How Did the Euro Trade in 2008?
Exactly one year ago, the Euro was trading at approximately 1.47 against the US dollar, 5 percent higher than current levels. In 2008, this type of move is considered mild especially when compared to the Euro’s 20 percent rally against the British pound and New Zealand dollar and 27 percent decline against the Japanese Yen. However the mild year over year change in the EUR/USD masks a tremendous amount of volatility during the year. In the first half of 2008, the EUR/USD soared to a record high above 1.60. After that, it fell 22 percent to a 2 year low but recovered more than half of those losses in the month of December.
Eurozone’s to Underperform in 2009, Expect a Prolonged Recession
It is no secret that 2009 will be a tough year for many countries, but things will be particularly difficult in the Eurozone. Every major central bank has cut interest aggressively, driving their currencies significantly lower in 2008. The ECB on the other hand has been reluctant to follow suit, leaving the Euro only marginally lower for the year. Although the Eurozone is in a recession, growth has not been nearly as weak as the US. Annualized GDP growth in the Eurozone during the third quarter was +0.6 percent, compared to -0.5 percent in the US. The Eurozone’s outperformance in 2008 however could be short-lived as the central bank forecasts a 1 percent contraction in growth next year. As an export dependent region, the strength of the Euro will make a recovery difficult. German companies have already scaled back production as global demand eases. Looking ahead, unemployment is expected to rise, slowing consumer spending and forcing the ECB to continue to cut interest rates. If German unemployment hits 9 percent, we could easily see Eurozone rates hit 1 percent.
ECB Could Become One of the Most Aggressive Central Banks in 2009