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Money Morning Mid-Year Forecast: The Dollar Headed for Some Change 

In spite of an assortment of economic uncertainties at home, the U.S. dollar has been the star of the currency world for most of 2010. Spooked by persistent and seemingly insurmountable debt problems east of the Atlantic and the specter of unsustainable growth and potential inflation on the Pacific side of the globe, savers and investors fled European and Asian currencies for the relative safe haven of the dollar.

As Keith Fitz-Gerald, Money Morning's Chief Investment Strategist, pointed out last week (June 10), from January through May, the dollar gained ground against all but two of the world's leading currencies - China's yuan and the Japanese yen - and it retained parity with them. The greenback appreciated by as much as 16% versus the struggling euro, which last week (June 8) briefly dipped to a four-year low below $1.20, and 13% against the British pound.

The InterContinental Exchange's (ICE) U.S. Dollar Index (USDX), which measures the dollar's value versus a trade-weighted basket of six leading foreign currencies, climbed from a low of 76.732 on Jan. 14, 2010, to an intra-day high of 88.586 on June 8.

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From Leader to Laggard: Is it Time to Bet Against the U.S. Dollar?

The U.S. dollar has been one of the world's strongest currencies in the first part of 2010, posting double-digit gains through the end of May.

And little wonder. The Greek debt crisis continues to threaten Europe's overall health, and could unleash an entirely new contagion on the rest of the global economy. Then there's China, - the engine of world growth during much of the financial crisis - which now appears to face the near-term triple threat of slowing growth, accelerating inflation and workplace unrest. Add in concerns about commodity prices and global debt levels and it's easy to see why currency investors have sought the safe haven of the U.S. dollar.

In short, it appears that "everybody" knows the greenback is the best choice for safety, quality and security.

But is that really the case? To me, the dollar is looking more and more like a colossal short that could wind up being one of the biggest moneymakers of the year for traders gutsy enough to take a stand.

To see why the dollar could roll over - and to see how to play it - please read on ...

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The Shift Toward De-globalization is Bullish for Gold

You can see signs of de-globalization everywhere. Just look at the intense shareholder opposition to Prudential PLC's proposed takeover of the Asian operations of American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG).

And that's just one example.

The market scare on news that North Korea had, indeed, sunk a South Korean Naval vessel was another. The "flight to safety" in U.S. Treasuries - sparked by the increasing concern about the future of the euro and the viability of Greek government finances - is a third.

All over the world, little by little, the apparently inexorable tide of "globalization" - making the world "flat" in the words of Thomas L. Friedman - is retreating.  If a full-scale financial crisis breaks out in the next few months, that retreat will become a rout. And the world will become de-globalized.

For the warning signs of de-globalization, please read on...

How to Play Gold – So it Doesn't Play You

The Greek bailout has turned gold into a "must have" investment. But the new gold rally will be different from gold rallies of the past. This time around, gold isn't serving as protection from inflation... it's become more speculative. Read this report to find out exactly how to play gold now.

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Taipan Daily: Trillion Shmillion – Europe's "Common Currency" Is Still Doomed

As far as the euro goes, the trillion-dollar "shock and awe" program was a shocking disappointment. Here's why.

"... while Europeans no longer fear foreign armies, they are starting to fear foreign bondholders. Europe's existence as a "lifestyle superpower' has depended on an ample supply of credit... "
- Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

"...this is just another example of a short-term, leveraged solution, that merely adds to the burden of future problems..."
- Marc Ostwald, Monument Securities

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U.S. Dollar 'Extremely Overbought' Says Market Researcher

The euro, which made huge gains against the dollar in the wake of 2008's financial crisis, has come plummeting back to earth amid fears that the Greek credit crisis would spread and undermine the European Union (EU). The euro's decline has meant a sharp rebound for the dollar, which according to respected market researcher Bespoke Investment Group LLC, is now "extremely overbought."

The euro has plunged some 21% versus the dollar from its all-time high back in 2008, Bespoke says. And while it is still above its historical average of $1.183, it is currently less than 2% above its 2008 low.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index has rallied over 14% since its short-term lows in November, and it is up 3.5% this week alone.

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European Debt Crisis Raises Caution Flags But U.S. Economy Won't Be Derailed

Stocks somersaulted into the red early last week in the wake of European debt downgrades, rising revulsion over the prospect of a bailout of Athens and a broad re-pricing of risk. Breadth was negative, the number of new highs shrank and number of new lows swelled. Financials tumbled and retailers stumbled. Caution flags are rising.

Click Here to Read More on how European Debt Will Affect the Markets

China May Let Yuan Appreciate Despite First Trade Deficit in Six Years

China's imports pushed higher in March, which may cause the Asian economic powerhouse to post its first trade deficit in six years.  But even though the deficit bolsters its argument for keeping the yuan pegged to the dollar, it appears Beijing will let its currency appreciate in the near future.

Rising commodity prices probably led imports to outpace exports by $390 million in March after a $7.6 billion trade surplus the previous month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 26 economists.

Nevertheless, a change in China's currency policy is "imminent", and may occur in the next few weeks, Ben Simpfendorfer, a Hong Kong- based economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (NYSE ADR: RBS), said Friday on Bloomberg Television.

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Buy, Sell or Hold: BHP Billiton is Poised to Pick Up Big Gains on the Back of a Global Commodities Bull

Face it, commodity prices are in a secular rally - and there are three big reasons why.

  • Loose Monetary Policy
  • Growing Demand in Emerging Markets
  • And the Congruent Devaluations of Major CurrenciesWe've already profited from this inflationary trend in the Money Map VIP Trader.  And - just like I did with the broadband revolution - today I am presenting you with a stock that stands to benefit from these developments - BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE ADR: BHP).
First, let's talk about policy. Immediately following the 2008 financial crisis, the Group of 20 (G20) countries agreed to stimulate their economies simultaneously.  And, while the emerging economies almost unanimously have already returned to strong rates of growth, most advanced economies are just now turning the corner.

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Why the Bulls Can Stand Strong at Home and Overseas

Stocks enjoyed another plus week, closing one of the better Marches of the past 80 years. It seems like ages since volatility has been this low, and there have been many complaints about complacency and listlessness. Yet those concerns may be misplaced if indeed we are enjoying the second leg of a normal bull cycle. Low volatility in a bearish phase does suggest complacency, to be sure, but in a bullish phase it serves more to keep expectations in check. 

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China Manufacturing Data Could Presage a Rising Yuan

Manufacturing activity in China and much of Asia continued to expand in March, underscoring the region's role as a driving force in the global economic recovery.

China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to a seasonally adjusted 55.1 from 52 in February, according to Li & Fung Group, a Hong Kong-based company that releases data for the Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. It marked the 13th straight month the index showed expansion and was in line with the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 13 economists. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Another PMI for China released by HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE ADR: HBC) was even more positive, showing a rise to 57.0 in March from 55.8 in February.

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Money Morning Mailbag: The Capital Wave That Could Blunt the U.S. Recovery

Question: How can banks justify not giving out mortgage money in light of the fact that they can now qualify their applicants to a level not previously seen? I am talking about literally millions of people applying for loans with 800-plus FICO scores and Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratios that are better than ever before.

How can banks and lending institutions take our money and then turn around and shut nearly everyone out - which simply prolongs this recession? Can anyone explain why the present administration and regulatory bodies are not forcing the banks to loan monies to qualified applicants?

At this rate, we will be dead soon.   Without borrowing, we will die.  

•  (Signed) Living in Costa Rica

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Money Morning Mailbag: Capital Wave Investing Strategies Spotlight the World's Top Profit Plays

Question: Shah, your article on capital-wave investing was outstanding. In fact, I would love to see a follow-up piece for those of us who are not traders and who are not out and about following the current short-term market trends.

For example, when you talk about the Obama administration's determination to keep interest rates low - this has consequences. What will those rates be in, say, a three-year to five-year time frame? What if the European countries keep having implosions like Greece - meaning that countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy follow suit?

In your opinion, will that eventually sink the euro, or does the Eurozone have to bail out those countries with a plan that's similar to the one that it is developing for Greece? What happens to other currencies in either of these scenarios?

Finally, is it your opinion that China is trying to curtail its growth to keep itself from overheating? Can Beijing successfully continue to do this - or will this blow up in China's face? If you look down the road, say, three to five years, what do you believe the consequences, if any, will be?

Again, Shah, this was a really informative article. I would love to hear your views on what you actually see playing out in each of these areas during the next few years.

Answer: Thank you for your kind words about the article and for taking the time to pose your questions - which are excellent ones, by the way. Let's take a look at them, one at a time...

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Goldman Backs Money Morning Prediction That China's Yuan Will Dethrone the Dollar

Back in May, just after he'd completed his latest investing tour of China, Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald made a bold prediction: China's currency, the yuan, is destined to dethrone the U.S. dollar as the world's chief reserve currency.

Earlier this week, Fitz-Gerald's prediction acquired a powerful new disciple: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) Chief Economist Jim O'Neill.

In an essay that's part of a report published Friday for Chatham House, a London-based foreign-affairs researcher, O'Neill wrote that China's yuan is destined to become a global reserve currency on par with the U.S. dollar or European euro.

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How Capital Waves Are Creating the Biggest Profit Opportunities in Today's Markets

Back when oil was trading at a record high of $145 a barrel - and was generally expected to go higher - I concluded that the forces at play were speculative, not fundamental - driven by new institutional money looking to diversify away from too many concentrated equity bets. I argued these forces were temporary, and not entrenched, meaning that oil prices were actually headed for a fall.

The "forces" I was referring to are called "capital waves." Capital waves create some of the biggest trading opportunities in the markets today. Investors who are able to spot capital waves and identify their likely impact have a huge advantage over those who don't.

With oil, for instance, pundits were calling for new highs of $200, $250, $300 and even $500 a barrel. But behind the curtain, there was a major capital wave at play: I knew that oil was being pumped out of the ground like mad, and that shipping rates were exploding because oil was being stored in offshore, idled tankers. I knew that as little as $20 billion had been "re-allocated" out of the equity markets and into this new-asset-class investment for pension fund accounts.

As a speculative frenzy seemed to be enveloping the oil market, I called for oil prices to plummet - to more than a few looks of incredulity or outright guffaws.

When the secondary capital waves took hold, the speculative advance in oil prices first stalled - and then oil prices plunged as capital exited in another wave.

Don't feel bad if you missed this opportunity. That's the important thing to remember about capital waves - they're out there if you know where to look and how to interpret them. In fact, as good as this oil play was, I see even better opportunities ahead.

To learn about the Top Five "capital waves," read on...