The stock market is in marked decline and bonds are showing pitifully low returns. Interest rates are at a minimum, as low as .5% in some countries. Given that the sub-prime mortgage fiasco kicked off this recession in the first place, real estate has not been looking too attractive as a haven for liquid assets.

To be sure, the national spectacle that was the debt ceiling crisis did not help things. Ending just hours before the United States ran out of money to pay its bills, the problem has actually been delayed, not resolved. Fitch Ratings warned that though the debt ceiling agreement reached Congress represents a step in the right direction, the U.S. still lacks, “a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit to a level that would secure [its] AAA status over the medium-term.” The threat still remains that the country’s credit rating may take a dive, fueled by lenders’ concerns that $14 trillion in debt is unsustainable.

Those who had never imagined the United States might be unable to settle its accounts are perhaps imagining a similar scenario played out in their own personal finances. For the individual, it may not be an option to file away these concerns for a later date. In the face of such an unstable financial market, investing in tangible assets can be an answer. Precious metals such as gold and silver are proving to be safe investments, having risen 16% and 30% in value respectively in 2011 alone. In the United Kingdom, you can turn to the Wine Investment Fund, where annualized returns range between 8% and 20%. And then there is the Fine Art Fund Group, whose investors are currently enjoying returns above 25%.

Even if you can’t afford the Fund’s $250,000 base level investment, individuals can build l art collections with personal and monetary value. Though numbers are tumbling right and left, the art market is going strong. Christie’s closed its Paris Contemporary Art auction at over €8.4 million ($3.8 million) on May 31, 2011, and showed similar numbers between its two Impressionist and Modern Art sales just weeks earlier. The auction giant recently hosted an entire event dedicated to Picasso ceramics, where pieces sold between $800 and $134,000. Such an extraordinary price range underscores the accessibility of art for investors with all budgets.

Whether you choose to fill your portfolio with Modern Masters such as Chagall, Miró, and Picasso, or contemporary favorites like Warhol, Yvaral, or Vasarely, you can’t go wrong.  Art is one of the few tangible assets that will simultaneously enrich your aesthetic life and ensure your financial wellbeing, over the long term.

1. “U.S. Stocks Manage to Eke out a Gain.” New York Times. August 4, 2011.
2. “Gold, fine wine, art or under the bed: what’s the safest place for your cash?”Guardian UK. July 25, 2011.
3. Christie’s: Auction Results, May 2011 .