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: 1646

Latest Articles

Here’s a completely different idea about Sunday’s “apocalypse”

apocalypse
The latest apocalypse du jour, following in the footsteps of Brexit and the Donald Trump election, is Italy’s Constitutional referendum that takes place this weekend.

Global financial media is in a panic about this, suggesting that a “NO” vote will lead to total chaos in Europe.

The referendum itself isn’t particularly revolutionary; Italians are voting whether or not to change the Constitution and reform their government.

Right now Italy’s legislative system is[...] Click here to continue reading

An interesting perspective on the War on Cash

cashwar
It’s happening faster than we could have ever imagined.

Every time we turn around, it seems, there’s another major assault in the War on Cash.

India is the most notable recent example-- the embarrassing debacle a few weeks ago in which the government, overnight, “demonetized” its two largest denominations of cash, leaving an entire nation in chaos.

But there have been so many smaller examples.

In the US city of New[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s what happened when ancient Romans tried to drain the swamp

romanempireusa
In late January of the year 98 AD, after decades of turmoil, instability, inflation, and war, Romans welcomed a prominent solider named Trajan as their new Emperor.

Prior to Trajan, Romans had suffered immeasurably, from the madness of Nero to the ruthless autocracy of Domitian, to the chaos of 68-69 AD when, in the span of twelve months, Rome saw four separate emperors.

Trajan was welcome relief and was generally considered by his[...] Click here to continue reading

This guy got destroyed by the system

system-steal
My friend Richard got destroyed by the system.

As a financial advisor in Sacramento, California, he spent years building a thriving firm and has even landed a few celebrity clients.

Richard did well for himself. Successful. Married. Wonderful kids. Financially secure.

But back in 2008 things started to turn sour.

His wife left him and took the kids, along with half of everything else.

The divorce forced the liquidation of[...] Click here to continue reading

About that “Fair Share”

Confiscation
There are two words that kept coming up over and over again over the last 20+ months during the US Presidential circus: “fair share”.

Hardly a day went by without hearing that certain taxpayers “need to pay more of their fair share.”

It sounds really great, and given the voter statistics, this idea resonated with tens of millions of people. After all, who could possibly be against fairness?

When you dive into[...] Click here to continue reading

Enjoy this four minutes of paradise [video]

royster
In light of the insanity that has transpired over the last several weeks, today I thought I would show you a beautiful, forgotten corner of the world.

This is a video that my friend Shawn took of his home in New Zealand. He lives in a very small town, and his house is entirely off-grid.

He has solar panels and wind turbines to power the house, plus he’s able to produce his own[...] Click here to continue reading

Obama on pace to increase the debt by $2.4 trillion this year

obama-cool
OK, this is pretty nuts.

According to data released by the Treasury Department yesterday, the US national debt has soared by a whopping $294 billion since the start of the 2017 fiscal year, just 45 days ago.

That’s an annualized increase of 13%.

So if they keep up this pace, the national debt will increase by $2.4 trillion this fiscal year, surpassing $21 trillion by next September.

It’s hard to believe[...] Click here to continue reading

War on Cash intensifies: Citibank to stop accepting cash at some branches

india
Less than a week after India’s surprise move to scrap its highest denomination cash notes, another front in the War on Cash has intensified down under in Australia.

Yesterday, banking giant UBS proposed that eliminating Australia’s $100 and $50 bills would be “good for the economy and good for the banks.”

(How convenient that a bank would propose something that’s good for banks!)

This isn’t the first time that the financial establishment[...] Click here to continue reading

Overheard in the Land of the Free

ice-skating
When I was in Texas over the weekend taking a quick break from a whirlwind trip around the world, I went to one of the biggest shopping malls in Dallas to buy a birthday present for the CFO of our agriculture business.

The mall is called the Galleria, and it’s particularly interesting for shoppers because it has an ice-skating rink on the ground floor.

An ice rink might not sound like a big[...] Click here to continue reading

No, protestors, you are not entitled to free education

shutterstock_155347391
Bleary-eyed from the 16+ hour flight from Asia, I checked my phone last night once the plane landed to find that riots have broken out across the Land of the Free.

It was enough to wake me from my jet lag.

All the televisions in the airport terminal were showing footage of the chaos along with occasional interviews with some of the protestors.

Naturally there was outcry against racism, sexism, violence, and[...] Click here to continue reading

Most people in the US missed out on this

stocks-fail
Several months ago, the voters of the United Kingdom chose to walk away from the European Union.

They called it “Brexit”. And it rocked the world.

The entire establishment-- banks, businesses, media, politicians, celebrities-- had been pushing the British people to remain in the European Union.

And all the so-called experts scared the bejeezus out of voters with predictions of doom and gloom consequences should Britain leave the EU.

All-out panic[...] Click here to continue reading

Meanwhile… as the world watched the election… this happened

crowd-waiting
One of the most consistent aspects of travel is that, no matter where I go, the Clinton News Network (CNN) follows me around like the albatross in Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.

I walk into an airport lounge, there it is. I hit a hotel lobby, there it is. I go for breakfast, there it is.

So when I woke up this morning here in Thailand and flipped on the TV, the first[...] Click here to continue reading

The cost of this Congressional seat increased 23.5x in 6 years.

newscaster-sp
What do you think have been the best performing assets over the past several years?

Perhaps it’s Facebook stock, whose price is up 3.2x since it debuted in 2012.

Or maybe Apple, whose stock has soared 4x since 2010.

But neither of those companies’ stock performances holds a candle to Colorado’s sixth Congressional district.

Back in 2010 when incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman handily won the race, total election spending that year,[...] Click here to continue reading

Is it Friday? It must be time for another major political scandal

residency-cyprus
There’s a long-standing joke in international finance that goes “Brazil is the country with the most potential… and always will be.”

The idea is that a Brazil, with all of its immense resources and capacity, will never come close to realizing its potential because of how screwed up everything is.

The same joke easily applies here in South Africa, and across most of this continent.

I’m sitting here in the airport lounge[...] Click here to continue reading

Extortion is now a cornerstone of the US Justice system

Handcuffs White Collar Crime Criminal Crime Law Prisoner Businessman
I’ve been traveling for the past ten days with a group of friends, one of whom is a highly accomplished entrepreneur.

I’ll call him Michael to keep things simple.

Several years ago Michael started an automated domain business that used special software to buy domains, find the most likely buyer, and then sell them.

As a simple example, Michael’s custom software would buy, say, XYZ.com.

Then it would scan online domain[...] Click here to continue reading

Three lessons from safari in Zimbabwe

elephant
There’s nothing quite like watching animals in the wild.

I’ve spent the past four days at an enormous game reserve in Zimbabwe with a guide who would put Bear Grylls to shame.

(Ironically, guides in Zimbabwe are the most highly qualified and well-respected in Africa-- they undergo more years of rigorous training and apprenticeship than most doctors in the West.)

Whenever I come out here and watch wild animals in their natural[...] Click here to continue reading

Zimbabwe goes down the path of hyperinflation… again.

mugabe-inflation
Some people just don’t learn.

After becoming the most famous case of hyperinflation in modern history roughly ten years ago, Zimbabwe is about to have another go at conjuring paper money out of thin air.

I’m sure this time will be different.

You know the story. Starting in the late 1990s, the Zimbabwe government’s policies under Robert Mugabe began to have some devastating effects.

He confiscated private property from established (mostly[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s what happens when a currency hits an all-time low

south-africa
I’ll start with an admission that I don’t do vacations very well. Or frequently.

Over the past ten years I’ve probably only taken a week or two off in total.

A big part of that is a deep character flaw of me being a workaholic… but that’s a natural extension of genuinely loving all the exciting business ventures and wonderful people that I’m involved with each day.

I do recognize, however, that[...] Click here to continue reading

Your dog probably has better healthcare than you do

america-healthcare
Below is a short email that my friend Sam posted this morning to his Facebook page about his surprisingly positive experience with the US healthcare system.

I thought it a fantastic read, and I wanted to pass it along to you:
I had to run to the emergency room today for what may be a neurological issue. Dizziness, staggering, loss of balance, that kind of thing.

I’m in San Diego, one of the[...] Click here to continue reading

Pre-crime returns to America with new Airbnb law

precrime
On Friday afternoon, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill making it illegal to advertise your home for short-term rent on websites like Airbnb.

The law specifically targets New York City homeowners in apartment buildings who advertise their properties, or even just a spare room in their homes, to rent for less than 30 days at a time.

It’s important to note that New York already passed a law a few[...] Click here to continue reading

This is a great way to make a lot of money overseas

World-at-fingertips
I just had a great lunch with a couple of entrepreneurs that our Sovereign Man: Private Investor group funded a few months ago with a $1.5 million investment.

These guys are incredibly bright entrepreneurs, and they co-founded a wonderful business.

Essentially they’re becoming an Alibaba or Amazon.com, supplying business product needs from office furniture to welding equipment to printer cartridges to local Brazilian companies.

The business has been growing rapidly even though[...] Click here to continue reading

About that “pillar” of American democracy…

pillar-of-democracy
The series of debates in the contest to see who will become Captain of the Titanic is finally over.

And as the smoke clears from the evening’s entertainment, the main headlines are focusing on just one thing: Donald Trump’s pledged refusal to say he will accept the election results.

The media is spinning itself into an absolute frenzy over this, perhaps even worse than the Pussygate tape.

It started even before the[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s a unique way to make money from the British pound’s historic plunge

Uk-economy-pound
Here’s a great example of how, no matter what’s happening in the world, there’s always an abundance of compelling, lucrative opportunities.

Lately the British pound has plunged to historic lows.

The pound recently touched a 31-year low against the US dollar, and an all-time low against the euro.

And earlier this month the pound shed nearly 3% of its value in the course of a single day.

That’s simply not supposed[...] Click here to continue reading

They think you’re crazy if you expect default. It’s crazy if you DON’T.

USD-debt-crisis
On May 12, 1780, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail,
“I must study politics and war that my sons have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. . . in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
(… to which I would add, “so that their children can hide from the world in their safe spaces.”)

There may be no other quote that[...] Click here to continue reading

Thailand: “same same, but different”

thai-king
The King of Thailand died yesterday, and the military junta running the country has declared an entire year of mourning.

I saw a quick headline from The Economist which screamed, “The death of the Thai king throws the country into turmoil.”

Really?

This must be a different country from the one I know.

I’ve been traveling to Thailand 3-4 times per year over the past decade, and we have staff who[...] Click here to continue reading

While media obsesses over Pussygate, US debt soars to $19.7 trillion

Crisis-money-pit
First of all, I want to say thanks for all the well-wishes. I’ve been flat on my back for the past several days with a particularly nasty case of the flu that I likely contracted en route to Los Angeles last week. Picking up the occasional bug is one of the hazards of spending a lot of time on planes… plus I have some special luck with airlines for always being seated next to a[...] Click here to continue reading

Global debt hits all-time high of $152 trillion; billionaire warns of “big squeeze”

global-debt
“This is a global problem,” said billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio yesterday to a packed audience of central bankers.

“Japan is closest to its limits, Europe is a step behind it, the US is a step or two behind Europe, and China is a few steps behind the United States.”

I can only imagine the mood in the room was a bit tense after that comment.

Mr. Dalio, founder of the[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s some compelling data about the next recession

danger-ahead
In the modern history of the US economy over the past seven decades, the longest period of time the country has gone without a recession was 10 years.

Since the end of World War II there have been 11 recessions in the United States of America, so the average time in between recessions is 6 years and 5 months.

The average length of recession was 336 days; the longest recession in modern history[...] Click here to continue reading

It’s official: US government ends fiscal year with $1.4 trillion debt increase

US-Debt-Crisis
It’s official.

The United States government closed out the 2016 fiscal year that ended a few days ago on Friday September 30th with a debt level of $19,573,444,713,936.79.

That’s an increase of $1,422,827,047,452.46 over last year’s fiscal year close.

Incredible. By the way, that debt growth amounts to roughly 7.5% of the entire US economy.

By comparison, the Marshall Plan, which completely rebuilt Western Europe after World World II, cost $12[...] Click here to continue reading

Three reasons why the banking system is rigged against you

illiquid-banks
If there were ever any doubt about how completely RIGGED the banking system is against depositors, allow me to introduce the following:

Exhibit A: Governments are working to make banks LESS safe

Yesterday an unelected bureaucrat that no one has ever heard of made a stunning announcement that has sweeping implications for anyone with a bank account.

Dombrovskis is Europe’s top financial services official, so he controls bank regulations in the European[...] Click here to continue reading

What to do when everything’s a bubble

bubble-dollar
Yesterday we talked about one small market in the US… but in fact there are dozens of cities across the world where property prices entering (or already in) a bubble.

San Francisco. Amsterdam. Stockholm.

Vancouver is infamous for its astonishing real estate bubble, which the government has tried to slow by slapping a nasty transfer tax on certain property transactions.

In London, prices are 15% higher than the previous real estate market[...] Click here to continue reading

Housing Bubble? Here’s why I dumped my last US property

US-housing
When I saw the chart, the first thing I thought was, “hockey stick”.

It’s flat on the left side, then suddenly soars up and to the right, indicating an abrupt and rapid rise in prices.

Which chart am I talking about? Real estate prices, specifically in an uptown enclave of Dallas, Texas-- the only place in the United States where I still owned property… until a few days ago.

I grew up[...] Click here to continue reading

There’s only one candidate that can make a difference this election

white-house
I used to watch wrestling when I was a kid… I come from the age of Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage.

Huddling close to the television each weekend, my friends and I would cheer for our favorite stars and their signature moves.

My dad ruined it all one day when I was about 6 years old; he pulled me aside and said casually, “You know it’s all fake, right?”
[...] Click here to continue reading

The US government’s bizarre “economic citizenship” program

US-passport
I’m in New York City this week meeting with the Prime Minister of a Caribbean nation about his country’s citizenship-by-investment program.

Citizenship-by-investment is exactly what it sounds like: foreigners invest a certain sum of money in a country in exchange for citizenship and a passport.

Depending on the country, the investment amount can vary from just over $100,000 (Dominica) to over $2.5 million (Cyprus).

Now, it might seem crazy to drop that[...] Click here to continue reading

The US government is about to lose its #1 lender

US-Debt-Crisis
Yesterday I told you how the US federal debt level is expanding at its fastest rate since the financial crisis.

This isn’t supposed to be happening.

The financial crisis is years behind us. The economy is supposedly on solid footing. The government keeps gushing about how much tax revenue they’re collecting.

Usually when government debt expands so rapidly it’s because they’re waging war, fighting a major recession, or financing some serious infrastructure[...] Click here to continue reading