Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The dollar's drop cometh

Every day we move a step closer to a dramatic fall in the value of the U.S. dollar.

The pull of gravity is getting stronger by the day.

Until now this pull has been mitigated by a number of forces working in the opposite direction. Unfortunately they cannot hold out for much longer.

There are three major forces waiting to take hold (in increasing order of likelihood):

1. The effects of U.S. statements in favor of a weaker dollar.
2. Reduced dollar holdings by U.S. and international investors.
3. A continually growing U.S. trade deficit.


A record trade deficit is a symptom of a problem that has no solution.

You won't hear the U.S. government say:

"To cut the trade deficit, we are going to..."

A weaker dollar is supposed to help reduce the U.S. trade deficit by making exports cheaper.

Unfortunately, this doesn't get to the cause of the problem: the U.S. imports more than it exports.

It's understandable why the U.S. imports so much.

I often think to myself, as I wonder through a one-dollar-shop, how this is what it felt like 50 years ago. I can buy clothes and groceries using dollar bills and still have change left for the bus ride home (which now costs 3 dollars...).

Of course every country in the world is under the spell of cheap Chinese imports.

However, only the U.S. represents 250 million consumers that use greenbacks to purchase all these goodies.


One thing you do hear the U.S. government say is:

"China needs to revalue it's currency."

A stronger Chinese currency would of course make Chinese imports more expensive. However, the U.S won't say that this will help reduce the trade deficit.

A deficit is not caused or solved by the value of a currency.

If anything it's the other way around: a weaker currency is the result of a weaker economy that imports less.


So, what can you do?

Well, the first thing is insure against a further (and no doubt faster) drop in the dollar.

If you hold dollars, move into something else. You have two realistic options: the Swiss Franc (commonly considered a safe haven) or the British Pound.

Of course, if you live in the U.S., you could stop buying Chinese imports or imports in general. If this doesn't appeal or seems downright impossible then you will understand why the dollar can only go in one direction and you should act accordingly.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Behind the Times

People who sit behind a Times on their way to work are stuck in the past and stuck in their ways.

This is not good for them. But they do it anyway. Why?

Human nature is consistent with people choosing not just an inferior product but one that also costs more than the better alternative.

Perhaps people are paying for the convenience. After all, time is more precious than money. This would explain why fast food has always remained popular despite being so unhealthy. (No coinicidence then that in England, fish and chips are traditionally wrapped in a newspaper, since both are bad for you in different ways!)

So consumers, while driven by their own self interest, do not always act in their best interest.


Newspapers are moving to publish in electronic form only. Once that process is complete, it will be tomorrow's news, not yesterday's, that we are going to have to pay for, whether we want to or not.

Once people become more informed about the world around them the better that world will be.

I guess this was one cheer for the free market...!