We talked a week ago about how economists from the world's leading financial institutions see the future of EUR/USD in 2023. However, our reviews have included two more major pairs for many years, USD/JPY and GBP/USD. And it would be unfair to ignore them this time. Moreover, after the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound are the most significant components in the formation of the US Dollar Index DXY (13.6% and 11.9%, respectively).
But in addition to forecasts for the future, we will traditionally tell you what the experts' expectations were regarding the past, 2022, and how close they turned out to be.
USD/JPY: First North, Then South
We titled the forecast for this pair a year ago as “Japan Needs a Weak Yen”. And this was absolutely true: starting at 115.00 on January 1, thanks to ultra-soft monetary policy and a negative interest rate (minus 0.1%), the pair came close to 152.00 on October 21. The last time it was this high was 32 years ago. Even the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan (BoJ) were afraid of such a weakening of their national currency, and currency interventions were urgently launched to save it. The yen was also assisted by the expectations of the US Federal Reserve's transition from an extremely tough, hawkish policy to a softer one. As a result, the annual dynamics of USD/JPY took the following form (data are as of the end of each quarter): Q1 - 121.00, Q2 - 135.00, Q3 - 144.00 and Q4 - 131.00.
Almost none of the experts doubted a year ago that the differentiation between the approaches of the US and Japanese regulators would strengthen the dollar's position. But almost no one expected that the jump would be so powerful. The closest to reality (but still far enough) was the forecast of the Dutch banking ING Group (Internationale Nederlanden Groep), which looked like this: Q1 - 114.00, Q2 - 115.00, Q3 - 118.00 and Q4 - 120.00. Morgan Stanley (Q4 - 118.00) and Amundi (Q4 - 116.00) are next in descending order.
The French financial conglomerate Societe Generale, the British Barclays Bank and CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) also indicated a maximum of 116.00, but not at the end of the year, but in the Q2. Further, according to analysts of these financial institutions, the yen had to move the dollar to the zone of 114.00-115.00. Goldman Sachs missed the most, they believed that the pair would meet 2023 with a fall to 111.00.
The final statistics for the past year are not yet known. But it is expected that the final consumer inflation in 2022 will be 2.9%. This is slightly above the target, but well below the performance of other major countries whose regulators have been aggressively raising rates over the past year in an effort to curb price increases. Moreover, according to BoJ forecasts, this figure may fall to 1.6% by the end of 2023. And this raises a logical question: if everything is so good, why tighten the current monetary policy, raise the base rate and create problems for producers?
The Central Bank of Japan did just that at its last meeting last year, on December 20, leaving the rate unchanged. However, it still managed to surprise the market by expanding the range of fluctuations in government bond yields to 0.5%. This decision led to the growth of the national currency against the dollar by more than 3%.
Further, a period of calm is likely to come, and there will be no major changes in the monetary policy of the Central Bank of Japan during the Q1. Certain steps can be expected only after April 08. It is on this day that the term of office of BoJ head Haruhiko Kuroda ends, and a new candidate with a tougher position may take his place. However, despite the fact that there are candidates with more hawkish views among the candidates, we can hardly expect radical changes.
We described what the US Federal Reserve, counterpart for USD/JPY, plans for 2023 in the previous review. And if the Japanese regulator remains in its current positions, the interest rate gap will increase, but not by much. And then it stabilizes completely. Some experts suggest that the state of affairs in China may have a serious impact on the yen. If China's economic indicators continue to sag, the Japanese currency may become a "safe haven" for Asian investors, which will help strengthen it.
Perhaps it was the above factors that influenced the opinion of the strategists at the world's leading banks. Thus, ING assumes that USD/JPY may approach 125.00 at the end of 2023. Societe Generale gives a similar quarterly forecast: Q1 - 135.00, Q2 - 135.00, Q3 - 130.00 and Q4 - 125.00. HSBC also estimated that it will meet 2024 almost where it is now, around 130.00.
There are still 12 months to go until the end of December, and a lot of unexpected things can happen during this time. The previous three years have been clear evidence of this: the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's armed invasion of Ukraine have shattered many forecasts and calculations. That is why it is interesting to see what experts say in a shorter time period.
The range of opinions regarding the dynamics of the pair in Q1 is unusually wide. Some analysts (not many of them) expect the pair to further decline, now to the 124.00-125.00 zone. Goldman Sachs and Brown Brothers Harriman, on the contrary, expect the pair to test the 150.00 height again. Barclays Bank and Bank of America are also looking north at 146.00-147.00. And although the forecasts of ING, BNP Paribas and CIBC look somewhat more modest (136.00-138.00), it is obvious that most influencers expect the dollar to strengthen against the yen in January-March.
GBP/USD: Still at the Сrossroads
Last year's forecast for this pair was headlined "At the Crossroads of Three Roads." And this was due to the fact that the position of the Bank of England (BoE), unlike its counterpart from Japan, was much less predictable. There were three options: north, south, or east.
Although the UK's dependence on energy was incomparably lower than in the European Union, the global crisis associated with anti-Russian sanctions did not bypass it. Starting at 1.3500 on January 1, 2022, the pair moved as follows (the data are as of the end of each quarter): Q1 - 1.3100, Q2 - 1.2100, Q3 - 1.1100 and Q4 - 1.2000. GBP/USD reached a 37-year low on September 26, 2022, finding a bottom around 1.0350.
Analysts at ING had forecast that the pound would fall somewhere in the middle of a triangle of a stronger US dollar, stable commodity currencies and weaker low-yielding currencies. Therefore, according to their scenario, GBP/USD should have moved sideways: Q1 - 1.3300, Q2 - 1.3400, Q3 - 1.3400 and Q4 - 1.3400. However, they were wrong. But this mistake is nothing compared to the patriotic scenario of the British bank Barclays: Q1 - 1.3300, Q2 - 1.3700, Q3 - 1.4000 and Q4 - 1.4200. That is, instead of 1.4000, the pair was at 1.0350 at the end of Q3. An error of 3,850 points!
Thanks to the tightening of the BoE position and expectations of a softening of the Fed's position, the pound managed to win back part of the losses and rise to the 1.2000 zone in October-December 2022. However, specialists of the German Commerzbank consider the current situation only a temporary respite and expect increased pressure on the pound.
With the economic recovery from the crisis, the US is doing much better than the UK. Representatives of the Central Bank of the United Kingdom spoke openly about the difficult times. A recession began last year, which, according to the forecasts of the Central Bank, will last until mid-2024, while the economy will shrink by 2.9%. At the moment, the pound's vulnerability is also associated with a large current account deficit and galloping inflation, which shows multi-year highs. First of all, this situation has arisen due to the sharp increase in the cost of importing oil and gas.
It is likely that the Bank of England will continue to raise rates in 2023 in an attempt to bring price growth under control. At the moment, the Fed and BoE interest rates are 4.50% and 3.50%, respectively. The gap is not as big as it used to be, only 100 bp. This advantage of the dollar may continue, and rates may reach parity if the British regulator becomes even more hawkish. In the meantime, economists are talking about raising rates in Q1 and Q2 by 50 bps (basis points) and 25 bps, respectively, to 4.25%.
In such a situation, according to HSBC, one of the largest financial conglomerates in the UK, events in GBP/USD will develop as follows: Q1 - 1.2200, Q2 - 1.2300, Q3 - 1.2400 and Q4 - 1.2500. The French Societe Generale Group sees quotes as follows: Q1 - 1.2000, Q4 - 1.2400.
As in the case of USD/JPY, the forecast for GBP/USD for the next quarter looks more specific and varied: from 1.0700 at TD Securities Research to 1.2600 at Citi Bank. In the middle of this range are forecasts: BNP Paribas (1.0800), Barclays (1.1300), CIBC (1.1500), Scotiabank (1.2000) and Westpac Institutional Bank (1.2200).
We will traditionally switch from annual and quarterly forecasts to weekly ones starting next week. We think the guidelines will be much clearer there.
NordFX Analytical Group
Notice: These materials are not investment recommendations or guidelines for working in financial markets and are intended for informational purposes only. Trading in financial markets is risky and can result in a complete loss of deposited funds.