Currency Tensions Intensify Ahead of G7

Portugal, Greece and Spain remain firmly in the spotlight but it may not be long before the light broadens to include UK, US and many other countries facing similar difficulties on the fiscal front. Portuguese, Greek and Spanish equities were smashed in the wake of growing concerns and sentiment looks like it will get worse before it gets any better.

Events in each of these countries are not helping matters. In Portugal, parliament began to vote on a bill on financial transfers to the regions, which could damage the ability of the government to reduce the deficit whilst speculation that the Prime Minister is about to resign has intensified. In Greece tax collectors have started a 48-hour strike as social unrest worsens in the wake of the implementation of deficit cutting measures.

Although European officials pour cold water on the idea that the whole EMU Project could unravel bond markets are not taking any chances whilst the EUR looks destined to languish at ever weaker levels until there is a semblance of calm. Meanwhile. the European Central Bank (ECB) has clearly stated that does not want to get involved.

The G7 meeting in Canada will move rapidly into focus this weekend, with a joint press conference expected on Saturday. Sovereign debt concerns and restrictions and banks will likely be addressed whilst the not insignificant matter of China’s currency will also likely be discussed.

US pressure on China to strengthen the CNY has increased as has tensions between the two countries following US arms sales to Taiwan and a scheduled meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama.

There is growing speculation that the upcoming US Treasury report in April will label China as a currency manipulator which could result in tensions ratcheting up to a higher level. China holds the cards given the US reliance on Chinese money but with mid-term elections looming in the US and Obama’s promise to double US exports within five years, US pressure on China will intensify as will likely resistance from China.

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