I just returned from what I like to refer to as my version of the Griswolds’ “European Vacation”: I visited 10 countries in Europe over four weeks, spending the last two weeks on a road-trip vacation around the region.
Take my conversations with locals everywhere from Irish pubs to French cafes. Those I talked with didn’t seem concerned about a “Grexit” and instead were more worried about local issues like taxi strikes and port closures, reinforcing that Greece’s direct impact on Europe and the global economy appears to be small and that the recent Greek drama may not be a reason to avoid investing in the region. Meanwhile, there was evidence everywhere that the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary stimulus appears to be spurring economic growth, from the packed restaurants to the crowded shops.
But what really struck me were the many signs of just how important it is to consider the possible impact a weaker euro could have on U.S. dollar-based European investments. (Remember, for USD-based investors, buying foreign securities is a two-part transaction involving the return of the security and the return of the currency.)
I was far from the only one on a European adventure. Since January, according to Bloomberg data, the euro has weakened roughly 10 percent versus both the dollar and the pound, as central bank policies diverge. From what I could see, many tourists from the U.S. and elsewhere were taking advantage of favorable exchange rates. There were long lines at the Eiffel Tower, Colosseum and even the Königssee Lake. But while a weakening euro is good for airline fares, the European economy and large European exporters, it can potentially hurt the returns of dollar-based investments.