It often feels like I'm the harbinger of doom in my weekly messages to you.
It's not something I enjoy. But realism is at the centre of all good investment portfolios.
And the realistic picture is that times are very tough.
Last week I spoke about the FTSE100's 3% fall in five days.
And this week the Nationwide building society has revealed that house prices in the UK are a worrying 2.6% lower than this time last year.
They're 13% down from their 2007 peak.
And if you're reading this in the US, values are 15% lower than in 2007, despite a slight improvement of late.
I own property. I own shares. And it's proving extraordinarily hard to beat inflation at the moment.
Which is why I'm so glad that I have collectibles in my life. Through investment-grade collectibles I have tangible assets that beat inflation, have a low-correlation to the stock market and give me hugely enjoyable diversity.
I'm well aware of the arguments against.
People tell me that collectibles are illiquid, they don't pay dividends, they're unregulated investments.
Yet if you're looking for a mid- to long-term investment, top-grade collectibles deserve your attention.
And, by way of an example, I want to talk about a very special stamp we have in stock - which is indicative of the buoyant top end of the stamp market.
Produced just days before the death of Edward VII in May 1910, the print run of 24m stamps was immediately pulped. Just 12 remain today.
The stamp has shown an 8.99% pa increase from 2007-2011, rising from £65,000 ($101,660) to £100,000 ($156,400), according to the Great Britain Concise Catalogue - contrast that with house prices.
In December 2011, a similar example in worse condition than our specimen sold for £102,000 ($159,500),
Yet ours is available for just £85,000 ($132,920). This is a remarkable investment opportunity.
Now let's look at those arguments again:
Illiquid - The value of this stamp ensures that only a limited number of buyers have the means to purchase, yet such is its rarity and desirability that it will attract suitors, so long as you are patient. We recommend a minimum hold of five years.
No dividends - If the stamp continues to rise in value at 8.99% pa it will be worth £153,791 ($240,385) by 2016. Those are returns worth waiting for.
Unregulated - The market works on the simple laws of supply and demand. 50m serious collectors around the world underpin prices, ensuring low volatility. There is a wealth of information and study on the stamps business. This is not a fly-by-night market.
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Until next week,