The beginning of the new year was not distinguished by any surprising moves in the Forex space. The USD remains under heavy pressure, ceding ground to majors, comdollars and EM currencies. It was though unusual to see that the USDJPY and USDCHF (i.e. safe-haven vs. safe-haven pairs) also saw sharp downside moves.
There are two ideas of why the USD can test new lows in the first half of January.
The first idea (the macro one) which drives the USD fall is that no global central bank can beat the Fed in easing monetary policy. Recall that following the Fed meeting in December, all voting members of the Fed, with the exception of one, expect that the first rate hike will take place no earlier than 2023. No other central bank has dared to provide such strong forward guidance about interest rate path. And they won’t dare, because if we assume that the worst is over in the latest economic downturn, then it is reasonable to expect that central banks (except for the Fed) will gradually move towards normalization of interest rates, which will only widen the gap in policy easing between the Fed and other central banks. This is a strong factor of weakening of US currency.
Only a rapid acceleration of inflation in the United States (first of all, its “precursor” - inflationary expectations) can prevent the realization of such a scenario, which will require an urgent increase of the interest rate. However, given the Fed's new inflationary concept, it won’t be easy for inflation to scary the Fed. It would need, for instance, to accelerate to 2.5% -3.0%, and do it in a short time. Over a timespan of next quarter - six months, such an outcome can be safely considered a tail risk.
Technically, the US currency was held in a downward sloping channel despite some attempts to break higher over the Christmas holidays. Earlier, we discussed that short positions should be a priority, and given that upward correction from 89.50 has been completed, the next targets are 89.00 and 88.75 horizontal levels, and then, after a rebound, the lower border of the bearish channel in the range of 88.75-88.50. The big question is about the timing of realization of this scenario.
The second idea for shorting USD, especially over the next week or two, is sharply increased chances that Democrats will be able to strip Republicans of the Senate majority:
Recall that the second round of elections in Georgia will take place in mid-January, where Democrats and Republicans will compete for two seats that will play pivotal role in determining which party will control the Senate.
If Republicans lose their majority, their opponents effectively gain control of the Senate despite the tie in seats distribution. Economic initiatives of Democrats, as we saw from the battle over the fiscal deal in October-December, are often associated with a more aggressive accumulation of national debt (and most likely the money supply, since the Fed will be forced to join), which is likely to result in faster USD devaluation. In my opinion, “sell USD on the rumors” idea will likely grab markets’ attention this week.
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