Thursday, 7 August 2008

Foreign exchange risks

The roles of the central bankers and the governments are to ensure reasonable GDP growth, to manage inflation and to keep unemployment at a low rate. At anytime, their policies will be driven by the targets they choose to focus on. These can be done through fiscal and monetary policy.

The NZ and Australia government have both chosen to stimulate the growth in their economies by reducing interest rates. Their action will translate into weaker NZ and Australian dollars. Similarly, the interest rate in UK has been reduced to stimulate its weakening economy. The property prices in UK has also fallen by 10% to 20%. Japan has grown its GDP the last 5 years, but this year is likewise facing headwind given the downturn in the world economy. The yen is expected to weaken this year.

The Euro is expected to gain in strength since the ECB has chosen to control inflation by increasing its interest rate. China yuan is expected to continue to strengthen this year. The US dollar decline is not expected to continue and probably has bottomed recently. It may even strengthen slightly going forward.

What of the Malaysian ringgit? Due to the recent large hikes in oil price and electricity tariffs, the Malaysian inflation is at a high at present. This is expected to attenuate going forward. GDP is expected to slow down from 5% - 6% to 4.5% - 5.5% for this year. At present, the central bank has not felt the need to temper with the interest rate given the inflation expectation is not a problem presently. Nevertheless, the cost for borrowing for the public has increased.

My guesses are the UK pound, Australian and NZ dollar and Japanese yen are expected to weaken. The Euro, Chinese yuan and probably the US dollar, are expected to strengthen.

How will these various currency movements affect the KLSE counters that have significant business overseas? How will these movements affect capital flows seeking higher investment returns in the world?

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