Investors and traders looking for good reasons to back away from risky assets and seek out haven assets have plenty of fodder this morning.
A quick scan of the headlines reveals rising turmoil in Greece - both on the street and in the halls of finance - slumping share values on the major stock exchanges, concern over the financial state of the emerging markets and rising inflation . It's a significantly bearish picture overall - and there has still been no substantive action on the looming issue of the debt ceiling, which has to be addressed by August to prevent an effective default by the United States.
The state of the housing market looks pretty dire as well - housing prices have now fallen farther than they did during the Great Depression, down 33.6 percent since the bubble began to burst in 2006 according to the Case-Shiller index.
The impact of all this news can easily be seen in the major indexes and broad-based ETFs - the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq Composite are both down about 0.5 percent on the day, the major Chinese ETF ( FXI ) slipped more than 1 percent, as did the iShares Emerging Markets Index ETF ( EEM ). Gold ( GLD ) and silver (SLV) managed to eke out some gains, while the dollar surged against all six of its major counterparts - the euro, the British pound, the Swiss franc, the Japanese yen, the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar.
It seems that no matter how bad the news is for the U.S., its dollar remains the safe haven asset of choice. Perhaps, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the greenback is the worst form of currency - except all the others that have been tried.