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: 1935

Latest Articles

The latest casualty in the global pension catastrophe is…

In the year 6 AD, the Roman emperor Augustus set up a special trust fund known as the aerarium militare, or military treasury, to fund retirement pensions for Rome’s legionnaires.

Now, these military pensions had already existed for several centuries in Rome. But the money to pay them had always been mixed together in the government’s general treasury.

So for hundreds of years, mischievous senators could easily grab money that was earmarked for[...] Click here to continue reading

Do you have a cryptocurrency addiction? This British hospital has a treatment for you

By the time Louis XIV passed away in 1715, seven decades of his absurd extravagance had nearly bankrupted France.

His reign was marked by constant warfare and the most excessive spending imaginable, from opulent palaces (including Versailles) to a costly welfare state-- public hospitals, parks, monuments, museums.

Louis XIV had turned France into the world’s leading power. But it came at a heavy cost.

The national debt was nearly as large as[...] Click here to continue reading

This former trillionaire is flat broke

It’s hard to imagine, but today is actually Sovereign Man’s 9th birthday.

Nine years ago, on June 19, 2009, I sent out the first ever Notes from the Field email.

To commemorate the occasion, I thought I’d republish that first article… because I think it still captures the challenges we face, as well as the boundless solutions ahead of us.

I hope you enjoy.

=====

William “Bud” Post is flat[...] Click here to continue reading

Surprise! Taxpayers have been footing the bill for sexual misconduct in Congress

On January 23, 1995, President Bill Clinton signed into law a piece of legislation that had been almost unanimously approved by both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

It was called the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995-- CAA.

The idea behind the CAA was to force Congress to abide by the same rules of workplace health and safety that private companies have to follow.

And one notable example was[...] Click here to continue reading

The Hitler of South Africa tells white people he won’t kill them. . . yet

Earlier this week while most of the world was transfixed on the World Cup, the Trump/Kim handshake, or a multitude of other sundry events, Julius Malema, aka the Hitler of South Africa, was busy telling white people in his country that he’s not going wage genocide against them. Yet.

In an interview with TRT World News published this week, Malema said, “We have not called for the killing of white people. At least for[...] Click here to continue reading

On the verge of a major turning point

This morning I had the pleasure of being buried in a mountain of paperwork-- the penalty for trying to do basically anything in the financial system these days.

It seems that everything, from sending a wire transfer to establishing a new account, comes with endless bureaucratic hoops to jump through as you’re forced to convince these people that you’re not a criminal money laundering terrorist.

In my case I was opening a new[...] Click here to continue reading

Three sensible places to keep your money amid so much insanity

One of my many business activities is being the Chairman of the Board of a company that’s traded on a major stock exchange.

The company is in the real estate business; we own a number of residential properties.

And at the annual shareholder meeting a few weeks ago, one of the obvious topics that came up was the fact that real estate prices are near their all-time highs in many places around the[...] Click here to continue reading

The most successful investor in modern history is selling… here’s what it means for you

It’s typically pretty hard to find anything exciting to say about drywall.

Yes, drywall… as in, the building material that’s used for interior construction.

Drywall, also known as wallboard, is manufactured from rehydrated gypsum to produce a calcium sulfate plaster, that’s later mixed with mildew-resistant foaming agent. . . hello? Are you still there?

Seriously, though, in this particular case, drywall is a big deal.

I’ll explain.

The largest distributor[...] Click here to continue reading

The real opportunities in cryptocurrency… aren’t cryptocurrencies

Hallelujah.

After almost a decade since Bitcoin was created, the SEC announced last week the creation of a new, senior position to coordinate the agency’s cryptocurrency and ICO efforts.

As usual, the government showed up late to the party. But at least they showed up.

The good news is that the person chosen by the SEC to fill that position is quite sharp.

She has an engineering background, obtained her law[...] Click here to continue reading

It’s official: Medicare trust fund will run out of money in 8 years

Two days ago the respective Boards of Trustees for Medicare and Social Security released their annual reports for 2018.

As usual, the numbers are pretty gruesome... and the reports plainly stated what we’ve been talking about for years: the trust funds for both Social Security and Medicare are going to run out of money.

Soon.

In the case of Medicare, the Trustees project that its largest trust fund will be fully depleted[...] Click here to continue reading

How many more banking scandals will it take to make a change

This morning after my plane landed from Bangkok, I was having breakfast in the business lounge in Sydney and glanced at the local paper, The Australian.

The front-page headline told the story of yet another banking scandal:

“Cartel case nets six bankers”

The article was about how six prominent investment bankers in Australia colluded to defraud investors.

This comes the day after Australia’s financial regulator hit Commonwealth Bank with an AUD[...] Click here to continue reading

Nobody knows where the next crisis will erupt… here’s how to prepare

Last week, Paolo Savona, an Italian man no one outside the country had ever heard of, was denied the position of finance minister.

Italy’s President denied his appointment because Savona is anti-euro. The President believes Italy should remain part of the euro.

I wrote a Notes about the entire situation last week.

But the point I discuss in today’s podcast is that this situation should not have been a major deal… but[...] Click here to continue reading

America’s Long-Term Challenge #4: Erosion of the Middle Class

We’ve all seen the headlines: the middle class in the United States (and much of Europe for that matter) has been in decline for years.

CNN May 18, 2018: “Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food”
Marketwatch June 2, 2018: “50 million American households can’t even afford basic living expenses”
Wall Street Journal February 13, 2018 : “US households shoulder record $13.15 trillion debt”

This is the opposite[...] Click here to continue reading

Three critical lessons from Europe’s recent mini-meltdown

Trying to trace the origins of the latest political crisis in Italy is like… well… trying to trace the origins of the decline of the Roman Empire.

There simply is no good starting point.

You can’t talk about the decline of Rome without a lengthy discussion of how destructive Diocletian’s Edict on Wages and Prices was in the early 4th century.

But you’d have to go further back than that and discuss[...] Click here to continue reading

You might qualify for this unique second passport. But the window closes soon…

Today I’m going to share a unique, European-based idea that could set you up for decades to come… and could even benefit your children and grandchildren.

But it’s only available until the end of 2018.

First, let’s acknowledge that Europe is in a bit of a mess. I won’t dive into the nasty details of the political drama (you can find a good summary here).

But in short, a populist (and anti-EU)[...] Click here to continue reading

One of the best ways to buy physical gold today

[Editor’s note: In today’s Notes from the Field, I want to share an excerpt from our premium intelligence –Sovereign Man: Confidential. We recently spoke with one of the world’s top gold experts. And he shared a specific gold investment that’s trading near historical lows and is one of the best ways to buy gold today, in my mind. I doubt you’ll hear about this anywhere else. Read on for the details…]

The beauty, value[...] Click here to continue reading

094: How to wait out the financial mania in safety

In today’s podcast, I share more thoughts on Puerto Rico including my experiences opening a business there.

While the island has its problems, I’m still bullish on the long-term future given Puerto Rico’s incredible tax incentives (especially after meeting with their government leader and seeing how open they are to productive people moving in).

I also harp on the latest drama in Argentina…

Less than a year after issuing 100-year[...] Click here to continue reading

Why you’re likely exposed to one of the dumbest investments in history

Last June, in one of the most egregious displays of economic insanity, Argentina was able to raise $2.75 billion by selling bonds with a ONE HUNDRED YEAR maturity.

Even more miraculously, the bond turned out to be wildly popular with investors.

So basically investors willingly forked over billions of dollars to a country that has a history of defaulting on its debt, confiscating private assets, and engaging in rampant corruption… for an entire[...] Click here to continue reading

America’s long-term challenge #3: destruction of the currency

On April 2, 1792, George Washington signed into law what’s commonly referred to as the Mint and Coinage Act.

It was one of the first major pieces of legislation in the young country’s history… and it was an important one, because it formally created the United States dollar.

Under the Act, the US dollar was defined as a particular amount of copper, silver, or gold. It wasn’t just a piece of paper.

[...] Click here to continue reading

HUGE opportunity in Puerto Rico… and the developed country whose looming debt crisis is far worse

We just finished a really -sensational- conference here in San Juan over the weekend showcasing Puerto Rico… with all of its challenges and opportunities.

We've talked about this before-- Puerto Rico is an attractive place to live and do business thanks to some forward thinking tax incentives which stem from its unique status as a US territory.

All US territories, including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, etc. are technically part of[...] Click here to continue reading

093: The future of crypto in Puerto Rico and avoiding fanaticism

I’m writing from San Juan, Puerto Rico today.

The Sovereign Man team is here to host 150+ Total Access members over the weekend.

And on today’s podcast, we discuss the amazing tax benefits in PR... and why crypto wealth is flocking to the island.

These people think crypto is going to the moon. And by being residents in PR, they’ll pay 0% capital gains tax on any appreciation after they move here.
[...] Click here to continue reading

America’s long-term challenge #2: the looming retirement crisis

Last week, the financial services giant Northwestern Mutual released new data showing that 1 in 3 Americans has less than $5,000 in retirement savings.

It’s an unfortunately familiar story. And Northwestern Mutual’s data is entirely aligned with other research we’ve seen in the past, including our own.

The Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances, for example, shows that the median bank balance among US consumers is just $2,900.

And Bank[...] Click here to continue reading

It gets worse: Tesla now has to compete with $50,000 electric BMWs going for $54/month

As if things weren’t bad enough for beleaguered Tesla…

The company lost $1.1 billion in cash in the last quarter, executives are leaving the company in droves, it’s facing production issues with its Model 3 and, as I recently discussed, Elon Musk insulted analysts on the latest earnings call by dismissing their questions – regarding the company’s survival – as “boring” and “boneheaded,” (just after shareholders approved his obscenely large pay package).

Now,[...] Click here to continue reading

Breaking down America’s worst long-term challenges: #1- Debt.

On October 22, 1981, the national debt in the United States crossed the $1 trillion threshold for the first time in history.

It took nearly two centuries to reach that unfortunate milestone.

And over that time the country had been through a revolution, civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression, the nuclear arms race… plus dozens of other wars, financial panics, and economic crises.

Today, the national debt stands at more[...] Click here to continue reading

One family’s TWO YEAR nightmare of having their child taken by the state

This one is really infuriating.

It started back in 2016… on April 6th to be specific. A Philadelphia-area mother walked into a clinic because her 7-month old baby was being excessively fussy.

The doctor performed a cursory examination, concluded the baby had an ear infection, and prescribed an antibiotic.

Later that day, the mother noticed what seemed like a bone popping in the baby’s side and thought this might be the source[...] Click here to continue reading

Meet America’s next pension casualty: the inventor of chocolate sprinkles

In 1923, a young Jewish immigrant from a small town in modern-day Ukraine founded a candy company in Brooklyn, New York that he called “Just Born”.

His name was Samuel Bernstein. And if you enjoy chocolate sprinkles or the hard, chocolate coating around ice cream bars, you can thank Bernstein-- he invented them.

Nearly 100 years later, the company is still a family-owned business, producing some well-known brands like Peeps and Hot Tamales.
[...] Click here to continue reading

“Bitcoin will go to $40,000 this year. . .”

Every year around this time I attend a small, private event to break bread with some of the most invigorating people I know.

There’s only about 100 people in the room-- but they’re all at the top of their game… business and intellectual leaders from a variety of industries.

And we gather each year to build relationships with one another and hear about some cutting edge ideas that are usually 2-3 years from[...] Click here to continue reading

Capitalism has new rules. And they’re seriously messed up.

It was just a month and a half ago that Tesla approved an eye-popping long-term pay package, worth as much as $50 BILLION to founder and CEO Elon Musk.

And on Wednesday afternoon, Tesla held its first corporate earnings call since then.

You’d think that Elon would have been gracious and professional, anxious to demonstrate that the shareholders' trust in him has been well-placed.

Instead the call was filled with contempt and[...] Click here to continue reading

My partner found $57 million in a random corner of Asia

[Introduction from Simon: We’ve got one more investing Notes today.

This essay, originally published in August of 2016, I think best exemplifies the strategy Sovereign Man’s Chief Investment Strategist, Tim Staermose, uses in his 4th Pillar investment service.

It shows you the huge potential in buying quality assets for less than their net cash backing. It’s hard to go wrong when buying the right companies for so low a price.

And despite[...] Click here to continue reading

This billionaire’s “$5 million test” will make you a way better investor

[Introduction from Simon: Notes readers know I’m nervous about the market today.

Prices for stocks, bonds and real estate are near all-time highs. Meanwhile, government, corporate and consumer debt are also at all-time highs.

And in the face of record valuations and record debt, we’re seeing rising interest rates (the yield on the 10-year Treasury hit 3% last week for the first time since 2014) and other signs of inflation like rising oil[...] Click here to continue reading

And . . . yet another Wells Fargo banking scandal

Is it Friday again? Must be time for another banking scandal!

Seriously-- these banking scandals are happening with such regularity and predictability it would be almost comical. . . were it not for the millions of people who have had their lives turned upside down.

The latest transgression involves, once again, our old friends at Wells Fargo.

Bear in mind that the ink isn’t even dry yet on the $1 billion check[...] Click here to continue reading

The coming boom in gold prices. . .

In June 1884, a local farmer named Jan Gerritt Bantjes discovered gold on his property in a quiet corner of the South African Republic.

Though no one had any idea at the time, Bantjes’ farm was located on a vast geological formation known as the Witwatersrand Basin… which just happens to contain the world’s largest known gold reserves.

Within a few months, other local farmers started discovering gold… kicking off a full-fledged gold[...] Click here to continue reading

The latest ridiculous lawsuit in the Sue-nited States

On June 6, 1991, Richard Overton finally hit his breaking point.

Apparently, Mr. Overton had been spending quite a lot of time in front of his television, watching a flurry of beer commercials featuring scantily clad women falling all over themselves for average looking men.

Overton realized immediately that drinking Anheuser-Busch’s magical products would be the solution to all of his problems.

So he hurtled to his nearest liquor store for a[...] Click here to continue reading

092: Why on earth are you still letting big banks screw you?

Wells Fargo stole the headlines yet again today for defrauding its clients.

The bank was fined $1 billion today for selling over 500,000 clients auto insurance they didn’t need (which in some cases caused the owners to default on their car loans and get their cars repossessed) and for charging erroneous fees to mortgage borrowers.

If you still bank with Wells Fargo, maybe this will finally serve as a wakeup call to take[...] Click here to continue reading

More hilarious facts about Tesla from a hedge fund manager who’s short the stock

A few weeks ago, we shared a note about Tesla from the hedge fund Vilas Capital Management. The firm, which is short the shares, said “Tesla is going to crash in the next 3-6 months.”

I received an update from Vilas this morning explaining why they’re even more bearish on Tesla today. The firm pared its short positions after the recent selloff. And Telsa now comprises about 98% of their short book.

Clearly[...] Click here to continue reading