Every week, I like to pass along some of the most interesting and entertaining stories happening in the unconventional investing world.
The sorts of stories that go great with a quiet morning… a full mug… and the unhurried time that comes each weekend.
So relax, read, enjoy.
To Infinity and Beyond
Toy Story 4 may have just had a nice opening weekend, but that’s not what I want to talk about…
Instead, I want to talk about gold — and its recent spike to a six-year high, trading over $1,400 an ounce.
The reason is simple: Markets are nervous. The bull run is about to break the record as the longest in history… which suggests it’s already too long in the tooth.
Add in farmers who can’t plant their crops with all the rain… the situation in Iran as tense as it can get short of an actual hot war… tit-for-tat tariffs with China that continually escalate… and a no-deal Brexit looking more and more likely…
And it’s easy to see why pessimism is ruling the roost.
At the very least, the precarious nature of the markets makes for a fertile time to add a little safety to a portfolio. And that means buying gold.
Not just gold — where the yellow metal goes, other precious metals usually follow.
But gold is certainly leading the way. And doesn’t look likely to slow down anytime soon.
Which means if you haven’t yet put some of your wealth into metals, you should do so now. Before the precious metal markets get more expensive or the Wall Street markets start to crumble…
That’s One Way out of Debt
Did you go to college or graduate school? How much debt did you end up with?
Odds are — unless you’re fresh out of the halls of academia — your bill was nothing compared with those of today’s kids.
In fact, the average student graduates with around $30,000 in debt today — twice the amount kids carried in the ’90s (and yes, that’s inflation-adjusted).
This can’t keep going forever. And we’re starting to see cracks in the system all over the place.
My favorite? The recent grads who are skipping out on the debt entirely by leaving the country (supposedly), never to come back.
Obviously, that’s not a real solution. (If you want a solution to debt problems, look for one way out on Monday.)
But it is more proof that student debt is fast becoming a national emergency. It’d get more play if medical debt weren’t a similar — and even more horrifying — ballooning crisis.
All the more reason to get out of the financial markets and into real businesses with income streams.
Or into rare, tangible assets that will hold their value no matter what debt bombs are exploding in the traditional markets.
Forget Owing Money — How About Giving Us Cash Instead?
If you haven’t heard of Universal Basic Income (UBI) yet, you will soon.
It’s one potential solution to the problem of, well, machines and automation taking all of our jobs — and sooner than you’d think.
The theory is basically this: Every single taxpaying citizen of a country gets a paycheck every month. Not enough to live comfortably… but maybe enough to live extremely thriftily. Or to catapult into stability if you add it to a minimum-wage job.
In theory, UBI is supposed to appeal to conservatives as a replacement for a number of welfare programs. No more food stamps — everyone would just get money instead — and no more means testing.
Also in theory, UBI is supposed to appeal to liberals as a compassionate prop available to everyone, which can soften the blow of a lost job or bridge the gap for a transition from one career to the next.
In practice, of course, whichever side makes a serious UBI proposal will own the issue while the other side vilifies it.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t potentially a good idea. Or at least one worth investigating.
Which is exactly what residents of Stockton, California, are doing.
This isn’t the first test. And it won’t be the last. So far, the results have been mixed — with some experiments showing a decline in initiative for recipients and others showing an increase in entrepreneurship as the monthly stipend allows people to take greater risks.
I’m sure someday — after we’re all long dead and we’re on our third robot president — they’ll nail the right formula. Until then, cross your fingers you wind up in one of the experimental pools.
Spying for Nothing
By now, most folks are aware that our corporate brethren are spying on us everywhere we turn. In all sorts of ways we know and many more that we don’t.
Most folks are resigned to this. They don’t like it… but it’s the price you have to pay to get free access to services like Google, Facebook and the news, right?
Well, turns out corporations have been stealing our data all these years for… well… no good reason, actually (paywall).
According to a study covered in The Wall Street Journal, targeted advertising — the reason for all the snooping — doesn’t perform any better than regular advertising. The bump in response is nowhere near worth the increase in cost, effort and time.
Does this signal the end of watching companies sell off information about the general public? Doubtful.
But it might mean the clients for that information will shift over the next few years as marketing departments in various industries perform their own cost-benefit analyses and see data extraction as a negative.
Not even counting the PR nightmares that crop up every week or so…
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.
Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...