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The Currency Wars Are Back (Actually, They Never Went Away)

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The new global currency war began in 2010 in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 and a recession that lasted until 2009. The currency war was an attempt by the U.S. to steal growth from its trading partners by using a cheap dollar.

The idea was that the U.S. economy was the largest in the world and if the U.S. could not generate growth, the entire world economy would remain in the doldrums. Therefore, the U.S. was justified in running a cheap-dollar policy backed up with zero interest rates that force investors into other currencies and asset classes.

The dollar hit an all-time low in August 2011. All of this was described in my 2011 best-selling book Currency Wars. After 2011, the dollar regained strength even as the euro sank from $1.60 to $1.04 during the European sovereign debt crisis of 2010–-2015. The euro crash was an effort to give the European economy a boost.

That’s the problem with currency wars — every currency cannot depreciate against every other currency at the same time. The big economies have to take turns depending on which economy needs the most help at a point in time.

Right now, the European economy is doing better so it’s the U.S.’ turn to cheapen the dollar again. Analysts are calling this a “new currency war” but it’s the same currency war that’s been going on since 2010. That’s because currency wars have no logical conclusion. They just go back and forth and back and forth with competitive devaluations until the system either collapses or is reformed with a new international agreement such as Bretton Woods (1944) or the Plaza Accord (1985).

This article describes the latest action in the currency war as the U.S. once again relies on a weak dollar to generate inflation and nominal growth in the face of disinflation. This new bout of dollar weakness is also being blamed for higher volatility in the stock market.

One thing is for sure. Unless the system collapses, which is entirely possible, we’ll still be writing about the currency wars five years from now. Click here to see why, in a currency war, every currency loses in the end — except gold.

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