Yesterday, Bernanke mentioned the dollar in the context of a discussion on inflationary pressures. Historically, he hasn’t said much about the dollar so these comments are being met with great interest on the street.
Mike Rothman, an influential oil analyst at ISI Group we know, has pointed out several times in recent months that the correlation of the dollar with the price of oil has been nearly perfect in recent months while over the long run there has been hardly any correlation. This suggests that alot of folks have likely been playing a common “trade”.
With energy prices starting to accelerate to the downside today, the dollar talk may be a warning to speculators that their trade may be a bit long in the tooth. Statistics show that demand for gasoline in the United States has been destroyed by rising prices and an interest in all sorts of alternatives in recent months. Several emerging countries also appear ready to reduce their subsidies of energy, which should effectively destroy some demand as price becomes the appropriate rationer for more cost conscious consumers.
On a side note, I read in the WSJ this morning that only 6% of employees regularly wear ties to work. While I knew the number was lower in recent years, I had no idea it was that low. It can take a very long time for accepted norms in the workplace culture to shift, but over time, they obviously do. A trade association for tie manufacturers effectively shut down this week after fifty years of existence.
Speaking of other cultural norms, before I was on CNBC yesterday morning, Erin Burnett and Mark Haines were talking about the prospect of a 4 day work week as a way for employees to save on rising commuting costs. As I mentioned in a recent blog entry, I think a company like Cisco Systems could lead the way in a new PR campaign promoting work at home days with low cost Linksys equipment, similar to the concept of casual Friday’s not too long ago. With the advancements in the quality of this technology and falling prices, it would be a win win for all involved.
Technology stocks and energy stocks have historically traded opposite of one another. As oil has started to accelerate to the downside today, technology and semiconductor stocks are moving up.
In open economies where the mind is free to think and act, perhaps the supply of oil isn’t so finite after all.