The G20 followed a similar line over the weekend to the one that was adopted by the G7 earlier last week, as finance ministers of the world’s largest economies commented in a joint statement: “We will refrain from competitive devaluation. We will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes”. The fact that the statement was of a rather generic nature, and importantly didn’t specifically refer to Japan, has effectively given Japan the green light to continue its unofficial policy of Yen depreciation, and has potentially opened the door for other countries to follow suit. This lead to the Yen dropping against the Dollar yet again this morning as USD/JPY hit 94.21, nearing the low it reached on February 11th of 94.46, its lowest level in over two and half years.
Some ministers have begun to comment on the potential for ‘currency wars’ in recent weeks as countries actively pursue a weaker currency. However, Japan has reaffirmed today that its monetary easing policies are specifically targeted at ending deflation rather than purposefully trying to devalue the Yen in order to improve the countries global competitiveness, though currency devaluation coincidentally will be an inevitable side effect of such policies. However leading economist, and Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, notes that the currency war issue is “a misconception and it would be a very bad thing if policy makers take it seriously”, and that “the stuff that’s now being called “currency wars” is almost surely a net plus for the world economy”.
Sterling is not fairing any better this morning following the G20 meeting as GBP/EUR is currently trading at 1.1585, having slightly rebounded from a daily low of 1.1562. Similarly Cable has also rebounded from a seven month low of 1.5437 this morning and is currently trading at 1.5470. Whilst the Pounds decline has made imports more expensive over the last month, BoE Monetary Policy Committee member Martin Weale commented last week that the weakening Pound would help improve Britain’s export prospects.
It is Presidents day in the US today, a Public holiday which means trading volumes will be lower and the economic calendar if rather light. However, this afternoon ECB president Mario Draghi will be making a speech. Market participants will be keen to see whether Mr Draghi will make any reference to a potential future interest rate cut. Such a move, which could well happen within the next few months as looser monetary policies have now seemingly been tacitly warranted by the G20, would help Sterling recover some of its recent losses against the common currency.