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Welcome to the Alternative Investments Experimental Blog!

Increase your knowledge about alternative investments!
This blog mainly focus on stock market-alternative investments such as forest investments, land investments, property investments, hedge funds, forex investments, and other interesting ways of making money.

I analyze and buy alternative investments with my own money. This gives you fun reading and a guideline how to invest your own money in alternative investments by following my success and learning from my mistakes! :-)


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Investor Compass, the web-based alternative investment and broker selection tool has launched!



Have you been wondering what I have been up to lately and why I haven’t posted anything recently? I have been working on the social investment community, Investor Compass.

Version 1.0 of Investor Compass is now launched! (www.investor-compass.com)
Investor Compass aims to maximize profit and minimize risk for alternative investments. Users rate investments they have made and the brokers they have used, giving guidance where and where not to invest.

Alternative investments such as forex, property and forestry have little information available regarding the actual performance of the investment. The information that does exist is mainly marketing material which is, of course, biased. There is a wide range of alternative investment products on the market, offered by both investment issuers and brokers, but it is difficult to know who you can trust and what investment products actually work. This is why Investor Compass was created.

By sharing their experiences, members at Investor Compass help each other to:
      Find the best alternative investments on the global market
      Avoid bad investments and brokers
      Explore opportunities they wouldn’t have found on their own
      Discuss investments
      Identify scam brokers

You are most welcome to sign up for a FREE membership at www.investor-compass.com

I would appreciate if you spread the word of Investor Compass to your friends to help us grow the Investor Compass network fast so we can find the best alternative investments out there!

With the hope to create better and more informative investment decisions - together!

/Chris


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Jewelry trading - fun and a good lesson

My wife and I have done some jewelry trading just for fun. Finally an investment type that it was easy to convince my wife to take part in! J

Before we start; what do you think the value is of this beautiful diamond cocktail ring?

 
 

Ok, I can understand it’s difficult to assess it just by looking at a picture. So, if I give you the following additional information: 18K rose gold, 217 brown diamonds, 158 black diamonds, 68 white diamonds. About 4 carat in total.

Now the case looks more interesting, right..? It must be worth a fortune with so many stones… That’s how my wife and I reasoned at least. And we thought we could make a good deal out of this ring by buying it and reselling it based on the following assumptions:

·         The ring was half off from the original price
·         We would  sell the ring on another market where diamond rings are valued higher
·         The currency exchange rate to the other market was very favorable
·         The ring was very different – unique but still beautiful. Unique rings are often easier to sell since the competition is lower
·         The ring was in mint condition
 
The last statement was also the problem with this ring; we bought the ring brand new and when selling a ring at an auction, which was our plan, the price immediately is much lower than the list price of a new ring. I have heard that 1/3 of the original list price is the rule of thumb of what the ring could sell for at an auction. But end prices at auctions vary a lot so it is a very rough estimate!

We bought the diamond ring for about 5 000 USD. The appraised value at a well-respected auction house on the market where we wanted to resell it was good but with the re-sell fees of the auction house would drive down our profit below the purchase price so we haven’t sold it yet. I could try to sell the ring myself which would keep the sales fee in my own pocket, but it would be difficult to reach out to the right purchase market by doing it myself and the possible doubts of the ring’s authenticity would be out of the question if selling the ring at an established auction house. Another possibility would be to go to another auction house to get another appraisal. I have done that before with other jewelry and both appraisals and re-sell fees can differ quite a bit between auction houses, making a jewelry not profitable to sell an one auction house but profitable at another one…


I have two good take-aways from this investment venture. Firstly, always have a back-up plan for your purchase. If it doesn’t go as planned you really need to be willing to take a loss when reselling it – or you could do what we did… Our back-up plan was that the ring would serve as a future anniversary gift to my wife. So currently the ring lies in a drawer collecting dust, until this special occasion occurs! So in a couple of years, when we value the ring again at another auction house, if the price doesn’t dramatically increase, my wife will happily have a new piece of fine jewelry! I guess I don’t have to tell you that my wife is very happy that the resale of the ring doesn’t seem to work out as planned… It wouldn’t surprise me if she had bribed the person making the price estimate of the ring in order to give us a low evaluation so she could keep the ring… J

Lesson number two: it is difficult to buy a new ring with the purpose to re-sell it immediately. A new ring is like a new car. It drops in value right after you walk out of the store with it. Therefore the next ring we invested in we bought at an estate jewelry auction. That investment was very successful and we also followed an investment method to boost the profit of the sales! You will be able to read about this investment in my upcoming posts, so stay tuned and sign up to my newsletters if you want to know more about this subject!

If you find my blog posts interesting and valuable you can make a small donation as a token of your appreciation. I use all donations to invest and explore interesting alternative investments to give my readers inspiration and new perspectives of opportunities and pitfalls out there!  Click on: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=N6T59X7UY5STA. Thanks for your donation. 

/Chris

Friday, July 11, 2014

A fishy cold call from Komatsu Global...




Ever heard of the stock broker Komatsu Global? Me neither, until recently. Komatsu Global called me around a week ago claiming they have a great deal going on right now  involving GE stocks, which they expect would rise with 70%. The news that will drive up the price will be released within 90 days according to the conversation. Komatsu Global had already secured a number of stock shares a while back so if I would invest through them I would get another 7% discount due to today’s stock price being higher than when they bought the shares.

They sent some information about themselves and their “Wealth management” concept and then kept calling me three times a day for a follow-up conversation, because they had “breaking news” of the GE stock. Of course they wanted to create a sense of urgency and a “once in a lifetime” deal feeling in order to secure my investment. “An investment of only 50 000 USD” they said. When I told them that I didn’t have that kind of money it was sufficient to invest 5 000 USD. This fancy Senior Portfolio Manager was a smooth-talking guy trying to convince me about this steal. He kept calling even though I had responded in an email to him that I wasn’t interested in receiving further calls. I explained that I was skeptical since I had never heard about Komatsu Global even though he said they had been in business since 2001 and had a really good reputation among their current investors. When I told him that I would see how things develop for the GE stock based on his advice he got really pushy, angry and hung up on me.

I checked the trustworthiness of their homepage (http://www.komatsuglobal.com) through Scamadviser, http://www.scamadviser.com/is-komatsuglobal.com-safe.html, their homepage is only three months old, hosted from the USA (even though they claim to operate from Japan…), and the owner of the homepage is hidden… Sounds strange for a company that has been in business since 2001 to only have a website that is three months old J















So watch out for Komatsu Global!

/Chris

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Is owning a second house really a good investment?


 

The picture above shows my parent’s beautiful summerhouse with a 10 minute walk to the ocean – a great investment?

What you are about to read now is kind of a contradiction to what I have written before about investing in property. I would like to challenge your mind and the common “universal truth” that investing in property is a good thing…

My family has had a summer house in a popular summer vacation resort for many years: Last year my mom told me what a great investment it has been. She mentioned that she and dad bought it for 12 000 USD in 1975 when I was one year old and my sister was three years old. And now the house is worth about 540 000 USD. It sounds like a great investment, doesn’t it? At least at a first glance…

Let’s look at this a bit more. When mom and dad bought the house they had to give it a thorough “facelift” as the house was in bad condition, and they also built on to the house. So they actually invested around 43 000 USD initially, including both the initial house purchase and renovation. But it still sounds like a great investment, right?

And in year 2003 they built on to the house a second time, this time to a cost of 77 000 USD. So they have actually invested 120 000 USD - and now the value is 540 000 USD. So, do you have any idea how much the value increase of the house has been per year since they bought the house? About 6%! Not too bad, but I must say that I got a bit disappointed when I calculated this figure as I thought it would turn out to be even higher ROI considering that 540 000 USD is so much money! L




Figure above: calculation of the ROI of the house investment

However, this is not the whole truth. During the years there has also been running costs such as maintenance and repairs, as well as electricity, insurance, water, etc. If we would take this into account (with the assumption that the running costs year 2014 are estimated to 1% of the yearly house price) we would have paid in total about 71 000 USD during the 39 years we have had the house, bringing down the ROI per year to around 5,5%.




Figure above: calculation of ROI also considering running costs. The housing costs of 70 669 USD decreased our calculated annual rate of return further to 5,45% (sorry about the small figures in the table :-) )

Does this house still sound like a good investment? Well, not really to me. But it of course depends on how you would have used your money otherwise and what returns you are looking for. I am looking for higher returns than 5,5% per year. But the house has been a safe investment, so for being a low risk investment 5,5% is quite good. Also, we shouldn’t forget how much fun we have had in the summer house. So from that perspective it actually has been a great investment!

As a conclusion, in order to get a really good return on your summer house/ 2nd house you should try to rent it out to increase the house payoff. I was in Hawaii (Big Island) earlier this year and got interested in buying an apartment there for rental purposes and for own usage. Hawaii is an excellent location for a rental property with good weather all year long, making the rental period long. And it has beautiful beaches and exciting landscapes and a strong, consistent rental demand from mainly the US and Japan. There are a lot of vacation rentals in Hawaii and I found one that seemed great at the first sight; a smaller condo (1 bedroom) in good shape right by the beach and quite central - and according to the prospect it had a track record for being a successful rental property. And indeed, it would give me a gross rental income of roughly 11%. Not bad. But there was a lot of overhead cost related to this, such as property management, repairs, electricity, which took down the ROI to around 5%. Not that good compared to the first calculated ROI of 11%. But on the other hand, I also would gain from the capital appreciation of the apartment.

Again, here is a good learning that reinforces what I mentioned earlier –things you don’t think really about (i.e. electricity, maintenance, etc.) actually add up quite a bit and actually cost a lot of money, bringing your potential net ROI down! Have this in mind when you look into vacation rental properties!
 
/Chris

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

African trees – a socially responsible investment with Better Globe


 



 

 
 
 
 
 
I have a nephew that was born recently. He is a handsome young man, named John after my grandfather, and I have been looking for a gift worthy his cute smile and great name. I gave his brother an investment in a stock fund a few years ago after a suggestion from my sister, but the fund hasn't increased very much. So for John I decided to give him an alternative investment - an investment in African trees! Again, this is one of those investments with a long investment horizon but I figured if someone can wait for the money, it is a newborn!

I invested with Better Globe (www.betterglobe.com), a company that started year 2006 and operates mainly in Kenya. The business and investment idea is to plant trees in Africa and sell them to companies and private investors. The company market their product as “prosperity with purpose”, hinting that it is not only trees that the investor invests in, but also in the future of Africa. And Africa definitely needs help; every day 30,000 children die from a combination of disease-infested water and malnutrition, and only 57 percent of African children are enrolled in primary education - one in three of those does not complete school. The list can be made long for all the help Africa is in need of.

Therefore Better Globe combines an investment with help to Africa by offering gift- and donation tree packages for a low cost. In the gift package for only 17 Euro (about 23 USD), you get:

·         Two Better Globe trees to the gift receiver with a profitable return
·         500 liters of water for locals
·         1.5 Euros for school building
·         1.5 Euros for microfinance operations

The planted trees of Better Globe are a mix of acacia senegal (gum arabic) and mukau (tropical hardwood). Acacia Senegal has a wide usage and is used among others in Coca-cola, food and candy. The mukau tree can get 20 meters high and is very suitable for construction purposes and furniture.

 


So what’s in it for John?

Better Globe manages the trees on the owner’s behalf for 20 years until it is ready to be harvested. From year five to year 20 you will get a yearly 15% return on your invested money (paid out every 5th year). So if you buy a donation package for 17 Euro you will in 20 years receive 191 Euro. Sounds pretty good to me. But does it work? Well, we’ll see in five years when the first payment is due. I do have my hopes up. There is a blogger, Jan Bolmeson, that claims that he has received his first payment and he seems trustworthy (see http://www.rikatillsammans.se/om-rikatillsammans for more information). He is actually also a representative for Better Globe so he might be a bit biased but I have read quite a lot about him and he seems a person I can rely on.

Being a Better Globe representative, an ambassador, is a nice perk for anyone who wants to become a part of this organization – and there is some money in it for the ambassadors as well…


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you liked this post, please click on “like” on the red Google+ sign (“g+1”) on the top of this page, thanks! 
 
/Chris
 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A financial trading online course – the perfect Christmas gift!


Last Christmas while friends and family got Christmas gifts filled with chocolate and fun stuff I received my “candy” - a course in financial trading! This course will hopefully boost my trading so I can buy luxury Christmas gifts for my family in the future J

The trading course was an English online web-held seminar, consisting of ten live evening seminars during four weeks. Some subjects covered by the trading course were:

·         Market Analysis Methodologies

·         Candlesticks and technical analysis

·         Risk management

·         Walkthrough of free trading software with demo account

This course was provided by the company Academy of Financial Trading (http://www.academyft.com), an award winning online training company focusing on web-seminars to teach how to trade financial instruments. They have trained over 35 000 people worldwide and was voted “The best online trading educator 2013”.

 
 
 
 
 
The course content was very interesting and teachers were good at explaining. Even if I have traded quite a bit before I did have some good take-aways from the course (it was a trading foundation course). There were some really nice features built into the course model:

·         A small quiz was provided at the end of each week so participants could check if they were “on track” with their learning curve

·         Each seminar was recorded so participants could see it later in case they missed any seminars or just wanted to have a recap

·         Fully interactive Q & A sessions after each seminar where participants could pose questions

Also, a final exam with certification was available. I got the score “excellent” so I have decided to take on the advanced course, “Ultimate Traders Programme”. This course will also be held through web seminars and I will during this course learn how to master their trading tool which will help me to take winning positions (hopefully…).

So stay tuned and subscribe at the top right on my blog if you want to know how much I will be able to make using their software!

And if you liked this post, please click on “like” on the red Google+ sign (“g+1”) on the top of this page, thanks!

/Chris

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Carbon credit investment with IRE (Industry RE)…a fascinating scam…???




 
 
 
 

 
Happy New Year! In this first post of the year you will read about a hot investment topic – carbon credits! I must admit that this kind of investment is difficult to explain so I believe the best thing for you is to google it on Wikipedia.com for a short introduction. After reading wikipedia you would probably realize that this kind of investment is difficult to get a grip on and there is a lot of information out there, and many different investment schemes. I chose to go with the English investment broker Emerald Knight Consultants, who is “specialising in Socially Responsible & Sustainable Investments”. At the time, Emerald Knight Consultants was promoting a carbon credit investment from a company called Industry RE (www.industryRE.com) which had the mission “To aid in the creation of a profitable and sustainable future where our ecosystems, population, businesses and financial systems work together in harmony”.

 
 
              
 



Industry RE defined a carbon credit as a “unit earned by someone who has implemented a project according to international standards that generates a reduction, removal, storage or avoidance in greenhouse gas emissions than would otherwise have occurred (for example a windfarm)”. In this case I bought Voluntary Emission Reduction Carbon Credits (VERs). According to Wikipedia.com, VERs are usually created by projects which have been verified outside of the Kyoto Protocol. One VER is equivalent to 1 tonne of CO2e emissions. Through these schemes, industries and individuals voluntarily compensate for their emissions or provide an additional contribution to mitigating climate change. VERs may be developed and calculated in compliance with one of several VER standards. These standards set rules defining how emission reductions are measured. Standards provide assurance for buyers of VERs. At a minimum, all VERs should be verified by an independent third party.
 
The opportunity was to buy VERs over one year and receive 30% ROI. It sounded great! The account manager at Emerald Knight Consultants said over the phone “the returns from the last batch is being paid out as we speak”. A “proven” investment, even better! So I bought for the smallest amount possible as I didn’t know much about this type of investment and I wanted to be a bit cautious.

 
So what happened with this high-return investment?
 
After one year of eager waiting I got the information that the payout of my initial investment and the 30% profit was delayed. I waited one month…. two months… three months… And I received one excuse after the other for the delay: Industry RE had moved its headquarters to Dubai so the bank transfer didn’t work properly, the bank had been overtaken by another bank so no transfers worked, etc. It was impossible to get a hold of Industry RE and Emerald Knights Consultants were not helpful either. I felt a bit like I was David fighting Goliath. J
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
One day I happened upon a link on the Internet that referred to a group of over 200 Industry RE investors that were in the same situation as me – delayed returns with elusive excuses. The idea behind the group was that “many investors are together stronger than one single investor”, that we could share information received about the investment, and apply pressure on Industry RE and Emerald Knights Consultants to deliver according to contract. A while ago all investors received a letter that many of us had anticipated – Industry RE was bankrupt. Where the money went is still a mystery, and the CEO seems to have disappeared into thin air. There are many theories circulating within the group of investors about what has happened, but one thing is clear: Industry RE is in liquidation and has been taken over by liquidators. There is basically a snowball’s chance in hell that I will get some of my invested money back. Thank you Industry RE, well done. And special thanks to Emerald Knights Consultants for a high-quality Due Diligence. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhh!!!!
 
Many in the investors group have also invested in GFI Forestry through Emerald Knight Consultants, which also is experiencing delayed returns which were expected in January 2013…. Hopefully we will have more luck chasing this payment.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here is to hoping that you, valued reader, will have more prosperous investments during the new year than I had in 2013!
 
I hope also to post some more profitable (?) investments that I have conducted recently. So stay tuned and subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already done so!
 
Until then, invest safely J
/Chris