October 12, 2009

The US suffers from the safe-haven curse

Though both Roger Altman “How to avoid greenback grief”, and Wolfgang Münchau “The case for a weaker dollar” October 12, are very right in their comments they are, for the time being, sorry to say, somewhat irrelevant.

The US is currently suffering from a safe-haven curse, which has the world buying dollars not really because of monetary parameters but more as parking permits to what they perceive is one of the few safe havens to whether out the storm. All of us who come from resource cursed nations, in my case Venezuela, know how difficult it is living with a curse, not least the fact that even though we know those resources are finite, and investors will wake up one morning suddenly thinking the dollar safe-haven to be unsafely overcrowded, there is little to be done until that happens. Just like no one stopped until they had chopped down the last tree on Easter Island.

But, having said that, let us not forget that, on the positive side, once the curse is lifted, a lot of new opportunities arise and so we do not necessarily have to be so pessimistic about the future of the US.

On a separate issue I would also recommend Mr. Altman that he performs a stress test on the willingness of the US tax payer to pay for the current public debt being contracted; he might find it even weaker than the current outlook for US consumer spending.