16 September 2009

US Dollar Long Term Chart and a Scenario for Dollar Devaluation

Here is a long term chart of the US Dollar Index.

The recent rally in the US dollar completed at an almost perfect 38.2% fibonacci retracement from the 70.70 bottom. In part this rally was part of the short squeeze in eurodollars created by the collapse of US dollar financial CDO deposits held by customers at European banks.

The Dollar Rally and the Deflationary Imbalances in the US Dollar Holdings of Overseas Banks

The target for the active H&S top from 121 is still 65. The Key Pivot remains 81, the high end of band which had been the support level held by the dollar for almost 20 years. While the dollar is below 81 the H&S top is active and working.

We have been trying to calculate a new lower bound for the dollar decline from the charts. Reason tells us that at some point the dollar decline and economic imbalances may lead to a devaluation of the dollar.

People have asked, "How can the dollar be devalued? After all, there is no fixed standard."

Well, the dollar can decline considerably in purchasing power of real goods, as it has been doing for many years. However, the dollar can be devalued against its only true measure as a fiat currency: itself.

A formal devaluation of the dollar would be the discontinuance and reissue of the US dollar as a 'new dollar' with some preset exchange rate.

A likely figure would be 100:1, that is, 100 old dollars for 1 new dollar, possibly to be called 'the amero' as some have suggested or simply the 'dollar' as the US dollars currently in use will be withdrawn from circulation. If this does not provide sufficient relief it might have to be repeated.

This is what happened to the Russian rouble on January 1, 1998 after a debt default. Since it is unlikely that the US default will be preceded by a hyperinflation and protracted period of instability, we think the 1000:1 ratio of reissuance used by Russia might be too severe for the dollar, most especially because of its position as the reserve currency.

However, if the new dollar is to be at least partially backed by gold at the insistence of its international trading partners, then 1000:1 seems to 'work' more effectively given the US gold reserves and projected new money supply. This might be accomplished in phases, or with a dual currency regime.

It should also be noted that devaluation alone does not fix economic problems. It is a form of debt default, more severe than mere inflation. After its reissuance in 1998, for example, the new Russian rouble quickly lost approximately 70% of its value against the dollar because the devaluation had not been accompanied by significant economic reform. It has since recovered through painful adjustment.

You should not believe that this scenario is possible for the US dollar, yet. After all, if it was generally accepted and believed that it would happen, a severe value decline would already be underway.

Fiat currencies traffic in confidence. This things tend to play out over months and years, not days, unless there is a precipitating event usually caused by exterior events. Even though there had been a Russian debt default in the 1990's, the rouble had been troubled by serious inflation for many years before that.

But the warning signs are here if you have the eyes to see them, as unlikely as it might seem. It will appear to be a 'no-brainer' to a future generation. "What were they thinking? How could they have been so blind? What made them think that it could go on like that forever?"

However, we are approaching levels of economic imbalance and unserviceable debt levels that should bring at least a bit of a chill in the dollar bulls, as a warning that all things of the earth pass away, as they have done, and will always do. Some things, however, endure longer than others because they are universal, and not particular to a time or place.

In an upcoming blog, we will attempt to explain why the debt destruction in the US, with a moderating of the growth of some of the money supply measures, is not and will not result in a strengthening dollar. We do not expect any one who 'believes' in deflation as espoused by some of the dollar bulls to accept this. After all, they ignore the dollar devaluation that occurred in the depths of the Great Depression, when a devaluation really meant something radical as it was done against a gold standard.