These three strange assets could be great picks for 2017

In addition to stocks and bonds, investors might want to stash some money in a few unconventional assets this year, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at brokerage company Convergex.

Specifically, Colas favors silver, high-denomination bills and Russian art.

Silver, the least unusual of his trio, is coming off of a year in which it rallied 16 percent, nearly double the performance of its "older brother" gold.

Even after the run, Colas believes silver is set to outperform gold again in 2017, since it is still trading at a discount to gold versus historical comparisons. Further, the strategist points out that silver is becoming more popular as a wealth preservation tool in China, and that the metal's industrial uses will lead it to outperform in an improving economic environment.

For all these reasons, those who wish to hold commodities to hedge against rising inflation may find that silver is the way to go.

"You kind of win if you get inflation kicking in and you kind of win if industrial production picks up as well, so you get a two for one," Colas said Friday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

The pick is already panning out; in early Tuesday trading, silver was up 3 percent.

Speaking of hedges, Colas thinks there might be value in keeping some wealth in cash — specifically, cash sporting lots of zeros.

"Be aware that a lot of policymakers don't like high-denomination bills," he said. "So if you want to have a little nest egg of $100 bills, you might as well do it now, because who knows what happens a year or two or three from now."

India recently took the dramatic step of removing larger-denomination rupee notes from circulation, eliminating a large majority of the country's physical money. And the European Central Bank has committed to phasing out the 500-euro note. In the U.S., some have called for the end of the $100 bill.

While Colas says there are too many floating around for the Franklin-faced currency to ever merit a collectors' premium, he does think it's high time to put together that C-note collection you may have been dreaming of.

Finally, Colas recommends a truly offbeat asset: Russian art.

"if you think about who's going to be the biggest geopolitical winner of the next 24 months, I think we'd all agree Russia is high up on the list," given shifts in U.S. policy that appear likely thanks to the end of Barack Obama's presidency and the beginning of Donald Trump's.

"If you see incremental income going to Russian oligarchs and the Russian elite, what do they do with that money? They buy Russian art."

While one might be hard-pressed to rattle off the names of great Russian visual artists, Colas would recommend looking into "Faberge eggs or czarist-era portrait paintings."


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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