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One of the best things about my job here at Money Map Press is the expertise that I have access to – and that I can bring to you.
Let me tell you a story that demonstrates what I mean.
Not surprisingly, I spend a big chunk of my day reading reports, checking out the financial Websites and perusing hundreds of headlines. Friday morning, I came across one headline that literally jumped up and bit me.
It said that "The Yen is Doomed."
It grabbed my attention as it did because I'd heard this before.
Here's the thing, though. The "Doomed Yen" headline that ran Friday was a reaction to the dramatic erosion in value the Japanese currency has suffered in recent months.
But the earlier statement was actually a prediction – made well before the currency began its slide. And it was accompanied by a specific investment recommendation.
Any of you who listened are up 35% – with more to come.
Back on Feb. 3, Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald told me that Japan would remain an "investment trap" for years to come. Keith's comment was a response to a growing number of predictions from experts who were saying that Japan's long-suffering economy was about to turn the corner.
That's balderdash, Keith said at the time.
"BP, we are more likely to see Godzilla walk out of Tokyo Bay than we are to witness a return to Japan's halcyon days" of the late "80s and early "90s, Keith told me during one of late-day discussions.
My gut told me he was right.
I don't spend part of each year living in Japan like Keith does. But I was working as a business journalist during those "halcyon days," when Japan's surge was one of the world's biggest news stories.
You probably remember the negative – even fearful – sentiment that reverberated across this country as Japanese investors snapped up such gaudy trophies as the Rockefeller Center, the Pebble Beach golf course, and
Columbia Pictures. America was done, would never again be competitive, and that Japan was destined to rule the world.
That's right about the time that Japan's asset bubble burst. Its stock and real-estate markets collapsed. And we saw the first of what would turn into a seemingly endless string of "expert" predictions … each of them saying that a rebound in Japan was imminent … and all of them dead wrong.
As part of its asset-price spiral, Japan's Nikkei 225 had risen from its 1984 lows of 9,700 to its all-time trading high of 38,957.44, a pinnacle reached on Dec. 29, 1989. Here we are … 23 years later … and the Nikkei is still 72% below that peak. And the Japanese economy never seems to be able to shift out of low gear.
During that talk with Keith in February, I asked him the best way to profit from his fervent belief that the malaise could only continue.
His recommendation: Short the yen.
"Japan's currency has risen to a 25-year high on nothing more than worries about Europe going bad and U.S. debt," he told me at the time. "It's a classic "safe-haven' rush that's driving the yen. Ask yourself: What will happen to the yen when the Europe situation finally plays out and the U.S. digs itself out of its hole? The yen will get dropped like a hot pan getting pulled from the oven."
To pursue this strategy, Keith recommended that investors buy the ProShares UltraShort Yen ETF (NYSE: YCS).
On Thursday, CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (NYSE: FXY) fell 1.6% in afternoon trading and established yet another 52-week low – this time because the Bank of Japan (BOJ) was said to be considering a strategy of open-ended asset purchases to resuscitate that country's economy.
It appears as if the BOJ will consider abandoning its 0.1% floor on short-term interest rates – and will instead pledge to buy assets until a 2% inflation rate becomes a realistic target. Some pundits said it could take "an obscene amount" of stimulus to reach this goal. The decision could come this week.
But here's what the news reports aren't saying, because they didn't have access to the private briefing with Keith that you all had access to back in February 2012: If the FXY, the main yen currency ETF, has been plunging in value, then it follows that the "yen-shorting" ETF that Keith recommended had to be doing just the opposite – and soaring.
And that's just what's happened. The FXY has been under extreme pressure, and is off about 13% in the past three months – taking to its lowest level since mid-2010.
But the yen-shorting ETF, the YCS, has been zooming. It was trading at $40.47 when Keith made his call early last February. It closed on Friday at $54.56 – for a 35% gain so far.
That's the advantage that I have here: Each of our experts brings to the table an area of specialization … an expertise … that retail investors generally can't access. That kind of insight is usually reserved for the clients of the "private banking" or "private client" units of the major wealth-management firms. Some of those places require you to have a liquid net worth of $50 million to $100 million to walk in the door.
But if you ask most of our experts, they'll tell you that they grew tired of that world. They wanted to do and build something new and different … which is just what we've done here at Money Map Press and Private Briefing.
Keith, Shah Gilani and I often joke about the "Great Equalizer" we've created here.
In fact, I think what we offer here is often better than some of those private banking units.
After all, how many of those folks really told their clients a year ago that it was time to short the yen.
But we did. You were the big winner for us having done so. And, quite frankly, that capped my week in pretty fine fashion.