Strong U.S. Dollar Makes for Weaker Airlines in China
Trump rose to power thanks to his protectionist platform that threatened to place huge tariffs on different goods that were imported from China.
Those policies would in turn hurt global airlines and even prior to any break out of a trade war on Trump’s surprise victory damage has been brought to air carriers.
Twin increases in the U.S. dollar and interest rates since Trump was elected should place immediate hurt on airlines in China, weighed down by debt that is dollar denominated but fueled by revenue that is yuan based.
For instance, Air China has close to 60% of its overall debt in dollars as recently as June, but over 65% of its entire sales are from customers in China.
Knowing about the mismatch in currency, carriers in China have spent the last year swapping out some of the dollar debt they have for debt in their local currency, by turning to the growing domestic bond market as a way to raise new cash.
With the yuan continuing to drop, this will become more expensive, as it will require more yuan to be borrowed to pay off the dollar debt in the same amount.
In China, interest rates have increased since Trump’s election. Given the high debt held by airlines and the narrow margins, an increase in their interest expense gobbles up profits at a rather fast pace.
Somehow, shares of the three biggest carriers in China, China Eastern, China Southern and Air China, have not budged much since the election of a week ago.
However, China airlines would have to begin looking for a different attitude if the trade for bonds as well as dollar continues with Trump.
In Japan, the policies of the U.S. President-elect can be followed by using the yen as a barometer.
The yen fell in value against the U.S. dollar Friday, the most recent bout of the currency’s weakening that has seen it depreciate by up to 10% since the U.S. election.
That is due to investors betting that proposals of Trump to increase growth and spending at home would lead to more inflation, faster increases in interest rates and a stronger U.S. dollar, are an optimistic take on the campaign pledges of the newly elected U.S. president.
Japan is pleased with the weaker yen, since it increases global earnings of the many manufacturers in the country as far as yen terms go.