The Best Investments Today Are in Europe

Yes, maybe the financial world will go to hell in a handcart, as our old friend Sven Lorenz said over dinner last night. But there are still a lot of ways to make a lot of money.

Sven travels the world regularly – looking for the curious, quirky opportunities that mainstream investors have missed. When he found, for example, a cache of rare St. Petersburg caribou leather, 200 years old, retrieved from the North Sea, he bought the whole thing. Then, he found old Asian safes, which he transformed into cigar humidors. He owns a hotel on one of the Channel Islands… apartments in Germany… and a cosmetic company in Russia. Sven also journeyed to the Falkland Islands to explore the potential of a vast new oil discovery there – and to the Heart of Darkness to look at mining and farming operations in Zimbabwe.

We put the question to him directly: Where do you think the world’s best investment opportunities are today?

 His reply:

“They are probably in Europe. Low capital costs and a desire for reform are coming together to produce some remarkable opportunities. Some of these companies are controlled by founders and their families for generations. People don’t know much about them…they are often wrapped in Swiss holding companies and Lichtenstein trusts. But they often own very good brands…and sometimes have property – even cash – that most investors don’t know about.

“These companies now are being challenged by shareholder activists. And they’re being drawn out by private equity firms, hedge funds and private investors. Some extraordinary bargains are emerging. We bought one bank – a great franchise – for little more than the cash in its vault. It is as if we had gotten the business for free. I think we’re going to see some more deals like this – even very big ones.

“And one of the nice things about this is that we’re talking about big, solid, old companies. When you buy a start-up…or an emerging market…you don’t know what you’re getting. As long as the market is flying, the paper will stay in the air. But as soon as there’s a setback, you’ll see some very unhappy investors.

“Solid European companies are another story. They’re often very conservative and very profitable. And now we’re getting them at a good price.”

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

Bill Bonner

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