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Exotic Currencies

Euro retreats from 2009 Highs

In forex, timing is everything. If I had written this post a couple weeks ago, the headline would read “Euro Touches 2009 High.” Perhaps if I had waited another week, it would have read, “Euro Approaching 2009 High.” But alas, I chose today to write about the Euro, and the headline I chose is probably the most appropriate under the circumstances.

Bank of Israel Steps up Intervention on Shekel

Over the last year, Israel has quietly amassed one of the world’s largest repositories of foreign exchange reserves. On average, the Central Bank of Israel has purchased $100 million worth of Dollars every day since July 2008, bringing its total reserves to $52 Billion. The Bank’s goals are twofold: to sterilize the inflow of speculative money pouring into Israel in order to mitigate inflation, and to stem the appreciation of the Shekel.

Towards this latter, the Bank received a boost by the credit crisis, which caused an outbreak of risk aversion and sent investors rushing to shift funds into so-called safe haven countries/currencies. As a result, the Israeli stock market tanked, and the Shekel plummeted 30% in a matter of months.

Should G20 Crack Down on Forex Speculation?

The last few months have born witness to an unprecedented level of volatility in forex markets, to say nothing of the fluctuations in other areas of securities markets. Emerging markets currencies in particular, as well as a handful of industrialized currencies, have crashed violently, as a process of de-leveraging continues to send capital back to the US and Japan. This instability has led some policy-makers to revive an erstwhile exhortation to limit the role of speculators in forex markets, who collectively may account for as much as 90% of daily forex turnover. Specifically, a 1% tax on all forex trades has been proposed, which would be deducted automatically and used to finance infrastructure projects around the world.

Zimbabwe Revalues Currency

The exchange rate between Zimbabwe's local currency and the US Dollar is currently 110 Billion:1, give or take a few zeroes. This complete collapse in confidence surrounding the currency is redolent of post-war Germany, when a wheelbarrow full of Deutsch Mark was required to buy a loaf of bread. The same hyperinflation, estimated at 100,000,000% on an annualized basis, has gripped Zimbabwe, causing prices to skyrocket and the local currency to plummet. As a result, the Central Bank has announced a plan to redenominate the currency by removing 10 zeroes from notes currently in circulation.

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