One of the major factors to consider when investing in mining and oil stocks is where they are located. It is impossible to move a gold mine or an oil well that has been drilled. Many governments are now imposing draconian taxes on these companies, which negatively impacts shareholders. In some cases, this can be a correlation of -1. If an aggressive government is affecting a particular oil company, other companies in different locations may have to pick up the slack and their stock may rise in anticipation of increased sales.
Many governments around the world have become very aggressive with environmental regulation, costing the industry billions of dollars to comply. If you want to invest in companies that burn or sell anything to do with fossil fuels, you would do well to understand the political climate where their production takes place.
Investors who prefer municipal bonds must make their own geographical rating on top of the ratings provided for the various services. States like Michigan and Illinois are headed for some rough times. I wouldn’t be lending any of them my money in the current environment no matter what the interest rate might be.
Inflation is public enemy number one for seniors and savers. One of the advantages of currencies is they always trade in pairs. If one currency goes up, another goes down. If the majority of your portfolio is in one currency, you are well served to have investments in metals and other vehicles good for mitigating inflation.
Tim Price sums it up this way in an article posted on Sovereign Man:
“Why do we continue to keep the faith with gold (and silver)? We can encapsulate the argument in one statistic.
“Last year, the US Federal Reserve enjoyed its 100th anniversary. … By 2007, the Fed’s balance sheet had grown to $800 billion. Under its current QE program (which may or may not get tapered according to the Fed’s current intentions), the Fed is printing $1 trillion a year. To put it another way, the Fed is printing roughly 100 years’ worth of money every 12 months. (Now that’s inflation.)”
It is difficult to determine when the rest of the world will lose faith in the US dollar. Once one major country starts aggressively unloading our dollars, the direction and speed of the tide could turn quickly.
The Federal Reserve plays a major role in determining interest rates. Basically they have instituted their version of price controls and artificially held interest rates down for over five years. Interest-rate movement affects many markets: housing, capital goods, and some aspects of the bond markets. While it also makes it easier for businesses to borrow money, they are not likely to make major capital expenditures when they are uncertain about the direction of the economy.
While holders of long-term, high-interest bonds had an unexpected gain when the government dropped rates, their run will eventually come to an end as rates rise. Duration is an excellent tool for evaluating changes in interest rates and their effect on bond resale prices and bond funds. (See our free special report Bond Basics, for more on duration.)
While interest rates have been rising, when you factor in duration there is significant risk, even with the higher interest offered for 10- to 30-year maturities. Again, having a diversified portfolio with much shorter-term bonds helps to mitigate some of the risk.
Risk Categories of Individual Investments
While investors have been looking for better yield, there has been a major shift toward lower-rated (junk) bonds. Many pundits have pointed out that their default rate is “not that bad.”
At the same time, the lure of highly speculative investments in mining, metals, and start-up companies with good write-ups can be very appealing. There is merit to having small positions in both lower-rated bonds and speculative stocks because they offer terrific potential for nice gains.