Friday, February 13, 2009

Where to Put Your Money in Uncertain Times

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In these uncertain times people will be wondering where to place their money. Firstly there was no question there was going to be a financial crisis - it was merely a question of when. WHEN the Dow and other markets broke historic support, it was only a question of HOW far will it for, and HOW much money will the government through at the problem to delay the inevitable.

I will suggest a strategy forward. A lot of generalisations are made, so I will offer specific investment opportunities. This is however a top-down analysis:

1. Gold mining stocks - Stimulus will eventually result in governments printing money.

2. Precious metals - Silver, platinum, palladium are all good. They are not as good as stocks because stocks have greater leverage as mining revenues rise faster than costs. Also gold stocks were over-sold in the recent stock price correction. Silver has risen 50% in just two months.

3. CFDs or derivatives in precious metals – This is another form of exposure to precious metals – whether you are talking about options, futures, or contracts for difference - mind you, you are taking a counterparty risk.

4. Foreclosed property in Japan - outlook not great now, but great yields outside the city, premature to buy in the city CBDs. Outer fringe areas make great buying, rural areas always good for lifestyle. Sooo cheap! You could buy a house for as little as $10-20,000 due to depopulation.

5. Broad Stocks: People are very negative on broad stocks: By that I mean all stocks outside the precious metals arena. I think if you cannot buy stock exposure for the long term, but there is no reason why you cannot trade rallies using chart signals. People look at the 1970s and 1930s and look at the dismal returns, but there were rallies in this period. So I suggest learning and using charts to trade medium term rallies. No long term ‘buy & hold’ investing.

6. Rural property in NZ - City property is overpriced, but if you don’t need to work in the city, or want to rent, then prices are modest, and the NZD is at a low point for foreigners earning USD,JPY,EUR. The NZD has fallen from USD0.80 to USD0.50. So great currency trade in beautiful country, no capital gains tax or transfer taxes, no GST on property. People will say the economy is in bad shape. Yeh, that's why it’s cheap. It’s a counter-cyclical investment, but when cheap, sell when currency recovers in 4-5 years. The 9% budget deficit will turn around like it did in the 1990s. Expect compulsory super to boost savings.

7. Property in the Philippines - regional property is more appealing, as it will benefit from more call centres going there. Yes, during a contraction, Western call centres are still shifting to the Philippines. More are being set up in smaller regional centres rather than Metro Manila as the infrastructure improves.
You can find more info by searching Google for foreclosed property. A lot of Westerners are doing it, and it makes sense if you are living there for a few years. Japan & the Philippines property markets are among the most under-leveraged and did not have the big gains. That will be important when the global economic activity finally picks up.

8. Foreclosed property in USA: It is still too premature to buy foreclosed property in the USA; I would suggest waiting until the bottom which will likely correspond with a peak in the Adjustable Rate Mortgage terms, so say another 8 months. Again we are looking for yields, so let that be your guide to where. Unless you are seeing rental yields over 10% then you are not getting good value.

9. Currency: Currencies are an interest asset class because they are essentially priced in relative terms as opposed to the absolute value of other asset classes. My favourites are:

a. South African Rand: South Africa is the largest producer of gold, palladium and platinum in the world, so the terms of trade for RSA are going to improve greatly as precious metal prices rise. The unfortunate aspect is that this will drive many mining companies broke as the strong Rand will undermine Rand revenues. So avoid RSA mining stocks.

b. Chinese Yuan: As long as China is the lowest cost producer and has the capacity to generate its own internal demand it will do relatively better, which is what currencies are about.

c. Swiss Francs: Governments and the elite of the world have much of their assets in Switzerland as they have done for hundreds of years. Thus Switzerland is always a safe investment.

d. Japanese Yen: I can expect the USD will fall to 87yen/$ support in future, though no further as the US economy has underlying strength.

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