Coronavirus Exit Strategy: Three critical factors to watch and how they impact currencies

  • The coronavirus has reached a stage where governments are beginning to contemplate exit strategies.
  • Pressure on health systems is critical to lockdowns and easing them.
  • Widespread COVID-19 testing and sophisticated contact tracing are crucial to controlling new outbreaks.

When can we get out of the house? That is the question on the minds of around half the world's population that is shut down at home. The broad lockdowns have also kept millions out of work and triggered a mass cancelation of activities, causing substantial economic damage.

Governments issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus, "flatten the curve" – and ease pressure on health systems. The fear – materialized in some places – was that there would be insufficient staff and equipment to deal with the influx of COVID-19 cases. 

On the economic front, authorities have offered fiscal and monetary stimulus to mitigate the fallout – help businesses survive, those losing their jobs to get by, and potentially keep as many people in work as possible. 

After long weeks of agony, there is light at the end of the tunnel in several places. Italy has seen a fall in new cases and deaths, Spain has experienced a substantial deceleration and Andrew Cuomo – the grim Governor of New York – is also somewhat more optimistic. 

Policymakers are now beginning to consider taking initial steps to remove restrictions, ease the "cabin fever" and kickstart the economies. The faster the return to normal – the better for the underlying currencies. However, any easing will likely be gradual, to avoid a fresh outbreak and reversion to stricter limits.

Such setbacks would be more devastating than a slower lockdown relaxation, as they would undermine the public confidence and investors' animal spirits. To unleash the economy, governments would rely on three pillars:

1) Lower UCI utilization

The main motive of shutdowns is to slow the rush into hospitals and especially Intensive Care Units. People admitted to ICUs require more human resources and equipment, such as ventilators of various kinds.

A significant drop in UCI utilization may come via fewer severe cases of COVID-19 and also by increasing capacity, such as field hospitals such as Britain's Nightingale ones Madrid's Ifema, or New York's Javits center transformation into one big ICU.

It is essential to note that the coronavirus infection rate is rapid and should be with the exponential rate of increase, indicating that 50% UCI use may be insufficient as beds may fill up quickly. A usage rate of 25% would allow a broader margin for governments to take a calculated risk and allow people to move more freely.

2) Higher testing capacity

South Korea successfully halted the spread of the virus by widespread testing of the population in drive-throughs and other places. That allowed the Asian nation to refrain from a nationwide lockdown. 

A country that deploys a vast system of coronavirus analysis – including for antibodies and not only for identifying sick people – would be able to open up the economy faster than others.

Extensive testing also allows finding many asymptomatic cases, therefore lowering the death rate and boosting confidence in the population

3) Automatic contact tracing

Apart from quick and efficient testing, the key to opening up – and potentially imposing localized shutdowns – is contact tracing. Each newly discovered infected person ran into others on their way. Interviewing that person may lead to several contacts, but perhaps not to all of them, and it may be more limited if the person is unconscious. 

It would be easier to unleash activity if there would be a widespread automatic tracing of people via cellphone applications. Some countries have already deployed such mobile apps voluntarily. Others, such as Israel, are using emergency laws to track people infected with the disease or those that have been in touch with potentially affected people. 

The stronger these capabilities become, the faster lockdowns may be relieved.

Currency behavior

Eurozone countries have suffered most of the global deaths, and every improvement in these three fields may fasten the opening up of the economy and boost the euro. The UK is behind on several factors, but the impact will likely be straightforward for the pound

The US dollar, and especially the Japanese yen, are safe-haven currencies and have different behavior. They may lose ground in response to the good news. If the US eases nears easing restrictions, investors may abandon the safety of the greenback and move to currencies deemed riskier. Conversely, any setback in the US may lead to traders clinging onto the dollar. 


The battle against coronavirus is nearing the end of the beginning, and it is time to look at exit strategies. ICU utilization, widespread testing, and tracing capabilities are critical to easing lockdowns and restarting the economies – therefore, essential for currencies. 

Information on these pages contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Markets and instruments profiled on this page are for informational purposes only and should not in any way come across as a recommendation to buy or sell in these assets. You should do your own thorough research before making any investment decisions. FXStreet does not in any way guarantee that this information is free from mistakes, errors, or material misstatements. It also does not guarantee that this information is of a timely nature. Investing in Open Markets involves a great deal of risk, including the loss of all or a portion of your investment, as well as emotional distress. All risks, losses and costs associated with investing, including total loss of principal, are your responsibility. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of FXStreet nor its advertisers.

Feed news

Latest Forex Analysis

Latest Forex Analysis

Editors’ Picks

EUR/USD skyrockets to 1.2150 on poor US jobs figures

EUR/USD has hit a new multi-month peak above 1.2150 after the US reported an increase of only 266,000 jobs in April against nearly one million expected. The dollar is under immense pressure. 


GBP/USD soars toward 1.40 after disappointing Nonfarm Payrolls

GBP/USD has been extending its gains after the US Nonfarm Payrolls badly disappointed with an increase of only 266,000 jobs in April, nearing 1.40. Earlier, sterling benefited from the UK Conservative Party's gains in local elections. 


XAU/USD soars above $1,835 after weak Nonfarm Payrolls

Gold has leaped above $1,835 after the US reported an increase of only 266K jobs in April, far below expectations. Lower US yields support the precious metal.

Gold News

Judge reaffirms order SEC must produce documents on Bitcoin, Ether and XRP in Ripple case

Ripple's victory granted the firm access to the SEC's documents on the three leading cryptocurrencies. The regulatory agency recently denied the possession of these documents.

More Dogecoin News

S&P 500 and Nasdaq: Can the Fed pump anymore after weak jobs report

Well, that was an interesting jobs report. Not too many people were forecasting that one. Just in case you missed it NFP were forecast to come in around the 1 million jobs gained but instead the US only added 266k.

Read more