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CONCLUSION: We continue to view a sustained breakout in the USD as the most asymmetric and contrarian outcome facing global financial markets over the long-term TAIL.


RELATED THEME(S): The Last War: Fed Fighting; Asymmetric Risks

Last AUG, we published a note juxtaposing the ideology of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Glenn Stevens with that of our very own Ben Bernanke titled, “TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT”. The conclusion of that piece read: “Call us dogmatic, but we continue to stand by our belief that currency debasement in the form of deficit spending, debt buildup, and Indefinitely Dovish monetary policy is not supportive of the long-term prosperity of America.” We reiterate that view.

Overnight, we received additional commentary from Governor Stevens that further sheds light upon the asymmetric setup in US monetary policy: 

  • “The intended effect of recent policy actions [-125bps of cuts] is certainly not to pump up speculative demand for assets. Our judgment is that the risk of re-igniting a boom in borrowing and prices is not very high, and this was a key consideration in decisions to lower interest rates over the past eight months.”
  • “One thing we should not do, in my judgment, is to try to engineer a return to the [pre-2008] boom. Many people say that we need more ‘confidence’ in the economy among both households and businesses. We do, but it has to be the right sort of confidence.”
  • The central bank shouldn’t neglect retirees and others who live on income from their savings. Popular discussion of interest rates routinely ignores this element, focusing almost exclusively on the minority of the population -- just over one-third -- who occupy a dwelling they have mortgaged.” 

We continue to believe that policy drives currencies. Moreover, we continue to view a sustained breakout in the USD as the most asymmetric and contrarian outcome facing global financial markets over the long-term TAIL – an event that becomes increasingly probable if the currency market believes that US monetary and fiscal policy will become sustainably more hawkish on the margin.

As Keith penned in his Early Look yesterday, the US Federal Reserve has overseen the buildup and rapid unwind of three massive bubbles over the past ~15yrs (tech, housing, and commodities). What if US monetary and fiscal policy becomes more about avoiding bubbles (for the sake of sustainable growth), rather than trying to engineer a return to their peaks?

In light of that question, here are a few more key questions for you to ponder over the long-term: 

  • Central banks and sovereign wealth funds have been diversifying away from dollars for a reason (namely its value has been forced lower by US policymakers for 10+ years)? What happens when dovish US policy or policymakers is/are replaced?
  • What happens if said actors increasingly believe that the EUR and the JPY are less credible stores of long-term value?
  • In the event of a TAIL-duration Strong Dollar trend, what becomes of the natural resource and CapEx fueled growth booms across the emerging market space from both a economic and capital markets perspective? EM stocks/bonds/FX are all asset classes with heightened risk in this scenario (think: Asian Financial Crisis, Russian and Argentinean sovereign defaults, etc.). 

Net-net-net, we’d be lying if we said we knew exactly how the next 3+ years of investing was going to play out. At a bare minimum, however, investors should be pondering these types of off-the-radar questions and perhaps buying inexpensive L/T insurance when and where they can find it.

Have a great weekend,

Darius Dale

Senior Analyst