Shorting the US dollar

A Canadian friend told me that he was thinking about taking a long position in GE.  It was at an all time low and evidently oversold at the time (under $7).  I warned him that stocks held in US currency were risky for Canadians because they would have to buy US currency at a high price but that, with the Obama government overspending and all, the US dollar was going to lose its value quickly.

GE hit its low in early March, and let’s say that my friend bought at $6.66, its closing price on March 6.  On that day, he would have paid about CDN $1.27 for every US $1.  So 100 shares would have cost him $6679.99 (which is inclusive of the $19.99 commission), or CDN $8483.59.  GE today is selling at $16.52 today.  If you add the three quarterly dividends (ex dividend date 17 Sept, 17 June, 17 March), he would be looking at a total of $16.82 per share or a phenomenal 152% rate of return.  But what is that today in Canadian funds?  $16820 = $17755 (1.056)  That is today in Canada, his investment has 109% rate of return, which is still wonderful, but as a result of the diminished power of the US dollar, much less than 152%.  But in the likely event that the US dollar continues to plummet, his return on investment will continue suffer in Canadian value.

I’ve taken short positions against the dollar by borrowing US funds to buy Canadian oil and gold companies (erf, abx: NY) .  Also, I will convert every penny of US funds that come in into Canadian until the currencies reach par.

Yesterday I learned that many investors are beginning to use the US dollar as the new “carry trade currency”.  I didn’t know what that meant so I looked it up.  It is a reference to borrowing currency that has a low interest rate, changing into a foreign currency and making investments in that currency (such as GICs or buying stocks).  Well, I guess my investment strategy is a trend rather than idiosyncratic.  I was basing this strategy on the fundamental conviction that US dollar, despite the current deflationary tendency, would suffer because of the Obama budget deficit.

Links:

Dollar is the ‘New Peso’

Is the Dollar Set to Become the new yen?

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