Markets are fraught with uncertainty following Britain's decision to leave the European Union last week, and that has resulted in a run on currencies that has left the pound and euro reeling, and the dollar and yen climbing. But the yen might not be the safest play for "Brexit"-weary investors.
The pound fell 10% the day after the Brexit vote Friday, its largest one-day decline ever. On Monday, the currency was down another 3% before the market opened, tumbling to a 31-year low vs. the dollar at $1.3221. Meanwhile, the euro was able to rebound Monday, rising more than 2% to 83.25 pence, its highest level of trading vs. the pound in two years.
While the bear side of the market is predicting a U.K. recession in the aftermath of Britain's exit from the EU free trade zone, others may see the pound's decline as a buying opportunity.
"I think it is too early right now to jump into the pound as the probability for more drama is very high," cautioned Meritas Advisors founding partner and Cocktail Investing co-author Lenore Hawkins, who is a co-manager of the Growth Seeker portfolio.
"I want to see it stabilize a bit, but then yes, I think it will be a good buy. When the dust settles, other nations will likely be quite keen to get trade arrangements with the U.K. worked out quickly and I suspect the Brexit will be less of an 'exit' and simply more of a push to have more autonomy in decision making."
Time may heal the wounds caused by Britain's unexpected exit, but in the meantime those wounds are causing investors to look for safe havens. So far, they have turned to the Japanese yen for shelter, which in turn puts Japan's economy under pressure.
"Japan's economy cannot afford to have the yen appreciate markedly as the nation desperately needs to see strong export growth," Hawkins said. "We saw the usual knee-jerk flight to the traditional "safe haven" assets upon news of the Brexit, but that move is short-sighted, given the mumblings we are hearing out of the Bank of Japan that it will act against such large moves in its currency."
The very reason the yen is seen as a safe haven is that Japan has a long record of account surpluses, meaning that it exports more than it imports. This trade imbalance makes it the world's largest creditor nation and any market volatility is usually followed by the foreign assets held by private Japanese investors being repatriated, Hawkins said.
Along with foreign investment in the currency, that asset and capital repatriation will lead the yen too high if left unchecked.
As a result, Japan's economic planners held an emergency meeting Monday where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed the Finance Ministry and Bank of Japan to take the necessary steps to stabilize the markets, according to the Japan Times.
Monday, the Nikkei was able to rebound from its largest decline in 16 years during the Friday session, closing the session up 2.4%.
So if the pound isn't quite ready for investment, and too much investment in the yen increases instability, where can a weary investor find shelter in this volatile market? Hawkins was succinct in her assessment: "Long dollar and gold, short euro and pound, for now."
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 11:22 a.m. EDT on Real Money on June 27.