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, some form of drink — preferably warm and fragrant — and a little time and space to let thoughts unfold.
Relax, read, enjoy.
Too Bright to Fail
When you think of art restoration, you probably don’t think of preserving pieces splashed with bright neon colors that can glow in the dark.
But a number of recent works are falling apart faster than anything made by the ancient masters.
That’s because a couple of decades ago, a number of artists used Day-Glo paint to make their work pop — including some big names like Andy Warhol.
The problem is it turns out Day-Glo paint degrades fast. Real fast.
When you get into the weeds of this issue, it becomes clear that art isn’t just for poetic dreamers… We need a few chemists and physicists at the table as well.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
I hate to be the bearer of bad news… but here’s another piece of worrying economic news to give you the jitters.
In a bid to cut their losses, a number of developers are converting condos to rentals. Or even creating rent-to-own schemes — usually a tool reserved for much more modest real estate.
We can debate exactly why these seven- and eight-figure apartments are going unsold. Some blame China’s crackdown on their wealthy moving money overseas… Some see greedy overproduction creating a glut… Some see the wealthy tightening their belts for a coming storm…
Whatever the reason, it’s not a good sign.
As prices continue to fall — and overleveraged developers start to go belly up — well, this is exactly how most recessions start.
New York City real estate is in a negative feedback loop — and it’s quickly nearing the tipping point.
How Low Can They Go?
You’ve got to hand it to the pharmaceutical industry.
Even as Purdue Pharma declares bankruptcy owing to the opioid crisis, another corner of the pharmaceutical world has figured out how to charge $4,200 for… peanut flour.
It’s part of a new treatment for peanut allergies. And it seems promising — at least for some people.
But when companies have peanut drugs that don’t cost peanuts but thousands of dollars instead… it’s another sign that our health care system has gone insane.
I’m curious how long this craziness will continue. Because sooner or later, it’s all going to fall apart.
From the Silver Lining Department
Forget about oil riches — spice riches are making a comeback.
Thanks to a changing climate, unpredictable, strong storms and the usual variables of farming, vanilla supplies have dried up. Huge chunks of the orchid — vanilla is actually an orchid and has to be pollinated by hand — have gone belly up.
But demand remains unchanged.
That leap is making a big difference in Madagascar — an island the size of France off the southeast coast of Africa, where 80% of vanilla is grown.
Madagascar has long been one of the poorest parts of the world. Large parts of the country don’t even have banks.
But that’s all changing as vanilla villages crop up and a few farmers have started getting extremely rich — at least by local standards. And all this money has brought new issues — like a surge in property crime.
This is also a brightly flashing indicator that our world is changing rapidly.
We will be following food and water in these pages as they become scarcer commodities. And we’ll be looking out for the best ways to position yourself — and your wealth — to survive and thrive in our changing climate.
Because spice barons are going to be a thing again… The bankability of beachfront property could change in a single hurricane season… Water rights are likely to lead to more wars in this century than oil did in the last.
You’ll have to be nimble as the world evolves to make it through these sorts of rapid changes. It will pay to think outside the box.
And the spoils will go to those who are willing to be a little unconventional.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. While Warhol’s Day-Glo masterpieces might be in jeopardy, there are plenty of other modern masters that will survive the tests of time no problem. Including one by Banksy that’s currently owned by Masterworks — where you can grab your own piece of his enigmatic legacy.
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...