The Japanese yen may be the latest safe haven from the market turmoil, and there are exchange traded funds (ETFs) to help shelter you.
First of all, the Japanese yen is cheap in real trade-weighted terms, and has not seen lows like this since the 1980s. Better yet, Japanese banks are not displaying much correlation with the subprime lending that has taken the rest of the world by storm. Total write-downs by the local banks are at $17 billion, compared to an average of $500 billion around the world.
Although the yen does not have a high yield, it is acting like the other yieldless traditional store of value: gold. Gold hasn’t been serving that purpose very well this year, either. The yen is also the gateway to the “carry-trade” and Japanese retail investors hold positions in commodities and world currencies at around $300 billion.
On the downgrade of American International Group (AIG), the yen touched a two-year high against the euro. It also reached its highest point in five years against the New Zealand dollar, as a drop in stocks encourage investors to reduce their holdings of higher-yielding assets and pay back loans in the yen, report Ye Xie and Bo Nielsen for Bloomberg.
Trang Ho for Investor’s Business Daily also reports that overwhelming fear in the markets right now could also lead investors not just to the yen, but also the Swiss Franc. One analyst expects both currencies to appreciate between 5% and 7%, respectively, over the next two months.