The World MoneyShow came to Chicago recently, bringing thousands of curious investors to hear speeches and attend seminars and workshops on almost every aspect of investing. It's a spin-off of the famed Las Vegas and Orlando shows, which attract visitors from around the world.
In the exhibit hall, the content was tilted toward technology to help traders of stocks, options and futures, although there were the requisite displays from energy companies and precious metals firms.
Interestingly, the content of the three-day event seemed far more conservative than at the other shows, perhaps reflecting the mostly Midwest audience, or maybe because the enthusiasm for speculation has been tempered by the sideways, but volatile, market activity recently.
There was heavy interest in the EverBank presentation, given by Frank Trotter, who co-founded the bank in 1990 and has guided its growth to a $12 billion institution.
The full service bank offers all kinds of deposit accounts, and offers free debit card usage, with a $60 payment (equal to most banks' annual debit card usage fee) if you open a new account. But the real attraction of EverBank is a unique foreign currency opportunity.
EverBank allows you to buy CDs and money market accounts denominated in any of several foreign currencies or more than 20 baskets of currencies, diversifying your exposure to the U.S. dollar.
The CDs pay interest at the rates offered in those countries, but also expose you to currency risk — while maintaining your FDIC insurance coverage. For details, go to www.Everbank.com.
Trotter says that while interest in the euro has understandably waned in recent years, many depositors are opening accounts denominated in Chinese renminbi or the Brazilian real. While, the bank can't deliver actual cash currency for those two countries, you can get the benefit of the trends that make those currencies stronger, or weaker.
Once again reflecting the nature of the crowd, mostly older investors looking to preserve capital and yet gain more income than traditional bank CDs offer, there was a large crowd for the luncheon panel "The Best Income Plays for a Low-Yield World."
The experts on the panel each offered five investment suggestions, some of which yield as much as 7 percent, or more. But each agreed that chasing yield can be a dangerous game, and suggested diversifying these investments over a broad range of opportunities.
And each of them made clear — as I do — that these suggestions may not be appropriate for those who cannot afford risk.
Or in my words, these ideas offer temptingly higher yields, but are not appropriate substitutes for "chicken money."
For example, Mark Skousen (www.markskousen.com) suggested a Houston-based pipeline master limited partnership, with a 5.7 percent yield, that has increased its dividend every quarter.
He also recommended the Gabelli Gold and Natural Resource Income Fund, listed on the NYSE, a closed-end fund that invests in mining and energy companies and writes covered calls for income.