By The ETF Professor
The Australian dollar is the second-worst performing developed market currency in the world this year behind the Japanese yen. Of course that has meant bad news for the CurrencyShares Australian Dollar Trust (NYSEARCA:FXA), which has plunged 13 percent year-to-date.
Although Australia is backed by an AAA credit rating and still some of the highest borrowing costs in the developing (2.75 percent benchmark interest rate), the Aussie has drawn plenty of detractors this year.
Financier George Soros shorted the currency. Hedge fund legend Stanley Druckenmiller previously made bearish comments about the Aussie and scores of banks of have pared their forecasts for the AUD/USD currency pair. In late June, National Australia Bank lowered its AUD/USD forecast for year-end 2013 to 88 cents from 93 cents while slashing its 2014 forecast to 83 cents from 87 cents, according to The Australian.
Before that, Westpac and Goldman Sachs, among others, took the knife to their AUD/USD estimates. That is good news of the unheralded ProShares UltraShort Australian Dollar (NYSEARCA:CROC). CROC does not need much more good news as the double-leveraged bearish play is already up 24.3 percent this year, but that is exactly what the fund has gotten thanks to BlackRock (NYSE:BLK).
The world's largest asset manager said the Australian dollar may fall to 80 cents against the greenback in the next nine months. "We prefer to be sellers of the Aussie dollar still," said BlackRock Managing Director Stephen Miller since it was highlighted last month as one inverse ETF investors should get acquainted with.
Not only have traders recently increased their bearish bets on the Aussie, but there are other factors that could spark further downside for the already embattled currency. The Reserve Bank of Australia may eschew another rate cut in August, but if the Chinese and Australian economies continue to slow, RBA may not be able to go the rest of this year without further cutting rates.
Last night's flash reading of China's July PMI shows the world's second-largest economy is slowing. That is not good news for Australia because China is the largest export market for Australian firms. In other words, CROC will not be a crock if current economic conditions in the Asia-Pacific region persist.
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