By Amanda Morrall (email)
1) The gallery of wealth
Joe average investor took it on the chin last year with the S&P500 delivering next to nothing. Those with valuable works of art may have had a cheerier perspective on 2011. According to this Forbes Money piece works of art enjoyed double digit gains. The Mei Moses Art Index rose 11%, largely on the back of Chinese investors repatriating great cultural works with newfound wealth.
Investment advisor Charles Sizemore, who wrote the Forbes item, cautions investors against wading into this alternative market geared to the elite. A less risky bet he suggests is investing in luxury themed stocks in 2012. With the nouveau rich in emerging markets getting a taste for the high life, and all its trappings, companies catering to high net worth folks with money to burn on cars, boats, handbags and other over-priced non-essentials are going gang busters.
2) The seduction of low interest rates
I try my best to keep up with Canadian news but I obviously haven't done that good a job of it. I just about fell off my chair when I saw that the big banks back home are offering four-year fixed rate mortgages for 2.99%. I checked my home bank and noticed their 7-year-fixed rate of 3.99%. No, I'm not moving.
The low interest rate environment there, (the official lending rate is still 1%) appears to be pushing debt-tolerant Canadians further and further into the hole. Debt-to-income ratios (at 153%) are nearing the levels seen in America just prior to the housing crisis and GFC. Cheap money may seem a good excuse for a shopping binge but as this article by the Globe and Mail points out, consumers and homeowners need to do their math carefully. Some lessons to extrapolate for Kiwis audiences as well.
3) The making of an entrepreneur
Is entrepreneurialism born or learned and what should you do to foster it in your kids? Here's a little primer from a PF blogger by the name of erinshanendoah.com.
4) Just say no
Looking for a cure to chronic debt and financial woes? Easy. Don't buy stuff you can't afford. PF blogger thedebtmyth.com spells it out loud and clear here and unearths a classic Saturday Night Live skit on the subject featuring Steve Martin. I'll embed it below because the link is blocked in the story for some reason.
5) Financial lessons from the mat
Yoga has taught me no end of lessons. Yes, I have learned how to do a tripod headstand and most recently how to get into side crow from a headstand (no where near as graceful as the demo video here) but the discipline goes well beyond the asanas (the poses). The flexibility, balance and strength required of the physical body has a parallel life off the mat which is reflected in how we conduct ourselves outside the studio.
I was delighted to find this blog from my yoga journals from a fellow yogini writing about the five financial lessons she has learned from yoga. I expect it'll resonate with many other practitioners as well.
For other Take Fives by Amanda Morrall click here. You can also follow Amanda on Twitter @amandamorrall