3 ETFs To Fight Against Global Currency War

The world is heading towards a currency war as a number of countries are choosing loose monetary policies to stimulate the sagging growth and prevent deflationary pressures. This is in stark contrast to the U.S. Fed policy of tightening its stimulus program by wrapping up QE3. The diverging central bank policies have propelled the U.S. dollar to a nine-year high.

While a weak currency might provide short-term economic boost to the countries engaging in currency devaluation, this might take a toll on global trade and capital flow in the long term (read: Global Policy Easing Puts These ETFs in Focus).


A Look to International Easing Action

Several countries in recent months cut their interest rates or took other actions to boost growth in their economy. The first and foremost country is Japan, which unexpectedly expanded its bond buying plan to 80 trillion yen from 60–70 trillion yen per year and tripled the pace of purchasing stocks and property funds (REITs) in October. Further, the government of Japan recently approved a spending package of 3.5 trillion yen ($29.12 billion) to boost consumer spending and regional economic activity.

In November, the People's Bank of China surprised the global market with a cut in interest rate for the first time in more than two years. The central bank slashed the one-year lending rate by 40 bps to 5.6% and the deposit rate by 25 bps to 2.75%. Further, China's central bank lowered the reserve requirement ratio by 50 bps to 19.5%, effective February 5.

Other nations also followed suit this year. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut interest rates by 25 bps to 7.75% first time in almost two years while Swiss Bank scrapped its three-year old currency cap against the euro, which was pegged at 1.20. Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada reduced interest rates by 0.25% to 0.75%, representing the first rate cut since April 2009 (read: India ETFs Surge After Surprise Rate Cut).

The Turkey central bank trimmed one-week repo rate by 50 bps to 7.75% while Peru reduced the benchmark interest rate by 25 bps to 3.25%. Egypt too lowered the deposit rates and lending rates by 50 bps to 8.75% and 9.75%, respectively. The Danish central bank cut its deposit rate thrice in two weeks to a negative 0.35% from a negative 0.20%.

The European Central Bank (ECB) launched a bond-buying program, committing to pump €1.14 trillion ($1.16 trillion) into the sagging Euro zone economy over the next one and half years. It plans to buy €60 billion of government bonds, debt securities issued by European institutions and private sector bonds per month through September 2016 (read: Europe ETFs in Focus after ECB and Swiss Action).

Singapore announced a surprise currency policy easing, wherein the Monetary Authority of Singapore reduced the slope of the appreciation of the Singapore dollar against a basket of currencies by a percentage point. The most recent move came from Reserve Bank of Australia, which lowered interest rates by 25 bps to a record low of 2.25%. This is the first rate cut in 18 months. Further, Russia slashed the one-week repo rate to 15% from 17%.

With that being said, the U.S. dollar is surging and other currencies are slumping. And investors need to be cautious when looking to invest outside the U.S. This is because a strong dollar could wipe out the gains when repatriated in U.S. dollar terms, pushing the international investment into red even if the stocks perform well in the rising-dollar scenario.
 

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