One way to think about the value of the dollar is that it's like the price of admission to the U.S. economy. The more attractive the economy looks, the more a ticket ought to cost. That's what is happening to the dollar today, because on at least a few fronts, the outlook for the U.S. economy is improving.
The New Orders subindex of the ISM survey was especially strong. As the chart above shows, it has only been stronger about a half dozen times in the past 15 years.
Manufacturing conditions are clearly much better in the U.S. than in the Eurozone, as the chart above shows.
As the chart above shows, the 52-week moving average of container shipments via railroad is up a strong 6% in the past year, and has clearly surpassed the pre-recession high. This is physical and very real sign of increased economic activity.
In a similar vein, the physical amount of goods hauled around the country by trucks (truck tonnage) hit an all-time high in September, up 3.75% in the past year. As the chart above shows, this is fully consistent with the improvement we have seen in equity prices. A growing economy naturally leads to rising equity valuations over time.
In inflation-adjusted terms, in the past three years the dollar has gained almost 20% against other major currencies. But as the chart above shows, that still leaves the dollar below its long-term average value. The dollar is still somewhat weak, from a long-term perspective, but it has regained a considerable amount of its former value in. This confirms the good news that we are seeing in the manufacturing, rail, and trucking sectors. A stronger dollar will help keep inflation low, and at the same time it tells us that the world is now more disposed to invest here. Stronger investment flows will help strengthen the U.S. economy in the years to come—it's a welcome and virtuous cycle.