Contrary to the belief that the AUD will weaken because of softer global economic activity, I believe the AUD remain strong against the USD, and to a lesser extent against the JPY. By that I mean I expect the AUD to reach parity with the USD and for the AUD to eventually break Y90. I don’t rate the high personal debt levels in Australia or NZ as a significant obstacle, though they are certain to cause some domestic hardship for some borrowers and lenders.
The high debt level is actually a benefit. The market wants yield, and is not looking for any significant global growth, notwithstanding the opportunities to short term trade . High interest rates in environment of high debt means reduced consumption, particularly of imports. High mineral prices because of capacity constraints mean high export revenues. Paradoxically Aust is benefiting from strong prices because of its 'poor planning'. This is requiring huge capital investment in Australia, so personal consumption is weak, but investment in productive capacity is buoyant and will remain so. We might event expect the government to kick in with some public works (particularly transport infrastructure) once signs of softening emerge. Also expect strong Chinese direct investment in Australian mineral projects funded by China surpluses and motivated by the desire secure mineral supplies. Aust is a net exporter of hydrocarbons (because of LNG), so high oil prices only reduce domestic consumption, which is another plus. The Australian RBA needs to worry about inflation so I don’t see any softness on interest rate policy. Only downside is a few foreclosures but I don’t see a great problem since job losses will be minimal. I cant imagine a better looking economy.
When the food sector recovers from drought after rains last in 2007, we can look forward to stronger export earnings from the farm sector. That will be another strength, destined to drive the AUD to USD parity....but not yet. Consolidation first in the 80-90 range to USD.
Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com