What Is Safe?

08/08/2011 11:05 am EST

Focus: MARKETS

Terry Savage

Author, The Savage Truth on Money

That’s the question on the mind of the smart money around the world, but hold off before you plow into zero-yielding Treasuries, writes MoneyShow.com personal finance expert Terry Savage.

For sure, money is rushing into gold—the one “currency” that cannot be created by central banks. Even Rumplestiltskin couldn’t spin straw into gold. No wonder it has soared to over $1,705 an ounce.

But that still leaves a lot of money searching for a safe home.

It’s not Europe, or the Euro. The announcement that the ECB would “buy bonds” of countries like Italy and Spain was meant to be reassuring. But where will they get the “money” to do the buying? They’ll create credit. Oops!

And Alan Greenspan, getting old enough to tell the truth now, acknowledged that the US would never default on its debt.

“We can always print the money!” he exclaimed on Sunday morning talk-TV. Out of the mouths of babes—or former Fed chairmen. Yes, the US will “print”! How safe does that make you feel in the US dollar?

Temporarily, the safest place in the world—outside of gold, or some currencies like the Canadian dollar—seems to be, ironically, US Treasury bills and bank deposits.

In fact, so much money is rushing to US safety that yields have dropped to zero. And some big banks are actually paying no interest and charging fees to big depositors for the privilege of holding their cash!

How long can it be before the really smart money recognizes that while dollars are the least of all evils these days, it might be smarter to own US stocks than Treasuries? After all, stocks (of good companies) are a call on real assets.

And while earnings might drop during a recession, these companies aren’t going away. Many have huge cash balances. And many pay dividends—a real return on your money while you wait for the world to come to its senses.

Could large-cap American stocks be the most reasonably priced hedge against inflation? Something to think about!

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