Note from Managing Editor Allison Brickell: In today’s piece, Nicholas Vardy writes about an old and reliable investment. But he’s also covered plenty of shiny new investment opportunities – particularly in the form of disruptive technology.
He’ll be sharing important lessons for investors on the subject at the virtual MoneyShow Expo tomorrow, February 17, at 10:40 a.m. ET. Click here to register for free and to learn more.
Scan the financial headlines today, and you’ll get the impression the only things to invest in are FAANG stocks, disruptive technologies and cryptocurrencies.
Meanwhile, valuations in each of these sectors have reached eye-watering levels.
And there are a growing number of predictions from many – including yours truly – that the bubble in these assets will soon burst.
Yet investment alternatives seem few and far between.
But what if I told you that there is another bull market out there…
One that you have never heard of…
And one that will likely ensure steady gains over the next few years?
This asset has only one major problem.
It’s not a shiny new disruptive technology coming from a Silicon Valley startup.
It’s as “old school” as you can get.
That’s because this investment traces its origins back to the agricultural revolution in Mesopotamia in 6000 B.C.
That’s about 5,600 years before Socrates, Plato and Aristotle lived and debated in the Agora – the public marketplace – in Athens.
Aristotle’s favorite philosopher, Thales of Miletus, even achieved worldly riches by speculating on the price of a member of this asset class.
What is this little-appreciated asset class?
You’ll find agricultural products in the most basic foods you have in your kitchen: the wheat in your bread… the corn in your cereal… the sugar in your coffee.
These products are so familiar that we don’t even consider them a possible investment.
Yet, today, agricultural commodities are in the midst of one of their periodic rip-roaring bull markets.
The S&P GSCI Grains Index has jumped by 54% just since the beginning of August.
What’s better yet…
Thanks to the rise of exchange-traded funds, you can invest in this red-hot sector at the click of a mouse.
The Bull Market in Agriculture
Let’s examine three factors behind the current bull market in agriculture.
1. Global Money Printing
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, global fiscal and monetary stimulus has exploded across the world’s economies.
A wall of money has hit the world’s financial markets. And a growing number of investors are speculating in commodities.
From June to October, speculators grew their net long positions across agricultural commodities for 22 consecutive weeks.
And there is little sign the flood of money is likely to diminish soon.
2. The Impact of La Niña
La Niña refers to the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific that occurs every three to five years.
This year, La Niña will continue to pose challenges for farmers around the globe.
Dry weather in southern Brazil and parts of Argentina has affected crops like sugarcane and wheat.
The lack of snow in the Midwestern U.S. this winter could hit wheat production in America’s breadbasket.
In Russia, an absence of snow could also result in much lower wheat exports.
All these factors combine to push agricultural prices upward.
Walk into a U.S. supermarket, and you see shelves bursting with food.
So it’s hard for the average U.S. investor to appreciate the importance of stable food supplies in many other parts of the world.
Throughout history, cheap food has helped ensure that citizens are on the side of the ruling party. That’s why cheap bread was a core of the social contract between the former Communist regimes and their citizens.
Insufficient and expensive food often leads to protests in the streets. These protests can quickly morph into revolutions that can hobble – and even topple – governments.
The “Arab Spring” protests in North Africa and the Middle East a decade ago were sparked in part by higher food prices.
Today, many developing countries are facing similar food supply issues.
Both China and governments in North Africa have been buying up imported grains. Chinese imports of corn for the 2020-21 crop could triple to 30 million tons.
The goal? To damp down both domestic food prices and political pressure.
The result? Yet again, upward pressure on agricultural commodity prices.
Betting on the Bull
The current agriculture bull run has just gotten started.
And there are many reasons to think it will continue.
One way to bet on the bull is through the Invesco DB Agriculture Fund (NYSE: DBA).
The fund tracks a diversified index of 10 agricultural commodity futures contracts.
The only major downside I see to investing in this fund?
Its structure is a commodities pool. That means investors receive a K-1 tax form at tax time.
Click here to watch Nicholas’ latest video update.