Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Teddy bears are underweighted in your portfolio

I love antiques roadshow.

This is for many reasons. The proximate cause is probably that I have super-cheapskate cable, so it is often the best thing on. It strikes a totally different tone than regular TV. Everyone is earnest and weird-looking, and sincere. and you get tiny 2-minute material culture history lessons which are delightful. and you can being to imagine foggy unspecific ancestors playing with that Stieff rod-bear or drinking from that impossibly baroque decanter set.

the one thing I do not like about the show is the big reveal of the monetary value of the antique. Oh, it is often fun to see the faces of particular owners light up in surprise, but the thing I often wonder about is the effect of inflation. The screen shows a big sparkling number, usually with four or low five digits. What I want to know is, "is that a good deal?"

More often than not, someone bought the antique from a dealer a few hundred dollars in ~30 years ago and it is now worth a few thousand dollars. I wish the roadshow had two normalizing statistics--original price of object adjusted for inflation and owner's purchase price adjusted for inflation. That way we could see if the original buyer got a good deal either at the time of purchase or now.

Perhaps I am being a wet blanket, and one is suppose to regard antique purchases as depreciating decorations, and the fact that they retain value is the equivalent of found money. but I contend that often these are bought as investments, and I am curious to see how it performed.

As my last several posts have shown, I fret about money a lot. It is kindof a bummer.

3 comments:

Wade Garrett said...

I fret about money a lot, too, in no small part because I am scheduled to pay off my professional education for eighteen more years. On top of the financial constraints it puts on my life on a week-to-week basis, it makes the prospect of a lay-off that much scarier, because you can only live so cheaply when you have to basically write another rent check every month. Also, it makes it hard to change careers; once you've paid to become a lawyer you really can't do anything else. Its not something anybody considers before or during school, but I know a lot of lawyers who have been laid off in the past year, who would otherwise consider another profession because they never enjoyed practicing law very much, but with loans it can be difficult to do anything else.

Paul Smecker said...

wu-tang financial sez: "diversify yah bonds, honky!"

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