So far this year, the US$ has fallen by about 14% against the €, and around 8% against the ¥ and £.
A substantial portion of this movement is giveback of the sharp dollar appreciation which happened last year after the surprise election of Donald Trump as president. That was sparked by belief that a non-establishment chief executive would be able to get things done in Washington. Reform of the income tax system and repair of aging infrastructure were supposed to be high on the agenda, with the resulting fiscal stimulus allowing the Fed to raise interest rates much more aggressively than the consensus had imagined. Hence, continuing dollar strength on a booming economy and increasing interest rate differentials.
To date, none of that has happened. So it makes sense that currency traders would begin to reverse their bets on. However, last year’s move up in the dollar has been more than completely erased and the clear consensus is now on continuing dollar weakness.
Dollar weakness has caused stock market investors to shift their portfolios away from domestic-oriented firms toward multinationals and exporters. This is the standard tactic. It also makes sense: a firm with costs in dollars and revenues in euros is in an ideal position at present.
It’s interesting to note, though, that over the weekend China lifted some restrictions imposed last year that limited the ability of its citizens to sell renminbi to buy dollars.
To my mind, this is the first sign that dollar weakness may have gone too far.
It’s too soon, in my view, to react to this possibility. In particular, the appointment of a new head of the Federal Reserve could play a key role in the currency’s future path, given persistent Republican calls to curtail its independence. Gary Cohn, the establishment choice, is rumored to have fallen out of favor with Mr. Trump after protesting the latter’s support of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.
Still, it’s not too early to plot out a potential strategy to benefit from a dollar reversal.