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A Trump devaluation and global currency war?

 -- Published: Thursday, 2 February 2017 | Print  | Disqus 

What it could mean for gold

By Michael J. Kosares

“But the chaotic start to the administration and what many see as its protectionist agenda have amplified fears of not only currency wars but a fully fledged trade confrontation that could be disastrous for the world economy.” Financial Times 2/2/2016

MK note:  [OPINION] President Trump and National Trade Council head Peter Navarro have launched verbal assaults on the Japanese yen, Chinese yuan and the euro labeling all three undervalued the result of deliberate currency policies in the three countries.  “With his statement [Mr Navarro] has in fact fired the next salvo in the currency war the US administration is currently conducting against the rest of the world,” says Ulrich Leuchtmann of Germany’s Commerzbank.

The fact of the matter is that the United States can no longer devalue the dollar as effortlessly (with the stroke of pen) as if the world were still on a dollar-based gold standard.  In such a system, the United States could, and did, devalue the dollar by simply raising the official benchmark price of gold (1971,1973).

Now to carry out a true devaluation of the dollar against other currencies, it needs co-operation from the issuers of those currencies.  Since that is not about to happen without considerable persuasion, the Trump administration will be left with tariffs and import taxes of one kind or another in order to achieve its goals with respect to U.S. trade imbalances.  The end result will be a de facto devaluation of the dollar within the United States against goods and services, not necessarily against other currencies (as discussed here last week).

Since so many commodities are bought and sold in dollar terms, the price inflation will be exported to nations around the globe and injected into their economies.  As noted in our clipped quote, there is considerable concern about the global trading system, but what that translates to in each of these nation states is a potential economic slowdown coupled with possible inflation.  When you start thinking about the situation along these lines, it is not difficult to understand how Alan Greenspan came to the conclusion that we are headed for another period of stagflation, perhaps even runaway stagflation, reminiscent of the 1970s (when Ronald Reagan made famous the Misery Index, the combination of inflation and unemployment). Needless to say, under such inflation-driven circumstances, both gold demand and gold prices are likely to rise, both here and abroad, as they did in the 1970s.

Markets move on sentiment and expectations. At the moment, the sentiment is confused as most are having a hard time getting a clear read, but those who understand the power of market expectations have begun to load up on gold. You see the evidence in revived ETF demand (up roughly 1.2 million ounces in January) as well as demand from Asia, particularly China.   Much of the market action and movement over the past several days has occurred during Chinese and European market hours, including last night. Today’s London morning benchmark was posted at $1224.05 – up about $12 from the trading level just before the posting.

Previous posts on this subject (for those who would like to delve a little deeper):

Post series: The myth of the strong dollar policy, Part One

Post series: The myth of the strong dollar policy, Part Two

Some initial thoughts on the new ghosts of inflation past

Trump is waving adios to the longstanding ‘strong dollar policy’


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 -- Published: Thursday, 2 February 2017 | E-Mail  | Print  | Source:

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