If you're on the “Main Street” side of the debate with Wall Street, you may be interested in investing in your community while seeking long-term financial returns. Lieber recommends looking at municipal bonds as a partial replacement for stock market mutual funds. While cities and states rely on bonds to attract investors, particularly when tax revenues aren't enough to fund infrastructure improvements or economic development projects, mutual funds that invest broadly in municipal funds can add social responsibility and profit to your portfolio.
Municipal bonds, however, are cozy with Wall Street. Large, for-profit investment companies often work closely with state and local governments to manage the individual bonds. Governments would not be able to get the capital they need without these banks, and the companies have an opportunity to make quite a bit of money from the deals with governments. This shouldn't dissuade you from investing in municipal bonds. Economies improve when the financial institutions within those economies thrive. If you're vehemently opposed to anything that might give an advantage to a company identified with Wall Street, however, municipal bonds won't give you much separation.
Lieber urges readers to look at real estate as an option for long-term investment, but he stays clear of discussing the investment as a surefire method of building wealth fast. Have you noticed that the gurus who formerly pushed real estate investment as the key to building wealth have been all but silent over the past few years? Perhaps I've tuned them out, but the late-night infomercials pushing real estate seminars and get rich quick schemes seem to have quieted down.
The focus for real estate is on rental income and eliminating the mortgage fast rather than building a real estate empire using leverage from one property to another. In fact, if you want to avoid Wall Street in your investment plan, you would have a more difficult time making use of that leverage. You'll need to lean on credit unions for mortgages. You may end up with good rates, or you may not even qualify for investment mortgages with a credit union. These types of institutions, in an effort to protect their customers, may be more conservative when it comes to lending than banks, many of whom bundle their mortgages as investments for other banks and off-load the risk.