldened by expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep rates near zero for years and that there will be diminished “haven” demand for the dollar given promising results for coronavirus vaccines.
That trajectory may continue with Yellen at Treasury, as she’s seen pushing to join Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s policy of lower-for-longer interest rates with extended, expansionary government spending.
Not everyone agrees Yellen will make strong pronouncements on dollar policy, since her focus will be on the domestic economy. Nine months into the pandemic, more than 6 million people still claim extended unemployment assistance and joblessness is again on the rise as U.S. coronavirus infections spike.
“Yellen is unlikely to forcefully articulate a specific policy on the dollar as she no doubt recognizes that domestic policies are far more important to the U.S. recovery and that trying to control or jawbone the exchange rate’s value should not be a major priority,” said Eswar Prasad, who wrote ‘The Dollar Trap: How the US Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance.’
Behind Every Record-Breaking Market Level Is The Fed’s Largesse
Each market milestone passed in 2020 is a reminder of the Federal Reserve’s extraordinary efforts to hold things aloft — and a belief that it’ll continue.
Consider today’s markets landscape. The dollar is the weakest since April 2018, pegged back by Treasury yields below 1%. That’s great news for emerging markets, and dollar bond sales in Asia have now topped $400 billion for the first time ever.
Global stocks are at record highs and copper is near a seven-year high. Even Bitcoin has hit new records. And there’s little denying that the Fed has had a lot to do with it.
The sweet spot for risk assets and the Fed may be one in which economies do well, but not too well — strong enough to prop things up, but not so hot that inflation starts to take off.
Strategists from firms like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. expect markets generally to do well into 2021 as Covid-19 vaccines become available and the world economy continues to recover.
With prices already so stretched, it could all come crashing down if the economy becomes so hot that inflation takes off and the Fed starts to discuss taking its foot off the gas — or even raising rates.
For now, though, many strategists seem to be comfortable with the way things are going, sticking with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s assertion from June that “we’re not even thinking about thinking about” raising rates. The consensus among strategists is more stimulus, rather than less, and overnight index swaps aren’t pricing a Fed hike until late 2023.
“We believe the Fed is quietly monitoring the situation and will not allow the market to disrupt their lower-rates-for-longer approach,” said Anders Faergemann, a money manager at PineBridge Investments in London. “It would be too early to talk about or position for a taper tantrum.”
The Fed factor is rarely far from focus, especially if the economy starts roaring back as more people get vaccinated. It’s not impossible to imagine a sharp uptick in inflation as shoppers, who have been cooped up for months at home, start splurging on holidays and lavish celebrations of freedom.
In a note on Tuesday, Morgan Stanley economists led by Chetan Ahya listed domestic inflationary pressures and a “disruptive” change in Fed policy as among the top risks for emerging markets next year.
But that’s not the consensus view. Morgan Stanley is expecting a strong rebound in emerging markets powered by a weak dollar, low U.S. interest rates and the end of the pandemic.
“We can also be assured that the Fed will indeed be slow to normalize monetary policy,” wrote FX Strategist Kit Juckes of Societe Generale SA on Nov. 25. “They have promised to be, and probably won’t get enough inflation soon enough to make them change their minds.”
Markets Have Infinite Reasons To Be Cheerful
The $5.6 trillion of central bank stimulus means investors should keep faith in the recovery trade.
As we head toward the end of 2020, we’ve spent the final run-up to Christmas much as we have the rest of the year: worrying about Covid-19. The beginning of this week saw a switch into risk-off mode in financial markets as a fast-spreading new virus strain emerged in Britain and Western health systems remained under pressure. That has shaken confidence in a positive start for 2021.
But the momentum behind the global recovery trade will take some stopping. Now would be the time for investors to take advantage of any temporary setbacks and keep the faith that the pandemic will eventually dissipate.
Vaccine makers seem confident that their shots will cope with the new mutation, and if all else fails we can rely on central bankers to do whatever it takes to defend economies and markets.
Never has the traders’ mantra “Don’t Fight the Fed” been so accurate. There’s every indication it will be the same in 2021.
Some $5.6 trillion of stimulus has been pumped into markets by the major central banks since March, so it’s no coincidence that we end the year with record highs for U.S. Stocks and global bond yields close to all-time lows.
Ever since the global financial crisis, central bankers’ Quantitative Easing habit hasn’t been shaken off. This year has seen the biggest asset-price reflation ever. One thing is certain for 2021: There’s another generous helping already lined up.
The U.S. Federal Reserve confirmed last week that $120 billion of Treasury bond and mortgage-backed securities will be acquired per month, plus a smattering of other securities that may be added according to discretion.
That’s nearly $1.5 trillion over 2021, on top of the $3.3 trillion bought by the Fed in 2020. Add in all the U.S. fiscal stimulus as well, with a $900 billion package finally approved by Congress, and it’s safe to say there’s a favorable backdrop for investors.
The rest of the world isn’t leaving the heavy lifting to the Fed. The European Central Bank just added another 500 billion euros ($610 billion) to its pandemic response, bringing it up to a total 1.85 trillion euros stretching into 2022. The Bank of England has made another 150 billion pounds ($20 billion) of QE purchasing power ready for dispersal next year.
The Swiss National Bank took the news of being labelled a currency manipulator by the U.S. Treasury with the vow to renew its interventions (its purchases of foreign currency end up in equities and bonds). The Bank of Japan has bought more than 7 trillion yen ($70 billion) of equity-linked exchange-traded funds this year.
So globally there will be both the ongoing flow of new QE into the system and the benefits of central banks maintaining their huge existing “stock” of bond holdings. Ever higher balance sheets can only bolster asset prices. Analysis from the Bank of England shows that in the absence of bank lending — which creates new assets — all QE can do is inflate the value of existing assets. This is infinite money chasing finite assets such as stocks and bonds, and even Bitcoin.
Two things have been missing that have thus far impaired QE’s effect on economic growth. First, the transmission mechanism via banks into real-economy lending hasn’t been functioning properly; it’s been particularly lacking in the European Union. Second, there has been a noticeable absence of aggressive and focused spending from governments on measures that will lift economic output meaningfully.
Happily, the fiscal side of the equation is finally being addressed with the accelerated distribution of government spending packages kicking in next year across much of the world — notably in the EU with its groundbreaking 750-billion euro pandemic recovery fund. The coordination of monetary policy and fiscal stimulus should create a multiplier effect if done properly.
There are plenty of negatives still around, but my colleague Cameron Crise reminds us of an episode from the trading classic “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator,” where a crafty market veteran keeps repeating, “It’s a bull market, you know.”
The big money is made following the big trend not exiting on temporary setbacks. Keep in mind what the Fed and its many friends have in store next year.
Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,Juice The Stock Market,