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The Most Important Chart in the World Right Now

Interest-Rates / US Bonds Feb 23, 2010 - 08:07 AM GMT

By: DailyWealth


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleTo most people, any talk of the U.S. government debt simply doesn't mean anything.

For instance, I could tell you the annual funding costs of our national debt are approaching $4 trillion per year – that's $1.5 trillion in new annual deficits, plus $2 trillion-$3 trillion a year in short-term obligations coming due that need to be refinanced. Foreigners hold roughly half of this debt. Thus, we have about $2 trillion in foreign debt that must be repaid or refinanced each year.

But this obligation is so large that it's meaningless to most people. I could also tell you $2 trillion is 20% of our GDP, but even then, most people won't understand just how much money this is. So think of it this way... If you spent $1 million per day from the time of the founding of Rome – roughly 2,700 years ago – until today, you would have accumulated about $1 trillion in debt. Now, double that amount. And that's the size of our annual foreign borrowing obligation.

(Thanks to Eric Margolis for the trillion-dollar metaphor. See his essay "Spending America Into Ruin" here.)

But more important than understanding the size of this debt, it's vital that you understand its effects. In this essay, I'll show you the easiest way to track those effects... and the actions you must take to protect yourself from them.

The Barclays iShares 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TLT) tracks the value of the U.S. government long-bond market. This is the primary market the Fed was trying to support over the last year. Gold, on the other hand, is the best market-based judge of the soundness of the U.S. dollar and our creditors. The SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) is an accurate proxy for the price of gold.

Look what happened to U.S. bonds (TLT) and gold (GLD) over the past year. This occurred even as the Fed was massively intervening in the credit markets.

Note the value of the U.S. long-bond market fell by more than 10% despite the government support. And the value of gold increased by more than 10% as investors fled the dollar.

It's interesting the relative moves were nearly identical. There's no free lunch. For every penny the government prints or borrows and uses to manipulate long-term interest rates, that same penny is being taken out of the value of the U.S. dollar, as is revealed in the price of gold.

You will see lots of debates about what the coming currency crisis means. But if you can simply understand this chart, you will grasp what's happening and how to protect yourself. It's simple: The value of the dollar is collapsing as the un-creditworthiness of the United States becomes evident. That means the price of hard assets – like gold – will keep rising and the value our government's long-term obligations will fall.

The safest thing to do right now is split your savings between short-term Treasuries and gold. That's the equivalent of a "cash" position, as the gold will hedge your dollar exposure and the short-term Treasuries will mitigate the volatility of gold. You can do this through ETFs. The Barclay's iShares 1-3 Year Treasury ETF is an easy way to own short-term Treasuries. The symbol is SHY. And GLD is the most liquid gold ETF.

I personally hold my gold in bullion coins and recommend you do the same. It's better and safer than the ETF. But for lots of people, the ETF is simply more convenient.

However you decide to take a position in gold, do it soon. I expect the divergence you see above – of U.S. debt decreasing in value, while gold increases in value – to get much bigger in the coming years.

Good investing,

Porter Stansberry

P.S. So... what happens when the U.S. dollar enters crisis mode? I don't think anyone knows for certain. But I know a few things are very likely to happen – soaring hard commodity prices, for example. In my latest newsletter, I tell my subscribers how to protect themselves from a full-blown dollar crisis. It's coming. If you'd like to receive my report, which was released yesterday, click here.

The DailyWealth Investment Philosophy: In a nutshell, my investment philosophy is this: Buy things of extraordinary value at a time when nobody else wants them. Then sell when people are willing to pay any price. You see, at DailyWealth, we believe most investors take way too much risk. Our mission is to show you how to avoid risky investments, and how to avoid what the average investor is doing. I believe that you can make a lot of money – and do it safely – by simply doing the opposite of what is most popular.

Customer Service: 1-888-261-2693 – Copyright 2010 Stansberry & Associates Investment Research. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. This e-letter may only be used pursuant to the subscription agreement and any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research, LLC. 1217 Saint Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21202

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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