Brazil Enters the Race to Debase

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Brazil is facing some "real" problems. The Brazilian real's rise in relation to the dollar is threatening to stunt economic growth by weakening Brazil's global trade position. To make matters worse, Brazil's finance minister is expecting another round of monetary easing -- read: money printing -- from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

In response, Brazil's central bank recently slashed interest rates in an effort to keep pace with the declining dollar. But Brazil is just the latest participant in the race to debase.

The currency war continues
Countries across the globe are engaging in competitive currency devaluation in an attempt to gain an upper hand in global trade.  Last year, Asia's 10 biggest economies engaged in monetary easing measures in order to stimulate growth. And recently, the Japanese and the Swiss began making moves to weaken their own currencies.

An escalation of the "currency wars" will likely facilitate a flight to safety. And in a world of deteriorating paper currencies, gold and silver are the go-to investments.

Precious metal investments
Buying physical gold and silver is one way to invest, but many believe the precious-metal miners offer the greatest upside potential.

Barrick Gold (NYS: ABX) is the mightiest of all gold miners. The company boasts the largest gold reserves in the industry. In addition, Barrick has plenty of cash to fuel its future expansion.

Goldcorp (NYS: GG) is another great way to grab some gold exposure. Goldcorp is one of the largest gold miners in the sector, with a $42 billion market cap. The company also operates the majority of its mines in politically stable jurisdictions.

On the silver front, there's Silver Wheaton (NYS: SLW) . Rather than actually mining for silver, it provides financing to miners, in return for a percentage of silver the mine produces. This business model seems to be working; the company recently reported record earnings and revenues.

First Majestic Silver (NYS: AG) is a miner with great potential. The company recently reported a solid quarter and remains optimistic regarding the future of the silver industry. Many, including the CEO, believe the company is a prime takeover target.

The bottom line
The lasting impact of the race to debase remains to be seen. For the time being, gold and silver could be a good place to ride out the storm. One thing is for sure: A Brazilian real sure doesn't buy what it used to.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorAdam J. Crawforddoes not own shares in any company mentioned in this article. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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