Time for investors to look at the bigger economic picture

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

With everyone looking at the micro moves of foreign currency exchange, it’s time to zoom out and shift the focus to a bigger picture.

The markets are so twitchy that every minor cough and spit in the eurozone reverberates round the world like a massive wave rippling out after a tsunami.

Foreign exchange traders are seeing a different picture – one that is rolling out as expected over the weeks.

The pattern is for countries and banks on the rim of the crisis are gradually picked off one by one and locked out of the money markets.

The first casualties were US subprime banks back in the downturn.

Since then, governments have scurried around to shore up their banking systems by reflating the markets with billions of dollars or pounds or pretty much the currency of wherever you are in quantitative easing.

The waves have already taken out the doggie-paddling banks leaving the stragglers and stronger swimmers.

Now they are lapping around the banks struggling to stay afloat and pulling down the countries with weaker economies.

The big players are the US Federal Reserve and China.

The Fed can do whatever it wants and doesn’t have to worry over much about how the rest of the world copes.

Emerging economies like China are pegged in to the dollar standard and have to handle the havoc wreaked on their economies by decisions made in Washington.

Under the surface, the real economic battle is between these big two and the prize is the world’s dominant currency.

Game theorists suggest that whatever decisions are made in London, Brussels or Beijing effectively weaken their financial positions – although Beijing could make a brave move to decouple from the dollar standard and go it alone or with the other BRICS economies.

The eurozone is under siege and possibly views doing nothing as a move that results in the same weakening of position as doing something.

The big prize will go to forex investors backing the winner of this game of economic dodgeball.

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