Wow. What a year 2020 has been. We went from the stock market hitting record highs to having the largest single week decline since the 2008 Financial Crisis. Then within six months, we were back to the previous highs again.However, this year was just part of a larger period of unprecedented economic activity. While the stock market saw one of its best decades ever after the lows we experienced after the 2008 financial crisis. Economic recovery has hinged on something that is almost artificial. Governments initially began printing money in the form Quantative Easing to prevent the entire financial ecosystem from collapsing. They quickly got used to the habit though and now printing money is second nature to them. Another monetary policy they've adhered to is rock-bottom interest rates. The theory behind this being that with interest rates so low, consumers will be less fearful of borrowing cash to fund purchases. This in turn will kickstart the economy. That's the theory anyway. In practice, results have varied. While American economic activity increased, the likes of Japan never truly recovered. The Japanese economy has grown at a fixed rate of 1.14% (well below other developed nations) since 1986, and interest rates have been at an all time low throughout this time. However, the recent pandemic has wiped out even those meager gains, and the economy has fallen back to the same level it held in 2008. For an investor, this environment has been a tricky one to navigate. Buying an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 would have been a profitable investment. On the flip side though, we have the specter of increased inflation thanks to relentless money printing. There is also the fact that rock-bottom interest rates don't provide any saf sources of income. In the past, savings accounts and certificates of deposit provided some degree of investment return that allowed you to stay ahead of inflation. This isn't the case anymore. Inflation is currently hovering at around one percent but is projected to increase to around two percent (Ferreira, 2019). In 1999, the average return for a 1 year bank CD was 4.85%. Today that same 1 year CD pays just 0.46%, which doesn't even allow you to keep up with inflation.At this point, savings accounts aren't really savings accounts; they're more like depletion accounts as inflation eats away at the real value of your money. In such an environment, alternative investments have gained popularity. Gold and silver prices have surged thanks to the steady devaluation that paper money printing has caused. Cryptocurrencies have risen in popularity to the point where they're a bona fide alternative investment class.Even the likes of hedge fund managers such as Paul Tudor Jones have dedicated portions of their portfolio to invest in cryptocurrencies (Schatzker, 2020). The central idea behind all of these investments is that they're a hedge.