A commodity is an object, a food product, or a raw material that is bought and sold on the open market. Commodities have value — a value that shifts constantly as a result of the vagaries of supply and demand.
If there’s a hard freeze in Florida, orange juice prices rise. If OPEC floods the market with oil, gasoline prices fall.All sorts of things are listed on the world exchanges as commodities.
Stocks are also remarkably common investment vehicles. You probably own some yourself.
Whether commodities, or stocks, ETFs, or mutual funds, brokers, traders, buyers, and sellers track them all with a steely eye, looking for every advantage they can find. Palm oil, wheat, wool, Cobalt, and even good old everyday sugar are all included on the commodities exchange.
Shares of computer makers, automobiles manufacturers, ship builders, and even Bowie Bonds (a bond tied to the performance of David Bowie’s royalties), can be had on the open market for those who have the guts, the insight, and the bucks.
Welcome to capitalism, perhaps the most powerful tool for the advancement of human kind ever.
Can you imagine how things might be different if instead of being municipally owned as they commonly are, airports were bought and sold as commodities or shares of stock?
Most of us don’t buy a few metric tons of copper to keep around the house as a hedge against inflation. But more people than you might think have precious metals included in their investment portfolios, or a few shares of General Motors, or a mutual fund that’s well balanced with a wide assortment of investment products.
What if you could buy shares in the local airport? What if you could buy shares in any airport, anywhere, based on your impression of its true value?
Wow, what a game changer that could be.
At the top of the heap would be the blue chips: LAX, JFK, ORD, and MIA. Folks like Warren Buffett, George Soros, Peter Lynch and their peer group would snap those shares up in a New York minute, certainly.
The heart and soul of international business flows through those ports on a daily basis. Putting a few dollars to work on their behalf only makes good sense, and so plenty of well-to-do investors, as well as a fair number of smaller investors who wish they were well-to-do, would be redirecting dollars into those investments, quickly.
It’s ironic to think of it as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this new investment vehicle, considering the tangible vehicles at the facilities in question spend as little time as possible on the ground, being far more profitable when they’re airborne.
Of course a big basket of blue chips does not a well rounded portfolio make. There are myriad investment opportunities across the nation, and the globe.
Smaller airports, lesser known facilities that serve a critical function to the system overall, and out of the way runways that are of real value to a select group of users, are all out there for your consideration.
A good argument could be made for Louisville, Kentucky, where UPS established its first major hub. Or Memphis, Tennessee, where FedEx put down roots.
Trying to manage and grow a global economy without overnight shipping services would be a tough nut to crack in this day and age. I’d sure consider shifting a few dollars to those investments.
I may not be a highly educated economist with plaques on my wall and awards on my shelves, but I know the value of shipping a product from here to there as quickly as possible. That being the case, if Apple stock is worth anything, Louisville and Memphis airports would be high up on my list of investments to buy.
There are even small, out of the way destinations that deserve a look, too. I was in Simsbury, Connecticut, last week and wandered into the FBO at the small, privately owned airport in that New England town.
Nestled in between shade tobacco fields and a good sized graveyard (now there is some true irony for you), Simsbury (4B9) is a diminutive non-towered field with only 2,200 feet of runway to work with, a smattering of hangars, and Bradley International’s Class C airspace hanging directly overhead.
Yet, it’s a successful field that serves an important purpose in the big scheme of things. The torn T-shirts hanging on the wall of the flight school attest to its contribution. The flight instructor diligently working the phone, checking his schedule, and motivating his students suggests the number of post-solo T-shirts will continue to grow in the coming months.
Maybe there should be an IPO (initial public offering) in the works.
Young men and women come to Simsbury Airport and thousands of similarly small fields that boast none of the bells and whistles the bigger facilities brag about. But how many of those jet jocks sitting at the controls of a turbine-powered beast launching from Bradley International’s 9,500-foot runway got their start at a place just like Simsbury? I’m willing to bet it’s a fair number of them.
It’s a slam-dunk guarantee that more than a few of those high rollers come back to places like Simsbury to have some low-power, propeller-driven aeronautical fun in between their work-related travels. It’s sure a lot more enjoyable to take your significant other or your kids up for a sight-seeing tour in a C-172 or a PA-28 than it is to book them into a short hop from Bradley to Boston and back on an airliner.
Who wants to look at the fall foliage from 7,000 feet, anyway?
With all that in mind, I wonder what the future of aviation, and historically rich destinations like Santa Monica (KSMO), might be if tens of millions of investors began to look at them as long-term economic opportunities, rather than as the albatross around the neck so many local politicians seem to mistake them for.