Is the US dollar really strong now? We explain why your measuring stick can massively distort your perception away from the reality of facts and truth.
Forget the noise... it's time to back up the truck.
The current environment is distinct from the period of 2009-2013 when governments and central banks were quasi-coordinated in providing gargantuan amounts of stimulus, and when the geo-tensions were only chirping modestly. This year, governments and central banks have focused more generally on domestic issues. This is good in theory, but it has splintered coordination into a quasi-fracturing of the global monetary system. Diverging policies serve as a trigger for capital flow movements. They are shaking the foundation of capital markets, which in turn is causing second order effects like a mini-contagion. Amplified volatility in FX and commodity markets are warning signs. They appear on the cusp of spilling more broadly into other markets, exposing the full size of the iceberg.
We warned here that the "Yes" vote for Scottish Independence was a "high risk" event, and as we noted earlier, with polls indicating its a high probability and 'English' leadership in full panic mode, it is perhaps not surprising that the British Pound opened down 160pips at 10-month lows... (a 500 pip drop in 3 days)... But, didn't the clever people on TV tell us 'it was priced in'?
Sterling fell sharply yesterday as traders became nervous of a possible vote for Scottish independence. The referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom takes place on Thursday 18th September.
While the referendum and the potential impact of an independent Scotland have been on the horizon for some time, the approaching vote in two weeks is causing upheaval for the British pound in currency markets, and also more general macro uncertainty in the regional economic and monetary system.
If the market signs are blurry, your best option is to look at what the top investors are doing.
As we explained previously, the market appeared woefully under-priced for the potential risk of a Scottish "yes" vote. However, this weekend saw the margin between 'yes' and 'no' voters narrowed dramatically (53% "No" vs 47% "Yes" - a 6-point spread now versus a 14 point spread just 2 weeks ago). UK Gilt yields are higher, GBP is falling (its lowest since March) and implied volatility has spiked by the most since 2008 as hedgers pile in, now suddenly fearful.
"We find ourselves with the same anti-free market interventionist types who set up the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury and the US government running foreign policy in America and then go and intervene in the affairs of Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Afghanistan. And as can be expected, they mess up just about everything. I think the whole region will blow up and financial markets are not paying sufficient attention to this."
- Islamic State executes soldiers, takes hostages at Syria base (Reuters)
- Buffett Burger King Funds Flip Obama’s Inversion Calculus (BBG)
- Equities Reach Record $66 Trillion as S&P 500 Hits 2,000 (BBG)
- Central Banks Playing Own Version of Plaza-opoly With FX (BBG)
- Russia court closes McDonald's branch for 90 days (Reuters)
- Finland Says NATO an Option After Russia ‘Violates’ Border Laws (BBG)
- Netanyahu Hit With Domestic Criticism Over Gaza Truce (BBG)
- Biggest Danish Fund Readies for Rate Shock as Exit Narrows (BBG)
- Nonprofit Hospitals' Profits Fall (WSJ)
In recent weeks France has defied US demands not to build Mistrals for Russia, has questioned dollar imperialism and the Petrodollar, and has blasted the US banking regulator's fines as "accelerating the decline of the dollar." So it is likely not a huge surprise that ahead of the G-20 meeting of world leaders later in the year, The FT reports, France has gathered support to challenge US regulators imposing heavy penalties on foreign banks. Berlin, London and Rome have backed Paris in its push to have its concerns about so-called US extraterritoriality discussed when leaders of the world’s top 20 economies meet hoping to bring "more proportionality" to bank fines. With allies like this...
Yesterday saw something quite unusual in the New York trading session. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority bought $715 million (selling HKD) in the FX markets to manage its currency peg, injecting the money into the banking system (and expanding its balance sheet) to prevent HKD from rising above its permitted range. HKMA projects its balance sheet to grow to the end of July, but as Simon Black (of Sovereign Man blog) notes, this could well be the start of a bigger shift - an end to the US Dollar peg..."The US is no longer the undisputed superpower it once was. The US dollar is dragging them down. Hong Kong is easily strong enough to stand on its own."
Blythe Masters is perhaps the most maligned human being on earth by silver investors due to suspicions of JP Morgan’s manipulation in the silver market (and rightly so). Well she’s back in the news, but it has nothing to do with silver. Rather, the news relates to the fact that her ex-husband and commodities traders, Daniel Masters, has just launched a Bitcoin hedge fund from the island of Jersey, a British Crown dependency.
Overview of the price action in the forward exchange market and a look ahead.
To complete the French triple whammy offensive against the US Dollar this weekend (first, French central banker Noyer suggesting de-dollarisation; second, French oil major Total's CEO "seeing no reason for the Petrodollar"), French finance minister Michel Sapin says "now is the right time to bolster the use of the euro" adding, more ominously for the dollar, "we sell ourselves aircraft in dollars. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so." Careful to avoid upsetting his 'allies' across the pond, Sapin followed up with the slam-dunk diplomacy, "This is not a fight against dollar imperialism," except, of course - that's exactly what it is... just as it was over 40 years ago when the French challenged Nixon.
Not even we anticipated this particular "unintended consequence" as a result of the US multi-billion dollar fine on BNP (which France took very much to heart):
- NOYER: BNP CASE WILL ENCOURAGE ‘DIVERSIFICATION’ FROM DOLLAR
And, the biggest irony of all is that in "punishing" France for dealing with Russia, that core country of the Eurasian alliance of Russia and China, the US just accelerated the graviation of France (and all of Europe) precisely toward Eurasia, and away from the greenback.