by Bryan Rich
Investors, politicians and the media have had tunnel vision for the better part of the past five months. And it’s been directed squarely on the United States.
The world has been transfixed on the dollar. Experts have tirelessly surmised how the Fed’s recent decision to launch another round of quantitative easing was reckless. And they’ve claimed this action will do irreparable damage to the buck — the world’s primary reserve currency.
That script reads a lot like one we’ve seen before …
In mid-2009, the global markets became very U.S. absorbed. The anti-dollar crowd was out in droves. And they were insistent that this was the end for the dollar.
When they were asked for proof, they quickly pointed to the list of threatening emergency policies U.S. officials had rolled out, the rising American debt-load and the numerous attention grabbing headlines from leaders around the world …
China called for a new world reserve currency. Russia piled on, calling for a new “supranational” currency and recommending the BRIC countries begin trading in local currencies, abandoning dollar-based trading.
But back then, here in Money and Markets, I warned you not to take the bait. I laid out the facts about:
- The bigger problems residing in other spots of the world …
- The vulnerabilities in Europe’s banking system …
- The threat that China’s currency manipulation represented to the global economy … and
- The role that the U.S. and the dollar played in the world — especially in times of such great crisis.
To be concise, on June 20, 2009, I said … “Beware of the scare headlines — the dollar’s demise is greatly exaggerated.”
And as it turned out, the crowd that was so heavily leaning against the dollar and the outlook for the U.S. economy was reminded that there’s a world beyond the borders of the United States. And the problems in other countries were just as big, if not bigger.
A crisis in the euro zone ensued, and abruptly, capital from around the world wanted to own dollars again. And the euro started a seven-month, 22 percent collapse against the dollar.
The currency that just months earlier was being hailed as the best candidate to supplant the dollar as a new primary world reserve currency, was in jeopardy of falling apart all together.
Act II for the Dollar Bears
Once again, the politicians are at work, trying to gain some political favor within their own countries and trying to leverage their way into more power on the global level, by taking verbal jabs at the U.S. policies and the dollar.
While they’ve been disparaging the Fed’s QE2 and claiming explicit weak dollar intent from the U.S., the dollar isn’t behaving according to plan for such dollar-destruction pontifications.
In fact, there’s a not-so-subtle turn taking place in the currency markets. And a stronger dollar has been at the center of it!
As I suggested in last week’s column, seven key charts were making a case for a bounce in the dollar and a return of a longer-term dollar bull trend.
And now, there are more reasons why this scenario looks even more likely …
While the attention has been on the U.S. and on another wave of quantitative easing, the threats in Europe have been quietly rising.
Ireland’s failing banks have become its government’s problem. And the extent of damage on bank balance sheets now makes Ireland the most dangerously diseased country in the euro-zone economy.
Interest rates in Ireland have soared to record levels against German rates. And the price of insurance against an Irish sovereign debt default has spiked to record levels. Like last time, the disease in one spot of the euro zone is quickly affecting market sentiment in the euro zone as a whole.
You can see in the chart below, the sharp spike in the credit default swap market for insurance on euro-zone debt suggesting the set up for round #3 of a euro crisis.
And following suit is the euro — perhaps in the early stages of another plunge. It has fallen nearly 5 percent against the dollar in just seven trading days.
Perhaps again, the world is waking up to the problems outside the U.S.
The financial markets are one environment where those in the minority typically come out on top — and those that follow the herd tend to get slaughtered.
With that in mind, given the mass sentiment that leans against the dollar, there are plenty of good reasons to believe a sharp reversal is in order — if not already underway.
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