Common Stocks & Devaluation

A strong currency can inhibit exports and slow an economy.

A strong currency can inhibit exports and slow an economy.

Many people fear that if the U.S. dollar declines in value against other currencies, it will hurt U.S. stocks. Historically, the opposite is true. When the value of the U.S. dollar declines, it makes investment in U.S. stocks inexpensive to foreign investors, and they rush in to buy, as long as no catastrophic event has destroyed U.S. prospects. This higher demand drives U.S. stock prices higher.

What Devaluation Does

Devaluation happens when a country formally lowers the exchange rate of its currency against one or all other currencies, or doesn't support it when the markets value it lower. A country might choose to devalue its currency to raise its volume of exports in the world market. Devaluation makes a country's exports less expensive to buyers using other currencies. Devaluation also makes that country's imports more expensive to its citizens. Rising cost of imported goods can result in price inflation and -- unless its export volume increases substantially -- can result in slowing the country's economic growth .

Rising Export Volume

Rising export volume can improve a country's economy because the country is producing more goods and services and employing more people in its companies. A stronger economy is normally reflected in higher stock prices. To a certain point, devaluation also increases domestic consumer demand for its domestically produced products, because imported products are too expensive. If inflation results, even prices on domestically produced products will rise. In the United States, the Federal Reserve may step in to fight inflation by raising interest rates, which discourages borrowing and slows the economy. However, higher interest rates also attract foreign investment in U.S. bonds.

Lower Buying Power

In any country, when the currency loses its buying power because of inflation or devaluation, that is called currency depreciation. Devaluation depreciates the value of the currency on the world markets and raises the prices of imported goods. Inflation depreciates the value of money because there is too much money chasing a fixed amount of goods and services, so prices rise. Devaluation also makes it less expensive for companies in some foreign countries to borrow money in the country that devalued its currency. As long as foreign currencies maintain their strength against the devalued currency, foreign borrowers will spend less money paying off those loans than they would paying off loans in their own countries' currencies. Additional loan demand from foreign borrowers increases the money supply, and that can cause inflation.

Devaluation and Stock Prices

In general, currency devaluation increases stock prices because it makes stock investments less expensive for foreigners, who often are betting that the devalued currency will rise or revalue higher. It also increases a country's production of goods and services to meet export demand, and that means domestic companies make more money, which tends to raise their stock prices. On the other hand, it discourages investment in foreign countries and keeps more money in the domestic economy.


About the Author

Victoria Duff specializes in entrepreneurial subjects, drawing on her experience as an acclaimed start-up facilitator, venture catalyst and investor relations manager. Since 1995 she has written many articles for e-zines and was a regular columnist for "Digital Coast Reporter" and "Developments Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

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