Dollar smashes through resistance as mega-rally gathers pace
HSBC says we are at the early stages of a dollar bull run that will change the world
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Buisiness Editor
8:19PM GMT 03 Nov 2014
The US dollar has surged to a four-year high against a basket of currencies and has punched through key technical resistance, marking a crucial turning point for the global financial system.
This reflects the plunge in the Japanese yen since the Bank of Japan launched a fresh round of quantitative easing last week.
“We are only at the early stages of a dollar bull run. The current rally is unlike any we have seen before. The greatest danger for markets and forecasters is that they fail to adjust their behaviour to fully reflect a very different world,” he said.
Mr Bloom said the stronger dollar buys time for other countries engaged in currency warfare to “steal inflation”, now a precious rarity that economies are fighting over. The great unknown is how long the US economy itself can withstand the deflationary impact of a stronger dollar.
The rule of thumb is that each 10pc rise in the dollar cuts the inflation rate of 0.5pc a year later.
Hans Redeker, from Morgan Stanley, said the dollar rally is almost unstoppable at this stage given the roaring US recovery, and the stark contrast between a hawkish Fed and the prospect of monetary stimulus for years to come in Europe.
“We think this will be a four to five-year bull-market in the dollar. The whole exchange system is seeking a new equilibrium,” he said. “We think the euro will reach $1.12 to the dollar by next year and will be even weaker than the yen in the race to the bottom.”
Mr Redeker said US pension funds and asset managers have invested huge sums in emerging markets without considering the currency risks. “They may be forced to start hedging their exposure, and that could catapult the dollar even higher in a self-fulfilling effect.”
The dollar revival could prove painful for companies in Asia that have borrowed heavily in the US currency during the Fed’s QE phase, betting it would continue to fall.
Data from the Bank for International Settlements show that the dollar “carry-trade” from Hong Kong into China may have reached $1.2 trillion. Corporate debt in dollars across Asia has jumped from $300bn to $2.5 trillion since 2005.
More than two-thirds of the total $11 trillion of cross-border bank loans worldwide are denominated in dollars. A chunk is unhedged in currency terms and is therefore vulnerable to a dollar “short squeeze”.
The International Monetary Fund said $650bn of capital has flowed into emerging markets as a result of QE that would not otherwise have gone there. This is often fickle “low-quality” money that came late to the party.
Many of these countries have picked the low-hanging fruit of catch-up growth and are suffering from credit exhaustion. They have deep structural problems and a falling rate of return on investment. The worry is that a tsunami of money could rotate back out again as investors seek higher yields in the US, possibly through crowded exits.