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: 1690

Latest Articles

This is a potentially life-changing investment

Education is a potentially life-changing investment
Yesterday I wandered out to the hotel pool to cool down from my workout, only to find a handful of Americans in the midst of a screaming match.

There were 6 or 7 of them altogether. Some pro-Trump, others vehemently anti-Trump.

They were shouting… literally shouting… at one another about transgender bathrooms, Islam, Obamacare, the border wall, and just about every other trending topic in the Twitterverse.

The temper tantrum from both[...] Click here to continue reading

The US stock market is highly overvalued. Here’s why…

The US Stock Market is overvalued
This is really starting to get out of control.

No doubt you’re familiar with the S&P 500, the stock index that measures the performance of the largest US companies.

And as we’ve discussed before, one of the most important benchmarks in measuring whether stocks are overvalued or undervalued is the Price/Earnings, or P/E ratio.

Looking back through more than a century of financial data, the long-term average P/E ratio for the S&P[...] Click here to continue reading

Reconsider holding these Dividend Aristocrat Stocks

On May 23, 1719, one of the greatest financial bubbles in the history of the world kicked off when the Compagnie Perpetuelle des Indes was granted a monopoly by the French monarchy over all the trading rights of all French colonies worldwide.

The company’s stock price quickly soared, from 300 livres per share to more than 1,000 just a few months later.

It was quite a jump. But the enthusiasm continued for more[...] Click here to continue reading

This is a great option for anyone’s Plan B

It seems like every time I come to Panama now the first word that springs to mind is “impressive”.

I first traveled to Panama back in 2003… fourteen years ago.

I remember landing at Tocumen International Airport for the first time-- it was a depressing backwater that was barely functioning.

And on the way into town there was hardly any sign of civilization; everything seemed completely impoverished.

Basically Panama was just[...] Click here to continue reading

The biggest transformation story in the world

I’ve written before a number of times about the long laundry list of reasons why I base myself and most of my business operations in Chile.

I could go on forever about this, but in short the country presents an exceptional mix of business, investment, and lifestyle opportunities that are extremely difficult to find just about anywhere else in the world.

But people ask me a lot-- if not Chile, where else?

[...] Click here to continue reading

Boy was I wrong about this place…

In 1927, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote that “taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

This quote is enshrined at the Internal Revenue Service, and it’s a rallying cry for people who constantly argue for higher taxes.

Almost everyone completely misunderstands what he meant.

First of all, tax rates in the United States were about 3.5% back in 1927, just a tiny fraction of what they are[...] Click here to continue reading

Fed president says US banks have “half the equity they need”

In a scathing editorial published in the Wall Street Journal today, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, blasted US banks, saying that they still lacked sufficient capital to withstand a major crisis.

Kashkari makes a great analogy.

When you’re applying for a mortgage or business loan, sensible banks are supposed to demand a 20% down payment from their borrowers.

If you want to buy a $500,000 home,[...] Click here to continue reading

World’s 2nd largest stockpile of gold leaves the United States

About 20 years ago when I was still a cadet at West Point, my economics professor organized a class trip to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The part of the trip that I remember most was touring the Fed’s high security vault, 80 feet below street level beneath the bank’s main office building downtown.

This vault houses the largest known depository of gold in the world.

None of that gold,[...] Click here to continue reading

Yes, money does grow on trees

If you’ve been a reader of this letter for any length of time, you may have noticed that I try to spend my weekends and free time at our farms in Chile.

I’m still on the road at least 6 months out of the year and travel to 30-40 different countries annually.

But when I’m not traveling or I’m not needed at our offices in Santiago, I go out of my way to[...] Click here to continue reading

The most successful investment strategy in the world

The most successful investment strategy in the world
Education is a BIG part of a having a Plan B… especially when it comes to money.

In light of the obvious risks that we discuss on a regular basis, safeguarding (and growing) our savings is absolutely critical.

Finance can be a little bit scary and seem quite complicated at first.

No one comes out of the womb a financial expert. And they certainly don’t teach this stuff in a government-controlled public[...] Click here to continue reading

World’s largest hedge fund manager predicts bleak future for markets

There are lots of famous investors and hedge fund managers who are legendary stock-pickers.

Warren Buffet is a great example.

Others are hard-core quantitative analysts who build complex trading algorithms.

Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, is neither.

He’s a macro investor whose fortune was built on an uncanny ability to spot big macro trends.

He predicted in 2007, for example, that the US housing bubble would burst,[...] Click here to continue reading

More unbelievable facts from the US government’s own financial reports

Yesterday I told you that the US government had recently released its annual financial report to the public.

And the numbers are pretty gruesome.

For example, the government’s “net loss” in fiscal year 2016 more than doubled, from MINUS $467 billion to MINUS $1 trillion.

It’s astonishing that anyone could manage to lose so much money, let alone in a year where devoid of major wars, recessions, financial crises, or infrastructure projects.
[...] Click here to continue reading

US government’s 2016 net loss “more than doubled” to NEGATIVE $1 trillion

Every year around this time the US federal government releases an annual financial report to the public.

It would be hilarious if the numbers weren’t actually true.

Just like Apple or Exxon, the government’s annual report contains several important financial statements and detailed commentary about their finances and operations.

But unlike Apple, Exxon, the government can’t manage to turn a profit. Ever.

According to this year’s report, the government’s net loss[...] Click here to continue reading

How I earned 16% in a single week

I don’t understand Snapchat.

I hate sounding like a grumpy old curmudgeon (I’m only 38!), but it’s true.

If you have kids, you may have seen Snapchat… or if you’re one of our many younger readers, you probably use it yourself.

I understand the basic premise-- people share photos with each other, and then add funny ‘filters’ that make them look like a dog with floppy ears.

Last summer at the[...] Click here to continue reading

Meanwhile, over in Zimbabwe. . .

On April 12, 2009, the government of Zimbabwe officially abandoned its currency.

You probably remember the stories; starting in the early 2000s, the Zimbabwe central bank began printing massive quantities of money in order for the government to make ends meet.

This resulted in one of the worst episodes of hyperinflation in modern history.

Zimbabwe’s rate of inflation in 2001 was more than 100%. Prices basically doubled.

But that was nothing.
[...] Click here to continue reading

See if you can flip this switch in your thinking

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 who organizes and operates a business, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”

I think this definition is totally wrong.

Entrepreneurship doesn’t have anything to do with owning or starting a business, let alone taking on great risk.

[...] Click here to continue reading

This ancient city would still be among the wealthiest in the world today

In the year 440 BC, more than two decades into the reign of Pericles, an audit of treasury in Athens showed a massive surplus of more than 9700 “talents”.

A talent was a common unit of measurement in the ancient world, especially for gold and silver.

And, based on today’s precious metals prices and the traditional gold/silver ratio (14:1) used by the ancient Greeks, 9700 talents is equivalent to about $700 million today.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Not that there’s any inflation, but . . .

The numbers are pretty startling.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

1 out of every 3 Americans has nothing set aside for retirement.

And, according to Federal Reserve data, the median working-age couple has saved just $5,000 for retirement.

How is this even possible?

How could it be that the citizens of the wealthiest country to have ever existed in the history of the world[...] Click here to continue reading

The -other- “ban” that was quietly announced last week

Most of the world is in an uproar right now over the travel ban that Donald Trump hastily imposed late last week on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

But there was another ban that was quietly proposed last week, and this one has far wider implications: a ban on cash.

The European Union’s primary executive authority, known as the European Commission, issued a “Road Map” last week to initiate continent-wide legislation against[...] Click here to continue reading

VIDEO: How to identify the most compelling investments on the planet

[Editor’s note: We have made this content available as an audio and video podcast, but I encourage you to watch the video with the slides.]




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsYe8_FFkoA

In the video I mention a preview issue of our 4th Pillar Investment Service.
Click here to download it.


For most of the past week, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about trading overvalued paper currency for high quality, undervalued businesses.

Right now,[...] Click here to continue reading

The US dollar is now overvalued against almost every currency in the world

In September 1986, The Economist weekly newspaper published its first-ever “Big Mac Index”.

It was a light-hearted way for the paper to gauge whether foreign currencies are over- or under-valued by comparing the prices of Big Macs around the world.

In theory, the price of a Big Mac in Rio de Janeiro should be the same as a Big Mac in Cairo or Toronto.

After all, no matter where in the world[...] Click here to continue reading

Summing up 8 years of Barack Obama

January 20, 2017
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile



It’s hard to argue with Barack Obama’s jump shot. I can’t imagine Rutherford B. Hayes having that kind of game.

Or his swagger. Comedic timing. Even charisma.

And there have been plenty of times over the last eight years when, in all seriousness, those qualities have truly mattered.

I can’t imagine anyone not getting goose bumps when President Obama sang Amazing Grace[...] Click here to continue reading

Nobel Prize winner says US should “get rid of currency”

In the mid-1800s at a time when the United Kingdom was still the dominant superpower in the world, an English scientist named Francis Galton wrote a series of papers arguing for the selective breeding of human beings.

Galton’s ideas became known as eugenics.

The concept was that genius and talent were hereditary traits passed from generation to generation, and that, to ensure the growth of our species, the best and brightest should be[...] Click here to continue reading

This is definitely an asset that you want to own

I’ve got auditors sitting in my office here in Santiago right now.

No, not those auditors. Not the kind from the IRS that strike fear in the hearts of taxpayers.

The auditors in our office are from one of the big international accounting firms, and we invited them to review our agriculture company’s 2016 financials.

This is something that nearly all large, responsible businesses do in order to provide their shareholders with[...] Click here to continue reading

Two more major problems for Social Security & Medicare

Not too long ago my step-dad had to spend a few days in intensive care. Pretty scary stuff.

He had just about every nasty symptom imaginable, from constant vomiting to dizziness to ultra-high fever, but the doctors couldn’t figure out why.

Fortunately his condition improved enough that he was released from the hospital, and now he’s on the mend.

Now, my step-dad is a Medicare patient. But he just found out that[...] Click here to continue reading

“Copper is the new oil” and other views on the future of energy

One of my interesting friends is in town visiting Chile for a few days.

His name is Gianni-- he's originally from Croatia but lives in Vancouver, and has spent most of his career in the mining business.

Gianni is especially bullish on copper… primarily because he thinks the Age of Big Oil is coming to a rapid close.

He believes that conventional gasoline vehicles will be increasingly replaced with electric cars, which[...] Click here to continue reading

Land of the Free: Michigan man issued parking ticket in his own driveway

The state of Michigan is not exactly known for its balmy weather this time of year.

And residents reasonably do what they have to do to cope with often extreme winter temperatures.

Last Thursday a man named Taylor Trupiano of Roseville, Michigan did what a lot of people do in cold climates.

He walked out of his house, started his car, turned on the heat, and went back inside for a few[...] Click here to continue reading

How two people from New York started over in Chile

Yesterday on the drive back to Santiago from one of our blueberry farms, I stopped to visit some friends who lived in the area.

About a year ago they bought some land in Chile’s incredibly fertile 7th region, which boasts a rare Mediterranean climate.

It never gets too hot, and it never gets too cold. Plus, the rich, volcanic soil is packed with powerful nutrients.

As long as you’re in the[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s a unique sign of inflation

I remember the first time I ever saw a $100 bill.

It was back in the early 80s, I must have only been 5 or 6 years old.

My parents took my sister and I to a fancy restaurant, and I distinctly remember a man dressed in a dark business suit a few tables over paying his bill with a crisp $100 note.

He pulled it out of his wallet, slid[...] Click here to continue reading

Wow. 60 Minutes was totally wrong about second passports

Steve Kroft has a problem with second passports.

Specifically, the reporter and his team of producers slammed “citizenship by investment” programs in an editorial piece that aired on 60 Minutes this past Sunday night.

As we’ve discussed before, many countries around the world, including Malta, Dominica, St. Kitts, and Antigua, have Citizenship-by-Investment (CIP) programs.

The programs differ between countries, but they all provide an opportunity for foreigners to receive citizenship in exchange[...] Click here to continue reading

US national debt soars by $100 billion. . . in just 8 hours

According to the latest statement issued yesterday afternoon by the Department of Treasury, the US national debt has reached $19,976,826,951,047.80.

That’s $19.976 trillion, as of the close of business on Friday December 30, 2016.

(The government is typically a day or two behind when it sends out these reports.)



That number itself is obviously remarkable, just shy of $20 trillion.

But what’s even more astounding is that, according to[...] Click here to continue reading

The coming crackdown on Free Speech

It’s amazing what can happen in a week.

Before this publication went on hiatus last week, one of the last letters I wrote to you in 2016 was about the National Defense Authorization Act and its treasure trove of freedom-killing provisions.

Section 1287, for example, creates a new agency called the “Global Engagement Center”, aka Ministry of Truth.

It has one purpose: to combat fake news.

The Global Engagement Center will[...] Click here to continue reading

A great story from when America was still the Land of Opportunity

Last week during a long overdue vacation, a close friend of mine recommended reading the autobiography of Rich DeVos called Simply Rich.

DeVos is a billionaire entrepreneur who started countless ventures during his nine decades on this earth.

Back in the 1946, for example, DeVos started an airline... virtually overnight.

He just bought an airplane and started flying people around. No rules. No regulations.

They didn’t even have an[...] Click here to continue reading

How can anyone trust these people?

What I’m about to tell you is a true story.

And by the end of it, I hope it will be pretty clear that we’ve been programmed to put far, far too much trust in the banking system.

We’re told that banks are supposedly “risk free”.

And yet every scrap of publicly available evidence shows that banks take every opportunity to prove that they cannot be trusted with other people’s money.

[...] Click here to continue reading

Italy proves that banks are not the risk-free fantasy we’re told to believe

In the late 1400s, the city-states of Italy were among most dominant powers in the world.

Most of the city-states had abandoned the feudal system that persisted across Europe.

So Italy was one of the only places on the continent where anyone, including foreigners, could work hard, take risks, and become wealthy.

People could start businesses and own private property-- revolutionary concepts in the 1400s.

Italy was truly the America of[...] Click here to continue reading