Read This Because the Dollar Is Doomed

Brian Richards and I wrote back in March that we thought the dollar might be doomed. That was because:

1. The United States has a massive and growing deficit.
2. The United States continues to generate significant trade deficits.
3. The United States has become oh-so-willing to print money out of thin air to meet its increasing obligations.

The more things change ...
Fast-forward five months, and that willingness to print and spend has only increased. None other than Warren Buffett put the nail in the dollar's coffin in a New York Times editorial last month.

He wrote, "Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory" and concluded that "Unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt. The dollar's destiny lies with Congress."

Lies with Congress? If you know anything about Congress -- I used to work in the political game -- then you know for sure now that the dollar is doomed.

Deep breaths
This should be worrisome news if you earn a dollar-based salary, keep a dollar-based bank account, or invest in dollar-denominated U.S. stocks and bonds. Why? Because as the dollar declines in value, so will all of your earnings, savings, and investments. And that's scary stuff.

The good news for you is that the dollar's decline in value over time won't happen in a vacuum. In order for the dollar to decline, other world currencies must rise in value against it. That means there are a few ways you can protect yourself -- and even profit -- from the dollar's decline.

First, consider companies such as ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) or BP (NYSE: BP  ) that have significant natural resource reserves that should maintain their value. Second, consider a company with significant exports like Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) that benefits from a weaker dollar because that makes its pricing more competitive globally. Third, buy stocks that do business in other currencies, such as Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , and specifically in currencies that you suspect will rise against the dollar over time.

Some currency candidates
Our Motley Fool Global Gains international stock research team believes that the currencies that stand to benefit most are those that are tender in countries that 1) are big and stable enough to offer a credible alternative to the U.S. for countries that are looking to stash their trade surpluses, 2) have significant natural-resource assets that will become more and more in demand over time, or 3) both.

Thus, candidates include the euro (simply because of its scope, even though Europe has its own structural economic problems), the Brazilian real, the Indonesian rupiah, the Chinese yuan (should it become freely convertible), the Chilean peso, and the Peruvian new sol.

What we don't know, however, is how this all will all play out. So rather than bet on just one of these currencies, we recommend that you buy a basket of stocks that will get you exposure to all of them. Thus, even if political instability triggers a decline in the rupiah or the new sol, you have sanctuary in diversification.

With that last point in mind, I'm going to give you the name of my No. 1 dollar protection stock -- one that I consider a "buy" in our Global Gains service. But before I do that, know that this stock is not the silver bullet. Indeed, to properly protect yourself and position yourself to profit, you need a globally oriented portfolio of stocks that will give you exposure to a variety of currencies and markets.

But this stock is a great place to get started ...

My No. 1 dollar protection stock
Philip Morris International
was spun off from Altria in early 2008 to hold all of Altria's foreign cigarette businesses. This includes those in Canada, Latin America, Europe, and even a joint venture with China National Tobacco.

Today, the company makes about 48% of its sales in the EU; 23% in eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; 19% in Asia; and 10% in Latin America and Canada, though I'll note that the company's European exposure is coming down over time since growth has been more rapid in the company's emerging markets.

And while the company's earnings have recently been dinged by a strong dollar, earnings going forward should benefit from a significant currency tailwind as the dollar declines against many of the other currencies Philip Morris does business in. Add on a dividend yield near 5%, and this stock will not only protect your savings from the dollar's decline, but should also beat the market going forward.

Looking for more ideas
This is just one of the ways we're helping our Global Gains members protect themselves against a falling U.S. dollar and gain exposure to emerging international markets, which we expect will grow much faster than the United States over the next decade.

To see the rest of our ideas, including plays on Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, and rural China, click here to grab a free guest membership to Global Gains free for the month. There is no obligation to subscribe.

Already subscribe to Global Gains? Log in at the top of this page.

Tim Hanson is co-advisor of Motley Fool Global Gains. He owns shares of Philip Morris International, which is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Intel and Nokia are Inside Value selections. If the Fool's disclosure policy were written by Congress, it would be 50% less effective and about 1,000 pages in length.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 10:44 AM, IlliniBanker wrote:

    The best hedge against a weak dollar for US consumers is TIPS and Series I savings bonds, not stocks.

    As everyone who has been in the markets over the past two years knows, stocks are a very risky hedge against the dollar. They're so risky that the bulls are being forced to try and induce panic about the dollar to get folks into stocks.

    Right now, long-term TIPS are offering a return guaranteed to beat inflation by 1.5-2%. If you had invested in the stock market 10 years ago, you would have actually lost money after inflation if you held to today. Meanwhile, you would have beaten inflation by more than 3-4% with TIPS.

    Most smart people I know have a lot of stock in their retirement portfolios, but don't let the bulls scare you into cashing in your CDs, life insurance, savings bonds, and everything else to buy oil companies and exporters. The market crashed 55% from its highs over the past two years, and it's possible it will happen again in the next ten years. One good- and much safer- inflation hedge to consider besides stock is TIPS and maybe foreign currencies.

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2009, at 12:34 PM, Fool wrote:

    IF IT WASN'T FOR CORPORATE GREED AND ABSURB TRADING INSTRUMENTS BEING ALLOWED ON WALL STREET AND IF THE TOP EXECUTIVES OF CORPORATE AMERICA SHARED THE WEALTH, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE POOSIBILITY THAT THIS CRUNCH NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!!!

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