Since 1980, gold’s up about 181%. Not bad -- until you realize taxi medallions – the licenses to drive a cab in New York City – are up a mind-boggling 1,030%.
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How can that be? Well, supply is strictly limited thanks to extreme government regulation. Very few additional medallions have been issued since 1937. As a result, prices have jumped from $2,500 in 1947 to about $678,000 this year, according to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. Even more impressive, medallion prices jumped more than 30% right on through the recession.
If you’re looking for an all-weather investment, forget about loading up on gold coins or a gold ETF like the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA:GLD). Get your family and friends together and buy a taxi medallion. If you can’t rustle up that much scratch, considering buying a few shares of Medallion Financial Corp. (TAXI). The company is a leading provider of financing for taxi medallion purchases in New York, Boston, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia and Baltimore. At the end of last year, the company managed roughly $650 million worth of medallion loans. And as the price of medallions continues to rise, the firm benefits from the increase in total interest charges.
The fact that the company trades for less than $10 per share also makes it a much more accessible way to invest in this most precious and profitable commodity. It’s definitely something to consider, instead of overweighting your portfolio too much with gold.