CBS Correspondent Anthony Mason would probably call it the not-so-almighty dollar, and he’d be correct if U.S. economic health was viewed only through the narrow lens of currency exchanges.
“[T]he weak dollar is really wreaking havoc on investor confidence and in many ways, the impact is just beginning to be felt,” Mason said on CBS’s November 12 “The Early Show.” “The dollar, once the gold standard of currencies, is falling hard and fast around the world. At $1.46, the euro is up nearly 12 percent against the greenback. The yen traded at 110.38 per dollar, an 18-month high. And for the first time since 1976, the Canadian dollar has risen over 20 percent in value against the U.S. dollar at $1.06.” (Click here to see video.)
But while the dollar is lagging, some experts think the dollar is undervalued.
“Though the dollar is grossly undervalued and it may not be far from the ultimate trough [versus the British pound], the market is likely to push it lower,'' said Stephen Jen, Morgan Stanley's London-based head of currency research, according to Bloomberg on November 10.
The weakness of the dollar stems from the world view of the U.S. economy. Currency traders are spooked by the American credit and stock markets and the ease with which the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates. But CNBC’s Larry Kudlow said he believes the perception the U.S. economy is in trouble, which is causing the dollar to fall, is more of a creation of some media.
“The dollar’s slump, particularly in the last six to 12 months, is because these currency markets think that the U.S. economy is crumbling,” Kudlow said on the October 12 “Hugh Hewitt Radio Show.” “They actually believe the crap that they read in The Financial Times and The New York Times – and I hate to say, but sometimes on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.”
Mason also partially blamed the decline of the dollar for the rise in oil prices.
“[Y]ou go to a department store in New York right now and you're likely to get elbowed aside by a stampede of Europeans, who are here like on this feeding frenzy, because everything looks so cheap,” Mason said. “But that same thing, as I say, applies to oil. The same people who can buy everything here because it looks cheap, can buy oil because it looks cheap. That's raising your gas prices.”
However, a closer look at oil as it relates to the fall of the dollar suggests there’s more at play than just currency inflation. According to Dr. Mark J. Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, the increase in oil prices versus the fall of the dollar doesn’t add up.
“A weak dollar doesn't justify $100 [a barrel] oil,” Perry wrote on his Carpe Diem blog. “Since Aug. 22, the dollar is down by only 8% against a basket of currencies while the oil price has risen by 40%.”