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: 1831

Latest Articles

083: An insider’s view on the gold versus cryptocurrency debate

In today’s podcast, I chatted with Silver Bullion’s founder Gregor Gregersen.

Silver Bullion is a precious metals storage company based in Singapore.

While here in Singapore, Gregor and I discussed why the gold versus Bitcoin debate is misguided. It’s not an either-or proposition.

Instead, with systemic risks in the financial system, the case for holding both precious metals and cryptocurrency makes sense.

And Silver Bullion offers solutions for both asset classes.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Taxes: here’s what’s going to stay the SAME

On October 3, 1913, US President Woodrow Wilson signed the Underwood-Simmons Act into law, creating what would become the first modern US income tax.

The legislation (at least, the income tax portion) was only 16 pages and imposed a base tax rate of just 1%.

The highest tax rate was set at 7%-- and it only applied to individuals earning more than $500,000 per year, which is about $12.6 million today according to[...] Click here to continue reading

100 billion reasons to have non-reportable assets

In early March 1938 in a dusty corner of the Arabian desert, Max Steineke finally had the breakthrough he was hoping for.

Steineke was the chief geologist for the California Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC), a venture owned by what we know today as Chevron.

And he hadn’t had a lot of success despite years of effort.

Steinke was convinced that massive oil reserves were beneath the sands. He just couldn’t find[...] Click here to continue reading

082: The two things that can pop the ICO bubble

In today’s podcast, I tackle the subject of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

Regular readers know I’m skeptical of cryptocurrencies. And I think many ICOs are outright frauds.

We’ve seen celebrities like Paris Hilton, Jamie Fox and Floyd Mayweather all endorse ICOs. A friend of mine who’s raising money in an ICO even told me these things are a bubble.

Still, we see more and more companies raising capital from a rabid public.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Meet the Republic Of Georgia – The world’s easiest country to open an (offshore) bank account

This was the one of the easiest offshore bank account experiences I’ve ever had.

It only took me 20 minutes to open this offshore bank account in Georgia. Read on to learn how and at which bank you can easily begin offshore banking in Georgia.

In 1991, the country of Georgia gained its independence from the Soviet Union.

But, despite the communist regime’s fall, deep-state apparatchiks (ex-members of the Soviet Communist Party)[...] Click here to continue reading

Millennials: Read this

Every year the Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse publishes a detailed report about Global Wealth.

And while drawing conclusions about ‘wealth’ (i.e. ‘net worth’) for the world’s 7.6 billion people is far from an exact science, the report routinely offers some interesting insights and trends.

This year’s report was just released this morning.

As an interesting finding, researchers noted that at the early part of this millennium, between 2000 and 2008, the[...] Click here to continue reading

Welcome to the Sue-nited States of America

On the morning of February 27, 1992, 79-year old Stella Liebeck and her grandson Chris pulled up to a McDonald’s drive-through in Albuquerque, New Mexico and ordered a $0.49 cup of coffee.

Chris pulled the car over and parked momentarily so that his grandmother could add cream and sugar.

While doing so, she accidentally spilled the entire cup onto her lap, instantly scalding her.

Liebeck was hospitalized for eight days with third[...] Click here to continue reading

The Ponzi scheme that’s more than 100x the size of Bernie Madoff

By January 1920, much of Europe was in total chaos following the end of the first World War.

Unemployment soared and steep inflation was setting in across Spain, Italy, Germany, etc.

But an Italian-American businessman who was living in Boston noticed a unique opportunity amid all of that devastation.

He realized that he could buy pre-paid international postage coupons in Europe at dirt-cheap prices, and then resell them in the United States[...] Click here to continue reading

081: Why you should be very worried about the Paradise Papers

In today’s podcast, I discuss the recent Paradise Papers fiasco – the massive leak of sensitive, offshore financial information held by the Bermudan law firm Appleby.

This thing has been a complete witch hunt in the media…

The whiny journalists paint the wealthy and famous who parked money offshore as criminals… Though they begrudgingly admit their actions are completely legal.

We explain why the wealthy, gasp, actually do some good for society[...] Click here to continue reading

Investors now value a $20 billion company based on its “energy and spirituality”

About twelve years ago, at the height of the real estate boom in the United States, banks began issuing what became known as NINJA loans.

You’ve probably heard the term before-- NINJA stood for No Income, Job, or Assets.

These were the famed ‘no money down’ loans at low, teaser interest rates given to borrowers with pitiful credit and little hope of being able to make the payments.

One of the best[...] Click here to continue reading

Class Warfare: people are out for blood

Roughly two thousand years ago, the government of ancient Rome was facing a serious problem.

The tributium capitus, or poll tax, they had imposed across their provinces was becoming unpopular.

And there was a growing minority of Roman subjects who felt they were being forced to pay an overly burdensome and disproportionately high tax bill.

Things got so bad that there were small revolts, especially in one of Rome’s critical eastern provinces[...] Click here to continue reading

Thousands of Americans renounced their citizenship. Again

Every quarter the United States government publishes a list of individuals who have chosen to renounce their US citizenship.

The latest list came out yesterday, and 1,376 people are on it.

That might sound like a small number, but the total for 2017 is projected to be more than 20% higher than 2016… and 2016 was 26% higher than the total number from 2015.

In fact the number of Americans renouncing[...] Click here to continue reading

080: Why you’ll probably lose money in bitcoin, regardless of the price

Bitcoin hit another all-time high today on the back of two, major announcements.

Dedicated Sovereign Man readers know I don’t pay much attention to Bitcoin’s price. Instead, I focus on the market cap and demand fundamentals.

In today’s Podcast, I explain my thoughts on the future demand of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and what these two announcements mean for the sector.

And I share the role of investor psychology in cryptocurrency speculation…[...] Click here to continue reading

500 years later, the revolution is just beginning

500 years ago to the day, on October 31, 1517, a German monk of the Augustinian order named Martin Luther sent a letter to his Archbishop expressing concern about certain practices of Church officials.

In Luther’s era it had become typical for clergymen to sell ‘indulgences’ to anyone who wanted to be pardoned for sins.

Martin Luther felt this practice was a terrible affront to Christian doctrine, so he sent a letter up[...] Click here to continue reading

The US government quietly added $200+ billion to the debt this month alone.

There’s been something happening this month that very few people have noticed.

It’s been lost beneath all the other headline-dominating news, from the Las Vegas shooting to Harvey Weinstein to the Mueller investigation.

But very quietly behind the scenes there’s been an extremely rapid uptick in the US national debt.

In the month of October alone, the US national debt has soared by nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars.

This[...] Click here to continue reading

How a trip to Shenzhen, China tripled our money

Last year, I attended the Benjamin Graham Conference in New York City – this annual event brings together the best value investors in the world.

A speech by billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman stood out to me. He discussed why the hedge fund industry was on the ropes.

“[O]ur industry is in turmoil. It’s very ironic because you’ve got Clinton and Sanders crapping all over us and they don’t realize Wall Street[...] Click here to continue reading

Why the next stock market crash will be faster and bigger than ever before

US stock markets hit another all-time high on Friday.

The S&P 500 is nearing 2,600 and the Dow is over 23,300.

In fact, US stocks have only been more expensive two times since 1881.

According to Yale economist Robert Shiller’s Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings (CAPE) ratio – which is the market price divided by ten years’ average earnings – the S&P 500 is above 31. The last two times the[...] Click here to continue reading

079: How we could see Facebook, Apple and Amazon fall 20% in a single day

In today’s podcast, Sovereign Man’s Chief Investment Strategist Tim Staermose joins me to talk about the risks in today’s market…

We cover the rise of passive investing, and why we think it could cause chaos when the market turns – with some of the biggest and most popular stocks (like Apple and Amazon) falling 10% or 20% in a day.

We also discuss the massive amount of debt in the system today[...] Click here to continue reading

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

In 1982, a man named Jim Tisch bought seven supertankers for $42 million. He found them by cold calling companies he found in the Yellow Pages.

Yes, $42 million is a lot of money… but these tankers were each four football fields long. That’s a lot of steel. And they could carry between 2-3 million barrels of oil.

And these ships were built just eight years earlier at a cost of $50 million[...] Click here to continue reading

Own this currency [no, it’s not a cryptocurrency]

With the nearly daily moves to record highs among the hundreds of cryptocurrencies that currently exist, talking about ‘regular’ currencies seems about as out-of-fashion as that hideous shoulder pad trend from the 1980s.

[Millennial readers: see here if you’re confused.]

But there are actually a few currencies out there worth talking about right now.

And top among them, especially for anyone holding US dollars, is the Hong Kong dollar.

The Hong[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s how people get fooled into buying bankrupt companies

In 1906, American entrepreneur William T. Grant opened his very first “W.T. Grant Co 25 cent store” in a small town outside of Boston.

The store became popular and fairly profitable. So Grant opened another. And another.

Three decades later, Grant’s retail empire was generating $100 million in sales (an enormous sum back then). And by the time of Grant’s death in 1972, there were over 1,000 stores bearing his name.

[...] Click here to continue reading

The one way governments could actually kill Bitcoin

Something pretty miraculous happened recently.

It appears that Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, went nearly TWO WEEKS without bashing Bitcoin.

This must be a record for Mr. Dimon, who seems to have barely been able to last an hour without calling out Bitcoin as a “fraud”, or a refuge for criminals and North Koreans.

Mr. Dimon finally broke his Zen-like meditative silence late last week, once again returning to[...] Click here to continue reading

078: Eating used coffee grounds for breakfast and black-market cash deals with taxi drivers

Today’s Notes is a bit different…

I recorded a conversation I had with my colleague Sean Goldsmith about my recent travels to Venezuela. I explain how I exchanged my US dollars on the black market for Bolivar (with a taxi driver I’d never met before)… and how the situation in Venezuela will get worse before it gets better. Plus, I share observations and stories of things I saw on the ground in one[...] Click here to continue reading

This is the craziest mortgage scheme I’ve ever seen

The Great Financial Crisis happened because Wall Street was financing homes for people who couldn’t afford them.

Leading up to the GFC, there was a voracious appetite from investors for “AAA”-rated mortgage debt. So lenders would make lots of loans to subprime borrowers and sell them to Wall Street. Wall Street would pool them together and one of the major ratings agencies (like Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s) would stamp the steaming pile of[...] Click here to continue reading

Strangely enough, Vanuatu proves why Bitcoin can never be banned

In the late 1500s, an Englishman named William Lee invented a revolutionary knitting machine that could efficiently do the work of dozens of men.

Given how important the garment industry was at the time in English, Lee’s invention was truly disruptive.

But Queen Elizabeth wasn’t so excited.

When Lee came to visit her to demonstrate the power of his new technology, the Queen grimaced, lamenting that the machine would put too many[...] Click here to continue reading

Science tells us this is all true

On April 30, 1934, under pressure from Italian-American lobby groups, the United States Congress passed a law enshrining Columbus Day as a national holiday.

President Franklin Roosevelt quickly signed the bill into law, and the very first Columbus Day was celebrated in October of that year.

Undoubtedly people had a different view of the world back then… and a different set of values.

Few cared about the plight of the indigenous[...] Click here to continue reading

The US government lost nearly $1 trillion in FY2017. Again

There was a time, centuries ago, that France was the dominant superpower in the world.

They had it all. Overseas colonies. An enormous military. Social welfare programs like public hospitals and beautiful monuments.

Most of it was financed by debt.

France, like most superpowers before (and after), felt entitled to overspend as much as they wanted.

And their debts started to grow. And grow.

By the eve of the French[...] Click here to continue reading

Investment advice from Paris Hilton

Angelina Umansky, a 39-year-old spa owner from San Francisco, was visiting a friend in Miami two weeks ago when she heard about a new condo development downtown.

Hoping to find a vacation home, but worried that others were interested, too, Ms. Umansky arrived at the sales office at 8 a.m. the day after seeing some model units.

About 50 other buyers were already in line. Two hours later, a sales agent summoned her[...] Click here to continue reading

Nightstick Democracy at its finest…

The last several days in Venezuela have been absolutely mind-blowing.

Pretty much all the stories you’ve heard are true-- countless people eating out of garbage cans, the appalling shortages of basic staples like food, medicine, and even soap… and the lines.

Oh boy, the lines.

The longest lines I saw, in fact, were not at grocery stores, but at banks.

Hundreds of people were queuing up, many of them to pull[...] Click here to continue reading

This is what $100 buys you in Venezuela

The gunfire on the streets near my hotel started around 9pm last night.

The sound is unmistakable, especially at night on an otherwise quiet city street.

I had recently returned to the hotel after a few evening meetings. And coming back after dark it was as if they had rolled the sidewalks up -- restaurants with no patrons, bars and clubs that were totally empty.

There was an incredibly striking[...] Click here to continue reading

On the ground in Venezuela: this country is being cut off from the rest of the world.

The first thing to understand about Venezuela today is that it’s becoming exceedingly difficult to even get here.

Or get out.

Nearly every major regional and international carrier has discontinued service to/from Caracas.

Due to safety concerns amid all the chaos and violence here, Lan Airlines in Chile (now merged with TAM in Brazil as Latin America’s biggest airline) no longer serves Venezuela.

Aerolineas Argentinas, based in Buenos Aires, stopped[...] Click here to continue reading

Update from Puerto Rico: People are running out of cash, ATMs aren’t working and groups of looters are posing as police

My friend Adam (not his real name) lives in Puerto Rico and sent me a startling update…

Adam and his family evacuated the island for the hurricane, but he’s been in close contact with his friends who stayed on the ground.

And the situation is bad.

According to his contacts on the ground, people in Puerto Rico are running out of cash. And ATMs aren’t working.

That’s[...] Click here to continue reading

Man caught smuggling 1 kilogram of gold in his rectum

Earlier today in Sri Lanka’s Colombo International Airport, a passenger was arrested by local authorities and found to have stuffed nearly $30,000 worth of gold into his rectum.

That’s nearly 1 kilogram of gold. In his ass.

The gold had been carefully wrapped in plastic and included four small bars and multiple chains of jewelry.

Airport police were tipped off when they noticed the 45-year old man “walking suspiciously.” No sh*t,[...] Click here to continue reading

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