Investor bearishness against the euro hits 2020 levels

It is driven by dollar strength and concerns about Europe’s worsening economic situation

Investors are currently holding short positions on the euro against all currencies, including the dollar, the British pound and the Swiss franc, according to Bank of New York Mellon. AFP
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Fuelled by concern about Europe’s deteriorating economic situation and increased geopolitical risks, investor bearishness on the euro is now eclipsing levels seen back in October 2020 when the fallout from Covid-19 was wreaking havoc around the world, according to Bank of New York Mellon.

Unlike back then, when those holding short euro positions ended up getting burned as the currency gained ground during the global economic recovery, investors at the current juncture “appear to have been correctly adding to short EUR exposures”, said BNY strategist Daniel Tenengauzer.

While a bias towards shorting the euro isn’t new, the extent of it is, according to BNY, which models the overall stance and currency profitability based on an aggregation of forward and swap positions within its own database.

Its scoring shows that investors are currently holding short positions on the euro against all currencies including the dollar, the British pound and the Swiss franc, Mr Tenengeuzer wrote in a note on Friday.

The euro has plummeted this year amid the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has helped drive up energy and food prices, as well as stirring broader geopolitical concerns.

With drought added into the mix, inflation has skyrocketed. So too, though, have growth concerns, potentially inhibiting the European Central Bank’s ability to lift interest rates as fast as other global peers and damping investor appetite for assets in the region.

The euro fell as low as 99.52 US cents last month, breaching parity with the greenback for the first time in two decades.

And while the currency did rebound somewhat, it tumbled more than 2 per cent this week and continues to linger just over the $1 mark with many investors looking for it to go lower.

Commodity Futures Trading Position data, meanwhile, shows that leveraged funds have been busy building short positions in the common currency, becoming even more bearish in the week though August 16.

A large part of the equation, of course, is broad-based dollar strength.

A combination of higher US interest rates and haven flows has helped buoy the greenback against just about everything this year and some currencies, such as the yen and pound, have performed even worse than the euro.

Data from Bank of New York Mellon support the idea that the long-dollar trade goes well beyond bets against the euro, according to Mr Tenengauzer.

Based on BNY’s calculations, the most profitable short positions are those on the South African rand, Thai baht and the Chinese renminbi being the most profitable.

Updated: August 21, 2022, 4:30 AM