I want to consider a special case of this question (so not a duplicate, in my mind, but forgive me if that's incorrect in the eyes of moderators). What happens to my savings if my country defaults or restructures its debt?

There's a lot of 'what happens if my country has a sovereign default on its debt.

My question is more specific: What happens if the US has a sovereign default on its debt, on a global scale, since the US dollar is the global reserve currency and essentially the center of the international market? How does that play into my 401k and IRAs even though they include many international funds? How does this affect my ability to trade stocks and mutual funds through US brokerages (like Edward Jones, or Vanguard for instance). In conjunction with that, in the event of a default by the US, is there any way to hedge your investments against such a catastrophe since the US is the center piece of international trade?

I'm going to piggy-back another question off of this one: What happens to my investments and my ability to trade stocks if the US dollar's status as the international reserve currency is reviewed and moved off of that status to make another commodity or currency the reserve currency? What implications would that have for US citizens and their investments?

  • As asked this question seems too focused on economics and not enough on personal finance for this site. The bit about "any way to hedge your investments" seems on-topic, but the rest not so much.
    – dg99
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:05
  • Well, that's my main concern - how to invest as a US citizen for the event of a US sovereign default. The rest I thought would be necessary information for making wise choices and understanding the why behind the advice given here.
    – Josiah
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:15
  • 2
    To my thinking, the world will need some common currency just to serve the needs of global commerce. In the mid-term, the USD seems well-placed to continue as such. If your spending is in dollars, I would not worry too much - you won't feel any downturn of the dollar since the prices you pay will also be going down.
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:20
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    In the event you describe, it doesn't seem like there would really be any safe harbor, even internationally. The US dollar is so tightly intermingled with the global economy this would instigate a global financial crisis. I guess in the short term you might see a run up of commodities like gold, but you'd have to time that very precisely. It wouldn't be a very effective hedge.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:40
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    Voting to close. Such "what if" questions lead to speculation, opinion, discussion, but not much in terms of real answers. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


If the US economy crashes at all suddenly, the global economy goes with it. In that case, yes, the postapocalyptic scenarios may be the best answer.

But that's got so low a probability of happening that you'd be a fool to invest in it. If you really feel the need, consider investing in the companies which supply those activities. The big winners in the California gold rush were the general stores that sold supplies to the speculators.


Lots of opportunities during threats to US debt demand.

Most just involve being short the S&P or long the VIX (or short treasury bond futures, or short a US dollar currency pair). Those are the opportunities.

And if you are worried about the utility of speculating in US dollars on a decline of the US dollar, then it is easy enough to hop out of the FEDwire network into a cryptocurrency network these days - either as a value transfer protocol to another currency in lieu of capital controls, or a speculative investment, or both.


  • 1
    That's an interesting suggestion - using cryptocurrency as a value xfer protocol. Quite clever.
    – Josiah
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 15:15

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