"Safe haven". "Flight to safety". Heard these? Why JPY and CHF fit the bill

Author: Eamonn Sheridan | Category: Education

This is via Dutch bank Rabobank on why the CHF and JPY gain on a 'flight to safety'

  • In times of market stress, investors are more concerned about being able to access their funds rather than the rate of return
  • This illustrates the importance of a liquid market
  • It also describes why, in recent years, central banks such as the SNB and the BOJ have had such a tough battle pushing back against speculative inflows despite their respective hugely accommodative easing policies
It elaborates:

On paper the best safe haven currency is arguably the CHF
  • True to form the CHF has been the best performing G10 currency over the past 5 days, rising just over 3% vs. the USD.
  • Switzerland can boast both a current account and budget surplus (estimated at 0.1% of GDP this year from -0.3% of GDP in 2016).
  • Crucially there is also decent levels of liquidity in the CHF.
  • And compares the CHF to currencies of countries that have even better fundamentals:
  • The same cannot be said about the NOK, which arguably has even better fundamentals, or the DKK.
  • That said, both these currencies are on occasion rocked by speculative inflows and both have performed well over the past week
Rabobank's piece was written with the movements of last week in mind:
  • As has been widely discussed in the markets this week, the move has been closely linked with market perceptions that the scandal ridden Trump Administration is unlikely to have the energy or ability to push through promised tax and regulation.
  • The move also illustrates well why the USD is not a true safe haven.
Note there will be times when the USD is a safe haven to the extent it benefits from flow into US government bonds (US Treasuries) eg. - at times of a geopolitical stress