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As the COVID-19 pandemic drives the global economy into recession, the temptation to pursue aggressive monetary easing is growing. Already, the U.S. Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates near zero and committed to pump trillions of dollars into the economy. The European Central Bank has also ramped up bond purchases, though Germany’s constitutional court is mounting some resistance. Like the easing that followed the 2008 financial crisis, such policies will reverberate worldwide via exchange rate fluctuations.

On their own, major economic shocks, such as natural disasters or disease outbreaks, tend to drive up the value of the affected countries’ currencies. When the Kobe earthquake struck in 1995, the yen appreciated against the dollar, albeit not immediately. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake had a stronger effect, driving the yen to a historical high of ¥76 to the dollar.

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