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Individual investors in China and India are buying physical gold in ever-growing quantities…and yet the price of gold isn’t rising. What gives? The short answer would appear to be that Western investors remain fairly persistent sellers of gold, thereby suppressing the gold price. The longer answer is that no one really knows. During Asian trading hours, gold has gained a cumulative $738 an ounce since September 2011. But during New York and London trading hours, gold has racked up a loss of $1,177 per ounce. The bigger point here is that the “Asian bid” for gold is large and growing.
In October of last year, China and Russia signed a landmark currency-swap deal allowing Russia to tap into $24.4 billion in liquidity. This was followed by an announcement that the People’s Bank of China would permit trading of renminbi-ruble derivatives and China’s Import-Export Bank extended credit to two sanctioned Russian banks. In other words, China’s doing what it can to help Russia keep its head above water. This is one of the greatest economic chess moves in recent history. And could be one of the greatest investment opportunities in our lifetime.
Nothing quite says “vintage” as much as an authentic, British longcase clock (also known as a grandfather clock) standing in the corner. These charming household adornments have gone through several remarkable reinventions over their history, meaning there’s one to suit every taste and interior. And there’s now one to suit every budget, too. As fashion has shifted away from “traditional” interiors, interest in later longcase clocks has declined—and so have their prices, putting them very much in reach of collectors of modest means. As more collectors realize that now is a good time to buy, prices will inevitably start to recover—but in the meantime it is an excellent time to re-introduce a classic clock as part of the furniture.
At the beginning of 2015, the crazy market barber was chasing down every solar stock in town with a pair of shears. But against all odds (and the charts) solar stocks are quickly re-growing these days—and setting up a hell of a trading opportunity for you, too. And you’re looking at a 20% gain in just a few months if you have the stones to pull the trigger today. I backed off solar at the beginning of 2015 because every finance article that wasn’t about the oil crash was about solar power. But in February, solar started looking a little less awful. It started slinking higher, while the major averages had a brownout. That was our clue that something big was brewing. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSE:TAN) is now up 20% since bottoming out in January. That’s a new bull market, baby!
In the early and mid-2000s, Europe’s real estate markets embarked on a massive tear. People re-financed, often to buy a vacation home or make a speculative investment in Europe’s sunnier locales. Values rose and rose…until everything stopped. The market imploded and real estate owners found themselves deeply under water. By 2009, with a few exceptions, Europe’s real estate markets had halted. Transactions simply stopped. The gulf between sellers’ expectations and what buyers were willing to pay was so great that there was nowhere for them to meet. Now markets are moving again. And in four countries in particular—Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain—I see opportunity today. An added plus is the current strength of the U.S. dollar. At time of writing, your U.S. dollar buys you 24% more euros than it did in March 2014. Now, I’m not a currency guy, and I’m certainly not making a call on future euro-dollar exchange rates, but it makes European opportunities all the more attractive right now.
For four long months between October 2014 and January 2015, oil prices tumbled down a black hole…one that seemed to have no bottom. And that was after a 10% correction in the oil market. The U.S. public was dancing at the pumps, and I filled my tank for less than $2 a gallon, a price I hadn’t seen since early 2009. The last time oil prices fell this hard this fast, the global economy was in a tailspin that threatened to turn into a depression. This time, though, the global economy is not to blame. This time, oil is having a true “blood in the streets” moment—one that could be very profitable to investors in the know. You see, lots of good investors will tell you to buy when there’s blood in the streets. Essentially, that means you’re getting assets on the cheap in hopes that those who pressed the panic button sent prices down too far.
For many centuries, coins have been collected and hoarded. They have provided security against war, disaster, inflation and panic. And an added bonus is the thrill of owning a unique item with a history dating back hundreds or even thousands of years. And right now, there’s an opportunity for you to diversify your collection with rare world coins that are seeing substantial and steady growth in value. Rare and early coins from particular parts of the world are increasingly in demand from collectors in search for a piece of history. Coins from Eastern Europe and Russia have seen some prices increase tenfold in the past decade. Coins from India and the Middle East are now of intense interest to collectors in those countries. Even traditional collecting areas—such as Ancient Greek and Roman, as well as Western European and British coins—have increased over fivefold in the past decade. And this trend is set to continue.
Over the last two years, the gold price has dropped 30%, while the silver price has been cut in half. Well, let me tell you, I think both metals are set up to surprise to the upside in 2015, especially silver. Industrial demand for silver keeps ramping up. The Silver Institute, which represents the global silver industry, expects silver demand to grow about 5% per year over the next few years. The biggest growth opportunities are in photovoltaics (solar), automotive and ethylene oxide (EO, an essential ingredient in plastics). Longer term, just in photovoltaic solar panels, demand is expected to rise to 109 million ounces by 2018 from 88 million ounces consumed in 2013.
For more than 11 years I’ve traveled all over Latin America. From the U.S.-Mexican border all the way to Argentina, I see firsthand the opportunities this vast land has to offer. I’ve never seen a better time to invest in development land in Latin America than right now. The biggest returns in development come to the earliest speculators who take positions. You don’t need deep pockets to invest in development land—if you know how to do it. Nicaragua, for example, is a country of stunning natural beauty and abundant resources. It has a young population and its economy is catching up from a very low base. It has great potential as a retirement and vacation locale for North Americans. In the early 2000s, money and people raced in. Many didn’t have the skills or the experience to develop real estate.
Seven years ago, I sat in a sparkling high-rise in the middle of downtown Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, waiting to meet with the managing director and chief investment executive of VinaCapital, Andy Ho. From the window on the 17th floor, you could look out and see huge infrastructure and commercial real estate projects all over the city. “Have you ever been to Shanghai?” Andy asked. “We, too, are building a whole new city. When you come back in five years, you won’t recognize this place.” He was right. Consider the Bitexco Tower, the crowning glory of the Ho Chi Minh City skyline. It rises 68 stories and has a stunning observation deck cantilevered off the 49th floor. When I was looking out Andy’s window in VinaCapital’s Sun Wah Tower, it wasn’t there.
Movie memorabilia has long fascinated fans, and there’s a ready market for film-related items that can see their value skyrocket as the years pass by. This makes them tempting investments—and you don’t have to be rich to get in on this market, either. If the guys in the Props Departments at MGM could have foreseen what their rubber, plastic, and glued cardboard creations would eventually be worth, I’m certain they’d have kept them all themselves. These imaginative inventors designed and crafted the stuff that dreams are made of: sentimental artworks that now appeal to serious investors as much for their nostalgia value as for the excitement generated in owning a one-off appreciating asset.
The plain fact is that the world is awash in oil…for the moment. So it’s no great surprise that the oil price is tumbling, as are the shares of oil and gas companies. But I think we’re getting close to a buying opportunity. Global oil supply is already 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) higher than it was a year ago. Meanwhile, global oil demand is only 700,000 bpd higher than it was a year ago. Don’t panic—this is a seasonal thing. The difference this time around is that we already have a 2 million bpd oil surplus on the market, and production in the U.S. and Middle East looks set to rise through next year. The good news is that not all energy companies are loaded with debt. In fact, some should do quite nicely. But they’re all getting pounded lower now. Of course, that means we’re coming to an incredible buying opportunity in select stocks.
It’s a sun-drenched morning as I stand at a lookout point above the town of Mijas. Below me, the gleaming white buildings, with their roofs of rust-red tile, tumble down the mountainside. The pine-covered hills of the Sierra de Mijas mountain range reach up into the clear sky to my right. On my left, I can see the Costa del Sol—the Sun Coast—with the glittering Mediterranean Sea stretching to the horizon. It’s a comfortable 66 F here in Mijas, which is located in southernmost Spain. With more than 2,800 hours of sunshine a year around these parts, it’s the perfect place to escape a harsh winter back home.
The decade leading up to 2006 saw Ireland suffer through one of the biggest real estate bubbles on earth. The real estate market stalled in 2006/2007, amid rumors that transfer taxes were set to be reduced. Then in 2008 the crisis hit. In 2009, the global financial crisis rolled through, flattening Ireland’s entire banking sector and economy. In your July 2011 edition, I reported how Irish real estate was available at a discount of 80% on peak prices. Today, Ireland’s real estate market is bouncing back. News stories are filled with talk of housing shortages and fast-rising values. These reports are correct. There has been a strong surge in demand for family homes in desirable areas of Ireland’s main cities. The big buying opportunity here has passed, but right now Irish real estate is a tale of two markets.
A war looms in Asia, though you won’t have heard of it. This will be a war fought for resources and strategic positioning in the global economy of tomorrow: a war for economic dominance in what is emerging as the most crucial region of the world. The challenge for us—investors—comes in knowing where to go to profit from this new war in Asia. And I know where. Burma…a country less than two years removed from a military junta that ruled, often violently, since 1962. The aging military leaders have finally released their death-grip on power and now businesses from pretty much every major country you can think of—Australia, Japan, China, Canada, Singapore, Korea, India, Great Britain, Thailand—are beginning to swarm to opportunities that exist everywhere.
Isn’t there something rather seductive about a closed box, its lid just begging to be opened, taunting us with the promise of secrets held within? We all harbor an inner Pandora—the so-called “first mortal woman” who couldn’t help but open the box. Mythology tells the tale of Jupiter—or Zeus as the Greeks know him—sealing up all the world’s ills inside a great casket. He entrusted this vessel to his messenger, Mercury, asking him to take it to the ends of the earth. After an arduous journey and exhausted by his efforts, Mercury stopped to rest and laid the box at Pandora’s feet. He asked her to look after it for him but warned her not to open it.
“Chinese stocks have the potential to deliver triple-digit returns within 24 months,” I explained in a recent CNBC interview. That was a bold thing to say on camera… but I believe it’s absolutely possible… In fact, twice in the last decade, Chinese stocks have soared by triple digits within two years. When China goes up, it can soar… In China’s 2006-2007 bull market, Chinese stocks soared by 500%. It soared by more than 100% in its 2009 bull market as well. Importantly, Chinese stocks today are just as cheap as they were when they started their last two triple-digit runs in 2006 and 2009. They are hated, too… Investors have been avoiding them for the last year. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks are now in a definite uptrend. This is the ideal setup for big gains… So how can you trade it?
Little Uruguay is a country that has advantages for producing food. It has good productive land, and a temperate climate allows the cultivation of up to three crops a year on average. Thanks to increasing wealth and food consumption in emerging markets, farmland here could generate a yield of between 3% and 9% (depending on the type of land and management option you choose), and also enjoy long-term appreciation. And Uruguay is where the small guy can directly get in on this food trend with ownership control. Uruguay has an advanced domestic farm industry. The domestic infrastructure of farm management companies, routes to market, and professional services caters for foreign investors.
To most folks, names like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein conjure up multi-million-dollar price tags that seem well beyond the means of mere mortals. That’s true of their paintings, but what about their prints? Original fine-art prints fall into multiple disciplines. Those you’ll come across most often include etchings, engravings, lithographs, linocuts, screen prints, and woodcuts. And they all share one thing in common—the artist is directly involved in the creation of the image.
Oil prices have fallen hard this year. The same thing happened in the first half of last year due to soaring production. The reasons for the decline in price are fourfold. Last year, U.S. production rose to its highest levels since the 1990s. Furthermore, OPEC saw its production leap to a nearly two-year high in September, averaging 30.96 million bpd (barrels per day). Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has cut its global oil growth forecasts for 2015 as a result of second quarter consumption sliding to a 2.5-year low.
Imagine a morning walk that takes you along a winding path shaded by towering pines. Nestled in the woodland around you are homes with pleasant gardens, flower-filled pots and bougainvillea-draped walls. A few minutes is all it takes to reach the low-slung dunes. You pause on top to take in the view: 18 miles of brilliant golden sands fringing the warm tropical waters of the South China Sea. About 10 miles out are the Cham Islands, a biosphere reserve where you can dive on coral reefs and explore the ancient ruins of the Cham civilization.
We typically see Path of Progress opportunities in places that are on the up…we usually discover distressed opportunities by finding high-quality inventory somewhere that’s broadly in crisis. It’s rare that we see the convergence of both these trends—but today that’s the opportunity we have along a stretch of Spain’s Costa del Sol. San Pedro is a pleasant sleepy Spanish town of leafy squares and pedestrian streets. Marbella is 12 minutes away (by car…25 minutes by public bus).
Unless the European crisis is news to you, you probably know that Greece just suffered through its own Great Depression. Its economy shrank for six years in a row. Economic output fell by a quarter. The unemployment rate is 27%. And asset prices collapsed. No wonder, then, that some of the most successful investors are in Greece picking up bargains—including Dan Loeb’s Third Point, Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial, Seth Klarman’s Baupost, and John Paulson’s Paulson & Co.
As an antiques enthusiast, I like to ask dealers with different areas of expertise what’s hot and what’s not. A Spanish buff told me recently that Spanish Civil War memorabilia, once considered inappropriate and politically embarrassing, has now become collectible. Spain doesn’t have a great tradition of preserving reminders from its recent past. The Civil War was a complex and tragic period in the country’s history that divided families and set brother against brother.
Right now, you could buy your own piece of property right off the beach in Brazil…in a location where millionaires are putting their vacation homes…and all it will cost you is a few hundred dollars a month. The beaches here are spectacular—brilliant-white sand stretches for miles. Along that long stretch of coastline, multi-million-dollar homes are dotted. Over the past decade this part of Brazil has enjoyed an economic transformation. Very little has happened here—but now we’re seeing an opportunity.
The best estimate points to a world population several billion larger than today’s just a few decades from now—Earth may host 9.6 billion people in 2050, according to the United Nations. This population growth is all going to be a strain on Earth’s already stretched-thin resources. So how do you invest in a world like the future we seem to be hurtling toward? A world of rising population and increasingly scarce resources?
“The developer here is in jail…” is something I heard a lot. It was alarming…but in a way, it was reassuring, too. Puerto Vallarta—one of Mexico’s most popular expat destinations— is home to an estimated 10,000 North Americans living here full-time. They chose Puerto Vallarta for good reasons. Puerto Vallarta sits at the foot of the grand Sierra Madre mountains that sweep down to the Bay of Banderas. It’s a warm and sunny spot with tropical beaches, fresh ocean breezes, and temperatures that average 73° F to 83° F all year.
I walked into the main Credit Suisse branch in Chicago and told the doorman I wanted to open a Swiss bank account. I was led to a private office overlooking the Chicago skyline. Was asked for my minimum deposit. Being just 31 at the time, I played it conservative and started with just $2,000 (about $4,300 in today’s dollars).
The bidding in the auction room stood at 2 million Hong Kong dollars—and all eyes were on me. Ceiling fans offered some respite from the stifling heat outside, but the room still seemed unbearably hot. Some 40 or 50 collectors and dealers, many of whom had made the trip from mainland China, jostled for elbow room. A bank of auction assistants manned telephones and laptops, processing bids from around the world.
Sales for the 1,000 most sought after single-malt scotches have risen around 175% since 2008. That’s based on auction figures compiled by Scottish company, Whisky Highland, which track the market. In 2013, some 20,211 bottles were sold at auction, up from 5,431 in 2010.
I’m a daydreamer and a traveler at heart. One of my favorite ways to pass time is to imagine where else I might want to live one day. A recurring dream involves a cabin in the jungle where I would wake to the songs of carefree birds, the chatter of mischievous monkeys, and the rustle of a light breeze playing through overhead palm fronds.
If you have preconceptions about the Dominican Republic, put them aside. Most North American tourists head to the beautiful beaches and all-inclusive resorts of Punta Cana. But the opportunity for profitable real estate investing is elsewhere— somewhere a beach-town pad could be a great earner when you’re not using it.
Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania. Instead, the Irish-born novelist relied on dusty old volumes from London’s libraries and second-hand stories from Ármin Vámbéry, a Hungarian writer and traveler with whom he was well acquainted, to inspire and inform his neck-biting masterpiece, Dracula.
You may think of rare books as dusty old leather-bound tomes with unintelligible text in Latin or some ancient Gothic typeface. But one of the fastest-growing areas of the rare-book world in the last 30 years has actually been in first editions of 20th century literature in English.
Romania acceded to the European Union back in 2007… just in time for the global financial crisis to bite it in the neck. GDP growth, which at a robust 6% to 7% during the previous few years had been among the highest on the continent, promptly collapsed. The economy contracted by a whopping 6.5% in 2009 and remained in the red the following year. It’s been in a state of tentative recovery ever since.
It’s a quiet day in late June on the beach in Deauville. As I walk along the water’s edge, golden sand crunching beneath my toes, it almost feels as if the mile-long beach is all mine. Tranquility reigns right now, but a change is coming. Near the boardwalk, row after row of multi-colored beach parasols, elegant as Ralph Lauren models, are standing as ready as soldiers.
Natchi and her husband own the biggest guesthouse in town and business is booming. Wind energy is a big deal in this part of Brazil. When I stayed in their place—midweek during off-season—the place was packed to the rafters with 45 wind-energy workers. This is Icaraí (pronounced ick-areye), the closest town to the nearby wind farms. But sheltered in lush vegetation and right on the empty beach…this certainly doesn’t feel like a frontier energy town. It’s a tropical paradise.
I believe we all have a bit of the “collector” gene inside of us. We gather things throughout our lives…things capable of reminding us of a good time or a pleasant memory. It’s a way of capturing the moment to be relived at some point in the future. My Dad had the “collector” gene for sure. He collected mugs, decals, spoons, coins, stamps, Emmett Kelly paintings, Boy Scout council strip patches (CSP’s), Hummel figurines…and the list goes on.
Japan is an antique collector’s paradise. From unusual wedding gifts to snazzy souvenirs, the antique shops and local markets in central Tokyo have it all—and they are surprisingly affordable. Most of what’s sold is in excellent condition, even in the flea markets. Here are some items to look out for and where to hunt for them.
China is changing. That much we all know. And in the last few years a major shift has been in people’s diet. Spurred on by improved incomes, the growing Chinese middle class has developed a hunger for western-style foods—that means more meat and dairy.