In theory every dollar printed by the United States is backed by the assets and good word of the entire country. The reality is our currency remains largely impervious to our own abuse simply because America is arguably the least screwed up of the world's major economic powers.
Count investment legend Jim Rogers among those looking for an alternative. "I hope the Euro survives," he says somewhat wistfully. "The world needs something to compete with the U.S. Dollar."
For now a reasonable paper money alternative is strictly hypothetical. Even if it survives the euro is years if not decades from stabilization. The Chinese Renminbi has promise but is nakedly pegged, making its free-float value an academic conversation. Rogers owns the Yen but seems almost sheepish about admitting it.
Curious though it seems,the dollar is still regarded as a safe haven. In times of unrest investors want either gold or dollars. Good traders know to get long what others want and deal with the embarrassment later. Rogers is no exception. He owns the dollar, but doesn't believe in its historic safe haven status.
"I don't like saying out loud that I own the dollar," he says immediately adding that he only does so because the buck is "the least bad" currency extant.
In addition to dollars Rogers is long Yen and commodities while short stocks all over the world. If the economy picks up, his commodities rip higher; if not the stocks drop. The trade only works if the commodities move up more and down less than his stock shorts but Rogers is content being hedged while the global dust settles.