Somewhere, deep down in the canyon between Rock City and the Hard Place Hotel, the good guys agreed to meet the bad guys where both agreed to stump up a dollar to invest in real estate deals turned sour. The bad guys hope that they can turn the dollar into maybe six dollars if they lay low for a year or two, while the good guys realize that there’s no way to get the bandwagons out of the baking canyon without this incentive.
Investors’ line of logic relies on a success for the Geithner plan to spur lending and revitalize the economic lifeblood that only credit and only credit can deliver to the U.S. way of life. While stocks zoomed on yesterday’s news, investors are rethinking the chain reaction of events this morning. What will the aftermath of the banking system look like if the banks agree to sell their soured land deals? The ingenious plan to rid the body of the cancer might leave it badly etched with scar tissue.
The Japanese yen turned out to be the broad loser from the whopping equity market rally spurred on by the Geithner toxic asset plan to rescue banks’ balance sheets. It tumbled against every other major currency unit and this morning the dollar has risen to ¥98.30 from ¥97.13 as of Monday’s close. Meanwhile it’s fallen in value to ¥133 against the euro while the pound rose to its highest since early December to ¥144.10. Stocks rose globally and so hard in the U.S. that technicians must apply the mantle of a new bull market following the rebound by more than 20% from the lows.
European Central Bank Governor, Jean Claude Trichet created some volatility for euro bulls as he appeared to offer the prospect of more interest rate cuts for the Eurozone anytime soon. Speaking in Mexico City overnight his comments that policy rates are not at their lowest level and that they could diminish further are at odds with a weekend WSJ interview in which he scoffed at a further easing of policy. The euro has slipped to a dollar wanting to retake some lost ground at $1.3552.
Perhaps Monsieur Trichet is having a hard time from his Swiss governing counterpart, Jean-Pierre Roth who is having a devil of a time from keeping his economy from falling into a deathly-deflationary spiral. Mr. Roth will address a forum later today to discuss his management of the economy during this crisis and investors fear that he might use the opportunity to launch a second salvo of domestic currency sales to prevent the Swiss franc from strengthening against the euro.
The positive line taken by investors in response to the U.S. plan has created a huge sense of relief that may take longer than optimists hope for. While the Geithner plan may be worth $1 trillion, it will only reach that amount if it’s successful at the outset and if banks can be persuaded to shake off those assets, which are currently marked down in value but are still yielding decent returns. The mire these banks find themselves in some cases might not allow them to see these through to maturity and may be forced to ditch them for a greater cause. In some cases, FDIC head, Sheila Bair says that this will cause banking failures.
Regardless, investors line of logic has them stampeding for joy and looking for excess returns in higher yielding havens. That’s why the Japanese yen took it in the neck and why the Aussie and Canadian dollars fared well earlier. Going forward, one might expect tempers to settle somewhat.
In the United Kingdom the Bank of England once again finds itself having to explain to the government why consumer prices have breached the ceiling again. Today the CPI release showed prices rising at a 3.2% pace and the pound finds itself once again on the rise across the board. The pound buys $1.4690 against the U.S. dollar and has risen sharply against the euro to 92.41. The pound finds itself acting comparably to a tech stock facing outsized movements on good days and bad. When the quantitative easing and weaker economic outlook shrouds the day the pound declines precipitously. When there appears to be a break in the clouds and a glimmer of sunshine sneaks through into the gray day, the pound seems to jump for joy.