Is Obama playing politics with the dollar?

July 24, 2009

A weak dollar is not always a bad thing. Stocks are up 43 percent from their March lows while the greenback is off 11 percent against major currencies. Scott Grannis explains the correlation:

As panic set in late last summer, people all over the world flocked to the dollar as a safe haven. People stopped spending money, stockpiling it in the form of currency and in the form of higher money balances. … It all reached a head in early March of this year, as fear of massive deficits and massive tax increases paralyzed financial markets. Since that time, everything has reversed. The economy avoided the catastrophe many had feared, and Obama’s legislative agenda has stalled and his approval ratings have plunged. People have stopped accumulating dollar currency and money deposits, and so spending is starting to ramp up. The economy is starting to come back to life.

But economist David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff has begun to worry (this is the second time he has written about it this month) that a weaker dollar is starting to reflect a plan by the White House to send it lower to give the economy a short-term boost, as well as the political fortunes the Obamacrats:

[US Dollar Index futures are] starting to break down, and the moving averages are moving down across the board. Meanwhile, the commodity complex and the commodity-based currencies are on fire. The Kiwi is at a nine-month high; the Rand at an 11-month high and the Loonie at a seven-week high. Meanwhile we saw sugar, wheat, corn, cotton and gold all rally significantly yesterday. As we said before, the last policy shoe to drop, which may be dropping already, is the dollar.

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China has over $2000 billion in foreign exchange reserves, guess who’s not going to be amused about this policy.