Waiting for November? What will happen to the US Dollar after Nov.3?
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
During October, the back and forth of negotiations on the new U.S economic stimulus package took center stage in the daily spotlight of the global markets. Since the end of the aid package in late July, new rounds of talks between the White House, Democrats, and Republican Senators have taken place, however so far, negotiations have failed to reach a common agreement.
As a result of this U.S fiscal deadlock, there was a substantial drop in personal income (Fig 1) and a sharp deceleration in household consumption. However, household consumption continued to expand, justified by increased access to available credit lines, reduced savings, as well as the recurring use of personal savings. This household consumption’s expansion movement may be limited in November or even unlikely to continue in the coming months, with household consumption deteriorating or declining.
Figure 01. Personal Income and Outlays. Source: U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis
Industrially the US economy also exhibited weakness. Industrial production (Fig 2) decreased 0.6% from August to September, the first monthly decline since April. Production fell 7.3% over the previous year, the worst annual performance in three months. Thus, industrial production is stagnant. Furthermore, the second wave of Covid-19 is widely spread mainly in the U.S, the UK, and the European Union, forcing governments to reimpose restrictive measures to contain the virus - although those less severe than in the spring - could again lead to a cooling of industrial activity. The downturn in economic activity in the domestic and international markets is expected to be seen in Q4 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021.
Figure 2. Industrial production. Source: Data from the Fed (https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/current/g17.pdf)
Next Release: November 17, 2020
The average number of new cases of Covid-19 (Fig 3) reported daily last week reached the highest peak of 68,767 on Monday (26), which is a clear indication that the US is experiencing a new outbreak of infections as the weather cools. Johns Hopkins data show that the number of cases increased steadily during October.
Figure 3. US number of cases. Source: Johns Hopkins data
Despite the complex current economic situation and the interesting economic calendar throughout November, which will illustrate the development of the American and global economy, the market's focus will be on the November 3 U.S presidential election. Opinion polls (Fig 4) still show Biden's advantage, but the gap is shrinking as the elections approach.
Figure 4. General Election: Trump vs. Biden. Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_biden-6247.html
The outcome of the US election may have several new implications for US fiscal stimulus, taxation, public investment, and regulation. Therefore, any change in the direction of these policies will affect major pairs, such as GBP, EUR, JPY, and CNY, so investors will seek refuge in stronger currencies or increase their appetite for risky assets.
Given the uncertainty in the new direction of the global economy after elections, we can expect two scenarios as to trade agreements:
1 - A Trump win
The trade wars against China and the EU that Trump is likely to continue, coupled with America’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will likely have strengthening effects on the USD.
2 - A Biden win
Given that under a Democratic administration, the risks of an uncontrolled and damaging trade war that could potentially take place under a second term of the Trump presidency would be greatly reduced (yes, Biden will also be tough on China, but in a different, more multilateral and predictable way). Therefore if Biden wins the election, many are predicting more stable international relations. This in turn could see the US dollar weaken under a Biden presidency as investors sell out of the safe-haven currencies, such as the USD, JPY, and CHF. We will know which scenario is most likely to occur on Nov. 3 (assuming there are no issues with the voting count).
On the other side of the Atlantic, the Brexit saga is likely to come to an end. Less than a week, after Boris's threatening speech about the end of trade negotiations, leading to hard Brexit, negotiations restarted recently. Everything indicates that the goal of finding a deal by mid-November is on track. EU leaders such as Merkel, Macron, Michel, and chief negotiator Barnier have opened the way for a softer stance on fishing rights, state aid, and governance. A “soft” trade deal is a short-term positive for GBP, but the underlying fundamentals are structurally weakened as the UK leaves the EU, leading to poor productivity and inflationary developments, which could negatively impact the GBP.