Inconsistent currencies

Throughout much of the year, the US dollar looked like lightweight paper. A buck basically bought you a loonie (as our northern neighbors call their dollar), and foreign exchange traders were heard shouting jokes about ‘the American peso.’ We noted the weak US dollar as one of the key reasons that total M&A spending by US acquirers dropped by about two-thirds from mid-2007 to mid-2008, while European shopping jumped by one-third (see report).

In the wake of the global financial crisis, however, the dollar has strengthened. To get a sense of that, consider the relative value of the US dollar when two Silicon Valley-based multinational tech giants went on shopping trips to Australia this year. Back when Hewlett-Packard made its play for records management vendor Tower Software in late March, the US dollar bought about A$1.10. A few days ago, when Oracle reached for Haley Limited, $1 bought A$1.60. That’s a lot more buying power for the once-humbled US dollar.