The U.S. dollar has been the currency haven of choice when the world goes through a convulsion of fear with risk-associated currencies such as GBP taking a hit. But the dynamics of the forex market could be about to shift or at least go through a period of confusion.
Risk-on, risk-off waves of sentiment have become a familiar scene across currency and asset markets. As a crisis threatens to move toward an ugly climax central banks rush for the fire hydrants to quell the flames and trigger a relief rally in risk currencies and assets in the process.
The IMF has documented the process in a working paper called “The Behaviour of Currencies during Risk-off Episodes.” Specifically looking at high yield emerging market currencies it remarked that since the global financial crisis, those currencies have depreciated more sharply during risk-off episodes.
The IMF noted that this is in contrast to the pre-global crisis world of 2007 where they tended to depreciate vs. the USD during risk-off episodes. Post-2007, buying volatile currencies as the market shifts to a risk-off phase has proved to be a profitable trade. But there are a number of factors afoot, which might challenge this now rather familiar dynamic, even if it's only temporary.
USDTRY daily chart
US Fed changing the game
The U.S. Federal Reserve has indicated a shift in its monetary policy putting markets on notice that it is contemplating bringing quantitative easing to an end, maybe even by late this year, as there have been signs of improvements in the U.S. economy. Interest rates in developing countries are so uniformly low that instead patterns of quantitative easing are a major consideration for forex.
Another important change is that the EUR no longer looks like a terminal case. The European Central Bank has committed to step up to the plate to hold the single currency together. Eurozone policy makers are attempting to build the necessary fiscal architecture needed to support the EUR. That's still very much work in progress.
However, it must be noted that the EUR will only ultimately be saved if the Eurozone can rediscover that increasingly illusive condition known as sustainable economic growth. On that front at least the outlook remains grim.