It’s been a wild ride in 2009, especially for gold prices, the U.S. dollar and interest rates. Have the events of this year rendered any clues for exchange traded fund (ETF) investors about what to expect in 2010?

It was a down year for the U.S. dollar. As economic conditions shift, investors are putting the currency under the microscope in an effort to determine what’s next. Ben Levisohn for BusinessWeek believes that in 2010 the dollar will be center stage again—only this time it will be a highly volatile greenback that challenges investors.

The most recent roller coaster ride was a small dose of what may be on tap for next year. In just a few days, the Dubai World fiasco and the Greek sovereign debt downgrade drove investors to seek refuge in the recently scorned dollar. U.S. treasuries were snapped up, the euro slumped, and the dollar rose 2.5%.

Besides dollar-focused ETFs, there are other ways to play the movements in the U.S. dollar. Sam Subramanian for Seeking Alpha gives some alternatives:

  • Gold: The classic hedge to the U.S. dollar, gold is experiencing record highs and lots of attention. SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) has profited from the spike in interest and the haven-like quality of the metal. However, gold’s upside potential can be limited if the U. S. economy cooperates and renders the Fed’s job easier. If short-term rates are going to increase, even a relatively large hike in fed funds, say 1%, would still keep rates within Chairman Ben Bernanke’s “exceptionally low levels,” explains ETF Desk forSeeking Alpha.
  • International Bond Funds: International bonds offer foreign currency exposure, geographic diversification, current income and potential for capital gains. Generally, individual investors are not equipped to analyze individual international bonds, so seeking an advisor’s help may be necessary. Check out SPDR Barclays Interntational Treasury Bond (NYSEArca:BWX).
  • International Stocks and Funds: One can profit from a decline in the  U.S. dollar by investing a portion of the portfolio in well-managed, natural resource economies such as Australia and Canada. Natural resources like oil and base metals are priced in U. S. dollars and often rise in price when the dollar declines. iShares MSCI Australia (NYSEArca: EWA) and iShares MSCI Canada (NYSEArca: EWC).

Direct ways to play the U.S. dollar:

  • PowerShares U.S. Dollar Bullish (NYSEArca: UUP)
  • PowerShares U.S. Dollar Bearish (NYSEArca: UDN)

For more stories about currency ETFs, visit our currency ETF category.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.