Archive for June, 2007

Exotic Investments

June 25, 2007


Today’s Financial Post featured a front-page story on exotic investments, which typically hold esoteric asset classes and are sold to investors for their “diversification benefits”:

Diamonds – Diamond Circle Capital plc, a closed-end fund that plans to list on the London Stock Exchange will invest in a portfolio of polished diamonds, with a minimum investment of $1 million per stone. The fund plans to raise $400 million in its IPO.

Fine Violins Fund – A London-based dealer is planning to start a $50 million fund to invest in old violins.

Wine Investment Fund – Another London-based fund that aims “to generate capital growth through the buying, holding and selling of investment grade wines”.

The Fine Art Fund – A hedge fund that plans to make money by buying and selling paintings by Monet, Renoir, Picasso and other artists.

Football Players Fund Management – A hedge fund that has $15 million invested in the transfer rights of soccer players in Europe.

Apart from the fact that most of these funds seem to be based in London, I don’t know why anyone would want to invest in mostly speculative instruments. Like pure commodity plays like gold, silver and oil, these assets have an expected real rate of return of zero.

More New Canadian Personal Finance Blogs

June 24, 2007


A few quality Canadian Personal Finance blogs have launched the past few months:

Invest Skeptically is written by Thomas Kim, who works in the investment industry. He intends the blog “to be an advocate for the retail investor by reading the fine print, sharpening my pencil, and bringing in a little bit of the training and experience that any institutional investor has available to them”. (RSS Feed)

The Money Gardener started his blog to share his thoughts on “investing, stocks, personal finance, the market in general, and other financial matters that life throws at us all”. He mostly writes about individual stocks and publishes details on his taxable portfolio holdings and stocks he is keeping an eye on. (RSS Feed)

Thicken My Wallet is a blog on “everything to do with your money from a business advisor turned President of a niche financial company”. While he mostly writes about investing, the blog features an eclectic mix of money topics. Some recent highlights included a post on increasing your home’s resale value and a series of posts on saving money at the supermarket. (RSS Feed)

This and That

June 21, 2007

  1. If you collect Aeroplan points and haven’t made any transaction in the past year, you need to act now to keep your miles from expiring at the end of this month. You can collect points by filling up gas at Esso or buying specially marked Quaker or Tropicana products. (On a related note Rob Carrick compares Aeroplan with Air Miles).
  2. Jon Chevreau reports that regulators are considering a standard two-page disclosure form called a point-of-sale (POS) document. Unfortunately, POS (in engineering parlance, POS or piece of sh*t, is a term for a product that truly sucks) is a more appropriate term for the vast majority of mutual funds.
  3. Derek DeCloet writes in The Globe and Mail about his plan to start a hedge fund: he will borrow from the bankers at today’s low-interest rates and invest in the TSX Index for the usual fee of 2-and-20.
  4. Rob Carrick points out the TSX index is concentrated in just three sectors: Financials, Materials and Energy. If you are heavily weighted in Canadian equities, you should look abroad for getting exposure to sectors such as health care, consumer staples etc.
  5. Ellen Roseman writes in The Star on how Canadians can diversify their portfolios by investing abroad. Note that the Vanguard Europe Pacific ETF (Ticker VEA) should be available in the fall and will offer a cheaper alternative to EFA.
  6. Are we saving too much for retirement? Fortune magazine talks to two economists who hold opposing views.
  7. Many Canadians dream of retiring much earlier than the traditional age of 65. Fortune magazine talks to five who have actually achieved the dream.