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Surging US Dollar Wreaks Havoc on Global Economy

The U.S. dollar is the strongest it has been in the last 20 years. The rising value of a dollar has worldwide ramifications, with international currencies plummeting in comparative value and foreign central banks hiking up interest rates to protect price stability.

The dollar continues to strengthen as the U.S. Federal Reserve continues its aggressive monetary policy, raising interest rates to bring down inflation in the U.S. economy. The Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. dollar against an average of six major global currencies, including the euro, Swiss franc, Japanese yen, Canadian dollar, British pound and Swedish krona, has risen 15% in 2022.

A stronger dollar can purchase more foreign currency. The British pound plummeted to a record low on Sept. 26, reaching $1.03 against the dollar in a near historic dollar-to-pound parity. Historically, the pound has always been valued higher than a dollar, usually upward of $1.20 against the dollar.

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The effects of a strengthening dollar reverberate throughout the global financial system since the dollar is the currency used in most international transactions. Recent shocks to the global economy, such as the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions and the pandemic, push up the dollar’s value even higher since companies and other countries stow their reserves in dollars during economic volatility.

The dollar is traditionally seen as a symbol of “stability and security” in terms of crisis. Moreover, despite ongoing inflation, the U.S. economy is still more stable than other nations’ economies. Consumer spending is still strong, and unemployment is still low.

George Saravelos, Deutsche Bank’s head of foreign exchange research, noted the building tension in the global economy.

“The dollar is experiencing its largest valuation overshoot since the 1980s. Amid extreme volatility, a global chorus of discomfort is slowly building.”

American tourists and U.S. consumers benefit from a stronger dollar since goods and services produced in other countries and sold in the U.S. become less expensive to purchase. A stronger dollar also helps U.S. companies import goods at lower prices. Tourists traveling abroad can also buy goods at lower prices since the dollar has stronger buying power.

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However, American businesses that export goods struggle under a strengthening dollar since goods made in the U.S. become more costly and less attractive to buyers in other countries. Multinational businesses that operate in other countries also make less profit when they convert revenue in foreign currency to U.S. dollars.

Smaller emerging economies worldwide especially struggle with the rising cost of the dollar since international companies borrow and trade money in dollars. The world’s commodities, like oil, industrial metals, wheat and soybeans, are priced in dollars and increasingly more expensive to import. Petrol now costs more in several countries worldwide. Countries with debt denominated in dollars will also see higher interest payments, no matter the initial exchange rate.

As reported by the NYTimes, Mr.Obstfeld, a U.C. Berkeley economist, spoke on the far-reaching impact of the Fed’s monetary policy.

“Central banks have purely domestic mandates, but financial and trade globalization have made economies more interdependent than they have ever been and so closer cooperation is needed. I don’t think central banks can have the luxury of not thinking about what’s happening abroad.”

At the same time, the consequences may be even worse for the global economy if the Fed does not bring down historical inflation rates in the U.S.

Central banks around the world are trying to raise the value of their currencies by increasing interest rates, similar to what the Fed is doing in the U.S. The U.K. increased its rate by 2%, and analysts predict they may raise it to as high as 6%. The European central bank has increased its interest rate by 1.25 percentage points. These rising rates may push many countries into a recession if raised too high by decreasing borrowing and spending and reducing economic activity.

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