12 Surprising Places to Put Your Money
By Liam Jamieson
So you’ve got a little extra cash, but it’s sitting in your bank account doing absolutely nothing. You haven’t the time or, to be honest, the interest to dabble in the complicated world of stocks and shares. But with inflation rising, you feel like you should do something.
In today’s Daily Dose, esteemed reader, we’re sharing the surprising new places for you to invest your stash of cash and make a pretty penny while you’re at it. From parking spots to hurricane betting, here are 12 alternative homes for your nest egg.
low risk, high reward
Music Royalty Funds
Not long ago, the profitability of music royalties was bleak: Pirated tracks plagued the industry, and the power of the album has been in decline for years. That’s changing. Music royalty funds, pioneered by investment companies like the U.K.-based Hipgnosis, are joining together the music and finance worlds in a way never seen before. These companies are turning music into a reliable and profitable asset class. How does it work? Funds buy the rights to music catalogs, which in turn give investors a royalty every time a song gets streamed, bought or performed. Most of the revenue is generated in the three to 12 months following the release of a song, and though the number of streams tends to decline over five to 10 years, they then level out, becoming a stable stream of revenue for investors.
City dwellers with an extra parking space, this one’s for you. As urban areas grow denser and parking becomes ever scarcer, those coveted rectangles of asphalt now come at a premium. In some of America’s biggest cities, they can generate hundreds of dollars in monthly revenue for parking spot landlords. Is it worth it? For those with built-in parking facilities that can be rented out, sure. But for people hoping to get in on the opportunity by purchasing a parking space, maybe not. Spaces in New York City can cost up to six figures. And with many metro areas planning to make their cities more walkable, combined with increased ride-sharing services and a future where self-driving cars are expected to take center stage, parking dollars here may not be the optimal move for everyone.
Pork is the most-consumed protein on the planet. Over 100 million metric tons of lean hogs — the name for pork as a traded commodity — get eaten every year. With countries such as China and others in Southeast Asia developing new middle classes that in turn are fueling the demand for pork, money makers are now looking at pigs as a new way to bring home the bacon. Although feed prices, weather, disease and the value of other meat products can impact costs, experts are optimistic that growing populations in Asia and Mexico will keep lean hogs high. What’s more, it’s not just pork for eating that’s exciting traders and speculators. Pig parts are instrumental in manufacturing pharmaceutical and industrial products, from heart valve replacements to plywood adhesives.
Moon and Mars
While some aerospace companies like SpaceX have yet to go public on the stock exchange, others ready to accept new investors and their cash are following a trend of doing so through a new, alternative route once shunned by Wall Street: Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). Also known as “blank check companies,” these entities go public and sell shares with no clearly defined purpose, allowing private firms to merge with them and sell stock without an actual IPO. Astra and Rocket Lab, both launch vehicle companies, have both gone public by merging with SPACs. And because the SPAC craze has faded compared to earlier this year, it’s a great time for companies to seek sweet deals with them. But before launching your cash into the stratosphere, remember that while the space sector seems to orbit apart from the terrestrial economy, a crowded market and conspicuous launch failures can quickly bring share prices back to Earth.
In an era when snail mail is almost entirely dead, why would anyone want to invest in stamps — which many regard as ancient artifacts? Well, that’s precisely the point: A growing interest in philately (the study of postage stamps and postage history) makes hard-to-source stamps highly valuable. The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, a limited-edition stamp from 1856, was bought in 2014 for $9.5 million. In June, the 1847 Mauritius 1d Ball Cover stamp and envelope sold for $9.6 million. Stamps have soared in popularity, so much so that they have become among the most expensive commodities on eBay, and estimates suggest there are more than 30 million active stamp collectors. Investing in this area is more than a hobby. Identifying and acquiring rare stamps, often those featuring printing errors, requires careful research and an eye for oddities.
Brewin’ Storm Bets
Forget wagering on sports. How about its sinister cousin, hurricane betting? On sites such as Weather Risk Solutions, traders can buy and sell Hurricane Risk Landfall Options (HuRLOs) and place bets on where storms will make landfall on America’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Even mainstream organizations like Sports Insider are getting in on the act, further promoting the idea that predicting where disaster will strike is a money-making scheme. Like sports, hurricane betting is less about plain luck and more about spending hours tracking complicated weather patterns and statistics. Nevertheless, as hurricanes continue to increase in power and frequency due to climate change, the forecast for turning high winds and heavy rain into cash looks promising. If you bet on your own vulnerable area, HuRLOs can also be a disaster insurance policy.
Investor Michael Burry is focusing all of his efforts on water. And considering that he’s the ace investor who gained national attention after betting against the U.S. housing market prior to the 2008 recession — depicted in the film The Big Short — you might want to listen up. Accessible, clean water is becoming scarce as the demands of a rocketing global population increase. That, in turn, is leading to a growth in the demand for innovative water-shortage solutions. Burry, for his part, is setting his sights on investing in food that can be grown in water-rich areas and transported and sold in places where water is hard to come by. It’s a method of water redistribution that, he insists, “will ensure that this redistribution is sustainable.”
The breeding and farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants, aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector in the food animal industry. With the looming challenges of overfishing and providing 30 million tons of seafood for the world to consume by the end of the decade, all eyes are turning to aquaculture to fill our plates. But the $150 billion industry still faces significant obstacles, namely vaulting ahead in areas of technological innovation. Disease and parasites such as sea lice are plaguing aquaculture fish populations, and existing treatment options have been called into question for their effectiveness. So while aquaculture’s emerging startups and innovations in technology may be risky, they also stand to be highly valuable someday.
Fine Art Activism
A new wave of “activist collectors” is making it cooler than ever to invest in contemporary work by artists of color. Companies like Masterworks and Artsy are making it easy to share in the excitement of art dealing, with the latter seeing significant results: Contemporary street art, African diaspora art and Black figurative art all soared in popularity on the company’s online marketplace during 2020, with activist collectors helping Artsy record its best year since it launched 10 years earlier. Since contemporary art is already one of the most popular investments for millennials, watch for this trend to keep growing.
But wealthy investors are buying up more than fine art. The latest trend? Dinosaur bones. The fossils aren’t for the faint of wallet, with two dinosaur skeletons sold together at a 2018 Paris auction for roughly $3.5 million, more than double their pre-sale estimates. Though European and American museums are frequent buyers, scientists and academics have clashed with the small community of wealthy collectors who acquire them for decoration — jacking up the price of fossils and risking damage if the precious bones are improperly stored or moved.
This brand of baijiu booze is ubiquitous among China’s business and government elites. But Kweichow Moutai’s vintage bottles have also become intoxicating to wealthy investors. Not because of their alcohol content, though (ranging from 35% to 53%). In fact, collectors of the classic bottles practically never crack them open to sip the fiery spirits. Instead, buyers hold onto them in hopes of turning a profit. Consider this: Newly produced bottles sell for $200 to $250, but 24 vintage bottles recently fetched a record-breaking $1.4 million. And with pandemic-fueled economic uncertainty, more and more collectors regard precious Moutai bottles as sober investments.
If you’re the type who’s always looking to trade up to the latest model smartphone or laptop, you may want to keep hold of your existing one — in time it could be surprisingly valuable. Old electronics are an emerging market that could one day see outdated gadgets turn a major profit. First-of-their-kind models are among the most prized, like the original 1976 Apple 1, a version of which is listed for sale on eBay for $1.5 million. But newer models are worth a good chunk of change too, as long as they come with their original packaging. A second-generation Apple iPod from 2008, still in its factory-sealed box, was listed on eBay for nearly $30,000 while a “vintage” 2002 iPod can be yours for a cool $5,600.
- Liam Jamieson, OZY Author Contact Liam Jamieson