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Wednesday Links — March 3, 2010

I feel very far behind in my readings of the Economist this week, but I kept up with the blog world a little better than usual. Let’s do some links:

  • Couldn’t agree more with Miranda on physical gold.  The slippage on entering and leaving physical gold is immense.
  • Great article by our friend Fred on green savings strategies, for those rare occasions when your pocketbook and your conscience might align.
  • Let’s give Poorer Than You a round of applause for netting four dollars and a Plutus Award!
  • Online Investing AI discusses finance apps.   Relevant to me as I’m desperately trying to figure out what phone to get.
  • Trend technician discusses the black swan in Greece and why I’d be far too scared to chase it.
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Gifts for Investment Nerds

As a finance nerd who is very hard to shop for, I thought I might take some time to give some hints to those of you who have to shop for people like me. Here are some clues of gifts you can get for boring folks who only like to talk about the stock market and economics:

A Subscription to the Economist – I have had subscriptions before, but I can’t ever get through them in a week so pretty soon I have a pile in my entryway.  That being said it’s SO much cheaper to get a subscription and if you giftee is a frequent reader of the Economist it could be a very appreciated gift.

A copy of Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics – This is a great read for someone who is interested in economics.  While he occasionally dabbles in partisan politics, this book is much less “agenda driven” than many of his other books, particularly Economic Facts and Fallacies.

A Single Share of Stock Cerificate - Most of us trade almost completely electronically anymore and we almost never actually get to hold any physical symbol of our interests. You can get these from OneShare.com. Right now you can get $20 Off Complete Framed Stock: Use code HOLIDAY09.

Gold Coins – Much like the stock certificate, this gives us something physical to represent what we spend so much of our time doing.

Classic Books – Even if they’ve already read them, it can be nice to own a copy of something like one of Peter Lynch’s classics, or the Intelligent Investor.

Stress Relief – Get something to take the edge off during the trading day.  I like stress balls, but there are tons of options.

Report or Newsletter Subscriptions – If you’ve ever heard them mention a newletter or a research service they’d like a subscription for, this can be a great gift.  I’d never go out and buy one myself, but if I got one as a gift I’d use it.

Of course, in the end we know that we’re hard to shop for and will be happy with whatever you give us.  Especially if it’s not depreciating rapidly!

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5 ETFs That Can Help Balance Your Portfolio

Photo by: Nicholas_T

While I generally advocate against investing in individual stocks for amateur investors, I make some exceptions for ETFs.  Exchange Traded Funds are funds that trade on the stock market like a regular stock, but represent underlying assets like a mutual fund.  These ETFs give you an opportunity to hedge your stock market positions and provide some balance to your portfolio fairly easily.  While I would still recommend a lot of research before buying any of these, each of these ETFs gives you some ability to round out your positions.

GLD: Gold

I’ve been known to make fun of “Gold Bugs” now and again in my days, but you have to admit that with the specter of inflation looming over all of the spending and stimulus, gold becomes a bit more appealing.  The mechanism for this ETF is supposed to be fairly straightforward, and it’s done a good job of duplicating the returns of gold recently.  Because most of the currencies out there are from governments who are in straits just as dire as the USA, it can be appealing to find a “currency” that no government has control over.

TIP:  Inflation Protected Treasuries

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