Japan Disaster Update: Crisis Investing Strategies From Money Morning's Top Experts

[Editor's Note: In this special report, Money Morning provides readers with a succinct summary of the latest developments in the Japan disaster and also offers crisis investing strategies crafted by our top experts. Our goal: To give you the information you need to make informed financial decisions as the Japan disaster unfolds.]

The Group of Seven (G-7) nations today (Friday) joined together to sell Japanese yen, a currency-weakening intervention move that's aimed at helping Japan deal with the after-effects of last week's earthquake and tsunami, and a nuclear power plant problem that could end up as one of the worst ecological disasters in history.

Japanese authorities apparently requested the assistance, according to a statement issued by the G-7 after a morning conference call between members.

The G-7 said that "in response to recent movements in the exchange rate of the yen associated with the tragic events in Japan, and at the request of the Japanese authorities, the authorities of the U.S., the U.K., Canada and the European Central Bank will join with Japan, on March 18, in concerted intervention in exchange markets."

The G-7 is made up of the United States, Japan, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

This was the first coordinated intervention by the Group of Seven since 2000, and the initial results were swift and definitive. The yen dropped against the U.S. dollar by the most since September and other currencies gained against the yen - which was the objective of the intervention.

In other developments, NHK World/Radio Japan International - in its global news broadcasts on the international shortwave-radio bands - said the death toll had reached 6,911, with thousands still missing. The search for the missing is facing difficulties.

The unfolding disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continued to worsen today, almost by the hour. The country's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) raised the accident severity level at the plant from 4 to 5 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. That scale tops out at 7.

According to a report by Japan's Kyodo news agency, Japan's NISA says the reactor cores of the Fukushima plant's unit No. 1, No. 2, and No.3 are believed to have partially melted, causing ongoing radiation leak. The plant's No. 4 reactor was set at level 3.

The direct impact on the U.S. economy isn't expected to be large at this point, but there will be problems. Already, U.S.-based insurers with large exposures to Japan are "pre-announcing" losses and face credit-rating downgrades. And some major companies - such as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) - are also finding themselves scrutinized. (IBM derives roughly 11% of its revenue from Japan, according to a MarketWatch.com report).

Japan's Nikkei 225 Index of stocks zoomed 244 points, or 2.72%, to close at 9,206.75.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were both marginally higher in late afternoon trading.

So against such a backdrop of significant uncertainty, with the situation in Japan seeming to change from one hour to the next, what's an investor to do? To help you answer that question, the Money Morning news staff has assembled this special report, which contains the best analyses and investment reports that we've put together since this crisis began, and are providing them for you here - all in one place.

In addition to the news/analysis stories that we've published, our experts also have put together several investing reports -- and even a video -- that we hope will help you make important decisions about your holdings.

To see all the elements of our ongoing "Special Report: How to Invest in the Wake of the Japan Disaster," please read on.

The separate elements of this report consist of:

  • How Bad? Money Morning's Keith Fitz-Gerald is a top trader. But the fact that he and his family have spent parts of the past 20 summers living in Japan has provided Fitz-Gerald with a detailed understanding of Asia that few investors possess. Given that, his Q&A interview with a Money Morning editor - during which Fitz-Gerald tells us what to expect for Japan - isn't to be missed. For that glimpse of Japan's future, please click here.
  • Contrary View: Former global merchant banker Martin Hutchinson is always ahead of the curve. The Money Morning columnist recommended gold when no inflation was apparent, tipped silver when nobody wanted it, and warned us about credit-default swaps before Main Streeters had ever heard the term and when Wall Street thought they were the greatest thing going. You know the rest: Gold and silver soared, and swaps blew up. So when this noted contrarian investor says its time to buy some Japan stocks, perhaps it's time to listen? To find the four Japan stocks Hutchinson likes, please click here.
  • No Panacea: To weaken the yen and help Japan cope with its tragedy, the Group of Seven (G-7) nations have intervened in the world currency markets. Even so, Money Morning's Fitz-Gerald believes a Japanese banking crisis is in the offing. To see why he believes this, please click here.
  • Currency Moves: Investors who fail to understand how currency shifts in the wake of the Japan disaster could incur major losses. To avoid those losses, click here.
  • Investing Amid Uncertainty: As a guest on FoxBusiness' "Bulls & Bears" program, Fitz-Gerald told investors what opportunities would arise from this crisis. To watch video of that appearance, please click here.
  • A Good Defense: In the aftermath of a disaster as bad as the one in Japan, a defensive-investing posture makes sense. But here's the surprise: With a good defensive-investing strategy, you can still make money. To find out about such a strategy - including several specific investment recommendations - please click here.
  • A Powerful Debate: Three decades have passed since the accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear power plant seemed to doom commercial nuclear power - in the United States as well as overseas. In the last few years, however, worries about global-warming and global oil supplies and costs appeared to be giving commercial nuclear new life. Have the nuclear power plant accidents in Japan doomed nuclear power for good? Check out Money Morning Associate Editor David Zeiler's report by clicking here.
  • A View of U.S. Stocks: In the late 1980s, in Japan's halcyon days as the world's top economic superpower, a market adage held that "When Tokyo sneezes, Wall Street catches a cold." In the wake of last week's earthquake and tsunami, and the nuclear power plant accidents that have followed, that may be true again. In this Money Morning video, Contributing Editor Shah Gilani, a retired hedge fund manager, tells FoxBusiness News anchor Stuart Varney how Japan's problems could affect U.S. stocks. To view that video, please click here.
  • Are You Worried? First it was the financial crisis. Then the recession. Now the Middle East and the disaster in Japan have been mixed into a stew of uncertainty that's already been seasoned by high unemployment and spikes in food and energy prices. But there are other worries, too. In her weekly poll of readers, Money Morning Associate Editor Kerri Shannon is asking readers to detail their five biggest worries. To read more about our survey, or even to take part, please click here.
  • Another Greece? Could Japan go bust? After all, debt in the world's No. 3 economy is already equal to 225% of gross domestic product (GDP). Money Morning's Fitz-Gerald tells FoxBusiness viewers what to expect in this video.
  • Export Woes: The nuclear powerplant problems have garnered the lion's share of the financial media's attention in recent days. But the after-effects of the earthquake and tsunami that set the nuclear disaster in motion must still be reckoned with. As the world's No. 3 economy and a major exporter, Japan is the main source for such items as semiconductors, a key building block for many of the world's most modern products. To see how the Japan disaster could damage world trade, please click here.
  • Aftershock Aftermath: The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit northeastern Japan last Friday had an immediate impact on financial markets all over the world. However, the effects of the damage and rebuilding will reverberate through the Japanese economy for months, if not years. To understand the scope of that rebuilding, please click here.
[Editor's Note: Earthquakes and nuclear meltdowns in Japan, soaring food-and-energy prices throughout the Western world, and a numbing federal debt load here in the United States ... it's enough to make the typical investor give up in despair.

Don't make that mistake.

There is a way for you to double your money in the next 12 months - and you don't have to hire a Swiss banker to do it. All you need is the right blend of high-yielding investments. To find out all about those investments, please click here.]

News and Related Story Links: