Thu, 21 February 2013
In the PowerTalk series, I speak with a number of prominent figures from the CEO of Smith & Wesson (SWHC) to key players at General Motors (GM) and the Consumer Electronics Association and others. The goal is to bring you behind the scenes and in the know when it comes to some of the key issues on investors minds.
I’m at it again this week when I talk about currency and the much discussed currency war that we may or may not be in at the moment. Joining me to talk about this and more is Bernard Lietaer, who was named “the world’s top currency trader” in 1992 by BusinessWeek. Bernard has also been central banker, a fund manager, and a university professor. He has recently added author and has a new book out -- “Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity.”
The interview stems from how over the last few months, finance ministers from Russia, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea and other countries have been pointing their collective fingers at what they call a “currency war.” This time those folks are not pointing at China, but rather at Japan as it has devalued the yen in order to jump start its economy. And how during the 2012 US Presidential Debates, Mitt Romney labeled China a currency manipulator just as some countries like Brazil and others have complained about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s easy money policy saying it will unleash a “monetary tsunami.”
Over the course of my conversation with Bernard Lietaer, we discuss:
From an investor’s perspective, I drew several conclusions from my PowerTalk with Bernard:
The devaluation in the yen bodes well for US imports of Japanese products, such as autos from Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) as well as heavy construction equipment manufacturer Kubota (KUB). That means a tougher environment for US based companies such as Ford (F), General Motors (GM), Caterpillar (CAT) and Deere & Co. (CAT)
A strong US dollar on a relative basis will have a negative impact on US exports or foreign imports of US goods and services. That was one of the factors that curbed growth in the US economy last quarter. The impact of recent currency devaluation combined with higher gas and food prices, the payroll tax holiday expiration and sequestration related cuts will drive continued slow growth in the first half of 2013.
Lastly for world travelers, a relatively stronger US dollar buys more imported goods and services here at home, but also lowers the cost of international travel for Americans. That is likely to be good for companies like Priceline (PCLN) and Starwood Hotels and Resorts (HOT) that has been expanding its footprint in Asia and Latin America. The flip side of that is it makes travel to the U.S. more expensive for foreign visitors and that could be additional pressure on retailers like Coach (COH), Guess? (GES), Aeropostale (ARO) and True Religion (TRLG) among others.
Subscribers are sure to notice how the interview touches on several of the PowerTrends found in my newsletter PowerTrend Profits and how it prepares us all for more successful investing.