Monday, February 28, 2011

US Dollar: A Safe Haven Reversal

The US Dollar is generally a safe-haven when the global markets are volatile. This was illustrated this past summer, during the EU financial crisis, when the dollar rose nearly 10%. According to the WSJ, the dollar actually rose 24% against major currencies during the financial crisis, which had a global rippling effect. But alas, the Dollar has hit a snag, as political unrest in Africa and the Middle East sends the dollar in the other direction. Investors are likely concerned over regions in turmoil prices overshadow the foreign exchange markets. The key difference is the attention to our heavy reliance on energy, as we watch the oil prices climb. This is what is driving the currency downward against other major currencies.
Even though America’s overall reliance on oil has declined in recent years, oil remains our capital weakness. US Consumption is still much higher than Europe and Japan, whose currencies are not as impacted by the mid-east fallout. There is a saying: “One man’s loss, is another man’s gain”: as the US Dollar suffers declines as a result of anticipated Oil price surge, other currencies, such as the Swiss Franc, the Norwegian Krone, and Canadian Dollar have seen gains. In contrast to the Unites States, the latter two countries are large oil exporters, with lower consumption than the US. France’s consumption is also much less than the US, which perhaps explains the currencies jump to high levels against the dollar last Thursday. As for the US Dollar; Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

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