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.
Eat ’Em if You Got ’Em
My neighborhood in Baltimore is hopping. I can’t keep up. It feels like every week we’ve got a new restaurant or bar to try out.
Last month it was a new whiskey bar (in the basement of the fancy-shmancy cocktail bar that opened up a couple years back). Over the summer, we got a high-end snowball stand (yes, there is such a thing — Baltimore takes its snowballs seriously).
I think there’s an oyster bar… a cookie store… a sidewalk bar… and a new coffee shop that have all opened up in the past few months on one nearby road alone.
We’ve also gotten a new taco place, a noodle bar, a couple breweries, something called The Local Fry, which has french fries as the carb base for all sorts of dishes… The options are a little intimidating.
But we better get to trying them all out. Because while I thought our neighborhood was unique, the truth is it might not be.
It might be the sign that the restaurant industry is incredibly overextended — and we’re liable to see a bunch of closures and problems going forward thanks to an ungodly amount of debt.
Restaurants are an iffy proposition in the best of times. So if we suddenly see a spate of bankruptcies and closings, it won’t be very surprising.
But could restaurants be the canary in the coal mine? The most vulnerable industry is the first to fall when the economy turns…
Time will tell. All I know for sure right now is I’ll miss my Korean BBQ french fries if they go away.
The Fading Luxury Market
What’s the world coming to when Titans of the Universe can’t even get a lousy $250 million for their mansion on a hill?
Once the most expensive piece of property in the States, this Los Angeles home eventually sold for 62% off — a mere $94 million.
All of this, of course, is funny money. Only billionaires can entertain owning homes like this — complete with bowling alleys, James Bond-themed movie theaters and candy rooms. (Plus, all the other goodies you expect once a house hits the eight-figure range.)
So what does it say about the state of things that even billionaires are tightening their belts? Is this related to the slowdown in Manhattan’s luxury real estate market, where around a quarter of all new development sits empty?
Quite possibly. When folks who can afford to misplace a few millions in the couch cushions start scrimping, I get nervous.
Especially since many of those folks have unique access to different types of financial data.
I’ll be keeping my eye on this space. If the luxe market really starts to crumble, it’s look out below for the rest of real estate — and perhaps the economy as a whole.
Bet You Wish You’d Caught ’Em All
If you ever threw away a collection of Pokémon cards — your own or perhaps some belonging to a younger version of you — it’s time to start crying.
Because the most expensive Pokémon card of all time just got sold at auction… for a shade under $225,000.
Granted, this particular card is exceedingly rare. Only a few dozen were ever made as part of a promotion, and only 10 are verified to still be in existence.
Which means odds are good you didn’t toss this particular full college scholarship.
Still, this is yet another example of passionate collecting turning into profitable investing. And while cards have gotten a bad rap in recent years — thanks to the enormous bubble and burst of baseball cards in the ’90s — results like these continue to show cards are hanging in there.
So hold onto those collections — whatever they may be. You never know when one of your rarest faves will wind up being worth a six-figure payday.
The Best Thing to Come out of Brexit So Far
Speaking of collectibles, we may have just seen the birth of a new one.
You may remember the U.K. was supposed to exit the EU on Oct. 31 (after a previous delay pushed the date back).
Of course, Brexit still hasn’t happened. There’s a new deadline at the end of January… and we’ll see what happens with that one. But regardless of what you think about Brexit itself, this delay has created at least one profitable opportunity…
You see, in anticipation of Brexit, the Royal Mint was going to release a special commemorative 50-pence coin — with the exit date stamped on it, under the slogan “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.” Three million of these coins appear to have been minted.
Now that Brexit has been delayed, they are set to be recycled. Melted down with the metal probably going into a reissue with the newer date.
Almost all of these Oct. 31 Brexit coins will be converted into something else.
But a few will survive.
Those few will be very rare. And — in almost no time at all — very valuable.
Keep your eye out for any proofs or samples of this coin out in the wild. It will almost certainly turn into a collector’s item in the future.
No matter what happens with Brexit.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. The Brexit coin is, of course, far from the only rare, valuable collectible coin out there. You can find plenty more on JustCollecting — which, incidentally, is probably your best bet to track down an Oct. 31 Brexit coin if you want one.
Start your own collection — or improve an existing one — by heading to JustCollecting today.
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...