President Donald Trump may have to work a lot harder if he wants to talk down the dollar.
The US currency is poised to remain strong this year despite Trump’s complaints about its recent gains as Treasuries remain the best option for yield-hungry investors and growth elsewhere is lacklustre, according to money managers including Grant Samuel Funds Management Pty and QIC Ltd.
“Trump’s not going to succeed in talking down the dollar just like that,” said Stephen Miller, an adviser at Grant Samuel in Sydney and former head of fixed income at BlackRock Investment Management (Australia). “Where are you going to put your money when major economies like Europe are weak? There’s not much else around, and that will keep the dollar bid.”
The greenback has rallied for the past three quarters as the Federal Reserve has steadily raised interest rates due to robust economic growth, with the top end of its policy range now at 2.50 per cent. That compares with European Central Bank’s deposit rate at minus 0.4 per cent, and the Bank of Japan’s benchmark at minus 0.1 per cent.
Trump on Saturday lashed out at the Fed for causing the dollar to appreciate. “I want a strong dollar but I want a dollar that does great for our country, not a dollar that’s so strong that it makes it prohibitive for us to do business with other nations and take their business,” he said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Trump’s comments — along with speculation of an imminent trade deal between the US and China — saw the dollar weaken versus most of its peers at the start of trade Monday. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index has since erased its losses to edge higher during London hours.
Even though the Fed has now paused its rate-hike cycle, US assets remain in demand due to political uncertainties and weak growth in other developed nations, said Stuart Simmons, senior portfolio manager at QIC in Brisbane.
“When US data starts converging with the rest of the world’s, if there’s a recovery in economic data elsewhere, then we’ll likely start to see the dollar weaken,” said Simmons, who helps oversee the equivalent of $60 billion. “For now, Trump’s comments are having less of an influence.”
The ECB is predicted to downgrade its growth outlook when it meets Thursday in Frankfurt, according to Bloomberg Economics.
This is not the first time Trump has sought to talk down the dollar. In January 2018, he said a weaker greenback was “good for us as it relates to trade” while in April, he lambasted Russia and China for playing a “currency devaluation game.”
Not everyone is taking Trump’s latest comments lightly.
“I am not at all certain whether it is so clever to ignore all these dollar risks,” said Ulrich Leuchtmann, the head of currency strategy at Commerzbank AG. “If the Fed, perhaps for very good reason, really does implement expansionary measures Trump will not hesitate to sell this as the result of his pressure on Powell, which would increase the damage inflicted on the dollar.”