Fed's Decision Helps Create Worst Case Scenario for the Dollar

Includes: ERO, EWJ, FXY, GBB, UDN, UUP
by: Ashraf Laidi

The Fed's shift towards a range of 0-0.25% in its fed funds target zero intensifies the yield assault to the dollar, leaving little chance for traders but to extend speculative and directional offers in the currency. The decision prompts the biggest 2-day rally in EUR/USD (4.8%) following last week's 5.1% jump. The dollar is unlikely to immediately descend into an uncontrollable decline as the easing campaigns of overseas central bankers and secular market volatility has yet to recapture its peak. But the longer term prospects ahead appear particularly ominous for the world's reserve currency once global economic stability starts to buildup and the demand/supply schedule of commodities further moves towards the price.

Why the Dollar Does not Follow its Low-Yielding Counterpart -- the Yen

1. The structural imbalance situation continues to favor Japan over the US, with Japan's current account surplus at 3.8% of GDP versus a deficit of 4.6% of GDP in the US. Both countries have a budget deficit, but Japan's 4% of GDP is less than the US' 5.5%. Japan's superior current account balance means the nation's position as a major provider of global capital allows a natural return of capital back to Japan during rising economic and market uncertainty. (The same rational helps explain the pound's damage as UK's fiscal deficit breaks above 4.0% of GDP in 2009 after jumping to 3.5% in 2008 from 2.7% in 2007).

In contrast, the US' position as a major borrower of capital increases the riskiness of keeping money in the US, despite dollar's low yielding status, which served as a positive during risk aversion. In other words, the combination of ultra low interest rates and structural imbalances offers a worst case scenario for the US currency.

2. Elevated concerns about inflationary implications of the Treasury's swelling balance sheet to $2.25 trln increases the quantity of money, prompting a secular decline against commodities, hence, gold's rebound to 2-month highs.

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3. Lurking threat of Big 3's bankruptcy and its impact on overall US economy. The auto industry's overall contribution to GDP is about 4%, with 12 billion annual spent on research and development. It also employs over 240K direct workers and 5 million indirect workers, as well as provides healthcare for 2 million employees.

4. OPEC's insistence to protect oil prices along with 1.9-2.1 million barrels per day rather than the expected 1.5 mln bpd. Russia's participation to cut output is expected as the need to stem the rubles sell-off will be helped by supporting oil prices. The oil-dollar impact will favor the fuel over the currency. I warned clients on Monday that part of OPEC's decision will be impacted by the Fed's decision. Tuesday's zero % announcement may not prevent OPEC from cutting more than 2 million bpd.

With USD/JPY breaching below 90 yen, 2 yen above last week's 13-year lows and the rest of the yen crosses (EUR/JPY and GBP/JPY) rising, the dollar impact shows emerges despite improved risk aversion. EUR/USD breaches our year-end target of $1.37 and testing above a major resistance of $1.3750 -- the 38% retracement of the decline from the $1.6038 record high to the $1.2328 low. $1.3880 acts as the next obstacle. GBP/USD faces interim resistance at $1.55, a breach of which is seen extending to as high $1.57.

AUD/JPY daily chart may seen regaining the trend line resistance at 62.25 extending from Nov 25 and the bigger trend line resistance of near 62.50 extending from Oct 2007. With AUD/JPY currently standing at 60.40, there is ample room for a 2 yen rebound. A 75-bp Fed cut comprises a major catalyst to empowering JPY crosses such as AUD/JPY, while a 50-bp cut may also help risk appetite in the event of explicit FOMC statement asserting willingness to extend persistent liquidity to credit markets. Similar argument seen boosting AUD/USD (69.65), NZD/USD (58.30) and bearish for USD/CAD (1.2010).