Sunday, July 22, 2007

Avian FX

It occured to me while racing madly west upon the M4 that virtually all currencies profoundly resemble birds. I have no idea why this should be so but nonetheless, skeptical as one might be, it is.

Starting with that most earnest of peoples (and currencies), the CANADIAN DOLLAR (left) is known to all affectionately as the Loonie, being tatooed directly upon its money. To be fair, while Canadians are known for both their literal natures (and spendthriftiness - no offense CB!), rather strangely, the most sarcastic and satirical wits in North America are all in fact Canadian. Go figure. The unit is exemplified by the Loonie since it flew south for a long extended winter during the great commodity trough, and following successive Labour governments with attendant Provincial profligacy, but it has now returned to the north where roaring commodity prices and abundant investment in the northern tar-pits has meant "I'm a geologist, really...!" elicits laughs no longer.

The Dollar The US DOLLAR has many potential feathered metaphors, but I reckon "Daffy Duck", (pictured right) exemplifies it best. Loud, obnoxious, greedy, opinionated and so-often wrong, resulting in innumerable egg-on-his-face moments. Daffy rarely if ever wins, and one almost feels sorry for his vulgar self-interest that all-too-often ends in that tragic-comic moment we've come to both love and despise.

The EURO is perhaps best represented by "Rocky" the reluctant poultrous hero (from Chicken Run fame). First I must dispel any illusions that this is a vote of favor for Mel Gibson, perhaps best cariacatured by South Park in their "Passion of the Last Jew" episode. The Euro, too, like Rocky, is the reluctant currency superhero. They don't want to be strong, and do not have strength as an objective.They are not going out of their way to stimulate domestic demand (loose fiscal policies, high VAT, highish taxes, generous health & social safety nets!!) that are not normally assoociated with a strong currency. But with everyone else in the OECD pathetically worse by comparison, the Europeans have shouldered their reluctant burden with grace (like our friend Rocky).

On to Casssandra's pet peeve, The YEN which IMHO is best exemplified by "Tweety Bird" ("I tought I taw a puddy tat..."). This innocent yellow canary, innocent as it appears, has a streak of mischieviousness and good fortune that forever thwarts his nefarious suitors, much like the YEN has (with the exception of
the Mid-90s Rubin Dance of Their Heads) seemingly forever escaped what should be its deterministic fate. In the case of Tweety Bird, this fate is a fortified snack for Sylvester The Cat, though for the YEN it should be (under a normal interest rate regime) 90 to the dollar and 125 or so to the Euro, with all the attendant "winner's curse" of deflationary hollowing that success in the BW & BW II system entails.

Cable is undoubtedly the Big Bird of the FX world. For Big Bird is a immature and most child-like mind inside the body of a huge and gawky... errrrr.... feathered... ummm .... something. Like Big Bird, Sterling, is a unit of exchange that has perennially depreciated (for reasons of political weakness leading to explicit debasement) for the better part of a couple of hundred years. Occassionally it grows too big tolo fast for its fundamental britches and global ambitions, after which it is periodically receives its ritual anglo-saxon bitch-slapping.

But as some like Anglo-Saxon units of Sterling and the USD are long-term being debased punctuated by [temporary] exclamation marks of strength, others, particularly some of the smaller but ferocious global competitors are ascendant, such as the Korean Won. In this regard, KRW resembles the stoic Looney Toon Chicken-Hawk (depicted left) known as Henery Hawk, who despite the advisement of Foghorn Leghorn, is intent upon bagging himself a chicken for dinner. Indeed, Koreans get tough, when things around them get difficult. Rather than get intimidated by gangstas and thugs in the hood, Korean shopkeepers arm themselves with all manner of automatic weapons or various calibre. Or as in 1998, make a patriotic contribution to the national treasury - in kind - by way of an heirloom candleabra, or sterling-silver pictureframe - a far cry from the cynical and derisory fiscal policy pandering for votes in their constituencies or campaign finance on K-Street.

The RMB is (at present) seemingly cut in the mould of the endearing Foghorn Leghorn. As most readers might recall from mis-spent youth in front of the television, this Rooster is fond of practical jokes, and taking the so-called mickey out of adversaries. China and the RMB also apparently like practical jokes and taking the piss out of the US, EU and World Trading System, in their rapid and admittedly reasonably-inspired sprint for development. Nonetheless, there is such a thing a "cynical overkill", and PBoCs unrelenting accumulation of USD reserves is bordering on such a turn of the phrase (surely this is understatement? - ed.). Moreover, Mr Leghorn's antics, while frequently comically successful, do occasionally end with an embarassing, self-inflicted "BANG!", followed by that well-known retort in a mos southernly drawl.... "Ahhh keep my feathers numbered for just such ocassions...."

The Road Runner perfectly epitomizes the AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR. Indeed, it is outpacing virtually all developed units, thanks to roaring commodity prices and lucious nominal rates, and even gives the highest yielding emerging currencies a run for their money. Even the barren picturesque backdrop of Australia's GAFA (Great Australian Fuck-All) high-lighted in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert resembles the arid homeland of this turbocharged avian.

The SWISS FRANC is undoubtedly PINGU, the Helvetically-created animated Penguin. Pingu, like the SNB, is wholly benign and rather ineffectual, even mischievious and (like the SNB) saying one thing, while doing something else altogether.. In fact Pingu speaks its own language Pingish which eerily resembles the SNBs own dialect whereby it moans and complains voiciferously about something like the CHFs use as a carry-funding currency, only to do sweet F.A. when the time come 'round to normalise rates. In the meantime, pathetically low rates will continue to inspire a speculative construction boom in the land of Lindt, encouraging normally sober-minded farmers to carve any and all parcels for yet another room with a pasture view, and the smell of cow poo in the morning.

The RUBLE, BRAZILIAN REAL and TURKISH LIRA are all splitting images of Albus Dumbledore's most magical of Phoenix's, "Fawkes". Indeed these currencies have, by now, risen from the ashes of the past so many times, the only explanation can be magical reconstitution sprinkled with some other-worldly (commodity price) trans-substantiation. Turkey was only just a pariah, in a unit of time that is less than what it takes to wear through a pair of tires! And doesn't anyone recall the derision and contempt that Russis's xternal financiers of GKOs were treated with in 1998? And Brazil! Does annyone really believe that a BRL is the same thing as ownership of the farmland and forests of Brazil? Of course the future may be different than the past. The USD may be the Cruzeiro of 2010, and the Ruble the Swissie of Eastern Europe, friendly as they are to capital flight, villains and nefariously accumulated fortunes.

Finally, we come to the NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR , which is known universally as the "The Kiwi" It has scarcity value, is inconoclastic, always marching to it own ummm errr tune. But feathered it is. 'Nuff said.

What is interesting and worth pondering is that, like all the currencies above, conciously or unconciously, nationas have modelled their currencies upon things that fly. Is this a statement about the long-term state of purchasing power of paper, and it's role as a store of value? US real estate may NOT loooking that bad by comparison...


Anonymous said...

Imagine my surprise after a day's sweating labour in the sanctimony mines at Spanish River, coming home and reading this. Well lands sake alive, I was all set to winch the Maple Leaf up upon the summit of Moral High Ground...

But what I really want to know is what happened to the last post. Were you issued a fatwah from Grand Cayman, or what?

Macro Man said...

Might I suggest an adjunct to the US dollar ornithomorphism. Were one to believe the hysterics of the popular press, the US dollar would most appropriately correlate to the dodo, passenger pigeon, or great auk.

"Cassandra" said...

CB - When I receive nefarious threats, I will know have succeeded as a critic, and will feel confident to continue writing as a professional pursuit. Cassandra is, at present, rather irrelevant, and so elicits no such threatening gestures. I believe everything I've said to be true, but removed it to check my sums on the impact of the warrant issuance. Nothing more.

MM - The dodo was obvious as was teh African Widownmaker Bird. I think the Widowmaker is more relevant as it is the poster-child for unintended feedback loops that lead to deleterious mutations such as the loss of flight. Needless to say this is rather deleterious to the survival chances of said feathered friend. I believe that the USD is no Dodo, but rather is caught in a negative political-economic feedback loop that prevents it from doing the "right thing" longer-term for reaosons of short-term political expediency and paorchial self interest (of various segments of the polity). Now the Auk, on the other hand....

Macro Man said...

I suppose the real dodo was something like the Belgian franc- harmless, useless, and eventually killed off.