• 07 Feb 2008 at 10:07 AM
  • Currency

Will The Dollar Be Worthless Or Worth Less?

Beck Buffet .jpgYesterday a Dow Jones newswire story ran a headline claiming that billionaire investor Warren Buffett had said the dollar will be “worthless” if the current account deficit continues. But the story itself said something very different.
“If our current account deficit keeps running at present levels, the dollar I think is almost certain to be worth less five to ten years from now compared to other major currencies,” Buffett was quoted as telling a bunch of Canadians.
So had the Omaha Oracle really gone to a foreign land to declare worthless the currency of the land of the free? We have no idea. But this morning he went all Giselle on us and took it back, calling CNBC’s Becky Quick while he was on the air, to tell her that he was misquoted. The dollar is not going to be “worthless” he explained. It’s going to be “worth less.”
If you don’t pause between the two words, the terrorists win.

  • 13 Nov 2007 at 10:58 AM
  • Currency

The Bernanke Dollar’s Latest Victim: The Kind Northern Bud Trade

We’ve been accused of being obsessed with vice, and, to be honest, we’re not entirely uncomfortable with the charge. Indeed, we often suspect that our mixed-up age has entirely reversed the proper ordering of values, so that virtues are branded vices and vices, virtues. Aristotle would not be happy, and neither would the bartenders at Tom & Jerry’s or Spring Lounge, our local watering holes.
So we found ourselves disturbed this morning to learn that the dissolution of the dollar’s value was destroying one of our Northern neighbors export markets—namely, the market in exporting marijuana to eager tokers the United States. The trade flourished for years as black marketeers pocketed the profit from arbitraging the dollar against loonie. Canadian marijuana production costs were paid in Canadian dollars, while profits were taken in dollars.
As the dollar has deteriorated against the loonie, the trade has dried up. Canadian production costs have held steady, while the buying power of the dollar has declined. And, lest you think we’re talking about a small thing, we remind you that the production and export of marijuana is a major contributor to the economy of British Columbia.
“The upshot is that the Canadian marijuana is now less competitive against marijuana grown elsewhere,” Stephen Easton, professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. has told the grand newspaper of Big Sky territory, the Missoulian. “This is a cost-driven business. With exports no longer viable, the British Columbia marijuana industry has certainly taken a hit, so to speak.”
This comes hot on the heels of news of the death of the Montreal stripper trade. In happier times, Canadian strippers would come to New York to ply their trade for a few months—typically the winter months—before returning home to spend the more valuable US dollars. And their US fans—not a few of whom ply their own trade on Wall Street—could pursue them further in the northern climes, confident their dollars would purchase more attention in Canada then it could at, say, Scores in New York City. That bilateral trade is now done as well.
If Bear Stearns had not decided that DealBreaker is too frightening for the delicate constitutions of its employees—those fragile bond traders—we’d end this item with a missive to Jimmy Cayne, who we have reason to believe might have some sympathy with us on this issue. Maybe one of Cayne’s golf buddies can get him the message.
(And, on a side note, we apologize for our late start this morning. On learning this news we contacted some of our local underworld barons to ask them whether the decline of the dollar was hitting the black market south of the border, as well. But now we’ve totally forgotten what was said during that conversation.)
U.S. dollar deterring Canadian marijuana smugglers [The Missoulian]

  • 04 Oct 2007 at 3:22 PM
  • Currency

Dong Rising On Dollar Surplus

Vietnamese bankers aren’t that much unlike “punch bowl” caucus bankers in the United States. Their dongs began going up when Bernanke unzipped his monetary fly in September.
And, as it turns out, these rising dongs are really upsetting to some Europeans.
Yeah, yeah. We know. We’re ashamed we went there with this headline too. We’re having that kind of day.
Dollar surplus triggers dong rise [Vietnam.Net]
Complaining, Euro-style

  • 26 Jul 2007 at 3:59 PM
  • Currency

The Market Follows the Yen Carry Trade

The Wall Street Journal reports that the yen hit a three-month high against the dollar today. Combined with the yen’s rise against other currencies and volatility in global markets, investors rushed to unwind yen carry trades.
Many market oracles contend that the fine difference between a boom and its busting rests on movements in the yen carry trade. The yen carry trade is borrowing in countries with low short-term rates like Japan and investing in higher yield assets in nations with higher rates, like the US. As long as exchange rates stay constant, you net the difference in interest rates. Compounded by leverage, you net considerably more.
When the yen rises sharply against the dollar (check), and US Treasuries dip (check), huge losses can result from carry trades (in 1998, this was a major reason for the LTCM collapse). Carry trades are major source of cheap funding and global liquidity, and a sudden unwinding in the carry trade creates a feedback loop that augments existing credit concerns and often results in negative movements in equity markets.
Stocks Plummet on Credit Worries [Wall Street Journal]
Yen Gains as Carry Trades Unwind [Wall Street Journal]

  • 02 Oct 2006 at 2:47 PM
  • Currency

The Cost of Borat

borat1.jpgKazakhstan seems determined to help British comic Sacha Baron Cohen promote his latest movie by publicly decrying the character he plays as an insult to the Kazahk nation. The largest movie chain in Kazakhstan has even banned Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation Kazakhstan. These are the kinds of moves which, far from vindicating Kazakhstan, probably only confirms in the minds of many that the country is an obscure, backwards place which doesn’t quite get the joke.
But, maybe they have a point. After the jump check out this chart (courtesy of Bandarlog) of the Kazakh currency, which started losing badly against the U.S. dollar immediately after the trailer for Borat came out this summer. Maybe having your country portrayed as a nation of sex-crazed anti-Semites whose favourite drink is fermented horse urine, isn’t so funny afterall.
Technical Analysis: The Borat Effect [Bandarlog]

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