Predator's Ball: Cashing In Without Getting Fleeced
This will be a politically incorrect article. It may seem unkind, insensitive, and cruel given the fact that so many people are hurting financially. Many have lost their jobs, homes, retirement security, and hope. Yet -- ¬¬if you can see beyond today and let intelligence, not emotion, rule the day -- now is the time to position yourself for riches.
You see, the biggest predator's ball in history is in its planning stages and invitations are being sent out. For about a year now, friends and associates have been inviting me to join their investment pools. One friend has over a billion dollars in cash sitting on the sidelines. Last night, another friend said that a large bank had invited him to bid on their portfolio of foreclosures. The minimum price: $30 million in cash. He estimated that for that price we could acquire over a billion in distressed properties. For $1 million, I could buy a ticket to the party. I passed on the deal, saying the price was out of my league.
Many people got into trouble when times were good. For example, some of my family's friends placed all their money with a financial planner during the boom years, believing the standard sales pitch that the market goes up an average of 8 percent a year -- even though it doesn't. For over 20 years, I encouraged them to learn about investing rather than blindly turn over their money to a stranger. Today, they have lost over 45 percent of their portfolio in the last two years. They are not rich people. Now they want to know what to do.
Two Types of Predator's Balls
My point is this: There are two types of predator's balls. There are balls when times are good. My family's friends were victims of this type of exploitation -- when predators get you excited about rising markets.
For example, when real estate was soaring in price, predators known as flippers emerged and began selling houses to people at sky-high prices -- many of whom had no business buying a home.
There are also predator's balls for bad times. These take advantage of the exploitations that occurred during the good times. I like the bad-times predator's balls the best because deals are plentiful, people are humble, prices are low, and opportunities abound. I hope this party lasts for at least five years. I am investing more today than I was two years ago.
The Best of Times -- the Worst of Times
In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote in 'A Tale of Two Cities':
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair ..."
For millions of people this is the dead of winter. If any of you who are reading this article are going through tough financial straits, I offer you this article and passage as encouragement to keep going -- to make the worst of times your best of times.
As the economy worsens, I am seeing a new predator's ball emerging - one for suckers. This is the ball for gold and silver. If you have been watching television lately, you will have seen ads advising people to send in their old gold jewelry for cash.
Only suckers would do that... but as you know, a sucker is born every minute. I also see ads advertising 100-percent-pure 24-carat gold-plated coins for $29.95. Obviously, the key words are gold-plated. Only a moron would invest in a gold-plated coin. The only way that person can sell that gold-plated coin is by finding another moron -- which I'm sure can be done, especially as the gold and silver markets pick up steam.
A Sign of Bad Business
In Phoenix, a businessman who was convicted on fraud charges recently opened up a new gold coin shop. He had been banned from being in the gold and silver business for ten years. His timing was good because his ten years were up and now he is sending invitations to his party. Invitations are expensive. He has prime retail space, marketing expenses related to advertising heavily on radio and television, half-page ads in newspapers, major yellow page ads, and a slick Web site. This is how predators send out invitations. Any time an investment company has to spend heavily on advertising, it's probably a bad business in which to invest. You may recall that many mutual fund and real estate companies were sending out plenty of invitations during the last stock and real estate predator's balls.
I believe that gold and silver are good investments -- but their prices are at all-time highs, which means it is time to be cautious, not foolish. Today, I hear financial experts on television advising people to buy gold. These are the same guys who were recommending stocks and mutual funds less than two years ago. So be very careful as the gold and silver markets begin their next climb. I am still buying gold and silver but I did most of my buying when gold was at $300 an ounce in 2000 and 2001.
Many gold and silver experts will recommend you buy numismatic coins -- rare and old coins. If you are not a rare coin expert, I'd encourage you to stay away from them. New investors often pay too much for rare coins that are not really rare. If you are new to gold or silver, I recommend you buy as close as possible to the international spot price of the metals, watching out for premiums and commissions per coin. Buy bars or blanks, rather than coins, if premiums are too high. Watch out for scams. If the person you are buying from makes you uneasy, run. Take delivery when you hand over your money. Keep coins or bars in a bank or safe.
A good book I recommend is 'Investing In Gold and Silver' by Mike Maloney. He is one of my personal advisors on the subject, and his book is worth its price in gold.
In closing, I'll leave you with this thought: Remember that when one predator's ball ends, another is starting. If you plan on attending, be sure you are a predator, not the main course.