How Does the Greenback Perform in a Recession?

There has been 3 recessions in the past 30 years. In each of those recessions, the dollar weakened in the first six months of the recession, then gained strength in the next six. Twelve months into the current recession, we see this pattern in the dollar repeated once again.

The more important question however is whether there is a pattern in the way the dollar performs in the second year of a recession. Taking a look at how the dollar traded in 2001, the 1990s and the 1980s, we see no consistent trend but that is only because the 1990 and 2001 recession only lasted 8 months.

The current recession can only be compared to the one in the 1980s and based upon how the dollar performed then, there could be a near term top in the US dollar in the first half of 2009. There were 2 separate recessions in the 1980s and according to the dollar index chart below, in each recession, a sharp dollar rally was followed by a sharp correction.

The space between the purple lines represent the 2 separate recessions. Even though the dollar rally did eventually continue, it was not before a meaningful correction.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen again especially as the strong dollar takes a bite out of corporate earnings in the first or second quarter of 2009.

Dollar Index

Photo: Bloomberg

About Kathy Lien 235 Articles

Kathy Lien is an Internationally Published Author and Chief Strategist of, one of the world’s most popular online websites for currency research. Her trading books include the highly acclaimed, Day Trading the Currency Market: Technical and Fundamental Strategies to Profit form Market Swings (2005, Wiley); High Probability Trading Setups for the Currency Market E-Book (2006, Investopedia); and Millionaire Traders: How Everyday People Are Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game (2007, Wiley). As Chief Currency Strategist at FXCM, Kathy is responsible for providing research and analysis for DailyFX, the research arm of FXCM. She also co-edits the BK Forex Advisor, an Premium Service with Boris Schlossberg – one of the few investment advisory letters focusing strictly on the 2 Trillion/day FX market.

Kathy is also one of the authors of Investopedia’s Forex Education section and has written for, the Asia Times Online, Stocks & Commodities Magazine, MarketWatch, ActiveTrader Magazine, Currency Trader, Futures Magazine and SFO. She is frequently quoted by Bloomberg, Reuters, the Wall street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune and has appeared on CNN, CNBC, CBS and Bloomberg Radio. She has also hosted trader chats on EliteTrader, eSignal and FXStreet, sharing her expertise in both technical and fundamental analysis.

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