Buying gold has become the go-to choice for those wanting to hedge themselves against inflation and currency risk. You won’t find any shortage of people talking about the benefits of (and trying to sell you!) gold bullion.
Gold prices do indeed have a low correlation with stock returns. It’s been a storage of wealth for centuries and has uses in manufacturing, medicine, and other industries.
However, gold isn’t the only option for protecting your assets – nor is it the best one. Storage costs, buying/selling spreads, and the fact that physical bullion doesn’t have any cash flow makes buying gold great for wealth preservation, but not really an investment.
Below are five investments which have the positive traits of gold, but fewer of the drawbacks. Who says you can’t protect your wealth and make money at the same time?
Don’t make the mistake of writing off silver as gold’s “cheaper cousin”. It has tons of practical uses and is even less correlated with stocks.
Several thousand dollars’ worth of silver is much heavier and harder to store than gold. But it also has better upside potential and is arguably more useful for wealth preservation.
Cell phones, solar panels, automobiles, and countless other necessities for modern life use silver in their manufacturing process. Greater amounts of silver will be needed as the world’s middle class population continues to surge.
Most importantly, silver prices are less expensive relative to gold than they’ve been in a very long time. Silver bullion has a lot more potential for appreciation while being a hedge against inflation too.
The gold silver price ratio is now at around 82:1 – the highest since the late-1980s.
Buying Rare Earth Elements
Like silver and gold, rare earth elements are less correlated with other assets. One difference is that they’re even more crucial to industry.
For example, Scandium is needed to make consumer products such as televisions and energy efficient lamps. Lanthanum is needed for telescopes, camera lenses, and oil refining. Yttrium is needed for cancer treatment medicine and lasers.
There’s plenty of people buying silver, gold, and even platinum. But few of them consider rare earth elements – probably because it’s a lot harder to find any for sale. The type of “one stop shops” where you can easily buy, store, and sell through one company don’t exist for rare earth elements.
However, another problem is that rare earth elements are far less liquid than precious metals. There’s no spot market or easily quotable prices for them like there is for gold and silver.
Rare earth metals are in limited supply and will see increasing demand. But there’s no easy way to sell them… at least not for now.
Frontier Market Investments
Frontier markets are fast-growing, less developed countries which rely less on foreign investment for their growth.
See, our world is now interconnected. Multinational businesses such as IKEA and Starbucks can be found in almost every corner of the globe. Because of this, the rest of the world gets sick when the United States, Europe, or China enters recession and these companies can no longer expand abroad.
But frontier markets are often exceptions to this rule. Cambodia, for example, hasn’t had a recession for more than two decades. It skipped the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, the tech bubble in the early 2000s, and the Global Recession of 2008. This was all while averaging over 7% GDP growth annually.
Frontier market economies don’t depend on McDonalds for growth because they don’t have any McDonalds yet.
“Frontier markets” aren’t an asset in themselves. But you should have a unique, uncorrelated investment whether you’re buying stocks, property, or something different. Try buying another asset on this list, but doing so in a frontier market for maximum results.
Global Real Estate
There’s thousands upon thousands of different real estate markets in the world. For example, the Bangkok property market has entirely different dynamics, drivers, and prospects than Boston’s or Berlin’s.
As such, foreign property is usually not correlated to stocks and real estate in your home country. You also get the benefit of cash flow. Rather than letting your assets sit in a safe, you can put your property to work and generate income by renting it out.
Furthermore, buying property in another country means it’s denominated in terms of that country’s currency. Buying real estate in economically strong jurisdictions such as Singapore or Korea is a great way to diversify away from the Dollar or Euro.
Foreign real estate is also one of the few things which can’t be confiscated by your government. Courts, the taxman, and others might be able to garnish your wages, bank accounts, or even your precious metals. But they’ll never be able to take apartments or land in a foreign country.
International Private Equity
Private placements come in many forms. There’s almost no limit to the number of startups looking for capital and selling shares privately. Some of them are duds, yet others have strong potential for growth no matter the economic climate.
Silicon Valley is the global epicenter of private equity and venture capital. However, like most sectors in the United States, the market is oversaturated. Seed capital is going to startups which barely have a chance to ever turn a profit.
This is because institutional investors are more concerned with finding the next Facebook or Uber than actually investing. Their strategy is to spread their capital across as many companies as they can.
Venture capital firms know that most of their investments will fail. But a small percentage of them go on to become multi-billion dollar success stories. They substantially raise the average, helping VCs recoup their losses and then some.
It’s not a bad tactic if you have a large sum of money to spread across dozens of different startups. For everyone else, we’re only looking for winners.
Asia has plenty of them. From innovative fintech firms to e-commerce businesses, startups in Asia generally have fairer valuations, less competition, and greater changes of success than their western counterparts.
You might disagree with my opinion that these five investments are better than gold. The point remains: there’s countless ways to diversify your portfolio and safeguard your assets. Don’t limit yourself to just one.
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