If you listened to the media and political candidates, you would quickly come to the conclusion that the quickest way to prosperity and wealth is to have a worthless currency. Every politician the world over argues for devaluing their own currency vs. other nations, with the logic that this helps domestic manufacturers by making imported competitors more expensive and making their own products less expensive to buy in other countries. **
While the latter two statements are nominally true, the only way this actually helps an economy is if one ignores everyone except manufacturers in markets dominated by international trade. What it ignores is that a falling currency makes purchases more expensive for everyone else. Consumers and service industries and even manufacturers who depend on imported raw materials all suffer from a falling currency. And this is not even to mention the effect on wealth -- if one's savings are all in assets denominated in the falling currency, one is clearly losing wealth as the currency falls.
Well, for the first time in a really long time, I actually saw an article this week that focuses on some of the problems of having a falling currency. via zero hedge.
“I’ve never seen it that high. It’s usually $6.99, maybe $8 but that seems like quite a jump.”
Grapefruit isn’t the only produce to soar in price as fresh fruit has increased by 12.4 per cent since December 2014, and fresh vegetables are up 14.4 per cent, according to data from Statistics Canada released Friday. Led by those surging produce prices, Alberta’s annual inflation rate rose last month by 1.5 per cent, year over year.
The high prices are a direct result of adverse weather in the United States and the lower Canadian dollar since most produce is imported, said Jason Wiebe, president of Chongo’s Market at the Crossroads Farmers Market.
“Tomatoes trade the same as the TSX. It’s a commodity, too, and all produce is traded in U.S. dollars. In November, the retail cost of tomatoes on the vine was $1.99 a pound. Now I have to sell the same box at $3.99 pound.
“What’s going to be really interesting going forward is what happens to local growers come summer. With the dollar, they can make one and half or two times as much exporting than selling here.”
And that may only be the beginning of higher food costs, according to ATB chief economist Todd Hirsh.
“Going forward I think we’ll see even higher upward pressure on imported fruits and vegetables. If not for weather conditions, certainly that low Canadian dollar will affect it. Because the numbers we’re talking about today are from December and now in January we’re almost five to six per cent lower on that dollar….If people insist on eating fresh tomatoes and pineapple in January, they’ll be forced to pay for it.”
** To my eye, every government in the industrialized world is working as hard as they can to hammer down the value of their own currency. As a result, a rising currency tends to mean only that the country in question has a central bank that is not working as hard and as fast as other countries to trash their currency. All of which makes accusations that China is manipulating its currency an enormous joke. Several trilling dollars in QE here and they are the ones manipulating their currency?