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Don’t Write Off the Dollar Yet

Buck bashers, face some facts: The index that supposedly shows that our greenbacks are decomposing by the day is roughly even with where it stood 20 years ago. Trashing the buck may be in vogue, but the dollar continues to account for 65% of the world’s currency reserves. That ratio has dropped only five percentage points since 1999, despite the introduction of the euro, the exponential expansion of our trade and budget deficits, and the growing economic might of emerging nations, such as China and India.

I, too, believe that most investors should hold foreign bonds and currencies. They’re great for diversifying a portfolio. But in the world of commerce, the vast majority of trade takes place in dollars. There isn’t enough of anything else, including gold, to do the job. And as the global economy recovers, look for the world’s need for dollars to bump up. Once the Federal Reserve is confident enough about the domestic economy to start hiking interest rates, the exchange rate of the dollar will firm, and the exaggerated increases in the value of other currencies -- especially the euro and the yen -- will reverse.

My colleague Andrew Tanzer correctly notes that the U.S. is printing money like mad. But we aren’t alone. Big budget deficits and all the other knocks on the dollar -- huge debt loads, enormous obligations for the elderly, weakened banks and busted real estate -- apply to Japan and many European countries, too. As for China, India, Brazil and other up-and-coming nations, they deserve to be rewarded with robust international purchasing power. To them I offer hearty congratulations, but thus far their currencies are no match for the greenback.