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Back to the Good Earth
“Make your money on Wall Street and bury it on Main Street,” goes the time tested investment banker saying.
But what do you do when Wall Street “hits the wall,” so to speak? And Main Street is underwater and underemployed?
Where do you put your money then?
Not to paint too bleak of a picture mind you, but things have changed since the financial meltdown of 2008…
By quite a lot, actually…
Not that the Wall Street cats aren’t doing well, many still are…
Multi-million dollar bonuses for investment bankers haven’t been in short supply the past couple of years, so things must be going well, right?
At least they seem to be all right on Wall Street...
The jig is up
Let’s face it, Wall Street a lot less of a reliable source of wealth than it used to be and is far less democratic.
By that I mean that the mystique and status of the Wall Street investment world has changed…
The mystique has been replaced by derision and scorn from the American public as the curtain has been lifted on the bankers and how they have gamed system…
The Facebook phenomenon is only the latest example of what has been standard operating procedure for a long time…
Playing the American public for suckers while manipulating prices.
Don’t get me wrong; a healthy stock market is crucial to the American economy…
The problem is, it’s no longer healthy…
And the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and Washington isn’t good for the economy, either.
It begets crony capitalism and sows distrust in both the political and financial system from the rest of the country.
Mega bailouts, political protection, and the collusion to pick winners and losers in the economy are what the folks on Main Street see happening on Wall Street.
And it is very personal…
After all, when Washington loosened the rules for mortgage qualification, it turned to Wall Street to make the risky loans that resulted from those lowered standards sellable to investors…
Like you, me, and millions of others around the world.
And after the crash of both the financial system and the housing market…
Washington then fed the Wall Street crowd hundreds of billions of dollars.
We all know the story, but the point is, where can you put your money today that will hold at least some value going forward?
What about Treasury bills?
Are T-bills a safe place to park your money? They’d better be since the yields are at historic lows.
But even T-bills don’t protect your money when inflation and the probability of interest rates rising. Both of those will rob you of your principle while your money is in the bonds for “safekeeping.”
That so many investors around the world are now putting their money in US T-bills—and not in the US stock market—speaks volumes about the concerns they have.
A brief look at various financial sites and publications will tell you what you already know…
That the trust investors had in financial institutions and markets just isn’t there anymore.
And the confidence in governments’ ability to solve the financial mess that plagues Europe and the US is in short supply as well.
As a result, many investors want to put their money into something tangible with value that they understand.
Back on the farm
And that’s why producing farmland is where a lot of investors are finding some level of peace of mind as well as profit.
Lots of profit.
Prices for farmland in the American Midwest have gone up 30% in the past year alone.
But don’t think this strictly a “Green Acres” play where city folk are leaving their urban lives behind…
Investors are buying farmland and leasing it to existing farmers to work the land. In a time of rising food prices, farmland is proving to not only show high capital gains…
But is also a very stable income play as well.
In fact, farmland is the one area in the real estate market that’s booming right now.
And it’s not just in the US that farmland is in demand…
Working farms in Argentina and Chile are capturing American investors’ interest as well. The properties are priced at bargain levels for US investors…
And those countries have a cost of living index that is a fraction of what it is in the US.
But Americans aren’t the only ones buying up farmland as fast as they possibly can…
So are the Chinese.
The Chinese government is buying great swaths of farmland in Africa, the US and Canada, as well as in New Zealand and Australia.
Like Wang Lung, the protagonist from the classic novel, The Good Earth, the Chinese seem to be clinging to the old notion that all wealth comes from the land.
The Chinese know a good investment when they see it…
And they are also well aware of the long term rising cost of food.
Both sustenance and wealth, they seem to understand, ultimately comes from the good earth.
Pearl S. Buck would be proud.
And those are…The Gorrie Details.