Dollar scarce as top-quality assets fall 42% after stimulus

No ‘Master Plan’

“The number of euro-denominated assets that meet our quality standards has dropped radically,” Magyar Nemzeti Bank President Andras Simor told reporters on May 14 in Budapest. “More and more securities were dropped from our portfolio as the credit grade of more and more countries fell below the single A category and as more and more securities don’t meet our market quality requirements.”

China Investment Corp. President Gao Xiqing said May 10 the nation’s sovereign wealth fund stopped buying government debt in Europe as the region’s turmoil intensifies. With an estimated $440 billion in assets, CIC is the world’s fifth-largest country fund, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

“Ever since the debt crisis broke out, there has never been a master plan for a resolution,” Jin Liqun, chairman of CIC’s supervisory board, said at an event hosted by the Centre for Policy Studies in London on May 22.

Such comments are bolstering the dollar’s status as the world’s primary reserve currency after a decade-long decline.

Official Holdings

The greenback’s share of global foreign-exchange reserves climbed in the last three-months of 2011 to 62.1 percent, the highest since June 2010, while holdings of euros fell to the lowest since September 2006 at 25 percent, according to the latest quarterly data from the International Monetary Fund.

Foreign official holdings of U.S. government debt increased in each of the first three months of 2012, climbing by 3.24 percent to $3.73 trillion in the best start to a year since 2009, according to data from the Treasury Department.

Demand from outside the U.S. helps the administration of President Barack Obama finance a budget deficit forecast to exceed $1 trillion for a fourth year.

A relatively strong dollar may also damp criticism of the Fed if it decides to expand its balance sheet to boost the economy. The Dollar Index tumbled 14 percent during the Fed’s two rounds of asset purchases, known as quantitative easing, or QE, between December 2008 and June 2011.

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