We all know the value of the U.S. dollar has risen in recent years. That’s especially true of the last two years, as the American economy has outperformed pretty much everywhere else in the world and the Federal Reserve raised interest rates at the start of 2016.
We also all know that as the dollar goes up, that pressures exchange rates—which, in turn, pressures the cash flow for U.S. companies that do lots of business overseas. So in honor of the upcoming Federal Reserve meeting on Sept. 20, when the Fed might raise rates a second time this year, Calcbench decided to take a look at just how large that exchange rate bite has been lately.
First, the exchange rate itself. According to the Fed’s economic research team, the U.S. dollar rose 30.6 percent against a basket of global currencies from 2011 to 2016. Take a look:
Then we cracked open Calcbench’s trusty Data Query Page. On the far right side, users can pull multiple reports on what companies disclose in the Statement of Cash Flows—including the effect of exchange rates on cash and cash equivalents. So we set our peer group to the S&P 500, and looked at what those companies reported for (1) cash and cash equivalents overall, 2011 to 2015; and (2) the effect of exchange rates over the same period.
The results are below.
In four of the last five years, the exchange rate has cut into cash and equivalents Corporate America had in the coffers; only 2012 led to an increase. And the effects became more pronounced in the last two years, as the dollar grew stronger. In total, the U.S. dollar exchange rate chewed away nearly $93.4 billion since 2011.
We won’t know 2016 effects until next spring, but in all likelihood the effect will be even larger, given the Fed’s push for higher interest rates.
(One note on our math, for anyone who is checking: we calculated our percentages by looking at reported cash plus the opposite value of the exchange rate effect, and then finding the percentage. That is, unadjusted cash in 2015 was $1.529 trillion plus another $35.3 billion. So we divided the adjustment by that total, $1.565 trillion, to arrive the change of -2.26 percent.)