Which Investment Class Is the Safest in 2022?
Investing your money is important for one main reason: the time value of money.
The time value of money is a concept explaining that money loses value over time. You can buy much more with 10€ today than you will in 2030.
This is why you should invest. When you invest your money, you make sure it grows and doesn’t lose its value.
But what is the best asset? It depends on the returns you are expecting and the amount of risk you are willing to take.
In this article, we’re looking at each asset you can invest in, how safe it is, and how much returns you can expect.
Owning equity is owning shares in a company. As the company earns more money and grows, so does the value of your shares.
On average, equity returns 7% per year.
“Average” is important to take into account as some years are really good for the stock market (up to 20%) while some years are really bad (when the stock market crashes and loses 50%, for example).
As a result, equity is considered a risky investment.
The types of risks investors expose themselves to are economic crises, bankruptcy, fraud, scandal, technological hack, political instability, social unrest, and climate change among others.
Bonds is debt. Bonds can be issued by countries, or by a company.
When the country has sane finances and a good reputation (USA, most Western and Northern European countries, Singapore, South Korea), the bonds are considered safe. As a result, they can return very little.
For example, German bonds returns were negative in 2020.
This meant that if you lent €100 to Germany, Germany would return €99.
While bonds are safe investments, they’re not great to grow your money.
Company bonds are not as safe as national bonds so they can return a little bit more.
Charles Schwab calculated that safe corporate bonds would return roughly 1.2% on average in 2022.
Cash is one of the safest investments as if you stack it under your mattress, it’s unlikely someone will come and steal it from you.
The only problem with cash is that it loses value due to inflation. And it loses value fast.
This graph from the Financial Times shows the pace of inflation per year.
Several factors have come together during the COVID-19 pandemic to contribute to inflation which reached an unusually high level. In December 2021, the annual inflation was 5% in the Euro area.
This means that you could buy 5% fewer things with the money you had in December 2021 compared to December 2020.
This is why investing your cash is so important.
There is a wild debate about whether cryptocurrencies are valuable or not.
At this moment, they are mainly used as speculative assets. This means that people buy them for the sole purpose of making money.
This also means that volatility in cryptocurrencies is extremely high.
While most stocks can appreciate or depreciate by 1–5% per day (with a few exceptions), some cryptos can appreciate or depreciate by 50% per day, if not more.
Volatility is one of the measures used to measure risks in an asset. Since volatility is high in cryptocurrencies, it means the risks are also very high.
Commodities are tangible resources used for an external purpose. The most famous commodity is gold. Oil, gas, timber, silver, copper, soy, wheat are also commodities.
Each commodity will have its own return and risks. If we take gold as an example, it’s often considered as a “refuge value” that investors buy in times of economic uncertainty. Gold has returned 5% roughly per year on average during the last 10 years, but returned -4% in 2021.
It’s generally considered a safe investment.
Real estate is the biggest asset class. The worldwide value of real estate was €287 trillion in 2020.
Real estate is one of the safest assets for several reasons:
- It is a tangible asset. When you own real estate, you own something. The entire financial system could come crashing down tomorrow, you’d still own your house.
- It almost never loses value.
- It provides you with cash flow, tax breaks, and value appreciation.
- It almost never decreases in value (except when a real estate bubble pops).
Real estate is one of the best investment classes out there, which explains why so many people invest in real estate.
But it is not without problems.
- A house needs to be maintained. This costs money and takes time.
- The landlord needs to make sure tenants pay rent. When tenants move out, the landlord needs to find new tenants.
- There is a lot of legislation around buying a house.
- It’s expensive.
- There is a lot of competition to buy real estate.
- It’s illiquid — difficult, costly, and long to buy and sell.
Real estate has many upsides, but many downsides as well.
We kept the best for the end. Out of all of the assets you can invest in, land is by far the best one.
Consider that land appreciates by 5–11% each year which is a very high return for the risk attached to it — close to zero.
It shares the same advantages as real estate but without the disadvantages.
For example, there is little competition to buy land. In fact, many landowners seek to sell as they don’t understand what they could do with the land.
There is also not as much legislation as for real estate.
Land is a tangible asset and its supply is much more limited than for real estate. The supply of real estate can be increased by building towers, which isn’t possible for land. Land doesn’t need to be maintained, and it appreciates fast.
Its value is completely uncorrelated to the economy and its price steadily increases.
Let’s have a look at the risk and return of each investment asset we have discussed.
As we can see, land is a clear winner.
It is a high-return low-risk zero-maintenance tangible asset.
The only reproach we could make to land is that it’s difficult and costly to buy. Investors must look for land then contact a notary and sign an act.
It costs money and it takes time.
This is why we have created LandEx. With LandEx, you can start investing in land in minutes.
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