The alternative market may be utilized by large corporations, for example, to provide high limits of coverage over a large self-insured retention (SIR), or by smaller entities participating in a risk retention group (RRG) or group captive program. Note that the distinction between traditional and alternative markets tends to blur over time as many traditional insurers expand their offering of products to encompass alternative-type funding techniques and vice versa.
There are several reasons an investor or a portfolio manager is likely to consider adding alternative investments to the balance sheet. In some cases, money generated from an alternative investment might be subject to far more favorable tax treatment than that from a more traditional investment; e.g., if an investor or client has significant tax-loss carry forwards or tax credits that can be applied to a particular type of activity or source of income.
While the list of alternative investments is extensive, some of the ones you might encounter in the real world include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
Real estate and all of its many derivations, including directly owned property, real estate limited partnerships, real estate development corporations, and REITs
Master limited partnerships, which can own and operate everything from oil pipelines to capital-intensive theme parks
Stock or membership units in a privately held business
Commodities, including precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, as well as crude oil, natural gas, ethanol, corn, soybeans, wheat, cocoa, coffee, sugar, and many other items.
Intellectual property such as copyrights, song rights, patents, and trademarks
Privately underwritten mortgages
Art and collectibles
Coins that have numismatic value
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