The inception of a new calendar year always provides a convenient starting point with which to take a crack at a few investment predictions. With my crystal ball in hand, below are three investment categories I am particularly bearish on for 2010.
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In a related article I highlight a number reasons why gold is the next bubble to burst. First, it does not tend to trade off of fundamentals, but the psychology of what investors are willing to pay for it, which currently is momentum-driven and likely to end with a significant price decline once sentiment turns. Second, it isn't a good long-term investment and trades below the inflation-adjusted value of the last peak reached in 1980. Third, it does not generate income or earnings like a bond or dividend-paying stock does for investors. And, finally, Barrick Gold's (NYSE:ABX) recent decision to remove hedges on future price increases related to its gold production may just mark the peak of gold prices. (It's a big mistake for a fundamental investor to ignore technical analysis. Find out how to become chart smart in Fundamentals And Technicals: Together At Last.)
Conventional wisdom holds that a fiscal spending surge and subsequent budget deficit eventually will lead to higher interest rates, as investors will require a higher return for investing in riskier government securities. A weak dollar and fears of inflation also could erode real returns on U.S. Treasuries and other bonds, making them another security to avoid in the coming year. For overly bearish investors, shorting the iShares Lehman 20+YR Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT), which increases in value when Treasury rates decrease, is something to consider.
After a stunning period in the late 1990's that saw Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) and a number of other successful venture capital-backed companies successfully go public, the past decade has seen far too much capital chase after a very limited pool of compelling start-up opportunities. The recent credit crisis has further put a damper on the venture capital market. According to recent statistics from the National Venture Capital Association, 10-year returns of 14.32% still have bested the S&P 500 over the same period, thanks in part to stellar returns from Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) and Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM). However, given the long lead time for investors to cash out, and the fact that this type of investing is quite risky overall, is not sufficient reason to justify investing in the asset class any time soon. (Find out how venture capital firms make the market go round in Cashing In On The Venture Capital Cycle.)
As with any investment class, there will be individual securities that perform much differently than the group as a whole and end up quite profitable. However, as a group, investors in the above categories will likely have an uphill battle seeing significant upside during 2010 or over the next three to five years.
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