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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

US Dollar collapse

On May 5, I received a blog called: "Is the U.S. dollar in the midst of the longest Wile E. Coyote moment ever?" A Wile E. Coyote moment is the moment when the cartoon character, who has run off a cliff, looks down and realises that he’s standing on thin air – and plunges. The blog wonders why the US Dollar hasn't yet started its inevitable fall. It's a subject that had escaped my mind for quite some time. And many others too.

Mr Koning, a Canadian with Dutch ancestors, has written a well crafted blog again. From a technical perspective. In my view, it lacks a psychological perspective. A strong US$ can also be explained by the weakness of the other currencies to which it is compared. I am not surprised that the Euro/US$ rate is near parity. From various angles, the Eurozone is a mess. In my view, the US$ is not strong but the Euro is very weak. Consequently, the US$ appears strong but only from a relative perspective. Not from a fundamental one.

Also, there have been quite a lot of "distractions" that prevented from continuing to monitor the fundamentals of the US$. Mr Koning mentions the financial and banking crisis. That crisis has been superseded by various national crises of which Greece got the most attention. We have seen crises in nearly all segments of our societies: consumers, companies, banks, and nations. One could well argue that we now see a supranational crisis emerging (e.g., EU and ECB). I suppose that a full blown supranational crisis would finally imply that we have gone full circle. 

Another aspect is that the USA is still the leading superpower on this planet. Obviously, there is some competition but so far nothing serious. Next to this, the US$ is also considered the world's most dominant so called reserve currency. Wikipedia: a reserve currency is a currency that is held in significant quantities by governments and institutions as part of their foreign exchange reserves. The US$ denominated oil price has further strengthened its role as leading currency.

A plunge of the US$ would require a major shift in psychology which could be triggered by the absence of further distractions, a new superpower or large scale domestic US violence but probably a combination. Consequently, it may well take 5+ years before it actually happens. Similar to the US housing crisis, the $ collapse will happen when hardly anyone is expecting it any longer. For years, the average house price increase was considered unsustainable. Once such a phenomenon is accepted as an example of a new economy, the market suddenly collapsed. Again, a matter of psychology. 

What would be the impact of a plunge of the US$? The huge national debt is basically its creditors' problem. Issuing new US$ debt may not even be a problem. Rising import prices would merely benefit US domestic producers. US imported goods are often luxurious (e.g., cars). US import of oil is decreasing and US energy independence could be reached within 4 years (CNN). Export becomes far more easy as a result of a cheap US$. Also see my Euro 101 blog.

One could well argue that the USA has been profiting of its US$ for decades while creating a massive foreign debt. When the US$ will finally collapse then the USA will once again profit by boosting its domestic manufacturing capacity and employment, and securing its economic independence. To be honest, it feels more like a long-term strategy rather than a coincidence. Smart guys.