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: 1890

Latest Articles

089: FFS… please send China a fruit basket

I was in the gym earlier today trying to ward off the effects of trans-Pacific travel and 12 hours of time zone changes when the news flashed across the TV that the US government was issuing another round of tariffs against China.

This may be the dumbest move they could possibly make.

It’s so stupid, in fact, that I couldn’t contain myself in print. For this, I had to go to audio… and[...] Click here to continue reading

Congress quietly formed a committee to bail out 200 pension funds

The US pension system has gotten so bad, Congress is actually planning for its failure.

As the government was working on the recent, new budget deal and subsequent boost in government spending, Congress quietly snuck in a provision that forms a committee which would use federal funds to bail out as many as 200 “multiemployer” pension plans – where employers and labor unions jointly provide retirement benefits to employees.

As is often the[...] Click here to continue reading

Japan is so broke that its prisons are full of 80+ year old ‘felons’

‘Mrs. F.’ was 84 years old the first time she ever went to prison.

Her crime? Petty shoplifting. She stole rice, strawberries, and cold medicine.

She served her time. Got released. Then shoplifted again so that she’d go back to prison.

She’s now 89 years old serving out another 2 ½ year sentence, not too far away from where I am right now, at a women’s prison about 60 miles outside of[...] Click here to continue reading

At $21 TRILLION, the national debt is growing 36% faster than the US economy

Well, it happened again.

On Friday afternoon, the national debt of the United States hit another major milestone, soaring past $21 trillion for the first time ever.

Clearly that is an enormous number… it’s actually larger than the size of the entire US economy, which is pretty incredible.

But what’s always been the more important story about America’s pile of debt is how rapidly it’s growing.

For example, in the span[...] Click here to continue reading

If you have a family, this is a no-brainer option

Yesterday I spent the day up in the mountains above Medellin with some colleagues, touring a cannabis plantation that I invested in a few years ago.

Cannabis production is now legal in Colombia. And the company is one of a handful that has a license.

I'm not a user myself, but I've long understood both the financial benefits of cannabis production, as well as the potential health benefits of the product.

We're[...] Click here to continue reading

Venezuelan millionaire refugee now working as a personal trainer

It's been a few months since I've traveled to Medellin-- I have a number of investments and business interests in this region, and I like to check in on them from time to time.

Plus, Medellin is a wonderful city. You don't have to twist my arm too hard to visit here.

If I weren't living in Chile (which is also really, really great), Medellin would definitely be on my short list of[...] Click here to continue reading

2,000 years of history says this country should be on your radar

By the late summer of 30 BC, ancient Rome had been embroiled in an almost endless, decades-long period of instability and civil war.

Twenty years prior, back in 50 BC, Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great had waged a long, bloody conflict against each other for control of Rome, one that ultimately ended with Caesar’s victory… and his subsequent assassination.

With Caesar dead, Rome once again plunged into chaos, resulting in more years[...] Click here to continue reading

This is one of history’s most accurate indicators of a looming financial crisis

On April 15, 1185, over eight centuries ago, a powerful earthquake struck the East Midlands region of England near the town of Lincoln.

Modern scientists estimate the magnitude of the earthquake at 5.0 on today’s Richter scale… which was a pretty big deal back then.

Medieval England didn’t have any earthquake-proof construction methods, and much of the region was leveled to the ground.

One of the structures that was destroyed was the[...] Click here to continue reading

Rhode Island Wants to Tax Pornography

The government hasn’t yet figured out how to tax having sex. But Rhode Island at least wants to tax pornography.

Yes I’m serious.

It starts with censorship: two Rhode Island state senators just introduced legislation that would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block all “sexual content and patently offensive material.”

We have no idea, of course, what is considered “offensive”. But in an age of cry-bullies where even the word “man”[...] Click here to continue reading

Nearly half of all ICOs last year have already failed and that’s a good thing

The Securities and Exchange Commission clamped down on cryptocurrency firms last week in a major way.

The regulatory body issued dozens of subpoenas (some groups estimate more than one hundred) to companies that conducted or advised on initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Notes readers aren’t surprised, as I’ve long warned that the scammy ICO market is one of the biggest bubbles I’ve ever seen.

Before discussing the fraudulent nature of the space, a[...] Click here to continue reading

This may be the dumbest thing that any politician could ever do…

Week before last, I told you about how the brand-new President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, made an impassioned speech calling for the confiscation of real estate from white land owners.

It was a pretty remarkable thing to say during what was literally his first week in office.

You’d think the new president would take the opportunity to address more immediate, more critical issues-- for example, the fact that Cape Town is about[...] Click here to continue reading

Who’s going to win this Pepsi Challenge?

In our discussion on Monday, we talked about the latest annual letter from Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s holding company.

The big takeaway from that piece is that Berkshire Hathaway now holds a record $116 billion in cash.

More importantly, Buffett is NOT a buyer right now.

As he wrote in his letter…
“[P]rices for decent, but far from spectacular, businesses hit an all-time high.”
As we talked about on Monday, when the[...] Click here to continue reading

Total student debt in America now exceeds cost of Iraq War

We’ve all seen the headlines: the cost of university education in the United States has become completely debilitating. And student debt keeps rising to record high levels.

It’s almost commonplace now for a 22-year old to graduate from university with $50,000+ in student debt.

According to data from the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student debt in the United States is now $1.5 trillion.

That’s more than the estimated $1.3 trillion[...] Click here to continue reading

Treasury Department reports $1.2 TRILLION loss in 2017

Earlier this month, the United States government released its annual financial report for the year 2017.

This is something the government does every year, similar to how large companies like Apple, or Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, publish their own annual reports.

Unlike Berkshire and Apple, though, whose financial reports typically show strong, positive results, the US government’s financial statements are a complete horror show.

Right at the beginning of the report, the[...] Click here to continue reading

Warren Buffett isn’t buying. Why should anyone else?

Over the weekend on Saturday morning, amid its usual fanfare and attention, Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway released its annual report to the public.

This is a pretty big deal each year. Investors and financial reporters typically wait with baited breath to hear what the Oracle himself has to say in his legendary annual letter.

Buffett’s topics in previous letters have covered a lot of ground-- the state of the US economy, value[...] Click here to continue reading

Why the most-recent selloff was just the beginning

On October 19, 1987, the Dow experienced its biggest one-day percentage loss in history – plunging 22.6%.

It was “Black Monday.” The selloff was so fast and so severe, nothing else even comes close.

The second worst percentage loss for the Dow was October 28, 1929 (also Black Monday) when the exchange fell 12.82%. It fell another 11.73% the next day (you guessed it… “Black Tuesday”). Then the Great Depression hit.

A[...] Click here to continue reading

South Africa’s brand new president vows to confiscate land from white farmers

If you’ve been following much international news, you’ve probably heard that, after literally years of scandal, abuse, and incompetence, South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma was finally forced to resign last week.

This is a big deal for South Africa.

The country has been suffering for nearly a decade under Zuma’s corruption.

And people are certainly hoping that the new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, will represent a positive, new chapter for South Africa.

[...] Click here to continue reading

Meet the Italian government’s Orwellian new automated tax snitch

By the end of the 3rd century AD, the finances of ancient Rome were in terminal crisis.

Years and years of debasing the currency had resulted in severe hyperinflation-- a period of Roman history known as the Crisis of the Third Century (from AD 235 through AD 284).

During the time of Julius Caesar, for example, the Roman silver denarius coin was nearly 98% pure silver.

Two centuries later in the mid-100s[...] Click here to continue reading

088: The dangerous, false logic of “Common Sense”

On the morning of May 18, 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan, a 55-year old municipal worker named Andrew Kehoe used a timed detonator to set off a bomb he had planted at the local school.

Kehoe was Treasurer of the School Board, so he had unfettered access to the school.

According to friends and neighbors, he was having personal issues with his wife (who he had murdered days prior) and extreme financial difficulties.[...] Click here to continue reading

Bitcoin back above $10,000

Cryptocurrencies exist in dog years.

That’s how my colleague Tama Churchouse explained the rapid innovation and massive volatility in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The technology is advancing so quickly that one year in the crypto sector is like seven years anywhere else.

And the price action reflects this breakneck pace.

Bitcoin returned 1,318% in 2017. The S&P 500, for comparison, returned less than 19%.

But bitcoin’s rise comes with massive[...] Click here to continue reading

Terrified of Bitcoin, banks forced to innovate for the first time in 40+ years

Yesterday morning, several banks in Australia started rolling out a new payment system they’re calling NPP, or “New Payments Platform.”

Until now, sending a domestic funds transfer in Australia from one bank to another could take several days. It was slow and cumbersome.

With NPP, payments are nearly instantaneous.

And rather than funds transfers being restricted to the banks’ normal business hours, payments via NPP can be scheduled and sent 24/7.

[...] Click here to continue reading

087: You won’t want to miss this crypto podcast

As I write this, bitcoin is trading at $8,600.

That's down more than 50% from the December highs of $20,000.

But is this selloff a natural correction, or something to be worried about?

That's one of the questions I ask my guest Tama Churchouse in today's podcast.

Tama was an investment banker for a decade, most recently with JPMorgan. Then he went on to manage a family office. And in 2013,[...] Click here to continue reading

This may be the beginning of the Great Financial Reckoning

Less than two weeks ago, the United States Department of Treasury very quietly released its own internal projections for the federal government’s budget deficits over the next several years.

And the numbers are pretty gruesome.

In order to plug the gaps from its soaring deficits, the Treasury Department expects to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year.

Then nearly $1.1 trillion next fiscal year.

And up to $1.3 trillion the year[...] Click here to continue reading

Meet the world’s next central banker: Mark Zuckerberg

Within the last week, Facebook announced a ban on all advertisements about bitcoin, initial coin offerings and other cryptocurrencies.

Facebook (along with Google) virtually controls Internet advertising. So their policies have enormous influence over consumer behavior.

Banning ICO advertisements on its platform, for example, will certainly have a negative impact on the amount of money flowing into new ICO’s.

Facebook said it instituted this ban to “protect its users” from financial scams[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s what the ‘Warren Buffet of Crypto’ told us yesterday

If you’ve been on the Internet in the past six months, you’ve no doubt seen loads of ads touting “crypto geniuses” that have found the next token that’s going to explode…

One guy in particular seems to be following me around to every website I visit, claiming to have some special insight into the “truth” about crypto.

But the truth is, nobody has a crystal ball.

Ultimately, what’s going to drive crypto[...] Click here to continue reading

No. It’s not over

Last night I was checking out tickets for some upcoming travel.

I’ll be headed to Colombia soon to check on the progress of a large cannabis investment we’ve made there, then off to Miami for an event with our Total Access members.

After that it’s Puerto Rico to meet with some officials there and check out some exciting investment opportunities on the island.

And then finally back to Asia where we’re setting[...] Click here to continue reading

This tiny corner of Rhode Island shows us the future of Social Security

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit gave us an interesting glimpse of the future last week when it ruled on an obscure case involving government pension obligations.

Ever since the mid-1990s, police officers and fire fighters in the town of Cranston, Rhode Island had been promised state pension benefits upon retirement.

But, facing critical budget shortfalls over the last several years that the Rhode Island government called “fiscal peril,”[...] Click here to continue reading

Why Albert Einstein thought we were all insane

In the early summer of 1914, Albert Einstein was about to start a prestigious new job as Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics.

The position was a big deal for the 35-year old Einstein-- confirmation that he was one of the leading scientific minds in the world. And he was excited about what he would be able to achieve there.

But within weeks of Einstein’s arrival, the German government canceled plans[...] Click here to continue reading

This is the most important meeting I attend every year

[Editor’s Note: Today's Notes, originally published one year ago, is about one of the most impactful things I do each year. If you know a young entrepreneur who may be interested in what we're doing, please forward this piece along. It could change their lives…]

I’ve always been a big believer in entrepreneurship.

But not in the sense that most people think of that word.

My dictionary defines “entrepreneur” as “a person[...] Click here to continue reading

“We choose debt. . .”

I’ve long held a working theory that US voters are completely predictable in Presidential elections.

The idea is that Americans almost invariably tend to swing wildly every few election cycles, voting for the candidate who is as close to the opposite of the current guy as possible.

Let’s go back a few decades to, say, Jimmy Carter.

In 1976, the country was sick and tired of the corruption, scandal, and disgrace of[...] Click here to continue reading

GE just signaled the next crisis and nobody’s paying attention

Earlier this month, General Electric took a $6.2 billion charge to its insurance unit for the fourth quarter. And the company said it will set aside another $15 billion over seven years to bolster reserves at GE Capital.

The charge had to do with long-term care policies (to pay for nursing homes and other late-life care) GE holds on its books.

So, one of the oldest and most highly-regarded companies in America just[...] Click here to continue reading

Message from Planet Japan: The good times never last forever

After having traveled to more than 120 countries in my life, the only person I know who’s been to more places than I have is Jim Rogers.

Jim is a legend-- a phenomenal investor, author, and all-around great guy.

(His book Adventure Capitalist is a must-read, chronicling his multi-year driving voyage across the world.)

Some time ago while we were having drinks, Jim remarked that he occasionally tells people, “If you can[...] Click here to continue reading

Common sense investing wisdom from Mr. Miyagi

Almost exactly a year ago to the day, on January 23, 2017, I wrote to you in this column that the US dollar was overvalued against almost every currency in the world.

Specifically, I described how Donald Trump and Fed Chair Janet Yellen BOTH wanted a weaker US dollar:
Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week that the US dollar is “too strong. And it’s killing us.”

On that single statement[...] Click here to continue reading

How the new tax bill hurt one of the greatest ways for Americans to slash taxes

Puerto Rico won’t repay any of its $72 billion of debt until 2022…

The US territory declared bankruptcy last May. A combination of a shrinking population, bloated pensions and a job crisis (in 2006, the US government repealed tax incentives that attracted manufacturers to the island) caused Puerto Rico to go broke.

Even in its fragile economic state, PR was planning on paying creditors $3.6 billion through 2022.

Then Hurricane Irma and[...] Click here to continue reading

Is there any new information that didn’t exist two weeks ago?

The year was 1720. And one of the smartest people to have ever lived had just made one of the dumbest financial mistakes imaginable.

Sir Isaac Newton was a genius in every sense of the word.

He practically invented the science and mathematics that is at the foundation of nearly every bit of modern technology that we enjoy today.

Newton was such an intellectual superhero that even Albert Einstein idolized him.

[...] Click here to continue reading