I've been told not to use a question as a headline for an article – apparently it's just not as effective, say the pros. But I can't help myself; it's not my style. I don't like pretending I know exactly the minute-by-minute reasons behind short-term, macro market movements.
As a colleague recently quipped:
Naturally, in any market, one often doesn't know the true fundamental forces until long after the fact, after the market has already made a large move.
So if my question asking if global economic pressure is sneaking back into the driver's seat didn't spark your interest, perhaps I should have said:
China's Fourth Quarter Growth Gets Body-Slammed;
Fear Sparks Refreshed Dollar Rally!
Perhaps that would have gotten your attention.
Anyway, that's what I am getting at; I'm wondering if the recent China news regarding fourth-quarter GDP (among some other key news items) is sparking a renewed wave of selling on the idea that the global economy still has a good ways to fall.
Of course, this goes to the point we've been hammering away at for several months now, through record-breaking volatility, as it pertains to currencies.
See, just as was the case on the way up, a whole cargo ship full of analysts still looks to China for signals on global economic health. (Note: With global trade on the backburner, analysts are pretty much the only thing filling up cargo ships these days.) The latest numbers from the economic dragon in the east show the fire-breathing is taking a moratorium.
Yeah, there are a lot of other pieces flying around about banks in the US and Europe, stimulus packages and their potential effectiveness, the consequences of rising deficits and increased money printing. While we shouldn't lose sight of these concerns, I'm wondering if the China news is blaring: DING! DING! DING! Things ain't turning around anytime soon!
To pick at another piece of recent economic data, Japan's exports got rocked in the month of December. The number fell by 35% from December 2007. You have to go back to 1980 to find a year-over-year drop in Japanese exports that substantial.
All the countries in the same boat as China and Japan (there are lots) aren't weathering this storm that's a result of diminished consumer and investor confidence.
And if you want my view of where currencies are going, you can probably go back through the last couple weeks of Currency Currents because not much has changed. The US dollar is set to benefit as the current environment persists. It seems now, though, might be the time that a whole bunch of new momentum rebuilds behind this view.
Set to take a real beating from the US dollar are those currencies connected to countries that've become almost fully reliant on the export side of their economy for growth. You know them collectively as emerging market economies.
The particular currencies of Eastern Europe are showing signs that the next leg of deleveraging may be upon us. A handful of others would be expected to follow. The chart below shows the US dollar strengthening at the expense of the rouble, koruna and zloty.