Supermodel latest to dump weak dollar
Gisele Bundchen wants to remain the world's richest model and is insisting that she be paid in almost any currency but the U.S. dollar.
Like billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, the Brazilian supermodel, who Forbes magazine says earns more than anyone in her industry, is at the top of a growing list of rich people who have concluded that the currency can only depreciate because Americans are living beyond their means.
Even after the dollar lost 34 percent since 2001, the biggest investors and most accurate forecasters say it will weaken further as home sales fall and the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates. The dollar has plummeted to its lowest ever against the euro, Canadian dollar, Chinese yuan, and its cheapest in 26 years against the British pound.
''We've told all of our clients that if you had only one idea, one investment, it would be to buy an investment in a non-dollar currency,'' said Gross, the chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, Calif., and manager of the world's biggest bond fund.
The Fed's U.S. Trade Weighted Major Currency Index measuring the dollar's performance versus seven currencies, such as Japan's, has dipped to a record low of 72.22.
BNP Paribas chief currency strategist Hans-Guenter Redeker, the most accurate foreign-exchange forecaster last quarter in a Bloomberg survey, said the dollar may drop to $1.50 per euro by year-end. The median estimate of 42 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg is for the currency to end the year at $1.43. In a survey last week, the forecast ranged from $1.42 to $1.50.
When Bundchen, 27, signed a contract in August to represent Pantene hair products for Procter & Gamble Co., she demanded payment in euros, according to Veja, Brazil's biggest weekly magazine. She'll also get euros for the deal she reached last October with Dolce & Gabbana SpA in Milan to promote the Italian designer's new fragrance, The One. Bundchen earned $33 million in the year through June, Forbes reported in July.
''Contracts starting now are more attractive in euros because we don't know what will happen to the dollar,'' Patricia Bundchen, the model's twin sister and manager in Brazil, said in a telephone interview from Sao Paulo.
Analysts in a Bloomberg survey expect the dollar to strengthen in coming months as stronger-than-forecast reports suggest U.S. consumers will keep the economy out of recession. The dollar will rise to $1.43 per euro this year and $1.35 by the end of 2008, according to the median estimate in the survey.
''So far the data has shown the U.S. economy may not be slowing to the extent the majority of the markets had expected,'' said Omer Esiner, an analyst at currency-trading company Ruesch International Inc. in Washington who expects the U.S. currency to strengthen to as much as $1.38 per euro.
Buffett, whom Forbes in April ranked as the world's third-richest person behind Bill Gates and Carlos Slim, told reporters in South Korea last month that he is bearish on the U.S. currency.
''We still are negative on the dollar relative to most major currencies, so we bought stocks in companies that earn their money in other currencies,'' said Buffett, 77, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
Jim Rogers, a former partner of investor George Soros, said last month he's selling his house and all his possessions in the U.S. currency to buy China's yuan.
''The dollar is collapsing,'' Rogers said last week in an interview. ''I'm moving to Asia because moving to Asia now is like moving to New York in 1907 or London in 1807. It's the wave of the future.''