If you want to know how to profit from the currency war, just look to Japan.
That's because Japan's aggressive move to cheapen the yen in order to stimulate its own economy is working.
Of course, Money Morning's Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald predicted this would happen months ago, and he was dead on.
But even if you missed the first moves in this currency war, it's not too late to profit.
To hear Keith explain how investors can still take advantage of the "race to the bottom" and profit from the global currency war, click here.
Why Your Financial Future Will Be Built Upon the Chinese Yuan
If you have any illusions, put them aside now. It's the Yuan's world - the West is just living in it, or borrowing from it as the case may be.
Demand for the Yuan is growing at such a staggering rate that your financial future will be built upon it.
Admittedly, this is a very tough concept for most people to wrap their minds around. It's tough to lose "your" spot at the top and it's even tougher to know you're losing it and not be able to do anything about it because the leaders who are responsible for maintaining that position don't understand the end game.
It's made worse by Washington's insistence that the dollar is still a weapon when large swathes of the world now believe it's a liability. It's exacerbated by Europeans who forget that a sound currency actually requires underlying economic stability. It's threatened by the latest crop of Japanese bankers who seem determined to print money into oblivion.
Sadly, this is not new. The old guard always fights for the status quo when something different or not well understood like the Yuan comes onto the scene.
Is Japan About to Fire the First Shots in a 1930s Style Currency War?
Chances are you've heard about the so-called "race to the bottom" in which various industrialized nations are gradually allowing their currencies to depreciate in an attempt to maintain competitive parity.
Forget about it...the real risk right now is an all-out 1930s-style currency war. I know it's not front-page news yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will be shortly.
It's going to blindside Washington and most of Europe, where central bankers, politicians, and more than a few economists fail to recognize that events from nearly 100 years ago are now primed to repeat themselves.
Worse, it will devastate an entire class of investors who have put their faith in the current economic dogma of endless bailouts and money printing.
Ironically, this currency war won't start because of international problems. Instead, it will be touched off in earnest because of domestic concerns-- only they aren't ours. My guess is Japan fires the first shots.
- Japan's newly elected Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is calling for unlimited stimulus and more aggressive financial intervention in an effort to boost Japan's flagging economic situation and eviscerated domestic economy.
- The Bank of Japan has doubled its inflation target to 2% while also promising to buy unlimited assets using a page from Bernanke's playbook. Bear in mind that Japan's combined private, corporate and public debt is already nearly 500% of GDP, which is much larger than the 250% that's commonly bandied about in the media.
- Japan has one of the strongest fiat currencies on the planet, which means it has the most to gain and everything to lose if somebody beats them to the punch. An expensive yen holds back Japan's exports by making them more expensive in global markets, while the debt I just mentioned hobbles future economic development by robbing the private sector of capital it needs for an actual recovery.
The Three Must-Own Currencies of 2012
If 2011 taught us one thing, it's that currency investing can be a dangerous business.
For instance, the euro - the simplest of hedges against a declining dollar and the U.S. Federal Reserve's expansive monetary policy - has run into difficulties, losing billions for even the most sophisticated Wall Street banks.
But that's not all. The Brazilian real, which was one of the best performing currencies of 2010, has dropped back sharply in 2011.
Still, if you harness the lessons of 2011, you can take advantage of the new opportunities set to emerge in 2012. In particular there are three currencies every investor should own.
I'll get to those in a moment. But first, I'd like to fill you in on what currencies to avoid.
This is just as important - maybe even more so.
Currency TrapsObviously, the euro is not to be trusted. If its problems were confined to Greece and Portugal, they would be surmountable.
But they're not.
The extension of problems to Italy and Spain, which are both too large to bail out, makes the Eurozone liable to explode, split in two, or simply witness a mass default of several of its countries and much of its banking system.
Certain individual European shares may be a good buy. And German government bonds may be a good buy, since the German currency would explode upwards if the euro split.
But the euro itself? No thanks.
The Japanese yen isn't safe either.
Unlike most other currencies, the yen has risen more than 50% against the U.S. dollar since 2007 and is up another 6% since the beginning of 2011. In short, it has done what President Obama would like China's yuan to do.
Needless to say, Japanese exporters are suffering at these levels, and the country's government debt, over 200% of gross domestic product (GDP) and all denominated in an appreciating yen, has become a serious worry. While the yen could rise further, it must be regarded as very unsafe.
The pound sterling is equally unsafe, but for different reasons.
The British government is running a budget deficit as large as that of the United States, while the British economy is highly dependent on the very unstable and overblown financial services sector.
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Two Ways To Add Income to Your Portfolio as a Currency Investor
For the past 30 years, my grandfather has been living the retirement dream, thanks to a few strategic stock plays.
Here's the interesting part: My grandfather never knew a thing about stocks. He didn't know how to value them, or when to buy and sell.
But he did know the power of income.
You see, as a child of the Great Depression he saw stocks differently than we do today.
His generation didn't buy stocks for the possible capital appreciation.
Instead, they bought stocks based on the dividend yield - and the consistency of that dividend.
They had lived through uncertain times, so they only trusted investments that offered fairly certain income.
That's why now, as we find ourselves back in uncertain markets, you want to make sure your portfolio includes interest-bearing and dividend-yielding assets.
Passive dividend income arrives no matter what's happening in Greece, or how long U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke decides to hold rates at record lows. It comes as long as the company remains strong.
Which means my grandfather's strategy is worth copying.
How to Live Comfortably During Uncomfortable TimesMy grandfather started with certificate of deposits (CDs) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These were the high-interest days, so these CDs paid 16% to18% interest. He got that nice, passive "certain" income for as long as that party lasted.
Then once interest rates dropped and all his CDs matured, he looked for the next round of certain income. He had just retired from the telecom industry and believed AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) was a good long-term play.
Best of all, AT&T paid a 6% dividend yield. So he wisely invested his CD income into AT&T stock and then sat back and waited.
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