Category: Economics

Lego Toys – a Better Investment than Gold?

Lego BricksPeople all over the internet have been re-posting and talking about a recent analysis done by The Telegraph that found Lego® sets have been a better investment over the past 10 years than savings accounts, stock and even gold! So should savers start hoarding the Danish construction toys to preserve their wealth, instead of gold coins? We will explore this question as well as a more interesting point the article indirectly makes about fiat money and wealth preservation.

Plastic Bricks vs. Gold Bricks

To be clear, the article notes that when talking about Lego sets over the past 15 years increasing an average of 12% per year, they are talking about sets in pristine condition, almost exclusively those bought as collector’s items and kept unopened in the original box.

The numbers come from their analysis of data from Lego price-tracking website brickpicker.com, which in turn gets its data from ebay sales of Lego sets. I have not crunched any numbers myself on this, but I have no reason to disbelieve their analysis. Further, 12% per year is a very impressive number, so are Legos going to become the new retirement savings vehicle?

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Top 5 Must-Have Stocks For 2016

stock-market-3 Join the gym. Stop smoking. Cut out fast food. Be kinder. These are just a few phrases that will be uttered to ring in the New Year. If you’re like me, the resolutions may only last for a short while, but at least you tried, right? Unfortunately for us, change is difficult and it seldom happens that we find a resolution worth keeping. That’s where Anthem Vault’s own John Stuart comes in with his Responsible Resolutions, encouraging you, the reader, to save more money and to make wise investments.

In order to help you become a wise investor and increase profits as a consequence, here are my Top 5 Must-Have Stocks For 2016:

  1. Alibaba

If you don’t know much about this Chinese e-commerce juggernaut, Anthem Vault’s Michael Scott wrote a compelling piece about Alibaba and what he sees for them in the near future. Though 2015 started off slow, there was no greater market presence than Alibaba in the second half of the year. Since the beginning of October, we’ve seen stocks grow by 41% in that short period. Alibaba also happens to be the largest e-commerce site in the world with 1 in 5 Chinese consumers as active shoppers. Alibaba offers a widespread tech market, and with China’s tech-savvy young consumers, they look to increase website traffic and business significantly in 2016. It’s no secret that the buyer is back in control at Alibaba, and with CEO Jack Ma aiming to make the company a global force through the partnerships with tMall, Starbucks and Disney, Alibaba should be one of the top stocks on your watch list.

2016: Take charge and #BeResponsible

fotolia_98074017It’s always a mind-numbing task to review the year that just passed, trying to piece together the puzzle of events – and 2015 was no different. From the investment side, precious metals had a slow and low year. Technology took some massive steps forward with the release of driverless car prototypes, ubiquitous Uber, a wide variety of drone applications, robots, 3D printers… the list goes on.

While technology has been punching away at the world’s troubles, ‘government’ has provided the endless background hum as we approach the 2016 elections. I won’t bore you with the details but amid heated talk of the war against ISIS, it is regulations and taxation that have continued their insidious influence, growing in reach akin to the way the money supply grows in such a speedy and unethical fashion. No, we aren’t here to remind you of the grim realities of the world; just to send some motivation and energy into your day-to-day life, and to ensure you are seizing each day and making it count!

We bring you the #BeResponsible campaign for 2016!

Fun Board Games That Also Teach Economics

IMG_20141214_195354860_TOP_SMALLGetting bored over the holiday break, or need to kill time waiting for the New Year to arrive?  Board games provide a great diversion but if you are like me, you find some of the classic board games to be a bit dull. Fortunately, I have found a couple of games that are not only loads of fun to play, but also offer some great economic lessons.

When considering board games and economic you might think of Monopoly, since it deals in money, trading, mortgages and rent. But Monopoly is one of the worst games there is, both in terms of game design and the economic concepts taught.

Why Everyone Hates Monopoly

First, Monopoly is hated by many people who are regular game players. A popular board game ranking site, boardgamegeek.com, ranks Monopoly at 11,689 on its list, a few places behind games like Old Maid. Why? The game follows a tired sequence that gamers like to call the ‘roll your dice, move your mice’ mechanic, so most players are bored while it is not their turn. It also is a game where once one person gets the upper hand, everyone else must play out the game in despair with little hope of winning.

More importantly, Monopoly teaches bad economic concepts. Unlike real life, there are rarely any situations where people are forced to pay someone for a service they do not want or need. Yes, some real estate or hotels may be more expensive than we would like, but there are always alternatives, even more so now with the rise of services like Airbnb. Also, contrary to popular belief, while monopolies are a theoretical economic possibility, there have never been any monopolies in history that have actually succeeded.

China’s Alibaba: Should Amazon, eBay and Overstock Worry?

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 I’ve long been fascinated by what’s happening in the world of international commerce. My intrigue has grown considerably over the past week after a lunch with two new friends from China. Over dumplings, a spicy chicken dish and cabbage, we explored a cornucopia of topics from the future of Big Data to the emergence of the messaging platform WeChat. But the biggest discussion topic was the explosive success of a global e-commerce enterprise in China that few westerners have even heard of……

Alibaba.

Founded in 1999 during a time when less than 1% of China’s population was online, Alibaba has minted itself as the world’s largest e-commerce company with a customer base that exceeds that of Amazon. Back in 2014, the company made history by raising $25 billion – reputedly the largest IPO ever – exceeding that of Google, Facebook and Twitter combined!

Now comes word out of China that Alibaba endeavors to significantly expand its footprint worldwide after a stunning set of accomplishments in their home country. According to the book ‘Alibaba’s World: How A Remarkable Chinese Company Is Changing The Face Of Global Business’, the company currently has approximately 300 million customers, while facilitating over 80% of China’s e-commerce transactions. And this is in a country where per-capita income averages $6,800 per year, and only a quarter of their population has ever ventured into the world of online shopping.

The Fed Finally Hikes Interest Rates – Is All Well?

Federal_ReserveThe Federal Reserve concluded its meeting this past Wednesday, choosing to increase their interest rate target by a quarter of a percentage point. The move was expected by the market because the Fed had been signaling it was planning on raising rates before the end of the year. Many market participants are cheering the move, saying it shows the Fed has confidence in the economic recovery and that things will be returning to normal. However, this is quite unlikely for a number of reasons that will be discussed below.

First the facts. The Federal Reserve increased the federal funds range from 0% to 0.25% (where it had been since December of 2008), to a higher range of 0.25% to 0.50%: essentially a quarter point increase. Yellen noted that the rate increase was due to the Fed’s confidence in the U.S. economy. The Fed’s projections put interest rates at a median 1.375% by the end of 2016, implying gradual rate hikes through next year.

I previously wrote that I did not expect the Fed to raise rates this year. So yes, I was off in this prediction since the Fed did sneak in a small increase right before year end! My logic was that the Fed currently had more to lose than to gain with a rate increase, given the risk of increasing rates into a recession or pricking the stock and bond bubbles. Conversely, the Fed didn’t face much pressure to increase rates, given that inflation is currently low, and if inflation did increase, it could be blamed on other factors.

I still think that is the case, which is why the Fed’s first increase is a very small one. What may have prompted the increase could be two factors. First, since the Fed has talked about (and repeatedly delayed) increases, they may have felt it necessary to finally have one, lest they lose all credibility. It was getting to the point that the market expected it so much, that if they backed out, it could have signaled that the Fed was not at all confident in the U.S. recovery, which might have sent panic through the economy.