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: 1963

Latest Articles

097: Europe… what could possibly go wrong?

It’s been a hell of a week here in the Italian countryside. I’ve been treating my team and some friends to a sort of mini-vacation at a 400-year old wine and olive estate that we’ve taken over.

The views, the food, the wine, the company… it’s all incredible. Each night about two dozen of us dine outside under a canopy of grape vines, and the conversations are so stimulating that the dinners often last[...] Click here to continue reading

The world’s greatest investor is running out of things to buy

It was late October, 1989.

East Germany was disintegrating, and the Berlin Wall was days away from coming down.

The Soviet Union was just starting to fall apart.

George H. W. Bush (the elder) was President of the United States.

And the #1 movie in the world was John Travolta’s Look Who’s Talking.

It was during that month that the US stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 index,[...] Click here to continue reading

These people lost one-third of their savings in a single week (not in crypto)

Let me say up front-- I know I’ve been a bit quiet lately.

It happens every year around this time when I hold the annual Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp that I’ve been sponsoring for the past nine years.

The event is incredible: I bring in top entrepreneurs and business executives, plus students from all over the world-- places like Ivory Coast, Brazil, Singapore, Russia and the United States.

It’s five days of[...] Click here to continue reading

Introducing the Sovereign Man Global Passport Ranking

For the remainder of this week and through the weekend, I’m in Trakai, Lithuania – just outside the capital of Vilnius – for our 9th annual Blacksmith Liberty & Entrepreneurship Camp.

Each summer, I host 60+ students from around the world in this picturesque setting.

But these aren’t your normal “students.” These are entrepreneurs.

Some have already started businesses and are seeking the next step in their professional development. Others are still[...] Click here to continue reading

How to get a second passport in a South American beach paradise

Yesterday, I shared how you can get a Brazilian passport for your entire family by having a baby within the country’s borders.

Today, we’ll continue our discussion of building a proper Plan B. Again, a Plan B is simply an insurance policy.

So many people have the vast majority of their assets in their home country. But that puts you and your assets at tremendous risk.

If anything goes wrong in your[...] Click here to continue reading

Have a baby in this country and get a passport within 2 years

I’ve been talking a lot about economic and market risks in Notes lately.

But there’s a potentially even larger risk that you’re completely ignoring today.

If you live, work, invest, own a business, bank or hold assets in a single country, you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket.

You’re making a very large bet that everything will be alright in that one country – forever.

It would only take[...] Click here to continue reading

Tesla stock soars on news they ‘only’ lost $717 million

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe… it’s like the financial version of the ‘upside down’ from Stranger Things.

Case in point: last night the infamously loss-making electric car maker Tesla announced its quarterly earnings.

As usual, the numbers were gruesome. Tesla’s net loss was TWICE AS BAD as the previous quarter, a record NEGATIVE $717 million. That’s a LOT WORSE than analysts were expecting.

After adjusting for various[...] Click here to continue reading

Why Japan may spark the next crisis

In a world full of reckless and extreme monetary policy, Japan no doubt takes the cake.

The country has total debt of more than ONE QUADRILLION YEN (around $10 trillion) pushing its debt-to-GDP ratio to a whopping 224% - that puts it ahead of financial basket case Greece, whose debt-to-GDP is around 180%.

Japan spent 24.1% of its total revenue (appx. 23.5 trillion yen) last year servicing its debt – both paying down[...] Click here to continue reading

Finally. A major victory for common sense

In a major victory for common sense, a group of cosmetologists defeated an insanely stupid regulation passed down by the state of Louisiana.

Louisiana, just like the other 49 states in the Land of the Free, governs licensing requirements for dozens… hundreds of professions… ranging from athletic trainers to tour guides to barbers and cosmetologists.

And most of the time the licensing requirements are just plain idiotic.

In Louisiana, for example, the[...] Click here to continue reading

Bankrupt Philadelphia plunders its property owners for cash

Like a lot of major cities in the United States, Philadelphia is in pretty rough financial condition.

One of the city’s biggest problems is its woefully underfunded public pension, which has a multi-billion dollar funding gap.

In 2001, Philadelphia’s pension fund was still in decent shape with a funding level of 77%, meaning that it had sufficient assets to meet 77% of its long-term obligations.

By 2017 the funding level had dropped[...] Click here to continue reading

No one has ever lost this much money in all of human history

As you you’ve no doubt seen by now, shares of Facebook plunged around 19% this morning.

In fact it was down as much as 25% in after-hours trading, wiping out $120 billion of wealth in a matter of minutes.

To be clear, that is the largest single-day loss of value ever seen in the history of the world.

(And Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth fell by $17 billion as a result… though I[...] Click here to continue reading

Second passports now a “trophy” for the ultra-wealthy

I have to chuckle a bit…

The mainstream media is now picking up on the idea of a second passport; and even adopting the Sovereign Man ethos of having a “Plan B.”

Bloomberg published a widely-distributed article with the headline:
Where the Super-Rich Go to Buy Their Second Passport
The article begins…
Cheaper than a Gulfstream, nimbler than a superyacht, a second passport—or a third or fourth—has become another trophy for the ultra-wealthy.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Two giant US pension funds admit there’s a BIG problem

I’ve been talking a lot about the looming pension crisis…

My short thesis is, if you’re depending on a pension for your retirement, it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

Pensions are simply giant funds responsible for paying out retirement benefits to workers.

And today, the nation’s 1,400 corporate pension plans are facing a $553 billion shortfall. And, according to Boston College, about 25% will likely go broke in the next decade.

[...] Click here to continue reading

One of the most outrageous investment deals I’ve ever been offered

One of the biggest banks in the world – a name you would certainly know – just pitched its top clients on a major investment.

The deal was only offered to its private clients (with at least $50 million in net assets); and as I started reading through the opportunity, I started to understand why…

We talked about this in a recent podcast: this particular deal was a $500 million real estate investment.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Government’s already-dismal budget forecast just got 106% worse

Yesterday the Office of Management and Budget released a new report called the “Mid-Session Review” of the US federal budget.

It’s something they’re required by law to do-- periodically review and update the government’s budget and track the changes.

The last government budget update was released in February. And according to the February budget, the government’s deficit for this fiscal year was going to be a whopping $873 billion.

Now they’re projecting[...] Click here to continue reading

Billionaire Druckenmiller: “Can we try capitalism? Real capitalism. Give it a chance”

Over the weekend I came across a recent speech given by hedge fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller that really lays out the pitiful state of free markets around the world.

Druckenmiller gave the speech a few months ago upon receiving the 2018 Alexander Hamilton award-- which is given to a figure that best carries out the spirit of one of America’s Founding Fathers.

The Alexander Hamilton Institute promotes free markets, free trade and limited[...] Click here to continue reading

Netflix lost $17.8 million for each of its 112 Emmy nominations

It was only a few day ago that Netflix was riding high.

The streaming company had been nominated for a whopping 112 Emmy awards, more than any other network.

And they’d further managed to unseat HBO’s 17-year reign as the undisputed king of Emmy nominations.

That’s all fine and good. Netflix certainly has some great shows.

But reality started to set in yesterday afternoon when the company reported its quarterly financial[...] Click here to continue reading

IRS to revoke 362,000 passports from US citizens

About two and a half years ago, I told you about a particularly nasty piece of legislation that President Obama quietly signed into law towards the end of his administration.

They called it the “FAST Act”, which stood for Fixing America’s Surface Transportation.

Yet despite $300 billion earmarked for infrastructure repairs, they didn’t manage to fix very much of America’s surface transportation.

The legislation did, however, have two major effects:

1)[...] Click here to continue reading

It’s been another tough week for Tesla…

It’s been a tough week for Tesla.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported Tesla factory workers were given Red Bull to stay awake to meet aggressive Model 3 production goals (and told to walk through a raw sewage spill to keep the line moving).

Also, because Tesla has delivered 200,000 cars to US buyers, customer tax credits are getting chopped in half from $7,500 per vehicle to $3,750.

(This means that customers who buy electric[...] Click here to continue reading

How to retire in style even with Social Security going broke

We’ve spent a lot of time in our regular conversations talking about the looming retirement crisis around the world.

The data is horrific. Pension and Social Security programs in nearly every developed nation are woefully underfunded.

In the United States, senior government officials including the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, have stated unequivocally that Social Security’s trust funds will run out of[...] Click here to continue reading

Another billionaire says we’re running out of gold

A few months ago I sent you a note explaining that major gold discoveries are shrinking.

Simply put, mining companies are no longer finding vast, new deposits of gold to replace their aging mines.

I quoted Pierre Lassonde, the billionaire founder of gold royalty giant Franco-Nevada and former head of Newmont Mining:
If you look back to the 70s, 80s and 90s, in every one of those decades, the industry found at least[...] Click here to continue reading

The root of the debt crisis: every $1 in debt generates just 44 cents of economic output

Exactly ten years ago, in the middle of the summer of 2008, the world was only two months away from the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression.

At the time, the size of the US economy as measured by Gross Domestic product was around $14.8 trillion-- by far the largest in the world.

And the US national debt back then was about 64% of GDP-- roughly $9.5 trillion.

Fast forward[...] Click here to continue reading

The state of New Jersey just signed its own death warrant

You would think New Jersey would have learned its lesson…

Two years ago, New Jersey’s richest resident – hedge fund billionaire David Tepper – decided to move himself and his business to Miami Beach.

Tepper, who personally earned more than $6 billion from 2012-2015, was tired of paying New Jersey’s top income-tax rate of 8.97% for the 20 years he lived there, in addition to the country’s highest property taxes, the estate tax[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s a great example of a company using Blockchain to solve a real problem

Today I just wanted to send you a quick note to highlight a great example of a company that’s using Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to solve a real-world problem.

I thought this would be important given that most of the noise in the crypto space these days is still almost invariably focused on the Bitcoin price.

A quick Google search for “Bitcoin” reveals headlines from CNBC to Fortune Magazine, all about whether or[...] Click here to continue reading

096: I was just offered a $500 million investment deal… and I worry it’s a sign the top is in

In today’s podcast, I share the details of a deal a well-known private bank just offered me (and its roster of other high-net worth clients).

It’s a bad deal in every way… the asset in question is valued insanely high, there’s likely a ton of debt attached to this deal and I doubt anyone who invests will make their money back.

Still, I’m confident this deal will get done. It’s classic top-of-the-cycle economics.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Some historical context on the future of Bitcoin

On March 29, 1879, a widely circulated newspaper called the American Register published a scathing editorial stating that “it is doubtful if electricity will ever be [widely] used” because it was too expensive to generate.

Several months later, the Select Committee on Lighting and Electricity in the British House of Commons held hearings on electricity, with experts stating that there was not “the slightest chance” that the world would run on electric power generation.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Guess which bank just froze my funds over a simple transfer

What I’m about to tell you is a true story that highlights just how pathetic the banking system has become.

A few months ago I was presented with a compelling opportunity to invest with a prominent, well-established private business based in the UK.

And, after extensive due diligence, I decided to make the investment… around $4 million.

Because this particular investment happened to be denominated in US dollars, though, the funds were[...] Click here to continue reading

The worst deal anyone ever made…

It’s considered the worst merger in history.

Back in January 2000, AOL bought Time Warner for $162 billion, which was considered an astonishing amount of money back then.

Their goal was to create a tech/media giant. And they failed miserably.

Time Warner was having a difficult time establishing an online presence, so they thought they would benefit from AOL’s 26 million dial-up subscribers.

And AOL, the leader in “online” at the[...] Click here to continue reading

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