Still full? Ravenous because your stomach is so much larger after Thanksgiving and you just picked at leftovers all day yesterday? Looking forward to a day of rest — or are you swept up in family activities for the weekend?
Whatever your case may be — and I certainly haven’t hit all possibilities — let this compendium of interesting tidbits from around our unconventional subjects be your escape. If only for a few moments.
Fair warning, some of the subjects we cover today aren’t all that reassuring. Starting with our first item…
Will History Repeat This Time?
Don’t look now — but the auto loan market is taking the exact same shape as the mortgage market did a little over a decade ago. Subprime loans… very little (if any) salary or funding verification… basically, everyone buying at unaffordable levels.
It could get bad.
Let’s be clear: This shouldn’t be a complete repeat of the Great Recession.
After all, there aren’t any car flippers out there trying to fix up jalopies and sell them as hot rods… the money involved is a fraction of the housing market… no one is taking out second auto loans on imaginary value… and car purchases aren’t tied up with the rest of the economy the same way real estate is.
BUT! Many people are starting off with loans more valuable than their car. Even those who don’t quickly find themselves underwater, since cars lose value so quickly.
And the auto loan market is more involved in the overall financial market than you’d think since they’ve been bundled together and sliced up in exactly the same way mortgages were back in ’06 and ’07.
Plus, the underlying collateral — the automobile — does a poor job of paying off remaining debt. Indeed, if you fall behind in your auto loan payments, your car will be repossessed. That’ll probably hurt your chances of getting to work — and you’ll still owe whatever isn’t covered by the sale of the auto.
There’s a good chance this gets very ugly for a small affected portion of the population but doesn’t change things too drastically for everyone else.
Moral of the story — don’t splurge on a luxury vehicle unless you absolutely, positively can afford it.
Never Thought I’d See Two out of Three
Animal, vegetable or mineral? Or some combo?
That’s the question before the Montana Supreme Court — and the answer could be worth millions.
You see, Montana is full of fossils. And a couple just found a fascinating example on their property — two dinosaur skeletons that, apparently, died during a death match, their bones intertwined in each other’s grasp.
The fossils are estimated to be worth $5 million — maybe more. Not a bad score for finding a few old rocks on the ranch.
But here’s where things get dicey: The previous owners retained two-thirds of the mineral rights to the land when they sold. And they’re claiming fossils are minerals — and demanding two-thirds of the fossil sale price.
The Montana Supreme Court now has to decide: Are fossils minerals? Or are they biological? Or some in-between as-yet-unnamed category?
The answer could have far-reaching repercussions for the fossil market. Which is far larger — and more lucrative — than you’d think.
How this might turn out is anyone’s guess. Lower courts have already ruled for both sides in turn.
If you’re a treasure hunter, though, you’ll want to pay attention. It’s always good to know if you own what you find. Or if you need to share the wealth before you can make a sale.
I’ll Take the Moonlight Tour, Please
If you’ve ever visited the Vatican, you know how insane it can be.
You’re surrounded by some of the most spectacular, famous works of art ever created. But you’re so packed in, breathing can be difficult — let alone truly taking in the grandeur of the grounds.
Unless you were willing to pay for some multithousand-dollar private tour at dawn, that was the only way to do it.
A new nighttime tour of the Vatican — including moonlit courtyards, a nearly empty Sistine Chapel and all the other highlights — is now available for only $76.
Considering regular entry is right around $20 — and you get rushed through herd-style — that’s a steal. You can enjoy the Vatican in a way few others ever have — for the price of a nice meal.
This might not appeal to everyone. But all you art lovers out there go grab your tickets to Rome.
And do it fast. Because I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until some lout does something lousy and ruins this program for the rest of us.
Well, That Didn’t Take Long
Disney+ launched Nov. 12 — less than a month ago. And within a week, Disney+ was hacked.
Well, it’s a little unclear whether Disney+ was hacked directly or users were individually hacked thanks to reused usernames and passwords.
Whatever the case, you can now purchase the sign-in info for many Disney+ users on the dark web. And it’s creating a little havoc, with some users locked out of their accounts while others are seeing unusual activity.
This isn’t too bad — no credit card info has been discovered yet, for instance — but it’s worrying how fast it happened. And how weak Disney’s security appears to be. The company doesn’t even offer two-factor authentication for accounts.
Hopefully, Disney will clean this mess up before it gets noticed by the mainstream — and before any real damage can be done.
But it does highlight one fact: You can’t count on tech companies to protect you. If you want to keep your personal data private, you’ve got to do it yourself.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. The best way I know to control what the internet knows about you is to mask your online activity. And the best way to do that is through a VPN — which disguises where and who you are and adds layers of protection to any interactions you make online.
(Editor’s Note: We do receive compensation when you buy from TunnelBear — that’s how we keep the lights on. But we only choose partners we believe in and use ourselves — so you can rest assured our recommendations are real.)
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...