The desire to accumulate physical objects seems to be inherent, present in the little girl who collects Barbie dolls or the late-night TV host who keeps 126 classic cars and motorcycles in a specially built garage. For some, the motive to search for and acquire a specific item is the sheer fun of the activity. Others seek mementos that stir memories of the past. Fewer still acquire rarities for investment, hoping for enormous profits over time.
Some collectibles are only available to the super-rich due to the cost of acquiring and keeping their purchases safe and secure. What was once available only to kings and queens is now owned by captains of industry, successful financiers, and entertainment moguls. Though individual collections can be worth millions of dollars, well beyond the financial capability of 99% of humanity, they remain fascinating to the majority. Exhibitions of a rare collection draw thousands of visitors, each eager to view the individual pieces up close and personal.
For a look at 10 of the most noteworthy types of collections in the world, check out the following list:
The Wall Street Jungle, written by Richard Ney in 1970, compares the field of investments to a shadowy, sometimes impenetrable wilderness filled with dangerous beasts and hidden treasures. Blindly venturing into this unknown world can easily end in disaster.
Often, predators such as con men, thieves, and bandits lurk and set traps for overconfident, naive adventurers foolish enough to believe that a free lunch is possible. Inexperience can lead to a failure to recognize risk (or underestimate it) and result in poor decisions and financial loss.
However, overconfidence is more often the cause of investment catastrophes, especially when coupled with the innate tendency of people to follow the herd. In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin writes, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
No investment is free of risk, but the following seven are particularly dangerous. If you want to protect your investments, read this guide carefully.
The Most Dangerous Investments
1. Penny Stocks
Common stocks trading for less than $5 per share are called “penny stocks” by the Security and Exchange Commission. Their stock prices are quoted on the “pink sheets,” an over-the-counter market that connects traders electronically. The companies are not required to register with the SEC and typically do not file periodic or annual reports with the Commission.
Penny stocks are the preferred vehicle for “pump and dump” schemes, fraudulently manipulating prices upward to sell owned shares with huge profits. Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Finance and Hazardous Materials, Committee on Commerce, SEC Director Richard H. Walker stated that organized crime families have been actively involved in manipulating penny stock since the 1970s. The New York Times reported activities of the New York and Russian mafias in two New York brokerage firms: White Rock Partners & Company and State Street Capital Markets Corporation.
Penny stocks attract gangsters and con men because they are easy to manipulate due to the lack of the following:
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