Today's stock market has become one in where banks that are “too big to fail” engage in reckless behavior. They make short-term gains with financial instruments that provide no real value to the larger economy. While it may seem like a depressing outlook, the United States' government is bankrupt. The country's financial system no longer works.
While the Baby Boomer generation may be able to ride out this system as the government desperately pumps money into it until its bitter end, it's unlikely the system will survive in its current form for Millennials. Along with a weakened economy, this lack of optimism has led to over 50 percent of Millennials having less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. The majority of them don't expect the retirement options their parents and grandparents enjoyed.
However, there is another way forward: one that actually provides more opportunities than our parents or grandparents ever could have conceived. Thanks to the beauty that is globalization, if you're willing to think outside the box and look at options in emerging countries, there are greater opportunities available across the world than have ever existed before.
The following are five investments any Millennial should consider on a global scale before he or she settles on investing in the stock market:
As the world's population grows and becomes more urbanized, developing country consumption levels rise with an increasing middle class. Water becomes scarcer, and climate change begins to make agricultural yields more volatile, making the fundamentals for investments in agriculture better than ever before.
While buying agricultural company stocks, ETFs and commodity futures is possible, you can also invest directly in agriculture. Whether that's buying agricultural land relatively cheaply in a growing country like Tanzania or Vietnam, or investing in technology that makes agriculture more efficient, know that agriculture is going to be one of the top investments over the next 50 years and beyond.
2. International Real Estate
While real estate has seen its share of bubbles here at home, there are many emerging countries that have sound fundamentals and fast-growing property markets. In places like these, real estate is as safe a bet as it can ever be.
Not only are the returns in these countries extremely high, the prices are low enough that many Millennials should be able to afford them as second homes. In growing countries like Nicaragua and Cambodia, it's possible to buy apartments in the financial center of a city or along a touristy beach for as low as $30,000. You can renovate them and sell or rent them for much more. Another option would be to hold onto these apartments and rent them out monthly, or on Airbnb.
Real estate comes with a host of other benefits beyond rental income and property value appreciation. In countries like Portugal, you can attain a second residency or citizenship by purchasing real estate, which will open you up to a host of investment and travel opportunities.
Finally, and just as importantly, many other countries have much lower taxes on real estate and rental income than you'll ever find back home.
3. Bank Accounts in Emerging Markets
Tired of earning tiny interest rates at your local bank? If you have a sense of adventure, you can earn high yields in emerging market banks.
In countries like Turkey, Uganda, Bangladesh and Mongolia, you can earn yields as high as 20 percent. While these countries are risky to invest in, there are others that are much safer than the United States. They will still return much more money than you'd get at an American bank.
Georgia, for example, is an excellent option for opening a bank account, as are Hong Kong and Singapore. In fact, Hong Kong bank accounts are some of the most respected in the world. Unlike American ones, they don't have as much of an appetite to gamble with your money.
4. Micro Loans and Equity Crowdfunding
Rather than buying stock, today, you can invest directly in companies via online crowdfunding platforms. While this phenomenon has taken off in the United States, there's even more opportunity for it in Asia.
Equity crowdfunding has just gotten off the ground in Thailand, and is already successful in Singapore and Hong Kong. Southeast Asia has some of the greatest opportunities for startups in the world, thanks to its large-scale mobile phone adoption, an increasingly consumerist society and lack of the services we enjoy in the United States.
With micro loans and peer-to-peer lending, you can make loans to small business owners overseas and get returns as high as 20 percent. Less risky loans usually have returns closer to 3 percent.
5. Currency Arbitrage
As the dollar is still strong, you can take advantage of deals across the world as their currencies are weakened. Not only are there advantages to investing in Europe with a cheaper Euro to the dollar, but also the Malaysian ringgit, the Colombian peso and the Turkish lira are at such low levels, you can easily take advantage of their growing economies and live like a king on a minimum-wage budget.
No matter whether you use currency arbitrage to invest in property, import and export products, move to another country to start a location-independent online business or buy anything else, this technique can set you far ahead.
Many Millennials might look at the health of the US economy and worry about the outlook of their financial future. But those who recognize the strength of the growing and emerging world economy know they have more places to go and more forms of investment than any previous generation could have ever hoped to have.
One last investment that's gotten easier thanks to globalization is investing in yourself. Millennials can make the most important investment of all by getting out and seeing the world like no other generation before them has. The memories, experiences and knowledge gained while traveling the world are investments no one can ever take away.
So, dare to invest in the world. It will give you great returns.