Ok do not bet the farm on these predictions, but here's where I think investments should go.
First, as always, you should make sure you have a stash of money worth 3 month's rent (or three months regular expenses if you don't qualify for unemployment benefits), in a bank account somewhere. That much must be certain or what is to follow will make no sense. (Might I recommend a local community bank or credit union, both of which tend not to play with default swaps or other exotic things that got big banks in trouble. http://moveyourmoney.info/
2nd Take advantage of your 401k or open an IRA or Roth IRA and throw some money in there automatically on a regular basis.
Seriously, especially you twentysomethings!. If the government were to approach you and say "I'll sell you this dollar for $0.80-0.85", you would take it, because it's free money. This is what a 401k or IRA is!. Put $100 in a 401k and your take home pay only goes down by $80-$85, because it's money not being taxed. And you get the whole $100 in your account for retirement (which is sooner than you think even for twenty somethings who get to do this trick for the longer time.) This is a 15-20% return BEFORE you count any stock market returns and it's guarenteed. Any person would love a 15-20% guarenteed return (look at CDs right now). So do that. Like this week, if you haven't already.
If you are starting a 401k or IRA and they want you to choose a mutual fund, choose one with the best return over the longest period of time (5 year minimum)
3rd, if you have a credit card or loan (except business loan or mortgage) that is higher than like 7%, work on paying that off.
Paying off a 12% loan is similar to making 12% on the stock market. Or to use the earlier analogy, using a credit card that pays 12% and not paying it off immediately is like paying $1.12 for a dollar bill, so you can buy something that costs $1. Pay down your debt as soon as possible.
(This part gets more investment geeky, feel free to ask questions or make polite comments)
Buy Metals and commodities 10-15%
Buy a broad US stock market index (or go stock picking if you do that sort of thing.) 60%-80%
Buy foreign stocks 10-25%
No bonds (mostly)
Avoid bonds and bond mutual funds
Interest rates are very low right now. Bonds, which are loans from investors (you) to companies (and/or govt agencies), are paying investors low interest. They are so low they can only go up this year. If 2010s bonds will steadily pay more per month in interest, towards the end of the year then last years or the beginning of this year then last years are going to be worth less if you sell them before they are due. So you will lose money on the deal (and bond fund which are always buying and selling will go down this year)
Exception: If you are rich, have maxed out your IRA and still need a tax haven, you can buy municipal bonds, because the interest paid is tax free, so you get a similar 'money for nothing' deal as above with 401k and IRAs, but if you're rich, you probably aren't reading me for investment advice.
Oh and yes, you can put the above mentioned 3 months worth of rent in a 6 month or 1 year CD to get a bit more interest (not longer because of that whole rising interest rate thing).
Buy Metals and/or commodities
Low interest rates and a recovering economy sometimes means higher inflation is soon coming. If people all of a sudden get money they didn't have before, and buy stuff, it drives the cost up, that's inflation. To make money off of that, buy metals or commodities. These are the things that rise in price which the inflation rate measures (it's a bit more complex than that but whatever).
This is kinda risky since if it's a slow recovery, inflation will rise less and you'll make less money off this, and gold has run up quite a bit already, but it's your money, it's up to you. (and you already have 3 months worth of rent in a separate account and are contributing to your 401k/IRA right ? so you can afford to take a chance on this if you want to),
The best way to buy metals or commodities is to buy a fund that invests in this stuff.
Some funds, called Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Two of them are
PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund Ticker Symbol DBC which invests in both metals (gold and silver) and commodities (like corn and soybeans)
PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund Symbol DBP which is just metals.
Buy a Broad stock market index.
This is kinda a cop-out, but I don't want to be giving specific stock picks, because I don't feel really confident on that right now. There's all sorts of books on that if you want that level of investment geekiness.
"Fire Your Stock Market Analyst" and "One up on Wall Street" are two good ones.
Otherwise, the easy way is to just buy a fund that covers most or all of the stock market. This is called an Index fund. They are available all over the place. You can call fund companies like Vanguard (great but have a $5k minimum) or Fidelity or T. Rowe Price (all findable through google) and send money to them. This kind of fund is also a good choice for your 401k or IRA money if it's available.
The Stock market as a whole crashed last year, but what that also means is that it is going to be on an uptrend this year, and it's a good idea to jump on that train. People who bought in at the end of the 1930's made bank, why shouldn't you ? The big problem is figuring out when the slump is over.
Buy Foreign stocks
This is along the same lines of inflation. If inflation is worse here than in other countries, the dollar will be worth less than those other currencies. So buy those, or buy stocks in those other countries. again, it's kinda risky. again, better than doing it directly there's funds to buy.
I was originally going to recommend buying foreign currencies as well, but there's no 'everything but the dollar' fund that I liked, so I'm just recommending foreign stock funds. If you look at Vanguard or Fidelity or T. Rowe Price, they will have decent foreign stock funds as well. Look for one which cover a wide variety of countries, not just one country
I like this one from T Rowe Pricehttp://money.cnn.com/quote/mutualfund/mutualfund.html?showpage=ratings&symb=PIEQX&sid=407036