The US financial companies are falling like bunch of cards, the economy is in recession, and import bill is rising still Dollar is becoming strong. What’s happening?
“As our U.S. trade problems worsen, the probability that the dollar will weaken over time continues to be high. Running a huge trade deficit is costing us money, sooner or later. Already the prediction I made last year about one fall-out from our spending binge has come true: The ‘investment income’ account of our country - positive in every previous year since 1915 - turned negative in 2006. Foreigners now earn more on their U.S. investments than we do on our investments abroad. In effect, we’ve used up our bank account and turned to our credit card. And, like everyone who gets in hock, the U.S. will now experience ‘reverse compounding’ as we pay ever-increasing amounts of interest on interest.” – Warren Buffett
The USA economic performance and current financial crisis should and will lead to depreciation of dollar. My bet is this crisis would dethrone Dollar from being the “standard currency” of the world and this phase would go down in history as end of dollar era. (Read: End of Dollar Hegomony)*
Against the general logic dollar is appreciating due to fire sale or distress sale by US companies. US companies are selling out their investments (equity investments in developing markets, bonds etc), subsidiaries (Citibank, Lehman Brothers) to strengthen their balance sheets. They are also selling out stakes (Citibank, Merrill Lynch etc) to Temasek and Saudi funds of the world at ‘fire sale’ price in distress attempt to survive. This temporary phase of ‘fire sale’ is leading to fall in buyer country currency and appreciation in Dollar. The temporary upside blip is due to unsustainable capital inflow.
For the time being this may lead to appreciation in Dollar but it is also reducing the future income of USA from abroad. Temasek and Saudi investors of the world will be taking out dollars from USA every year in form of dividends, salaries and expenses.
Apart from future income this fire sale is also reducing the US aura that was derived from these financial institutions. USA is no more ‘the land of endless opportunities’. Soon US B-Schools won’t be as attractive place to study as finance institutions retrench jobs. The fall of these might corporations like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, General Motors, Merrill Lynch, Citi group would end the awe that people have for USA. And with the awe “Made in America” brand would loose its premium.
Biggest Export of USA is neither Intel Chips, nor Boeing Aircrafts, nor McDonald burgers nor Microsoft Windows. The biggest export of USA is Dollar (as investment good). As a result of this financial crisis the world will stop seeing dollar as an attractive investment and that would be the demise of Dollar. And then Dollar depreciation would lead to further depreciation of dollar as US exports & imports are fairly inelastic.