Time to Call a Truce in the Currency Wars

Yes, the yen has weakened and the pound has gotten pounded, but worries about an all-out currency war may be overblown.

There’s a perception that some countries’ economies are being harmed by currency movements that have been undertaken to gain an unfair advantage.

That may be a bit misguided.

In the United States, the threat of a fiscal contraction due to sequestration has prompted the Federal Reserve to take actions that could weaken the dollar.

Signals suggest that the new head of the central bank in Japan will pursue a more expansionary policy in an effort to stimulate that country’s long-moribund economy.

These actions are taken for purely domestic reasons, but they could have consequences for currencies.

In anticipation of frictions that could arise, there was an agreement by the G-20 nations at the recent Moscow summit to refrain from so-called competitive devaluations.

But, since then, governments such as South Korea and New Zealand have signaled a desire to pursue explicit policies to weaken currencies, or even to impose capital controls.

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