From the September 01, 2011 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

How to trade the carry trade

As much as we are trained to think of AUD/JPY and NZD/JPY as the standard carry trades, in reality the U.S. dollar increasingly has matched the yen in qualifying as a funding currency between 2000 and 2008, and again since 2009. "Don't forget the buck" (below) shows the monthly chart of AUD/JPY, NZD/JPY, AUD/USD AND NZD/USD. This long-term chart shows that since early 2009, NZD/USD made the sharpest gains and NZD/JPY the smallest profits.

As "Yen for Aussie" shows, AUD/JPY had a significant uptrend between 2000 and 2007, during which it advanced from 55.50 to as high as 108.00, nearly doubling in value. By early 2007, it was estimated that some $1 trillion may have been staked on the yen carry trade. It then collapsed during the infamous 2008 crash to 55.00 and then posted a sharp new uptrend, which to date has reached the 90.00 area.

The cross currency pair followed fairly accurately the path of the interest rates differential between Australia and Japan. While Japanese borrowing costs remained inert near zero, Australian interest rates peaked at 7.25% in 2008, tumbled to 3% through 2009 and then were hiked back to 4.75% by late 2010.

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