Currency Outlook

Although FX volatility has eased from a few months ago, the global growth outlook continues to be depressed by fears about capital flight, excessive debt and divergent policy risks. The latter partly reflects populist politics in a less predictable world and fears about policy decisions that store-up potential problems ahead. In particular, a recent report from the Bank of International Settlements put a focus on the largely unregulated credit boom in China, as the surge in corporate debt added to the future risk of default. Official indicators for the country improved in Q3, but the pattern of growth remains uneven, leading to questions about sustainability. Debt is also a prominent topic of discussion for Europe, which has been affected by the migrant crisis, social unrest and lack of fiscal reforms. The health of its financial system has been unsettled by problems in Italy and a recent huge US fine on a major German bank for alleged misconduct. Investors, nervous about these issues, continue to seek reassurances from the European Central Bank regarding its plans for future monetary stimulus which the euro zone has become so reliant upon. In his latest statement, Mario Draghi, its governor, warned that Europe is set for significant shocks as a consequence of the UK vote to leave the European Union, a negotiation process that is set to start in early 2017. Confidence in Europe has certainly waned in recent months, more so on the continent than in the UK, as uncertainty about the future trade relationships forced investors to reassess their short- and long-term positions. A recession in the UK is no longer likely in 2017, but speculation about a ‘hard Brexit’ caused a 6.0% flash crash in the UK pound on October 7. Political and monetary developments in the US will dominate US dollar sentiment in the near future, with December seen as the month in which the US Fed might decide to raise rates. Much is data-dependent and could be complicated by global policy responses to the low inflation and low growth climate.

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