Is the worst of the global financial crisis behind us? Some currency investors think so.
The dollar hit its lowest mark in May of the past four months, continuing a decrease caused by a view that the worst of the global financial crisis has passed. If the worldwide economy improves, "the spectre of the dollar losing its primary reserve currency status could come into play" as it will no longer be seen as a safe haven by investors, according to a report by Deutsche Bank. Over the long term, a weak dollar makes U.S. exporters more competitive, but takes investment money out of the U.S. and hurts American consumers and travelers. The slide of the dollar creates a big boost in currencies tied to oil and metals, such as the Canadian dollar.
However, not all analysts are convinced the global economy is ready to start climbing.
Adam Boyton, a leading foreign exchange strategist in Deutsche Bank's New York office, says he "has a medium to bearish view" of the currency market stretching to the end of this year. Deutsche Bank holds the largest market share in currency investments at nearly 21% of the market, five points ahead of the second largest trader, UBS.
In general, currencies, as opposed to bonds and equities, should do well with "the prospect for solid returns for the balance of the year [appearing] to be strong," Deutsche Bank says.
In particular, the currencies that may do well in the near term if an economic recovery seems to be starting, are from the emerging market countries, as investors begin to accept more risk. The Australian dollar and New Zealand dollar also are among the currencies that could do well. China's monetary investment possibilities depend on whether the current up tick in the Chinese manufacturing base is merely a restocking of inventory or is an actual increase in demand for products.
Most investors are avoiding the yen because of Japan's weak economic fundamentals, say the analysts. Two currencies that are inaccurately valued at present and could change, according to Deutsche Bank, are South Africa, which is overvalued, and Poland, which is undervalued.
Other analysts feel investors are in a holding pattern, awaiting more hard data to try to determine whether the economy will actually improve, which would be a boost to riskier currencies as investors become willing to accept more risk.
But Boyton is cautious and says, "We remain unconvinced that a dramatic turn in the global economy is underway. The currency market is overpricing a global economic rebound, and a genuine recovery remains a long way off."
The second half of 2010 will be telling for the U.S. dollar. There will be no recovery until U.S. consumers begin to buy again, which will increase the U.S. trade deficit, Boyton says. An increase in the U.S. trade deficit will further weaken the US dollar for investors and push the Euro exchange rate higher.