In the early 2000's, we had the technology bubble. More recently, we had the real estate bubble. Now, I see two new bubbles that may be developing - and may be putting your nest egg at risk. I'm talking about bonds and gold.
The reason I won't be surprised if there ends up being a bubble in bonds is that I just saw a statistic stating that year to date close to $150 billion dollars has gone into bond mutual funds. And in the same time period, over $50 billion dollars have been taken out of stock-oriented mutual funds. If my math is correct, that's about $100 billion dollars that has flown from money market accounts into bond mutual funds.
When you think about it, that's the herd mentality in action. After all, the real estate bubble was at its peak when it seemed like everybody was jumping into real estate, with "flip this house" and "preconstruction condos" and "flip the contract" and all that craziness. When I see a huge migration of money into a particular area, to me, that means a bubble may be forming. This could be the case with bonds.
Interest rates are at historical lows. Bonds go down in market value when interest rates go up. So if you've got money in a bond mutual fund, you need to be very aware of any increase in interest rates, because a raise in interest rates will cause the value of your bond mutual fund to go down.
Note that I'm not talking about individual bonds. When you hold those until maturity, you get your money back even if the value goes down. You just need to be careful about bond mutual funds and all the money that's flocking in to them. The question you want to ask yourself is "what's my exit strategy? How will I know when it's time to get out of my bond mutual fund?" Now is the time to develop your exit plan.
The other bubble that might be forming up is gold. If you haven't heard, gold just hit an all-time high. It crossed over $1,300. And that makes me kind of nervous. I'm not worried that gold can't or won't go higher, and I'm certainly not suggesting that the floor is getting ready to fall out from under gold. I'm just talking about being careful. Right now, when the media is saturated with advertisements to buy gold and nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts are peddling gold, I'm reminded, again, of the real estate bubble.
Remember all that advertising for "make money in real estate seminars" and home study courses and workshops? They were all over the place. But I haven't seen those kinds of advertisements lately, have you? That's how I feel when I see "sell your gold", and "we buy gold "and "get your gold coins" everywhere. When an investment is suddenly advertised all over the place, that suggests to me that maybe we're closer to the top in the cycle -- regardless of what the investment is.
My advice is simply to be careful and not put too much money in those areas. And if you're already in...make sure you have an exit strategy - know when it's time to get out and have a plan to do it.
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Article Added on Sunday, November 14, 2010
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