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FxWirePro: Global FX radar and savings glut amid geopolitical and GFC

In FX markets, GBP retained a firm tone in European trade on Wednesday supported by British PM Theresa May’s unexpected call for a snap general election on June 8  seeking a stronger mandate for the ruling Conservative Party ahead of the upcoming Brexit negotiations. Elsewhere, prevailing geopolitical jitters continued to support top-rated sovereign bonds. Looking at the day ahead, the Fed is scheduled to release the latest Beige Book and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will speak about the US economy.

The global savings glut is reviving after a period of hibernation following the global financial crisis (GFC). The absolute level of East Asian current account surpluses in nominal US dollar terms has climbed beyond the previous high in 2006, while the rise of Western European surpluses has been striking.

The surge in European surpluses since 2006 has more than offset the collapse in Gulf surpluses following the drop in crude oil prices. The US still has the largest current account deficit, but its dominant position has slid compared to a decade ago.

The current account is fundamentally driven by the domestic savings-investment balance. The main factor behind the burgeoning surpluses in East Asia and Western Europe post-GFC is weak domestic demand, namely with domestic investment falling amid steady-to-higher national savings.

China ironically has been bucking this trend, as it unleashed domestic investment to spur growth post-GFC. China’s current account surplus is surprisingly lower than one would expect given its extraordinarily high national savings rate.

The global savings glut revival should again help to restrain global bond yields.

The non-USD Anglosphere currencies (GBP, CAD, AUD and NZD) are vulnerable in the event of another global financial shock given their reliance on foreign capital inflows.

The rise of the euro area surpluses solidifies the euro’s position as an emerging safe-haven currency, so long as the financial shock does not emanate from Europe itself.

Finally, trade and currency policy are unlikely to make much of a dent in the US-China current account relationship, which is fundamentally a symptom of much deeper and largely domestic macroeconomic forces.

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