Debt Ceiling Hedges: Yen, Crypto, Gold and Newmont
In order to prioritize debt limit talks and avoid a potential catastrophic default if no agreement is reached by 1 June, Joe Biden has made the decision to cancel his planned visit to Australia and Papua New Guinea.
This decision from Biden follows warnings of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis issued by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Biden has been engaging in meetings with Republican counterparts in an attempt to reach a deal regarding the US debt ceiling.
Time is rapidly running out to find a resolution. Failure to raise the debt limit would result in a historic first for the US government: a default on its bills with highly likely catastrophic consequences.
In this article, we will explore the concept of the debt ceiling, provide an overview of the current situation in the US, and present potential strategies that hedges can consider.
What is the debt ceiling?
The debt ceiling, also known as the debt limit, is the maximum quantity of debt that the Treasury Department is allowed to issue either to the public or other federal entities.
If the debt limit is not raised or suspended prior to the exhaustion of the extraordinary measures, the government would find itself incapable of fully meeting its financial obligations. Consequently, this would force the government to postpone payments for some activities, default on its debt commitments, or potentially both.
The Current Situation
The Treasury Department has hit the existing debt ceiling of $31.4 trillion, leaving no space for further borrowing under its normal operations, except for substituting maturing debt. To prevent exceeding this limit, the Treasury has initiated the application of extraordinary measures.
The last update is that the Kevin McCarthy, current speaker of the United States House of Representatives, submitted that a deal concerning the debt ceiling would be reached by next week.
Impact of a default on the debt limit
Firstly, the immediate impact of a U.S. default would be a loss of confidence in the American economy. As the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency and U.S. Treasury bonds are considered among the safest investments globally, a default would shatter the faith investors, both domestic and international, have in these instruments. The resulting flight to safety could potentially result in a massive sell-off in the U.S. financial markets.
Secondly, a U.S. default would likely lead to a spike in interest rates. If investors perceive U.S. government securities as risky, they will demand a higher yield, raising borrowing costs not only for the government but also for consumers and businesses, thereby stifling economic growth. Higher interest rates could also depress the housing market and other interest-sensitive sectors of the economy.
Thirdly, a default could instigate a domino effect within the global economy. Many countries hold U.S. debt as part of their foreign exchange reserves. A default could devalue these reserves and potentially instigate a global financial crisis. In this interconnected global economy, a U.S. default could lead to an international contagion effect, similar to the one experienced during the 2008 financial crisis.
Finally, domestically, a U.S. default could lead to significant disruptions in government services. If the government runs out of money, it could be forced to prioritize payments, potentially leading to delays in Social Security checks, military salaries, and other federal disbursements. This would not only cause hardship for those directly affected but also dampen consumer spending, further slowing economic growth.
Hedging options for investors
The Japanese Yen
The Japanese yen can be viewed as a favourable hedge in the event of breaching the US debt ceiling due to several factors that make it an attractive option for investors seeking stability and safety during times of financial uncertainty.
Firstly, the Japanese yen has a historical reputation as a safe haven currency. During periods of global turmoil, investors often seek refuge in currencies that are perceived as stable and dependable. The yen’s status as a safe haven is rooted in Japan’s strong fiscal position, low levels of public debt compared to other developed nations, and its reputation for financial prudence.
In the event of a breached US debt ceiling, the yen may benefit from a flight to safety as investors seek to preserve capital and reduce exposure to potential risks associated with the US dollar.
Secondly, the yen’s correlation with risk sentiment is noteworthy. When market uncertainty rises, the yen tends to appreciate against riskier currencies, including the US dollar. This relationship is driven by the yen’s status as a funding currency for carry trades. In times of heightened risk aversion, investors often unwind carry trades, resulting in an increased demand for yen. In the event of a breached US debt ceiling, which could spark a risk-off sentiment, the yen may strengthen as investors seek to reduce their exposure to higher-risk assets.
Moreover, the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy approach adds to the yen’s appeal as a hedge. The Bank of Japan has historically maintained a policy of low-interest rates, which can attract investors seeking stable and low-risk investments. In contrast, a breached US debt ceiling may lead to increased uncertainty in the financial markets and potentially trigger a flight away from the US dollar, which could further benefit the yen.
It is important to note that while the yen offers potential benefits as a hedge, there are factors to consider. Japan’s aging population, deflationary pressures, and economic challenges may impact the yen’s long-term performance. Additionally, geopolitical developments, global economic conditions, and market sentiment can influence currency movements, including the yen.
Thus, a long position in the yen will allow investors to benefit from any appreciation in the currency if the US defaults on its debt limit. However, investors should carefully assess the broader economic landscape, geopolitical factors, and market conditions before making any hedging decisions and consider the yen as part of a diversified portfolio strategy.
Bitcoin has emerged as a viable hedge against the risks associated with the US debt ceiling due to its unique properties as a decentralized digital currency. Unlike traditional currencies, Bitcoin operates independently of any government or central bank. This characteristic allows Bitcoin to be free from the potential repercussions of a US debt ceiling crisis, making it an attractive alternative.
According to Fortune Crypto, Bitcoin can be perceived as a form of “revolt” against the US dollar, as it exists outside the reach of national debt risks. In a scenario where defaults are on the rise, Bitcoin’s neutral monetary layer could potentially serve as a significant safeguard simply because it remains unaffected by the risks associated with national debt.
Bitcoin’s decentralization and lack of ties to a specific economy or currency contribute to its appeal as a hedge. It offers an alternative store of value and a potential means of preserving wealth in times of financial uncertainty. Additionally, Bitcoin’s finite supply, governed by its underlying algorithm, provides it with scarcity similar to that of a precious metal like gold. This scarcity, combined with increasing demand, may position Bitcoin as a hedge against potential inflation and currency devaluation that could arise during a US debt ceiling crisis.
In conclusion, Bitcoin’s decentralized nature and independence from government control make it an appealing hedge against the risks associated with the US debt ceiling. Its unique properties as a digital currency provide investors with an alternative store of value and the potential to protect wealth during times of financial uncertainty. Conversely, it is crucial to approach Bitcoin with caution, considering its volatility.
In the event that the debt ceiling is not raised, there is a risk of default on debt payments, which could trigger a financial crisis. In such a situation, investors may consider gold as a hedging strategy due to its safe haven status. RBC Capital Markets even submitted that growing concerns surrounding the US debt ceiling crisis will favor gold, as investors prepare for potential market turmoil.
Additionally, Deutsche Bank strategist Robin Winkler proposes that purchasing gold as a hedge against the US dollar could be a prudent move, given the close relationship between gold prices and news related to the debt ceiling.
Newmont Corp – a gold mining stock for investors to consider
Newmont Corp (NEM: NYSE) recently reached an agreement to acquire Newcrest Mining. The offer values Newcrest Mining at approximately $19 billion and marks the largest-ever transaction in the gold sector. Upon completion, the combined company will be owned 31% by Newcrest and 69% by Newmont.
With the addition of Newcrest’s strong portfolio of gold and copper assets with long-term viability and low production costs, Newmont will become the leading global player in gold mining, operating 10 Tier 1 operations across various locations including Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Canada. Furthermore, the agreement will greatly bolster Newmont’s yearly copper output, incorporating roughly 50 billion pounds of copper reserves and resources into its collection.
Moreover, Newmont foresees achieving annual pre-tax synergies of $500 million within the first 24 months of the takeover. Also, it anticipates generating $2 billion in incremental cash flow in the initial two years through portfolio optimization, which will enhance value for shareholders.
Thus, in light of the debt limit crisis, investors may consider Newmont has been demonstrating positive prospects.
If an agreement to raise the borrowing limit is not reached, it poses a serious risk of causing the United States to default on its unprecedented $31.4 trillion debt. Such a scenario could have disastrous consequences for the U.S. economy and drastically reshape the political landscape.
On the other hand, McCarthy indicated optimism surrounding the debt ceiling discussions, possibly suggesting that an agreement to raise the debt ceiling may be reached. However, investors should still be aware of hedging assets as outlined in this article.