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European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's quantitative easing announcement Thursday may have been the latest salvo in a currency war, but veteran trader Art Cashin told CNBC that war is being played like a chess match.
However, that will change at some point.
"That laid-back cerebral attitude is going to disappear. At some point somebody is going to get their currency to a place where it's going to cause enough pain to somebody else and then it's going to turn into a real war," Cashin, director of floor operations for UBS at the New York Stock Exchange, said in an interview with "Squawk on the Street. "
On Thursday, the ECB announced an open-ended bond-buying program of 60 billion euros ($70 billion) a month in an effort to boost the region's low inflation rate.
The euro fell on the news to around $1.146 against the dollar.
In fact, Cashin believes about the only thing the ECB achieved was a weaker euro and "not much else."
"The reliance on the LTROs [long-term refinancing operation] again is not going to increase bank lending in Europe as far as I can tell," he noted.
Cashin also expects the waves of deflation to get stronger as currencies fall.
"These nations have been exporting deflation but it just hasn't turned into a tsunami yet," he said. "When it gets close to that then you're going to see central banks around the world decide they better get a bit more cooperative. "
"This currency war cannot go well. They never have."