Best Forecasters See Asia Rebounding to Lead Gains: Currencies
Comment of the Day

January 15 2013

Commentary by David Fuller

Best Forecasters See Asia Rebounding to Lead Gains: Currencies

This is a realistic assessment, in my opinion, reported by Bloomberg and broadly in line with the Fullermoney view. Here is the opening
For the first time in three years, Asia will lead a rally in emerging-market currencies as rising global trade lifts the region's exports, according to the most- accurate foreign-exchange forecasters.

India's rupee will climb 4.8 percent in 2013 after losing 17 percent over the past two years, according to Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd., the best forecaster based on data compiled by Bloomberg. The Philippine peso will gain 4 percent to its highest since 1999, said Standard Chartered Plc and Wells Fargo & Co., which tied for second. That would put them among the top- five developing-nation currencies, Bloomberg data show.

Asia is poised to benefit as the International Monetary Fund estimates global trade will accelerate from the smallest increase in three years. Asia, which contributed to 44 percent of the world's economic growth last year, accounted for half of the top 10 currencies in 2010 as the world emerged from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"The global economy is a bit brighter compared to six months ago, so that bodes well for the export cycle in Asia,"

Emmanuel Ng, a strategist in Singapore at OCBC, Southeast Asia's second-largest lender, said in a Jan. 7 interview. "We are getting signs of life out of China. It will continue to exert influence on Asian currencies."

David Fuller's view A few months ago, a consensus among somewhat cautious investors favoured Wall Street among stock markets. The USA has some advantages, in addition to liquidity and transparency, not least being its competitive energy costs thanks to the fracking technology which it pioneered to develop its vast reserves of shale oil and gas.

This is an enormous advantage for a large industrialised economy, not least due to the intense competition resulting from globalisation. Fracking technology was a private development, as I have mentioned before, in which the Obama administration had little interest. Now the White House is engaged in a tedious and acrimonious struggle with the Republican controlled Senate over the additional tax increases and higher debt ceiling that the President wants. The global financial world is unimpressed.

Meanwhile, Asia's two largest economies have morphed from serial underperformers to outperformers. The new governments in Japan and China, led by Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping, are off to a flying start judging from their stock market performances since mid-November and early December, which coincided with the political changes. Additionally, Asia's third largest economy, India, has seen its best rally since 2010 since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh abandoned his Socialist coalition partners.

Given the additional and generally stellar performance of ASEAN Indices, many more internationally-oriented investors are showing a renewed interest in Asia. This should continue to ensure a competitive performance for the region, not least as it will not have the overhanging risk of an inevitable end to QE, Japan excepted. However, in a global economy Asia would be affected by a significant downturn in the USA, should that occur.

US QE aside, of currently known factors, the biggest risk for Asia is likely to be either food price inflation or eventual economic overheating. The former would depend on the vagaries of weather and economic overheating is unlikely to be a problem before yearend 2013, at the earliest. There is also a small, outside risk that political tension between China and Japan flairs up. However, this is unlikely to be in either of their interests, so hopefully it does not happen.

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