October 9, 2012
One of the most successful con jobs in the history of the world has been the concept of unbacked paper currency… or fiat money.
Over the last 100-years or so, governments have been able to convince people that their pieces of paper, backed by nothing but promises, actually have ‘value’. This seems truly bizarre when you think about it. Governments tend to be untrusted, serial failures. Yet people readily accept their guarantees the world over.
The history of fiat money has proven to be an almost uninterrupted period of inflation, asset bubbles, booms, busts, bailouts, panics,and other crises… and thankfully, it is an experiment which seems to be quickly nearing its end.
As such, it’s high time for creative, thinking people to consider their options and start trading their pieces of paper for something of value.
We all know the familiar story about precious metals– gold and silver have a long-standing tradition as stores of value dating back thousands of years.
But did you know, for example, that in the early days of the United States, whiskey was both a store of value and a medium of exchange? At the time, the US had among the highest alcohol consumption per capita in the world… and people knew they could always trade whiskey for something else. As such, whiskey had significant value.
Now, today’s liquor fundamentals may not warrant rushing out to buy a home-brew distillery kit… or stocking up on Johnnie Walker. But there are a number of other alternative stores of value worthy of your consideration:
1) Ammunition and Firearms may be the new whiskey, especially in North America. FBI firearm checks have been going through the roof in the US over the last few years, and each one of these represents another buyer of weapons and ammo.
Consequently, both have handily withstood the effects of inflation. According to ammo.net, for example, the price of Remington .223 rounds rose 224% from 1999 through 2011.
2) Watches. A single watch can be worth tens of thousands… even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Imagine putting $200,000 on your wrist and leaving the country– it’s an easy way to move wealth.
As with most collectibles, scarcity drives prices higher in the watch market. Most watches are like cars, they depreciate. But scarce models (of cars, or watches… like a Patek Philippe) hold value.
3) Rare coins. Gold and silver are excellent, traditional stores of value. But while millions of new ounces are pulled out of the ground year in, year out, there are only a certain amount of 1907-1933 St. Gauden $20 gold pieces in the world… and they can’t go back in time to make more of them.
4) Agricultural property. Few asset classes are as inflation-proof as high quality productive land… because, no matter what, it will always have value. Human beings will always need to eat.
Farmland prices around the world have been rising rapidly over the years and have hit all-time highs in places like the US and UK. But farmland in Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and select other markets is still quite reasonable.
Like anything, you wouldn’t want to hold any of these assets without first educating yourself and becoming an informed owner. But given that the paper currency sitting in your bank account is depreciating rapidly… or at best, generating a tiny fraction of a percent in interest, it’s definitely worth looking into alternatives right away.