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: 2339

Latest Articles

Q&A: Safety in Mexico and Offshore Banking

February 25, 2011
Tulum, Mexico

I woke up this morning to the sound of waves crashing on the beach in Tulum and the sun slowly rising over the Atlantic. There's hardly a soul for miles... and the weather is perfect.

Matt, Tim, and I are staying out here for the next several days as a mini-retreat, discussing business and investment strategy, and trying to make sense out of what's going on in the[...] Click here to continue reading

Bad News

February 24, 2011

It saddens me this morning to inform you that two of our readers and SMC members, Mr. Scott Adam, 70, and his wife Jean were among the victims in this week's pirate incident in the Arabian Sea.

Jean was a retired dentist with an interest in biology, Scott had ties to the entertainment industry.  They were both radio enthusiasts (K9ESO and KF6RVB) and world travelers who were sailing around the[...] Click here to continue reading

It’ll never happen to me

February 23, 2011
Panama City, Panama

A couple of nights ago, several friends within our Atlas 400 group were invited to dinner aboard another member's yacht who happened to be docked in Panama.  At 165 feet, it was one of the largest I had ever seen, and our friend had clearly spent a great deal of time customizing every last inch of it.

A physician by trade, he has spent the last several[...] Click here to continue reading

What really happened at the workshop

February 22, 2011
Panama City, Panama

This weekend's Sovereign Man Offshore Workshop is over, and I am simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated.  After months of planning, weeks of preparation, and days of speaking with very little sleep, the event truly took its toll on me... but it was well worth it.

Attendees came from all over the world-- we had folks come in from as far as Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, England,[...]

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Inflation doublethink

February 17, 2011
Panama City, Panama

Recent headlines below:

"World Bank: Global food prices are rising to dangerous levels"

"Sysco declares force majeure, raises grocery prices"

"The J. M. Smucker Company Announces Coffee Price Increases"

"Kraft warns on price increases"

"Kellogg says it will raise prices"

"Sara Lee to raise prices again on higher commodity costs"

"Bridgestone To Raise Prices"

"Goodyear will raise tire prices up[...] Click here to continue reading

Capital Controls now being enforced at the airport

February 16, 2011
Panama City, Panama

My business partner is just plain unlucky.

The last time he came to Panama was about a year ago-- we were both attending an exclusive Atlas 400 deep sea fishing trip at a remote lodge in Panama's Darien province. I flew in from Thailand last year, Matt came from Atlanta.

As he came down the jet bridge to board his flight, he was met by agents[...] Click here to continue reading

Surprise, surprise… US picks up the Panama FTA again

February 15, 2011
Panama City, Panama

One of the things that always intrigued me about Panama is how quickly this place moves... it was among the first things that I noticed when I first started coming here almost 10-years ago-- there's always something major happening.

Landing at Tocumen airport last night, right off the bat I noticed some recent upgrades since my last trip here several months ago. Most obvious-- Panama's airport has[...] Click here to continue reading

What I found out during this weekend’s major earthquake

February 14, 2011
Northern Araucania, Chile

As I was exploring property in the region over the weekend, an earthquake whose epicenter was in nearby Concepcion shook the ground with a magnitude beyond 7.0. This was about as powerful as the earthquake that destroyed Haiti last year, plunging the country into complete turmoil.

So what happened with a 7.0 down here in Chile? Panic. Death. Chaos. Disorder... right? Wrong. It was like it never[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Mubarak’s out, Gold in Panama… and am I nuts?

February 11, 2011
Temuco, Chile

I'm spending a long weekend in the beautiful city of Temuco, located in Araucania, Chile's southern lakes and volcanoes region. The further south you go in this country, the more the climate and geography changes from desert and semi-arid to something that looks like New Zealand's south island.

Temuco looks a bit like Washington state or British Columbia-- mountains, forests, and lush greens. I'm researching some real estate[...] Click here to continue reading

The march towards capital controls is quickening

February 8, 2011
Santiago, Chile

In the late 1920s, the economy of the Weimar Republic was beset by numerous fiscal troubles. The global depression spread quickly to Germany, undermining the government's ability to make its reparation payments from the Great War.

Fearing a return to hyperinflation, many Germans who had spent the last decade building up a small fortune during the Weimar Republic's own 'Roaring 20s' decided to pack up and leave; they[...] Click here to continue reading

All booms bust. The only question is when.

February 8, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Somewhere in China, an economist lost his job today... it was the poor guy who had been predicting manageable levels of inflation despite rapid headline GDP growth and even more rapid monetary expansion.

Yet, staring at reports which show inflation at a 28-month high, officials at the People's Bank of China realized that they need to do something about inflation. Now. Especially in light of what's going on[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Panama Banking, Tanzania, Going Public in HK, Polish Citizenship

February 4, 2011
Santiago, Chile

One of the things that I hear about all the time from subscribers is, "Simon- you go to so many places around the world and hardly ever post a photograph."

You're right... it's entirely my fault. I seldom tote a camera around with me, and when I do, I'm probably the world's worst photographer-- but it's certainly a reasonable request, and I'll commit to doing a better job[...] Click here to continue reading

Two ways to survive system collapse

February 3, 2011
La Serena, Chile

The night skies of northern Chile are among the clearest in the world. I've been astounded here every evening by the sheer beauty of more stars crowding the darkness than I have ever seen in my life... it's something that just about every human being can appreciate.

La Serena is a thriving coastal town, a vacation hot-spot in Chile. It's about an hour's flight north[...] Click here to continue reading

A stern warning from a central banker

February 1, 2011
La Serena, Pacific Coast, Chile

Mervyn King is Britain's chief central banker and a key figure in the global financial system. Last week, after surprising reports surfaced that the British economy had once again contracted in the 4th quarter of last year, King delivered a stern, sobering message to his country:

- "In 2011, real wages are likely to be no higher than they were in 2005... One has to[...] Click here to continue reading

New government SOP: step out of line and we’ll cut you off

January 31, 2011
Valle de Elqui, Chile

The need for most species to gather into larger collectives is a primal, animalistic instinct. Whether flocks of birds, schools of fish, colonies of ants, or packs of wolves, it is a natural inclination for animals to form larger units for their mutual protection and productive benefit.

Human civilization has shown the same tendency. Mankind's first collectives were families and tribes based on common language, customs,[...] Click here to continue reading

Riding horseback through an organic farming operation

January 27, 2011
Valle de Elqui, Chile

Chile is an exceptionally long country of about 2,650 miles. To put it in perspective, this is roughly the distance from Mexico's central Baja peninsula all the way up the California Oregon, and Washington coastline, into British Colombia, and finally on to southeastern Alaska.

As you can imagine, such a span brings about geographic and climatical diversity; consider the difference between Tijuana, Mexico and Ketchikan, Alaska...[...] Click here to continue reading

The Manila bombing you didn’t hear about: a boots on the ground report

January 27, 2011
Undisclosed location

Moscow erupted in pandemonium this week as a bombing attack at the city's busiest airport claimed the lives of at least 40 people on Monday. Nobody seemed to notice the bombing in Manilla, Philippines only hours later.

Two people were killed on Tuesday when an 81mm mortar was remotely detonated on board a bus in the Makati business district of Manila. Initial police findings suggest that attackers boarded[...] Click here to continue reading

A government agent on every corner, a wiretap on every phone

January 25, 2011
Santiago, Chile

US General George S. Patton is often credited with saying "No poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country." Perhaps Patton was correct. But a lot of poor bastards had a significant impact on security policies by blowing themselves up for their cause.

Yesterday's suicide attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow was another stark reminder that there are people in this world who have (a)[...] Click here to continue reading

Japan is causing its own demise

Japan is causing its own demise

January 24, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Most people have never heard of Lee Kuan Yew... but he's an incredibly important figure in one of the world's most cutting-edge economies.  As Singapore's first prime minister, he governed for 3 decades, overseeing his country's transformation into a modern, developed economic powerhouse.

Prior to Lee's tenure, Singapore was fairly provincial backwater under British colonial rule; completely devoid of natural resources,[...] Click here to continue reading

Google is the Black Hole of Accurate Information

January 21, 2011
Santiago, Chile

I had a rather interesting meeting last night with a notable Chilean attorney who is the chief legal counsel of one of the country's largest telecom firms. We talked about the growth of the local economy and the lengths to which the government here is trying to attract foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

We've discussed before in our daily conversations what I see as a new trend: governments competing[...] Click here to continue reading

Where I would be in a crisis

January 20, 2011
Santiago, Chile

On November 4, 1979, a battalion-sized group of militants who became known as the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line descended upon the American embassy in Tehran, Iran.  They eventually suppressed the guards and seized control of the compound.

For 444 days, fifty-two diplomats, soldiers, and their family members were held captive by this Iranian group which demanded that the US government extradite their deposed Shah back[...] Click here to continue reading

The canary in the coal mine is in Southeast Asia

January 18, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Laos is a small, landlocked economy in Southeast Asia that's often overlooked in favor of its neighbors: Thailand, China, and even Cambodia. But there are a few important factors that set Laos apart and lead me to believe that, when it comes to inflation, the country is the canary in the coal mine.

First, Laos is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Asia; with just 6.3 million people,[...]

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Hands down, the cheapest place in the world to buy gold coins

January 17, 2011
Santiago, Chile

For anyone looking to hold gold as a store of value or even medium of exchange, major gold coin mintages like the Eagle, Maple Leaf, and Krugerrand are advantageous because they're recognizable worldwide.

You can do business in a coin shop anywhere in the world from Vancouver to Vanuatu with one of these coins; bulk bullion, on the other hand, needs to be specially weighed and assayed by[...] Click here to continue reading

Countries that can weather the Age of Turmoil

January 14, 2011
Santiago, Chile

I want to start out this end-of-week missive by reiterating one immutable fact: no place is perfect... and in these tumultuous times which I call the 'Age of Turmoil,' no country is going to be completely immune to the looming problems which face the world, namely rising prices and resource shortages.

We discuss many countries in this daily column which stand head-and-shoulders above their peers-- Brazil, Chile, Singapore,[...] Click here to continue reading

Why protecting the Homeland is destroying the economy

January 13, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Yesterday evening I was walking around the beautiful tree lined streets of Providencia, one of Santiago's central upscale districts.

I might as well have been walking around Berlin or Strasbourg-- Providencia is a clean, highly civilized area with plenty of parks, cafes, and boutique shops that adjoin the neighborhoods of manicured homes and quiet mid-rise condominium buildings.

On the streets its common to see a host of[...] Click here to continue reading

Opening a renminbi savings account in the US

January 12, 2011
Santiago, Chile

In its latest step to make the renminbi a competing global reserve currency, China's predominantly state-owned Bank of China will now let individuals open renminbi savings accounts... in the United States.

Effective immediately, BOC's US individual customers can now open a renminbi denominated savings account with a $500 equivalent minimum balance. The bank also offers certificates of deposit in 6-month and 1-year terms with a minimum of $1,000 equivalent.

[...] Click here to continue reading

Having the Courage to Look Overseas

January 11, 2011
Vina del Mar, Chile

Vina del Mar is a posh beach community that's a bit like Punta del Este, Monaco, or the Hamptons... it's where the wealthy and beautiful Chileans go to be seen during the summer holiday period. Even on a cloudy day, you'll still see hundreds of thong-clad beach goers pretending to not notice the lack of sunshine.

I generally shun hotels when possible-- I prefer to[...]

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On the weekend’s shooting–

January 10, 2011
Vina del Mar, Chile

I abhor violence. Non-retaliatory violence is a desperate act of intolerant men who cannot sort out their differences reasonably and peacefully.  Violence is the answer for those who lack the intellectual merit to win a battle of ideas and can only resort to more animalistic behavior to impress their point.

The greater the violence, the more unfortunate the outcome-- major acts of violence result in loss[...] Click here to continue reading

Apparently there was an earthquake…

January 7, 2011
Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso is Chile's largest and most famous beach town, only about a 2 hour drive from Santiago.  It's summertime here, so it looks more like the south of France or coastal Spain than you would expect of a relatively unknown place like Chile.

This is typically the reaction I get when I talk to most people about Chile-- they know about the miners, and they know about the[...] Click here to continue reading

When will the renminbi overtake the dollar?

January 6, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Without a doubt, the existing global financial system depends on the widespread use of fiat currencies issued by insolvent governments.  The wealth of the world's large financial institutions requires that there be currencies with sufficient size and circulation to absorb massive capital flows.

The current system is based primarily on the dollar; with a $14 trillion economy, the United States was for years the only country in the[...] Click here to continue reading

It’s raining profit in Australia

January 5, 2011
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Sometimes opportunity arises in the most bizarre (and unfortunate) circumstances. You've probably seen the news from Australia-- a huge portion of the country is under water, and it's a state of emergency.
Tim Staermose, our friend, partner, and resident investment guru, is on the ground in Queensland visiting family... always one to find the bright side in a dark situation, Tim recently sent along this email that I[...] Click here to continue reading

Latvia’s unique new residency program

January 4, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Latvia is broke... I'm talking flat broke-- more than Spain, Greece, California, etc. And because this small Baltic, former Soviet republic is not in the Eurozone, it's generally been left for dead by the EU's larger economies save a few handouts here and there.

Latvia has recently taken matters into its own hands, establishing a unique new policy that entitles foreign investors to Latvian residency, as long as[...] Click here to continue reading

A look back, and some 2011 predictions

January 3, 2011
Santiago, Chile

Welcome back, and happy New Year.

After a wonderful, relaxing weekend here in beautiful Santiago that involved meeting up with a couple of subscribers, I'm buckling down to the business at hand that will include finalizing preparations for our upcoming workshop, as well as exploring initial plans for the community.

To be honest, I'm not much for New Year's; it's just an arbitrary day that has no[...] Click here to continue reading

The best of 2010: Business opportunities in Panama

December 30, 2010
Santiago, Chile

I left Argentina last night by plane-- I decided to skip out on the drive through Patagonia for now so that I can get on more quickly with the business of scouting locations for our sustainable community. I have a few leads that I'm excited about and didn't want to waste any time.

There are a lot of reasons why Chile is the right place for this community...[...] Click here to continue reading

The best of 2010: Finding paradise in Ecuador

December 29, 2010
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Looking back over the year's dispatches is like a walk down memory lane for me-- I usually remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at the time when I sat down to write to you, and that constant journey has taken me across dozens of countries this year.

One of them, a particular favorite of mine due to its scenic beauty, healthy living, and[...] Click here to continue reading