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With macro-economic uncertainty at a high, Europe debt and austerity measures driving down global demand, a weakening ammunition store for the Federal Reserve, and gloomy economic outlook for the next two years... your best bets are firms who have a low beta (look it up on investopedia) who have STABLE cash flows, especially in economic downturns, who (MOST IMPORTANTLY) pay a dividend. Dividends are cash payments to the shareholder, in excess of the return that the stock actually makes in the market (which is called a capital gain)
add the two returns together and you get total return. I would suggest looking at stocks like McDonalds, BB&T bank, ExxonMobil, Aflac, Automatic Data Processing, REIT's that invest in student housing, some gold for downside protection, and Quallcomm.
Watch Dave Ramsey's Guide to Financial Freedom.
He would suggest that you invest into mutal funds and more specificaly 4 types of mutal funds. (International, small cap, mid cap, and large cap) 25% each. If you do it right, you can average around 12% per year and double your money in around 6 years. Also this way you don't get completely screwed over if you invest all of your money in 1 place and then it tanks.
theres my (Dave Ramsey's) 2 cents