Posts by Simon Black

Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter Notes from the Field is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom, make more money, keep more of it, and protect it all from bankrupt governments.

  • First post: 16/06/2009
  • Posts written: 1718

Latest Articles

076: Despite the new ‘plan’, this is -still- a no-brainer tax strategy

Yesterday I recorded a new podcast with my US-based tax attorney to talk about the Trump administration’s new tax plan... or as I like to call it, the plan to have a plan.

Clearly they’re trying to do something positive and significant.

But to say that their strategy is light on details at just a single page would be a massive understatement.

Rather than rehash and recap what has already been[...] Click here to continue reading

This bubble finally burst. Which one’s next?

Like so many other high-flying Silicon Valley startups, Clinkle was supposed to ‘make the world a better place’.

Founded in 2011 by a guy barely out of his teens, the company picked up early buzz after proclaiming they would disrupt mobile payments. Or something.

Silicon Valley venture capital firms were apparently so impressed with the idea that they showered the company with an unprecedented level of cash.

(Given that investing in an[...] Click here to continue reading

New Poll: Record number of Americans want MORE government in their lives

In a poll conducted a few days ago by NBC News / Wall Street Journal, a record 57% of Americans responded that they want MORE government in their lives, and that the government should be doing more to solve people’s problems.

That’s the highest percentage since they started asking this question in 1995.

In fact, 57% is nearly double what people responded in the mid-90s.

Furthermore, the number of Americans who feel[...] Click here to continue reading

The last time this happened the market crashed

A few days ago Charles Schwab, the investment brokerage firm, announced that the number of new brokerage accounts soared 44% during the first quarter of 2017.

More specifically, Schwab stated that individual investors are opening up stock trading accounts at the fastest pace the company has seen in 17 years.

17 years.

Anyone remember what happened 17 years ago?

Oh right. The Dot-com bubble burst.

After years of unbelievable[...] Click here to continue reading

Finally. The Breakthrough.

Finally, the breakthrough.

After months of experimentation and failure, I finally managed to crack the code and successfully distill my first batch of homemade ethanol.

I botched the job the first seven times and ended up with useless buckets of goo, so I’m pretty excited right now.

It turns out that it’s not even that hard.

I started with unused fruit that literally falls off the trees in my organic[...] Click here to continue reading

Don’t hold your breath for any comprehensive tax reform. But here’s something you can do now

On October 22, 1986, the world was an entirely different place.

The Soviet Union still loomed, as did the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Most people had no idea how to use a computer, let alone even heard of the “Internet” (which at the time was still a military communications project.)

Hardly anyone had ever seen a cell phone. And with a $4,000 price tag, even fewer people owned one.

[...] Click here to continue reading

The banking industry abuses its customers worse than United Airlines

Last week the Internet was ablaze with disgust after a man was physically dragged off a United Airlines flight.

What’s amazing, though, is that there are countless cases of another industry abusing its customers in far, far worse ways than the airlines.

I’m talking, of course, about the banking industry.

1. Banks treat you like criminal suspects too.

Sure, United had a man dragged away like he was a rape suspect[...] Click here to continue reading

A polite history of government “predictions”

Recently the Congressional Budget Office published a scathing report that the US government debt-to-GDP ratio will double over the next 30-years.

Few government agencies are as blunt as the Congressional Budget Office.

In fact the agency’s report plainly states that “the prospect of such large and growing debt poses substantial risks for the nation. . .”

Echoing this sentiment, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office called the US debt:
“a[...] Click here to continue reading

How to cut your taxes no matter what your situation

On the plane ride back to Chile last night, I was sitting next to a particularly chatty woman who wanted to know my whole life story and what I was doing in Mexico.

I played along and explained to her that I had been on a cruise for the past week speaking at an investment conference.

“Oooooooh,” she said, and then inquired what I had been speaking about.

That’s when the conversation[...] Click here to continue reading

200 lines of code will disrupt this multi-trillion dollar industry

To paraphrase that great scene from Airplane, it looks like I picked the wrong week to unplug from the Internet.

Aside from a few hours when we docked in Honduras last week, I was on a self-imposed Internet exile and went several days devoid of any communication with the outside world.

I missed a major scandal at the Fed, another terror attack in Europe, the start of a US military campaign in Syria,[...] Click here to continue reading

What I learned about the US real estate market this week

For the last several days I’ve been speaking at an investment conference organized by my friends Robert Helms and Russell Gray.

It’s been great so far, and my fellow speakers here include the legendary Robert Kiyosaki, G. Edward Griffin, Peter Schiff, and many more.

One of the key themes so far in the event is that there are likely problems ahead for the US real estate market.

On the first day I[...] Click here to continue reading

You can’t rely on Social Security. Do this instead.

In the late in the 5th century BC, the government of ancient Rome came up with a new idea that has lasted for thousands of years.

I’m not talking about their roads, republican form of government, or water sanitation.

Their bold idea was to start paying retirement benefits to Roman soldiers.

This was a pretty big deal. In ancient times, you worked until you died. There was no such thing as retirement.
[...] Click here to continue reading

This guy has eight passports

A few weeks ago I caught wind of a guy who has citizenships from eight different countries.

This “octa-citizen” has passports from Canada, UK, Ireland, Belize, Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts, and Cape Verde.

Let’s be honest-- that's probably way too many. But the concept of acquiring multiple nationalities is completely sound.

If you have one nationality, it means that a single government has total control over your life, your finances, your business,[...] Click here to continue reading

075: It’s time to start believing in the Impossible

I’ll start today with a confession: I’m an unabashed optimist.

I believe that this is one of the most exciting times in all of human history to be alive. And with good reason.

Think about it-- compared to thousands of years of violent warfare that ravaged most of the world’s major cities, we live in an era of relative peace.

Pockets of conflict will always exist. But right now there’s no major[...] Click here to continue reading

Just a quick reminder: the Federal Reserve is almost insolvent.

September 10, 2008 was one of the last “normal” days in the world of banking and finance.

That afternoon, the US Federal Reserve published its routine, weekly balance sheet report, indicating that the central bank had total assets worth around $925 billion.

Just a few days later, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, kicking off the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression.

And almost immediately the Fed launched a series of[...] Click here to continue reading

Nine years later, Greece is still in a debt crisis…

Sometimes you have to marvel at the absurdity of the financial universe in which we live.

On one side of the Atlantic, we have the United States of America, which triggered yet another debt ceiling disaster last Thursday when the US government’s maximum allowable debt reset to just over $20 trillion.

Of course, the US national debt is pretty much already at $20 trillion.

(That’s roughly $166,000 per taxpayer in the Land[...] Click here to continue reading

This new bubble is even bigger than the subprime fiasco

In 1988, a bank called Guardian Savings and Loan made financial history by issuing the first ever “subprime” mortgage bond.

The idea was revolutionary.

The bank essentially took all the mortgages they had loaned to borrowers with bad credit, and pooled everything together into a giant bond that they could then sell to other banks and investors.

The idea caught on, and pretty soon, everyone was doing it.

As Bethany McLean[...] Click here to continue reading

The “justice” system killed this guy for stealing $14

During the winter of 1796, a Frenchman named Eugene Francois Vidocq was sentenced to eight years of hard labor after being convicted of document forgery.

It was a remarkably harsh punishment for a non-violent crime, especially in Vidocq’s case as there was not even a victim.

Yet this took place during the chaos that ensued after the French Revolution. The scars from the Reign of Terror still remained.

Long sentences were typical,[...] Click here to continue reading

Demand for physical gold is collapsing

I serve on the Board of Directors of a large Singapore-based company that’s in the gold and silver business.

And, last night during our quarterly conference call, the management team gave me a lot of intriguing information.

Sales of physical gold and silver are collapsing across the entire industry.

At the US Mint, for example, sales of US Eagle gold coins fell by 67% between February 2016 versus February 2017.

And[...] Click here to continue reading

What do these CEOs know that we don’t?

Last night a good friend of mine came over for dinner.

He’s originally from Poland, and growing up there he heard a lot of bizarre stories about what it was like during the Nazi invasion and World War II.

In 1939, even as 1.5 million German soldiers prepared to invade, the general mood in Poland couldn’t have been more carefree.

My friend’s grandfather once told him that, just prior to the Nazi[...] Click here to continue reading

It doesn’t matter that we “owe it to ourselves”

Thousands of years ago, as far back as 3000 BC, the ancient Egyptians had developed a highly advanced system of writing using hieroglyphic symbols.

The used hieroglyphs for numbers as well.

A single line, for example, represented the number 1. Two strokes represented 2. Nine strokes for the number 9.

Since the Egyptians had not yet invented the “zero” in 3000 BC, representing the number 10 required a new symbol-- a sort[...] Click here to continue reading

Yes, governments CAN go bankrupt. And no, it’s NOT impossible…

In the year 1517, one of the most important innovations in financial history was invented in Amsterdam: the government bond.

It was a pretty revolutionary concept.

Governments had been borrowing money for thousands of years… quite often at the point of a sword.

Italian city-states like Venice and Florence had been famously demanding “forced loans” from their wealthy citizens for centuries.

But the Dutch figured out how to turn government loans[...] Click here to continue reading

How one Silicon Valley entrepreneur lost his faith in the system

Today I’m going to introduce you to my friend Ben, easily one of the most unique, intelligent people I know.

I first met Ben at my summer Liberty and Entrepreneurship camp several years ago.

He had recently dropped out of Harvard after winning the prestigious Peter Thiel fellowship, which has an incredibly competitive selection rate of less than 1%.

He was working on an intriguing new business, and after conducting our own[...] Click here to continue reading

The most shocking revelation from the CIA spying scandal

It happened again-- another spying scandal in the Land of the Free.

Yesterday Wikileaks released 8,761 CIA documents detailing the agency’s hacking of smart phones, routers, computers, and even televisions.

These files reveal that the CIA can and has hacked devices that were supposedly secure-- iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

The documents further reveal that the CIA is deliberately infecting personal computers with spyware, including Windows, Mac OS/X, Solaris, Linux, and other[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s an example of a bank you want to avoid

A few weeks ago, one of our Europe-based Total Access members reached out to ask us about a bank account he was considering for his new business.

This is important stuff.

As I’ve written before, most people spend more time thinking about what they’re going to have for dinner than even considering whether or not their bank is safe.

In finance there’s hardly anything more critical.

Never forget that the moment[...] Click here to continue reading

Finding a safe bank that actually pays a solid interest rate

Probably around the time I was 12 years old, my parents opened up a bank account on my behalf.

Decades later, even though 99% of my assets are outside of the United States, I still maintain a small balance at that bank.

I appear to be suffering from some sort of bizarre financial nostalgia.

This morning I received an email from the bank informing me that they were increasing the interest rate[...] Click here to continue reading

How to earn a safe 10% return with minimal risk

This is total madness.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is currently in the midst of a ridiculous crusade to buy an unbelievable 2.3 TRILLION euros worth of European government debt.

In the ECB’s estimation, by conjuring trillions of euros out of thin air and using that money to buy the debt of bankrupt governments, they’ll engineer economic prosperity across the continent.

It’s genius!

The really sickening part about this scheme is[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s one alternative, but it’s extremely unpopular

It’s my usual custom whenever I land at a major airport to stop by the rental car counters and inquire how much it costs to rent a vehicle.

For me this is a sort of informal, albeit imperfect, economic indicator.

High prices suggest strong demand from plenty of business travelers and tourists, which will likely have a positive economic impact.

Cheap prices, conversely, suggest that there’s something wrong.

Well, there’s definitely[...] Click here to continue reading

This is a potentially life-changing investment

Education is a potentially life-changing investment
Yesterday I wandered out to the hotel pool to cool down from my workout, only to find a handful of Americans in the midst of a screaming match.

There were 6 or 7 of them altogether. Some pro-Trump, others vehemently anti-Trump.

They were shouting… literally shouting… at one another about transgender bathrooms, Islam, Obamacare, the border wall, and just about every other trending topic in the Twitterverse.

The temper tantrum from both[...] Click here to continue reading

The US stock market is highly overvalued. Here’s why…

The US Stock Market is overvalued
This is really starting to get out of control.

No doubt you’re familiar with the S&P 500, the stock index that measures the performance of the largest US companies.

And as we’ve discussed before, one of the most important benchmarks in measuring whether stocks are overvalued or undervalued is the Price/Earnings, or P/E ratio.

Looking back through more than a century of financial data, the long-term average P/E ratio for the S&P[...] Click here to continue reading

Reconsider holding these Dividend Aristocrat Stocks

On May 23, 1719, one of the greatest financial bubbles in the history of the world kicked off when the Compagnie Perpetuelle des Indes was granted a monopoly by the French monarchy over all the trading rights of all French colonies worldwide.

The company’s stock price quickly soared, from 300 livres per share to more than 1,000 just a few months later.

It was quite a jump. But the enthusiasm continued for more[...] Click here to continue reading

This is a great option for anyone’s Plan B

It seems like every time I come to Panama now the first word that springs to mind is “impressive”.

I first traveled to Panama back in 2003… fourteen years ago.

I remember landing at Tocumen International Airport for the first time-- it was a depressing backwater that was barely functioning.

And on the way into town there was hardly any sign of civilization; everything seemed completely impoverished.

Basically Panama was just[...] Click here to continue reading

The biggest transformation story in the world

I’ve written before a number of times about the long laundry list of reasons why I base myself and most of my business operations in Chile.

I could go on forever about this, but in short the country presents an exceptional mix of business, investment, and lifestyle opportunities that are extremely difficult to find just about anywhere else in the world.

But people ask me a lot-- if not Chile, where else?

[...] Click here to continue reading

Boy was I wrong about this place…

In 1927, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote that “taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

This quote is enshrined at the Internal Revenue Service, and it’s a rallying cry for people who constantly argue for higher taxes.

Almost everyone completely misunderstands what he meant.

First of all, tax rates in the United States were about 3.5% back in 1927, just a tiny fraction of what they are[...] Click here to continue reading

Fed president says US banks have “half the equity they need”

In a scathing editorial published in the Wall Street Journal today, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, blasted US banks, saying that they still lacked sufficient capital to withstand a major crisis.

Kashkari makes a great analogy.

When you’re applying for a mortgage or business loan, sensible banks are supposed to demand a 20% down payment from their borrowers.

If you want to buy a $500,000 home,[...] Click here to continue reading