Has The Dollar Lost its Safe Haven Status?

By: Axel Merk | Tue, Apr 29, 2014
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The greenback isn't what it used to be. At least for now, when there's a "flight" to U.S. Treasuries; historically a sign of "safe haven" demand; the U.S. dollar has not only not benefited but has increasingly been on the losing end. Is this a temporary sign of special circumstances or has the dollar lost its safe haven appeal? There may be profound implications for investor's portfolios seeking downside protection.

Dollar Cartoon

Let's get right to the point. A sour mood in the markets, often referred to as a "risk-off environment," may be associated with:

What we tend to forget is that the next crisis is likely to be "different" even as some warnings signs may be the same. As such, many myths have developed that in practice are at best oversimplifications; at worst, may lead investors to be incorrectly positioned for the next crisis. Today, we zoom in on the relationship between the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasuries. The chart below shows a 1-year rolling correlation between the U.S. dollar index and 10-year Treasury Notes:

1-year rolling correlation between the U.S. dollar index and 10-year Treasury Notes

To make sure everyone understands this chart:

The steep drop on the right hand side appears to suggest that the U.S. dollar is losing its safe haven appeal. Assuming you have recovered from looking at this chart sufficiently to to read on, let's take a deep breath and assess what this means. A couple of thoughts:

Looking more closely, one can't escape the surge up to until the summer of 2012, then the sharp selloff of late. A couple of thoughts:

It's possible that this reversal of fortune for the greenback is temporary. It may also be the proverbial canary in a coalmine; that you can't rely on the greenback any longer as the one "safe" place. Indeed, we have long argued that there may not be such a thing anymore as a safe asset and investors may want to take a diversified approach to something as mundane as cash. This chart appears to support this notion. Next time, we dive into more detail as to how currency risk affects your international investments.


 

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1. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index® (USDX) is a trade-weighted geometric average of the U.S. dollar's value compared to a basket of six major global currencies (euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona, Swiss franc) set by the ICE (IntercontinentalExchange) Futures US. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

 


 

Axel Merk

Author: Axel Merk

Axel Merk
President and CIO of Merk Investments, Manager of the Merk Funds,
www.merkfunds.com

Axel Merk

Axel Merk wrote the book on Sustainable Wealth; peek inside or order your copy today.

Axel Merk, President & CIO of Merk Investments, LLC, is an expert on hard money, macro trends and international investing. He is considered an authority on currencies.

The Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund seeks to generate positive absolute returns by investing in currencies. The Fund is a pure-play on currencies, aiming to profit regardless of the direction of the U.S. dollar or traditional asset classes.

The Merk Asian Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in Asian currencies versus the U.S. dollar. The Fund typically invests in a basket of Asian currencies that may include, but are not limited to, the currencies of China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Merk Hard Currency Fund seeks to profit from a rise in hard currencies versus the U.S. dollar. Hard currencies are currencies backed by sound monetary policy; sound monetary policy focuses on price stability.

The Funds may be appropriate for you if you are pursuing a long-term goal with a currency component to your portfolio; are willing to tolerate the risks associated with investments in foreign currencies; or are looking for a way to potentially mitigate downside risk in or profit from a secular bear market. For more information on the Funds and to download a prospectus, please visit www.merkfunds.com.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of the Merk Funds carefully before investing. This and other information is in the prospectus, a copy of which may be obtained by visiting the Funds' website at www.merkfunds.com or calling 866-MERK FUND. Please read the prospectus carefully before you invest.

The Funds primarily invest in foreign currencies and as such, changes in currency exchange rates will affect the value of what the Funds own and the price of the Funds' shares. Investing in foreign instruments bears a greater risk than investing in domestic instruments for reasons such as volatility of currency exchange rates and, in some cases, limited geographic focus, political and economic instability, and relatively illiquid markets. The Funds are subject to interest rate risk which is the risk that debt securities in the Funds' portfolio will decline in value because of increases in market interest rates. The Funds may also invest in derivative securities which can be volatile and involve various types and degrees of risk. As a non-diversified fund, the Merk Hard Currency Fund will be subject to more investment risk and potential for volatility than a diversified fund because its portfolio may, at times, focus on a limited number of issuers. For a more complete discussion of these and other Fund risks please refer to the Funds' prospectuses.

This report was prepared by Merk Investments LLC, and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Merk Investments LLC makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the products herein. Opinions and forward-looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. The information contained herein is general in nature and is provided solely for educational and informational purposes. The information provided does not constitute legal, financial or tax advice. You should obtain advice specific to your circumstances from your own legal, financial and tax advisors. As with any investment, past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

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