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.
Second Chance for a First Impression
A number of you showed tremendous interest when Masterworks offered up a piece of art from Banksy available for investment.
So much interest that the offering sold out by the time we were back in the office Monday.
Don’t feel bad, though — you might not be able to own part of an original Banksy painting… but you can still grab a Banksy original today. Without having to pony up the millions a Banksy would usually cost… or perhaps even the modest amount you’d need to own a fractional share through Masterworks.
That’s because — thanks to a trademark dispute — Banksy is temporarily opening up a “home goods store” to hold onto his trademark.
Long story short: A greeting card company was trying to sell fake Banksy gear. So to defend his name, Banksy decided he should open a store too. (Though you won’t be surprised to learn Banksy’s version of home goods is less practical, more political.)
But Banksy’s store in the south London neighborhood of Croydon is for display purposes only. Everything will be sold online at Banksy’s new home goods store Gross Domestic Product.
You can get everything from police riot helmets bedazzled into disco balls to little Playmobil-type toys of immigrants getting loaded into vans.
As I write this, the online store isn’t open yet — but it should be by the time this is published. I’m assuming these home goods will be a good bit cheaper than regular Banksy works of art (though probably still more than you’d expect for your run-of-the-mill welcome mat made from life vests).
This is likely your last best chance to own an original Banksy without the astronomical price tag. So get moving.
The Rules Have Changed
Get a good education — college or above if you can… Get a steady job… Buy a house and start building capital… Pay for everything along the way and by the time you’re ready to retire, you’ll have enough saved to do so comfortably.
This was supposed to be the roadmap for the American dream.
But the ground has shifted beneath our feet, and plenty of people think the old ways don’t work anymore.
The cost of higher education has gone through the roof — it acts as an anchor now. Something like 2 million people have defaulted on their student loans in the past six years.
Steady jobs are an endangered breed. With the rise of the gig economy, part-time and contract workers are taking over for full-timers. The fact is few jobs last more than a few years at this point, with little security.
It’s a lot harder for folks nowadays to map out finances. When you don’t know what your salary will look like in four years, it becomes harder to plan out, say, a 30-year mortgage.
Speaking of — housing costs have gone through the roof.
Sure, median prices have lazed along since the big crash last decade. But prices in major cities like New York, San Francisco and Seattle — where most job growth is concentrated — have grown exponentially.
Even the median price is outpacing salary growth. It used to be an average house cost about three times an average salary. Now it’s up to four times — and growing.
Not to mention down payment requirements have kept rising as well.
Add it all together, and the advice that may have worked for your parents and grandparents probably won’t work for you, your children — or their kids.
Good thing we’re mapping out a different path in these pages every day.
The California Law That Will Affect You Most
The California legislature has been busy. This week, let’s look at a new digital privacy law that’s passed and set to go into effect next year…
Called the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the new law acts a lot like Europe’s digital privacy laws. It gives consumers expanded privacy protections while expanding fines and punishments for companies that don’t live up to the law.
So if something like the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened under this law, there would be hell to pay for whichever company let user data out into the wild.
And since so many tech companies are in California, the CCPA will wind up protecting consumers throughout the States, no matter where they live.
Now, this law isn’t certain to go into effect. Right now tech lobbyists are trying to get a superseding federal law passed — to neuter California’s attempt.
But Washington’s attention is a little divided at the moment… Expecting major legislation now is, shall we say, overly optimistic.
Which means the CCPA will likely become the de facto law of the land on Jan. 1.
“World Blend” Sounds Better Than “Stolen IP”
We’ve mentioned a few times how Japanese whisky is soaring — thanks to the discovery on the world stage of Japan as a top-notch whisky-producing nation… and a lack of supply.
Well, some Japanese companies have an “innovative” way to get around the supply issue. While they’re waiting for their own whiskies to age, some Japanese distilleries are buying Scottish and Canadian whiskies, creating “world blends” with them and then reselling them as Japanese whisky.
This sleight of hand is made possible because Japan doesn’t have stringent rules about what can be called whiskey (unlike Scotland, or even the U.S. with bourbon).
This story is unlikely to have greater repercussions. “World Blend” whiskies are still a small part of the market. Be aware of them — if you’re buying as an investor or collector (or even just a consumer who doesn’t want to get ripped off) — and steer clear of any whiskey that doesn’t have clear, obvious provenance.
Indeed, in terms of investment — and often in terms of taste — you’ll usually do best sticking to the single malt stuff.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. Even if you missed out on the recent Banksy sale at Masterworks — and you aren’t sure about the investment potential of Banksy’s “home goods” — there are other opportunities coming up.
Masterworks’ next offering is going to be on an 1881 Monet masterpiece, Coup de Vent. Be notified as soon as it’s available by signing up here.
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...