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: 1794

Latest Articles

077: The reason why ICOs have been going through the roof…

First it was Pets.com, and all the unbelievably stupid Internet businesses in the 1990s.

Investors were so eager to buy dot-com stocks, all you had to do was put an “e” in front of your business or product and you’d immediately be worth millions.

It didn’t matter that most of these companies didn’t make any money. Investors kept buying.

Later on after the dot-com bubble burst, another big craze developed in junior[...] Click here to continue reading

Today the music stops

Today’s the day.

After months of preparing financial markets for this news, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce that it will finally begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

I know, that probably sound reeeeally boring. A bunch of central bankers talking about their balance sheet.

But it’s phenomenally important. And I’ll explain why-

When the Global Financial Crisis started in 2008, the Federal Reserve (along with just[...] Click here to continue reading

Advice from the trader who made $1+ billion in 1929…

[Editor’s note: This letter was co-written with Tim Price, co-founder of the VT Price Value portfolio and editor of Price Value International.]

In the late spring of 1720, Sir Isaac Newton decided to sell his stocks.

Newton had been an investor in the South Sea Company, a famous enterprise which effectively commanded a trading monopoly with South America.

The investment had already made Newton a lot of money, he was up more[...] Click here to continue reading

“If you were a drug dealer, a murderer. . .” open an account at JP Morgan

On Tuesday afternoon, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of banking giant JP Morgan, let loose on Bitcoin.

He was speaking at the Barclays Financial Services conference, and when asked whether his bank employs any Bitcoin traders, he responded-

“If we had a trader who traded Bitcoin, I’d fire them in a second,” calling any trader who deals in the cryptocurrency “stupid”.

He went on to say that Bitcoin is a “fraud” and “won’t[...] Click here to continue reading

Bubble? Tech companies “express themselves” through architecture

On August 2, 2004, Bank of America broke ground on its 2.2 million square foot, NYC headquarters – the Bank of America Tower.

The all-glass tower would rise 57 stories above midtown Manhattan, with a giant spire taking the height to 1,200 ft. It’s currently the fourth-tallest building in New York City, and it cost $1 billion.

The next year, investment bank Goldman Sachs broke ground on its $2.4 billion headquarters in downtown[...] Click here to continue reading

The real story behind America’s new $20 trillion debt

Late yesterday afternoon the federal government of the United States announced that the national debt had finally breached the inevitable $20 trillion mark.

This was a long time coming. It should have happened back in March, except that a new debt ceiling was put in place, freezing the national debt.

For the last six months it was essentially illegal for the government to increase the debt.

This is pretty brutal for Uncle[...] Click here to continue reading

With scumbags like this, it’s easy to understand why Bitcoin is at $4600…

File this one away under ‘utterly repulsive’.

As you probably heard, yesterday the US-based credit reporting agency Equifax announced a massive cyberattack that affects as many as 143 million consumers.

Names. Birth dates. Addresses. Social Security Numbers. Even some credit card numbers were stolen.

Literally over one third of the entire US population is at risk of identity theft now thanks to Equifax’s bungling.

Bear in mind this is the THIRD[...] Click here to continue reading

The world’s most powerful bank issues a major warning

In 1869, a 48-year old Jewish immigrant from the tiny village of Trappstadt in Germany’s Bavaria region hung a shingle outside of his small office in lower Manhattan to officially launch his new business.

His name was Marcus Goldman, and the business he started, what’s now known as Goldman Sachs, has become the preeminent investment bank in the world with nearly $1 trillion in assets.

They didn’t get there by winning any[...] Click here to continue reading

Why you might as well paint a giant bulls-eye on your bank account

Vegetarians be forewarned… you won’t like what follows.

We slaughtered a pig yesterday at the farm. I have two freezers full of pork now, and countless strips of bacon curing in the kitchen.

I’ve written about this before-- out here at the farm I’m able to organically produce almost everything that I eat... meat, eggs, rice, nuts, and just about every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable. A lot of it gets canned[...] Click here to continue reading

China lets some air out of the ICO bubble

Earlier today the government of China banned ICOs-- initial coin offerings.

We talked about ICOs last week-- it’s the latest application of cryptofinance technology for companies to raise capital without having to rely on traditional methods like banks, brokers, and venture capital firms.

Through an ICO, any company can raise money by selling ‘tokens’ to investors, who typically pay with cryptocurrency like Ether or Bitcoin.

And those tokens normally represent shares in[...] Click here to continue reading

There’s literally a ‘token’ called F*ck that’s up 370% in the last 24-hours

I vividly remember having a conversation several years ago with a woman about her real estate investments in the United States.

It must have been around 2005 or 2006… the peak of the property bubble.

She was a psychologist from somewhere in the midwest, telling me about how she was flipping off-plan condominiums in Florida.

Basically she would put money down to secure a condo unit in a building before it[...] Click here to continue reading

Where there’s [almost] “blood in the streets” in America today…

In the spring of 1871 after a miserable defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Paris plunged into a major crisis as local citizens revolted against the government.

Financial markets went berserk as a result, and the prices of French government bonds plummeted.

There’s an old story that an heir to a large fortune came calling to the offices of the Rothschild banking family looking for investment advice.

According to accounts republished several[...] Click here to continue reading

The average American had a bigger savings account… in 1997!

Quite literally as a I write these words to you, the heads of the world’s largest central banks are packing their bags and heading home after a three-day symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Central bankers aren’t exactly mega-celebrities, so their conferences don’t make international news outside of financial circles.

But if people understood what was at stake, they’d probably pay more attention.

Central bankers wield totalitarian authority over their nations’ interest rates.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Negative interest rates have come to America

One of the truly mind-boggling absurdities in modern finance has been the creation of ‘negative interest rates’ around the world.

Negative interest rates are particularly prominent in Europe.

Starting back in 2014, the European Central Bank (ECB) slashed its main interest rate to below zero.

One bizarre effect of this policy is that some banks have passed on these negative interest rates to their retail depositors.

This trend has persisted across[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s a FANTASTIC security tool you should really know about

Chances are you probably use a cloud service to store at least a portion of your files.

Dropbox. iCloud. Microsoft’s OneDrive. Mega. Box.

There’s so many of them these days. And a few of them, like Switzerland-based Tresorit, focus heavily on privacy and security to keep your data safe.

But let’s be honest-- privacy is definitely not a top priority among most of the top cloud providers.

Dropbox states right on[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s how the next recession begins

In 1886 there were only 38 states in the United States.

Electric power was still cutting edge technology that few people had ever seen.

The Statue of Liberty hadn’t even been dedicated yet.

But it was that year that a man named Richard Sears founded a small retail company in Minneapolis, Minnesota that would grow into a retail juggernaut.

Sears was truly the Amazon of its day.

Even in the[...] Click here to continue reading

You stand a higher chance of being crushed by a vending machine.

There’s something I’ve always found mesmerizing about watching animals in the wild.

They have the most incredible instincts, honed from countless generations of survival against constant threats.

Animals have a keen sense of danger. They know immediately when something doesn’t feel right, and they act on it without hesitation.

I saw an incredible example of this last year when I was visiting a remote wildlife reservation in Zimbabwe.

It was late[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s how a few government pension funds are trying to close their $7 trillion funding gap

There may perhaps be no other group of investors that’s more DESPERATE today than pension funds.

Pensions, of course, are the giant funds responsible for paying out retirement benefits to workers.

The idea is that both the employer and the employee typically contribute a set percentage of the employee’s salary throughout his or her career with the promise that, upon retirement, he or she will receive a fixed monthly payment.

Many state[...] Click here to continue reading

The new American Dream: rent your home from a hedge fund.

About a month ago I joined the Board of Directors of a publicly-traded company that invests in US real estate.

The position brings a lot of insight into what’s happening in the US housing market. And from what I’m seeing, the transformation that’s taking place today is extraordinary.

Buying and renting out single-family homes has long been the mainstay investment of small, individual investors.

The big banks and hedge funds pretty much[...] Click here to continue reading

Social Security requires a bailout that’s 60x greater than the 2008 emergency bank bailout

A few weeks ago the Board of Trustees of Social Security sent a formal letter to the United States Senate and House of Representatives to issue a dire warning: Social Security is running out of money.

Given that tens of millions of Americans depend on this public pension program as their sole source of retirement income, you’d think this would have been front page news...

… and that every newspaper in the country[...] Click here to continue reading

This cryptocurrency website is selling for more money than Facebook’s

What’s money worth if interest rates are negative?

Interest rates, after all, are the “price” of money.

When we borrow money from a bank and pay interest on the loan, it means that the money we’re borrowing has value. That –capital- has value.

Negative interest rates, on the other hand, suggest that capital is totally worthless.

This isn’t a philosophical exercise. These are the times we’re living in.

Despite a[...] Click here to continue reading

Still one of the best real estate deals in the world

After roughly two months away in Europe and Asia, it’s great to be back here at my favorite place on earth.

I’m not talking about Chile-- although I do enjoy the country. I'm talking specifically about this farm. It’s the perfect place for me.

The views are sensational. I’m surrounded by nature. And there’s an imposing backdrop of snow-capped Andean peaks to frame the vista.

And the stars at night are more[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s what happened when they raised taxes 2,000+ years ago

In 353 BC, as violent class warfare broke out across ancient Greece, one wealthy Athenian lamented in his journal,
When I was a boy, wealth was regarded as a thing so...admirable that almost everyone affected to own more property than he actually possessed. Now a man has to be ready to defend himself against being rich as if it were the worst of crimes.
Ancient Greece had become deeply divided at that point.

The[...] Click here to continue reading

One easy reason why aspiring entrepreneurs should look abroad

Yesterday a good friend of mine came over for lunch to talk about his new business.

He has a very simple and compelling concept that easily helps restaurants make more money and creates a win/win for everyone-- restaurant owners, diners, and the business itself.

This is exactly the type of model that I like to invest in.

Best of all, though, the business he’s creating isn’t new. There’s a company based in[...] Click here to continue reading

My friend emailed billionaire Howard Marks about Bitcoin. Here’s his response–

Today is one of those days when I feel blessed to have such wonderful and interesting people in my life.

A few months ago I introduced you to Ben Yu, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur who’s easily one of the most unique people I know.

I first met Ben when he came to our summer entrepreneurship camp a few years ago.

I knew instantly that he was bright… and different.

He had[...] Click here to continue reading

A super safe stock fell 19% last Friday… And you should be worried

If you invested $1 in this stock back in 1968 it would be worth around $7,000 today – returning over 20% a year for nearly 50 years.

No, this isn’t another story about buying Warren Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, back in the day and getting rich.

This is about buying cigarettes… In particular, cigarette giant Altria (MO).

The tobacco industry has long been one of the steadiest and most profitable in[...] Click here to continue reading

It’s better to turn cautious too soon…

One of the greatest investors in the world is getting worried…

Howard Marks is the billionaire founder of Oaktree Capital, one of the largest and most successful investment firms in the world.

A few times each year Marks write up his thoughts about financial markets-- he calls them ‘investment memos’.

And he just released his latest one with a very clear message: it’s time to be cautious.

From Marks’ memo…
I[...] Click here to continue reading

The three best tips for saving a fortune on travel from Simon Black

I’ve probably consumed more airline food than anyone I’ve ever met.

It’s not great for my health. But it comes with the territory.

Over the past decade, I’ve hit nearly every country on the planet, sometimes traveling 250+ days per year.

I travel for business: Sovereign Man’s entire premise, when I started it a decade ago, was to offer you boots-on-the-ground insights into global businesses, world economies, and international opportunities.

I[...] Click here to continue reading

Almost all bankrupt governments eventually realize this. And it’s great for us

Eighteen centuries ago in the year 212 AD, the Roman Empire was in dire financial straits.

Emperor Caracalla had nearly bankrupted the treasury spending lavishly on his personal proclivities, waging pointless wars, and executing some of Rome’s most productive citizens.

We’re talking about a guy who murdered his brother (Geta) in order to become Emperor, and then had Geta’s name stricken from every official record.

Caracalla made it a capital crime for[...] Click here to continue reading

How my friend took the simplest path to foreign residency

I could get used to this.

As I told you yesterday, I spend part of the summer each year at a centuries-old villa in a storied pocket of Italy. And I invite some of the most brilliant and productive people on the planet, most of whom I’ve met traveling the world over the last decade.

Italy has a way of making people expansive – past the handmade pasta we eat every night. Looking[...] Click here to continue reading

What a Mad Scientist brought me in Italy

For about two weeks each year this little-known corner of Italy becomes one of the most interesting places in the world.

Dozens of productive people from across the planet and all walks of life gather at this estate every summer to break bread, build relationships, and exchange ideas. (check out the photo)

Over the years we’ve had scientists, politicians, vagabonds, artists, and musicians, as well as enormously successful investors and entrepreneurs in attendance.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Please do this before you get hacked

What I’m about to tell you is a bit scary. But as you’ll see, it could easily happen to anyone. So please read this in full… and then go change your passwords.

We have a friend whose email was hacked some time ago. It happened because, as many people tend to do, she used a very simple password for her email and logged in over an unsecure network, allowing hackers to easily grab it.
[...] Click here to continue reading

How one woman’s failure to act is costing her more than just money

Every summer around this time I rent a palatial wine and olive estate here in central Italy for a few weeks of relaxation with friends, business colleagues, and Sovereign Man: Total Access members.

We’ve been coming to the same place for six years in a row, and it’s gorgeous.

At the center of the estate is an 18-bedroom mansion that has been in the same family since it was built four centuries ago.
[...] Click here to continue reading

One of the world’s most popular tech companies just lost another $2 billion…

Last night Netflix executives announced that a record 104 million people worldwide now subscribe to its service.

This number handily beat what analysts were expecting, and the stock SURGED nearly 9% to an all-time high. Netflix is now trading at more than 200 times earnings.

Look, I like Netflix. House of Cards is entertaining.

But you shouldn’t invest in a business based on its number of customers and quality of content alone.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Create more freedom now with these three steps

I’m in Rome today, on my way to spend time with my Total Access extended family at our villa outside the city.

It’s one of my favorite events of the year… I spend two weeks in central Italy surrounded by dozens of friends and colleagues. There’s no agenda. We just relax and enjoy each other’s company.

Total Access is the most exclusive membership Sovereign Man offers. As a Total Access member, you get[...] Click here to continue reading