A Collective Bronx Cheer

Some currencies, so far, this year
Received a collective Bronx cheer
Now in the last week
They saw a small peak
But forecasts continue severe

Recent pressure on the dollar has manifested itself against not only the G10 currencies, but also against some of the hardest hit currencies this year. Argentine pesos, Turkish Lira, Brazilian Real and Indian rupee all had received a modest reprieve during the dollar’s recent weakening spell. But that price action has faded into history as all of those currencies have come under renewed pressure during the past two sessions as the dollar seems to have found its footing. Each one seems to have its own domestic reason for distress, but the overarching theme remains that tighter Fed policy and the ensuing reduction in the available USD liquidity in global markets has undermined domestic conditions in these nations and exacerbated weakness in these currencies.

A quick recap shows that in Turkey, significant concerns remain over the central banks unwillingness to address quickly rising inflation by the ordinary method of raising interest rates. That lack of action has resulted in TRY declining by 7.5% in the past two sessions. In Brazil, the real has fallen 2% in the past two sessions as renewed concerns over the upcoming presidential election have arisen, with traders worried about a sharp turn left and a much less favorable investment environment. In India, we have seen a 1.5% decline in the rupee, which has generally been a much less volatile currency of late, as inflation concerns continue to plague the RBI despite its recent action to raise interest rates by 25bps, its second consecutive move and taking rates back to late 2016 levels. Finally, the Argentine economy continues to slow into recession while inflation remains rampant despite 45% interest rates as confidence in the Macri administration becomes more fragile. So every nation has its own problems, but most of these problems are not that new. They have been laid bare, however, by the change in Fed policy. When the Fed allowed USD liquidity to slosh all around the world, it hid many sins that existed.

As to the G10 space, it seems that my sense of continued dollar weakness was misplaced. Rather, what we have seen is a halt to the dollar’s recent slide and consolidation of those moves. For example, after touching a more than one month high at 1.1733 yesterday, the euro has drifted back to 1.1665 as I type, despite a distinct lack of data. Price action resembles that of positions being unwound ahead of the holiday weekend more than anything else.

Actually, within this space, two currencies stand out for their weakness today, AUD and SEK. The former has reacted to the ongoing dichotomy between the RBA’s cash rate, which remains at historic lows of 1.50%, and news that Westpac, one of the big four Australian banks, raised mortgage rates by 14bps in response to the fact that their funding costs continue to rise due to Federal Reserve policy in the US. Once again, the Fed’s actions are having unexpected ramifications around the world.

Sweden, however, has a different issue, and that is domestic politics. It is the latest nation where the establishment political parties have lost significant support, and in the mold of much of Eastern Europe, Italy, the UK and even the US, Sweden has seen the rise of a nationalist focused group, the Sweden Democrats, that is set to become the largest party in Parliament at next week’s election. This has generated significant concern within the marketplace that Sweden’s recent robust economic performance will be negatively impacted and that the Riksbank will refrain from raising interest rates as previously expected. The upshot is that while today’s decline is just 0.3% vs. the dollar, the big move has been vs. the euro, where the krone has been falling steadily for the past two months, lopping 5% from its value.

This morning’s data showed that Q2 growth in the US was actually revised higher to 4.2% amid improvements in investment by businesses. However, the dollar has shown little reaction to the numbers, maintaining its overnight gains but not extending them. Treasury prices, however, have fallen in the wake of the print and are now showing 10-year yields higher by 3bps. For the rest of the day, there is little in the way of news expected that is likely to move markets, so my best guess is that we will continue to see the dollar consolidate.

Good luck