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For the last four years, ordinary Americans have struggled to rebuild their wealth in the wake of the Great Financial Crisis.
Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported that the average U.S. household has recovered only 45% of its wealth lost during the recession.
Of course, the Federal Reserve won't acknowledge that its Chairman, Ben Bernanke, has been a principle driver in the underperformance of the middle class' return to financial normalcy. Bernanke has removed incentives for anyone to keep their dollars in a savings account by knocking interest rates to near-record lows.
Meanwhile, nearly 50% of Americans do not own any stocks or bonds. Given recent memories of their wealth evaporating, it's been difficult to instill much confidence for those who lost so much.
Low rates and lost confidence in the markets have left more Americans vulnerable to inflation, accelerating costs of staples, and uncertainty about their financial future.
But there is good news.
Best Investments: How China's Creating a Huge Market for These Metals
Looking for some of the best investments in metals?
Don't overlook palladium and platinum, key materials used in building catalytic converters.
Demand for the metals - and prices - will take off.
We asked Rick Rule, the founder of Sprott Asset Management's Global Companies unit, to explain why.
Rule told Money Morning in the following interview the prices will rise partly because demand for palladium and platinum will grow as a result of what's happening in the automobile market in China, now the largest automaker in the world.
Best Investments: Don't Miss the Next Raging Bull Market in Uranium
Investors who bought into uranium at the right time in the 1970s probably considers it one of the best investments they've ever made...
When the element entered a bull market in the '70s, the result was 10-fold gains for uranium prices, and 100-fold gains for related uranium stocks.
Now the stage is set for uranium's price to go on another tear...
To find out why uranium could be one of the best investments over the next few years, we turned to Rick Rule, founder and chairman of Sprott Global Resources Investments.
Best Investments 2013: Why Hedge Funds Love Greece
Talk about looking for best investments in the most unlikely places...
The bad economic news out of Greece has dominated the headlines for several years now. As the country tries to work its way back to prosperity, a solvent banking system is going to be critical to the process. Banks have seen their capital base shrink from bond haircuts, bad loans and depositors withdrawing money to get it outside the beleaguered nation's banking system.
As part of its plan to restore the nation's fiscal health, Greece has told the banks they need to complete a recapitalization plan that raises Tier 1 capital ratios by 9%. This should increase their solvency and allow the nation to receive further bailout funds from the European Union.
Restored capital levels should help the banks regain access to interbank markets and provide the liquidity needed to help push the economy back on track.
Follow Africa's Richest Man Into One of the Best Profit Opportunities on Earth
Aliko Dangote is the richest man you've never heard of.
The 56-year old native of Kano, Nigeria is a self-made business magnate, with a net worth of more than $16 billion.
With boom times ahead for Africa, Dangote is leading the continent's headlong charge into infrastructure building and resource exploration.
A person of vision and drive, he's well suited for the unfolding boom, and all the opportunity it offers.
As the African Century moves into its second decade, Dangote is still very bullish on Africa-- making - and keeping - most of his fortune there.
Best Investments 2013: How the Mining Mess Will Send Platinum Soaring
Thanks to the hit gold prices took in mid-April, other precious metals also got caught in the downdraft - but some still look to be among the best investments of 2013.
Take platinum, for example.
It is currently trading at about $1,500 an ounce, well off its 52-week high of $1,734 an ounce. During the height of the selloff last month, it touched a low of $1,381 an ounce.
Investors sold it along with all other precious metals, even though the fundamentals for platinum may be better than ever.
While platinum's long-term outlook is bright, a short-term price catalyst is about to take place, as early as this week.
The world's biggest platinum producer, ANGLO American Platinum (Amplats), could take a significant amount of platinum off the market. The restructuring could cost 14,000 jobs and close two South African mines.
It'll also help drive a supply deficit that will only expand in the years ahead, making platinum one of the best investments to make now before prices soar.
No wonder Sprott Holdings' Rick Rule bought $280 million worth of platinum and palladium earlier this year...
The Best Sector to Invest in Now
I try to keep a balanced portfolio, or at least one that isn't entirely concentrated in one sector.
I like a lot of international holdings, especially from East Asia (but not particularly China itself) and I try to have at least some representation even in sectors that bore me utterly, like consumer packaged goods - Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG). I know you've increased your dividend every year since 1954, which is a magnificent achievement, but I STILL can't get excited about your business!
Some market sectors I have difficulty warming up to. Tech, for example, I find very difficult to analyze. If a company has the latest whizz-bang, I can't tell how the market will receive it. I can't tell how long market enthusiasm for it will last, and I can't tell how quickly competitors will produce something that's just a little bit better.
Even an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) that appears to have an invulnerable position can very easily be undone by margin erosion. Apple's margins are unsustainable in a competitive environment; it has a business in which Foxconn, the manufacturer, makes very little money while Apple, the retailer, makes heaps of it. For me, instead of trading at a premium to the market because of its growth, tech should trade at a discount to the market because of its risks.
Best Investments 2013: This Could Be the Most Lucrative Time Ever for Biotech
Some of the most exciting developments in the last fifty years have been in the biotechnology industry - which has also meant the emergence of some of the best investments for 2013.
Just look at the progress biotech has made in medicine.
Using advanced technology and research, scientists in the life sciences industry are working on cures for diseases that have plagued mankind for decades. In a relatively short period of time, biotechnology has produced medications that have pushed many forms of cancer to the brink of defeat. HIV infection went from a death sentence to a manageable - and almost cured - condition, in just a few decades.
Biotech share prices have reflected these successes.
As Barron's pointed out last week, biotech stocks have soared 111% over the past couple years, about three times better than healthcare stocks.
And early investors in biotech have seen astronomical gains over the past four to five years.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: REGN) has soared from less than $5 a share back in 2005 to more than $240 a share today as its drugs have been used to battle ophthalmological disease and several forms of cancer. Incyte Corp. (Nasdaq: INCY) has seen its stock price rise from $2 a share just four years ago to more than $20 today. Early investors in industry leader Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN) have seen gains of almost 100 times their initial investment.
But those gains are far from over.
In fact, right now just may be the best time in history to be an investor in the biotechnology sector.
Best Investments 2013: Are TARP Warrants the Way to Play Banks?
Believe it or not, the big bank rescue plan known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) actually has created some of the best investments for profiting from a banking recovery.
As you may recall, the federal government gave money to troubled banks in order to shore up balance sheets wounded by falling real estate and mortgage security prices. As part of the program, the government took an equity stake in these institutions in the form of preferred stock and equity warrants.
When the funds were repaid, the securities - including the warrants - were auctioned off to the public.
Equity warrants are a form of derivative security that gives the holder the right to buy a stock at a certain price until the expiration date. This is much like a stock option but warrants are usually issued for a much longer period of time. They are usually traded on the exchange and are priced based on the strike price, current interest rates and length of time until expiration.
Most of the TARP warrants still have a long time to go until they expire. The majority last until about 2018.
And now is looking like a good time to buy in to these warrants.
Best Investments 2013: Buy the Top-Performing Emerging Market of Q1
While the Standard & Poor's 500 Index 10% first-quarter gain was great, it wasn't the world's best.
One of the standout performances in 2013's first quarter was in a market that's off many investors' radar screens: the Philippines.
The Philippine stock market, valued at about $236 billion, rose by 17.8% in the first quarter.
Money Morning's Global Investing Strategist Martin Hutchinson told us to invest in the Philippines back in November. Hutchinson said the BRICs - Brazil, Russia, India and China - are no longer the best investments for overseas growth. Instead, it's time to focus on the true rising stars in the emerging world, like the Philippines.
As Hutchinson says, "With the right emerging markets, real growth is easier than you think."
Here's why the Philippines is expected to continue this growth in Q2.