Posted by Allison on 24 March 2009, 09:36
The US FED's rate cutting reaction to the Sub-Prime problem continued in December, and the UK's Bank of England decided to follow suit and cut their rates too in an attempt to get the LIBOR inter-bank lending rates to correlate more closely to the base rate.
This of course had an immediate impact on the USD/ GBP exchange rate. For months the dollar has been falling against the pound, but in December, the rates stabilised and the USD even regained some ground to consolidate it's position back down below $2 to the pound.
But despite the stabilisation between USD and GBP exchange the persistent cuts in US interest rates (with the majority of analysts predicting more US and UK cuts to come in 2008) means that world commodity prices have been able to cement their lofty positions, particularly gold. 2007 Was another bumper year for gold and December continued the trend. XAU was holding well above 800 USD at the end of the month (holidays excepted) – the prices of most other commodities and raw materials was also affected by the USD's continued decent and this has in turn put pressure on countries to use the blunt tool that is interest rates to try and change the value of their currency in line with their individual needs.
Interestingly, XAU seems to be benefiting from the fall of the value of the dollar as a safe haven and unlike, for example oil, the physical-demand for gold is not as robust. This is something forex traders should probably keep an eye on during 2008 as high prices without high demand are unsustainable.
The Japanese yen returned to its comfort zone of approx 110 vs the USD during December. There was some mild volatility during the month, but taken in the context of 2007 as a whole, nothing remarkable. The JPY remaining broadly in this 110 range is good news for the world economy, as carry traders would like the yen to remain at about this level so that they are able to open new carry positions with some degree of confidence. However as mentioned the US FED is expected to continue its policy of cutting interest rates which should see the JPY gain against the USD in early 2008.
The world's money markets had some manners put on them in December by the European Central Bank (ECB) lending out half a billion USD worth of Euro to banks in short term loans to make sure there was enough liquidity over the 2007 holiday/ year-end period. Comments from the ECB chairman, however, have helped convince currency traders that the ECB stands poised to raise interest rates if inflation rears it's ugly head and as such the Euro was stable against the USD and had actually gained ground against the GBP during December.
2008 looks like it will continue in the same vein as 2007 with Forex moves being large and swift by historical standards.