Carolyn’s Daft Investment Tips

I recently happened to make an investment move so astute my broker complimented me on the action when it was done. I’m not rich; I just managed to lose less money than I would have if I’d kept my money in the market.

So forthwith, based on my one brilliant move, I am sharing with you investment insights for the modern day. Don’t take it seriously, but, hey, if you like the ideas and end up a gazzillionaire as a result, maybe you can drop a few bucks in my tip jar. If you lose it all, well, you’d probably have lost it on something else, too.

First of all, you can’t go wrong with pop culture geekitude.

I have a friend whose husband works in the convention business, and he says it’s slowing all around. But that would not describe the Wondercon comic book and pop culture festival which recently took place in San Francisco. It was bigger and better attended than it had ever been.

And as for its sister convention, the San Diego Comic-Con, it couldn’t be bigger, and there’s nothing but nothing that could keep the fans away. The show won’t take place until late July, yet tickets to the show have already been sold out. There aren’t enough hotel rooms for all the attendees, so all of San Diego will be booked out for five nights, at top rates, even if that’s $500/night. The convention floor is almost a mile long with new exhibitors having to put themselves on waiting lists in hope of getting a spot on it.

In fact, I’d dare guess that even if half the current exhibitors pulled out today, there are enough companies on the waiting list that the floor would still be full.

It’s events like the Comic-Con that remind you that no matter how dire the economy looks, a good 90% of people still have jobs, and they’re still willing to spend their discretionary income on the things they are passionate about. (And Comic-Con attendees are nothing if not passionate about their pop culture interests.)

Investment wise, I don’t know how you can use this, except as proof that people will spend money on the things they really really want.

And this brings me to my next point: vice investment. Years ago, Peter and I put some money into a new mutual fund that invested in all the wrong things: alcohol, tobacco, weaponry, and gambling. Even though it raises eyebrows, it’s consistently outperformed the market. And even in today’s soft market, it proves my adage.

Although cigarettes are heavily taxed and thoroughly vilified in America and Europe, they’re still a major prop for macho/sexy and would-be macho/sexy men in Asia, Latin America and Russia. Personally, I am imagining a wiry guy on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City lighting up after eating some scary supposedly-strength inducing food. As long as he and others like him exist, tobacco’s a great investment. (Wiry Vietnamese smokers, I salute you!)

Alcohol and weaponry, according to this fund, are selectively strong. The fund managers were a bit oblique, but I would guess cheap alcohol (downed in the throes of the I-got-no-job, I-got-no-house, I-got-n0-savings-and-no-future blues) is doing pretty well, as is guns and ammunition (currently enjoying record popularity with Mexican drug cartels and American survivalists).

The only thing that’s hurting is gambling, which the fund has pulled out of. As I interpret it, the casinos poured too much of their profits into ever building more casinos, and as a result the “category” is “over-leveraged.” Besides, it may be getting harder to go after dead beat losers on the run, especially when they can jump from casino to casino.

So I don’t think the problem is that people don’t have any money any more: they do. You just have to figure out what it is they’re still willing to spend their money on, even if it just so happens that it’s Todd McFarlane figurines or cases of Bud Lite.

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