Closing In On One Twenty

Three major FX pairs are closing in on rates where the big figures start with 120. The ones that have my interest are:

USDJPY = 119.40

EURCHF  =1.2030

EURUSD = 1.2335

USDJPY looks like it wants to cross 120 in a matter of hours. The question is what happens when it does. My guess is that the folks at the Bank of Japan don’t want the dollar/yen to rise much above the 120 level for the time being. The Abe snap election is just ten trading days away. An element of the election is the central bank’s policy of weakening the currency. Japanese voters understand FX rates; they know they are paying more for imports and paying a ton more when they travel abroad. If the BoJ wants to buy some votes by  micro managing the FX rate with a temporary “lid” on USDJPY it certainly could.  We shall see soon enough.

But assume that Abe gets his vote of confidence on 12/14. What does that mean? Adios 120. Another 20 big figures to 140 is a reasonable estimate. Another big move up in USDJPY will be the fuel for a currency war. Korea and China will not just sit back and let it happen.

EURCHF is a wild card (it might be a Black Swan). The head of the Swiss National Bank, Thomas Jordon, was drinking Kirschwasser after his big win on the gold vote last weekend. The vote was 4-1 in his favor! But where is the EURCHF today? 13 measly ticks above the close before the key vote. This lousy bounce from that vote?And Jordon felt it was necessary to issue an unusual Sunday SNB Press Statement that reaffirmed the SNB’s commitment to “Do what it takes” including negative interests rates and unlimited intervention to support the 1.20 peg

I, for one, believe Mr. Jordon. I think he’s willing to write an enormous check to back up his promise. I think he has enough ammo to hold the Alamo for a while longer. But I never believed that “Unlimited” was a realistic description of the powers of the Swiss Central Bank.

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