Dollar Demise and Double Dip: Latest Forecasts
I thought it of interest to see what surveys of forecasters indicate about two questions being asked: Is a dollar collapse imminent -- Martin Wolf is skeptical, while others  are convinced the end is nigh -- and is a double dip recession likely? I take a look at the messages conveyed by FX4casts.com and the WSJ October survey of forecasters.
First, let's take a look at what a survey of approximately 50 banks and financial firms indicates, for the value of the dollar (Fed broad index) and the euro/dollar exchange rate.
Figure 1: Log dollar index (broad) (blue), mean forecast (red squares), high and low forecasts (95% bounds) (teal +). Forecast dates typically pertain to 4th Thursday in each month. NBER defined recessions shaded gray, assumes last recession ends 09Q2. Source: Federal Reserve via St. Louis Fed FRED II, FX4casts.com, NBER, and author's calculations.
Figure 2: Log euro/dollar exchange rate (blue), mean forecast (red squares), high and low forecasts (95% bounds) (teal +). Forecast dates typically pertain to 4th Thursday in each month. NBER defined recessions shaded gray, assumes last recession ends 09Q2. Source: Federal Reserve via St. Louis Fed FRED II, FX4casts.com, NBER, and author's calculations.
The data are from FX4casts, which is the successor to Currency Forecasters Digest; Jeff Frankel and I used these survey data in our studies of expectations in foreign exchange markets   . Some additional results are reported in  and .
Both series are plotted in logs, and exchange rates defined such that up implies a stronger dollar. In both cases the 95 percent interval is shown. What is clear is the (geometric) mean forecast for the dollar implies relative stability. It's true that the lower bound implies some depreciation over the next year -- but no more than 5.6 percent decline (in log terms). That's hardly calamitous. But it would be helpful in terms of facilitating rebalancing (as I pointed out a few weeks ago  , dollar decline makes a lot of sense, perhaps even more than the 5.6 percent implied by the lower bound).
If one is more concerned about the dollar's value against major currencies (perhaps because of an interest in cross-border valuation effects on financial assets), one would want to see how the dollar evolves against the euro. Here, it appears the mean forecst implies strength over the medium term. Even the scenario for the weakest dollar implies no more than a 7.5 percent decline, at the 3 month horizon.
More from US Treasury's semi annual report and from Fred Bergsten in Foreign Affairs. Appendix I to the Treasury report discusses the dollar's reserve currency status, a topic discussed in a historical perspective by myself and Jeff Frankel here and here.
Anxiety remains (rightly so) that the economy will suffer a relapse, with the date perhaps in 2010 or 2011. The latest WSJ survey indicates little evidence of such fears.
Figure 3: Log GDP (blue), mean WSJ forecast (red), and trimmed high (maroon) and trimmed low (maroon) forecasts, and Bart van Ark forecast (light green) based on 2009-10 growth rates. Trimming removed the top 4 and bottom 5 forecasts out of 49 responses. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray, assuming recession end is 2009Q2. Source: BEA 2009Q2 3rd release, WSJ October survey, NBER, and author's calculations.
The mean forecast suggests a story largely consistent with last month's forecasts. The biggest revisions (upward) came between the August and September surveys. Even then, it won't be until close to end-2010 that GDP reattains its previous peak. Forecast dispersion remains large, though, and the trimmed high (Dean Maki, Barclays) indicates reattainment around mid-2010.
The trimmed low (David Malpass) is, interestingly, kind of a "W", although not the typical discussed one; Malpass forecasts 0% SAAR growth in 2009Q4. Bart van Ark (Conference Board) has a drop in growth to 0.5% SAAR in 2010Q1.
Of course, these are conditional forecasts -- that is they incorporate assumptions regarding a certain combination of fiscal and monetary policies. I would guess most of them are assuming "reasonable" policy mixes. But some of the recent discussions of "W" relate to mistakes in policy making, such as a too-early monetary tightening (Roubini, Krugman) or inadequate stimulus (Krugman) or the time profile of the stimulus (Feldstein).