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: 2317

Latest Articles

This place may be your Shangri-La

April 13, 2010
Medellin, Colombia

Just about anyone who has been to Medellin, Colombia in the past 5 years will tell you that the city is about as perfect as it gets. I'm one of them.

Travel there yourself and you'll find that it's no understatement.

Medellin is one of Colombia's largest cities, set in a picturesque Andean valley that could probably pass for Austria on a warm summer day. Because[...] Click here to continue reading

If you’re squeamish, stop watching after 7 minutes

April 12, 2010
Medellin, Colombia

As tectonic plates slowly drift over millions of years, an occasional fissure opens up in the earth's surface.  We call them volcanoes, and they provide a means for the earth to release some of the intense pressure that builds up over time.

Volcanic eruptions are typically harmless... the earth blows off some steam and everything settles quickly. In rare instances, though, when significant pressure builds up near highly[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Being a target, Panama and the IRS, Taking your money

April 9, 2010
Panama City, Panama

My time is winding up here in Panama and I'm trying to sort out my travel for the next few weeks. I need to be in the US for two conferences by April 26th, so that gives me about 2-weeks to kill.

I'm thinking about heading to Medellin, Cuenca, Lima, Santiago, Asuncion, Buenos Aires, Florianopolis... but let's face it, that may be a little ambitious for two[...] Click here to continue reading

What emerging markets have in common with puberty

April 8, 2010
Panama City, Panama

Do you remember that really awkward phase we all went through as adolescents?

Growth spurts, voice changes, menstruation, and yes, pimples-- in the end, while we all came out of it more mature and grown up, there was a difficult and sometimes painful transition period in which we had to learn how to deal with new realities.

Developing countries go through the same sort of transition,[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: H.I.R.E. Hoopla, Panama without the Canal, cheap retirement, more

April 2, 2010
Panama City, Panama

It's been a great week so far in Panama. Each time I come back to this country I become even more sure in my conviction that Panama has a bright future.

For the next few days, though, I am going to set aside market forecasts and expatriation strategies... you see, my friends from the Atlas 400 club are starting to arrive, and I'm looking forward to a[...] Click here to continue reading

7 hard truths about New Zealand

April 1, 2010
Panama City, Panama

No place is perfect. There's not a single country on the planet that is a total paradise, so prospective expats need to be willing to make compromises and trade-offs.

Naturally, it's much better to be well-informed in advance about the challenges and limitations about a particular country... it's easy to tout the positives, but finding objective information about a country's negative aspects can be difficult to find.
[...] Click here to continue reading

The strongest Latin economies for buying property

March 31, 2010
Panama City, Panama

It appears that not all is amiss with sovereign debt: Panama may be one of the only bright spots, at least in the western hemisphere... the country recently had its debt rating upgraded by Fitch to 'investment grade' with a positive outlook.

Now, I have been quite vocal about my disdain for the ratings agencies... these organizations completely missed the boat before the financial crisis, slapping AAA[...] Click here to continue reading

Exchange controls in the United States?

March 30, 2009
Panama City, Panama

I've been flooded with emails over the last few days about new law in the United States that many people believe to be government imposed exchange controls. Here's the deal, in case you haven't heard:

On March 18th, President Obama signed into law the innocuous sounding "Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act." Buried in the bill are several provisions that impose new taxes, penalties, and requirements regarding[...] Click here to continue reading

The government is handing out low-hanging fruit

March 29, 2010
Mexico City, Mexico

I was reading some US government propaganda disguised as educational literature the other day, something from the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve... it's the sort of corrupt dogma is typically used to instill blind and unquestioning faith in a defunct money system.

Laughably, I noted the following passage from the Philadelphia Fed's "Money in Motion," intended for children aged 11-14:

"For money to be useful it[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Panama sustainability, offshore incorporation, Thai banking, housing

March 26, 2010
Vancouver, BC

I'm headed to Panama shortly where I look forward to meeting up with my friends and colleagues in the Atlas 400 group. We're going to an exclusive deep-sea fishing resort for a few days, and afterwards I plan on taking up some unfinished business in Panama.

One of the things on my agenda is to revisit the sustainable community concept that I began discussing a few months ago.[...] Click here to continue reading

The best second passports if you’re interested in Asia

March 25, 2010
Tokyo, Japan

About 20-years ago, many of the world's sovereign nations started down an interesting path.  Region by region, governments formed supranational free trade blocs in order to facilitate economic growth.

Supranational organizations were nothing new... from the failed League of Nations after the Great War to the UN and NATO, large multi-country blocs had been formed in the past, but usually for political purposes or military alliances.

Conceived[...] Click here to continue reading

Which countries will compete for you

March 24, 2010
Hong Kong, SAR

One of the worst things that can happen to a country is to experience a brain-drain.  The loss of productive people who create new technologies and companies means the loss of the jobs and wealth that they create.

The long-term aggregate effects of this can be truly devastating, and history provides no shortage of examples.

By nature, though, people are generally creatures of habit-- inert beings.[...] Click here to continue reading

Banking and Gold Storage in Hong Kong

March 23, 2010
Hong Kong, SAR

The banking system in Hong Kong is one of the most advanced in the world, and if you're shopping around for a place to plant a banking flag, you should definitely consider it.

As a jurisdiction, Hong Kong was effectively founded and built into a global financial center for the sole purpose of bridging east and west. Today, as Asia has grown into an economic powerhouse, Hong[...] Click here to continue reading

7 reasons why you should consider Malaysia

March 22, 2010
Hong Kong, SAR

If you have been considering planting a flag somewhere in Asia, I think you should really consider Malaysia. I briefly discussed the country in Friday's Q&A updates, but I wanted to dedicate a full letter on the subject because I really think the country is worthy of your attention.

1) Malaysia is cheap... it's one of the cheapest countries in the world, actually, on par with the[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: RFID chips, moving retirement funds, offshore businesses, Panamanian citizenship

March 19, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

My time here in Thailand is finally coming to an end, at least for now. On Monday morning, after I stop by the US embassy to pick up my renewed passport, I'll be headed to Hong Kong.

I should briefly mention something about passports. Starting in 2007, the US government began manufacturing all new passports with RFID chips-- small devices which record and transmit data.

Malaysia was[...] Click here to continue reading

What a river of blood says about safety

March 18, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Something interest happened this week in Thailand that I think says a lot about the country and its people.

For the last several months... well, years, actually... a large group of organized protesters has stepped up its calls for the current government of Thailand to step down. The group is known as the "Red Shirts" for the uniform they wear, and their top priority is to have open[...] Click here to continue reading

A new immigration category in New Zealand

March 17, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

In response to your feedback on last week's missive about New Zealand, I've once again asked my friend Mark, who is living there locally now, to pen a few words about the country's immigration policies in response to your questions:

First off, thanks to all of Simon's readers for the feedback. I need to point out that I am not a licensed immigration professional. The government of New[...] Click here to continue reading

Have an IRA? Try this…

March 16, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Several months ago, I told you about a strategy for building substantial wealth and planting an important flag with your Individual Retirement Account.

There are a few trillion dollars worth of retirement savings trapped in the United States, the vast majority of which is eeking out inadequate returns that make the money managers rich and leave the rest of us grateful for crumbs.

With this important strategy,[...] Click here to continue reading

Why gold is not a bubble

March 15, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

I was laying in bed sick recently watching Conan the Barbarian... yes I admit it. Some people eat chicken soup, I drown myself in cheesy Hollywood violence.

If you haven't see it, you're not missing much of a plot-- Arnold Schwarzenegger at his physical prime wields a big sword and searches for treasure to plunder.

As I watched the Governator decapitate his foes two at a time,[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Seychelles, GoldMoney.com, Italian passport, Thai hospitals

March 12, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Greetings once again from the land of smiles.

First of all, I really appreciate all the responses after yesterday's letter in which I announced that I will be speaking at the upcoming Casey Research Crisis and Opportunity Summit. I'm really looking forward to meeting with so many of you in Las Vegas.

For some reason, a few subscribers had difficulty with the link that gives more information[...] Click here to continue reading

Coming to America… will you join me?

March 11, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Today I want to make an important announcement in the hopes that you will join me in a few weeks time.

If you've been following this missive for any period of time, you know that I spend a lot of time all over the world, but only very rarely do I spend time in the U.S.

With so many great and interesting places I love around the[...] Click here to continue reading

How to invest like an “unprincipled speculator”

March 10, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Yesterday I apparently declared a premature end to major combat operations against the virus that has invaded my body.  Maybe it was just the celebratory Mexican food I ate last night to commemorate the end of my 4-day sickness, but I now seem to be experiencing my own W-shaped recovery.

Always the optimist, though, I'm actually grateful for a few things; namely, I've been too consumed with the[...] Click here to continue reading

Is New Zealand all hype?

March 9, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

First of all, thanks for all the well-wishes for my speedy recovery. I'm feeling much better today, no doubt due to this exotic root that my ladies have been giving me. I haven't asked what it is yet, but rest assured I will be traveling with it from now on.

Since I'm still a bit groggy from my illness, though, I thought today would be the perfect time[...] Click here to continue reading

Up close and personal with Thai healthcare

March 8, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

I managed to pick up some nasty bug that has knocked me into next Tuesday... But while I feel completely miserable at the moment, this little bacterial bout has given me the opportunity to experience, first-hand, the joys of the Thai medical system.

First, doctors make house calls. When you're as sick as I am, the last thing you want to do is get dressed, sit in the[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: An Emergency passport? European citizenship; foreign banking rules; walking away

March 5, 2010
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Greetings from Malaysia, where I'm spending an extended weekend before heading briefly to Singapore on business.  I'll tell you more about the country next week... but if you're interested in Asia, it should definitely be on your radar.

Before turning to this week's questions, I wanted to give you a quick update on the job posting from a few weeks ago.  Ordinarily, Matt and I would have[...] Click here to continue reading

The cost of being a contrarian for contrarian’s sake

March 4, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

It wasn't too long ago that there was a concrete dividing line down the center of Europe with large scale nukes pointed at both ends. It wasn't long before that when two sides were battling it out in Normandy, or in the trenches before that.

Throughout the last thousand or so years, in fact, there are few and short-lived periods of peace among European countries. Just in the[...] Click here to continue reading

The best places in the world to meet like-minded expats

March 3, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

One of reasons that a lot of people are hesitant about making a move overseas is because they're concerned about being isolated. The world can be a cruel place, especially to newbies.

Sure there are the nomads out there who want to be left alone with their little slice of paradise in the middle of nowhere... but most people crave some human interaction from time to time, especially[...] Click here to continue reading

A simple shortcut for a foreign bank account

Thanks to completely draconian US-led regulation, opening a bank account anywhere is about as fun as a barium enema.  Opening a foreign bank account can be an even greater nightmare.



Most of the time, a foreign bank will want you standing there, in person, to open an account, as well as to provide a seemingly endless array of notarized documents, stamped papers, and letters of reference.

Trust me, it's not their preference either...[...] Click here to continue reading

Some Low Hanging Investment Fruit

March 1, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

There's something not right with the world.

Yes, I'm dismayed by this weekend's earthquake in Chile (I really adore the country), and am quite disgusted by the US government's extension of the PATRIOT Act. Fortunately, I know the Chileans will pull through just fine, and the US government will eventually collapse under its own weight.

What's really grabbing my attention right now is what's happening in the[...] Click here to continue reading

Gold in Uruguay, Swiss francs, Polish citizenship, Moody’s

February 26, 2010
Bangkok, Thailand

It's "Judgment Day" in Thailand. I wrote about this on Monday-- a Thai high court will rule today on the disposition of ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra's frozen assets valued at several billion dollars.

According to the mainstream media, the entire country is supposed to erupt in chaotic and violent protests today. Even BloombergTV, which I normally respect, has been running sensationalized stock footage of fires, vandalism, and[...] Click here to continue reading

Administrative Note

The daily articles for February 24, 2010 and February 25, 2010 will not be posted to the website; they will only be circulated to email subscribers. Make sure you receive these articles by signing up for my daily e-letter, Notes from the Field. Click here to continue reading

Second passports and citizenship

February 23, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Throughout our conversations, we have routinely discussed the importance of planting multiple flags.

If you live, work, bank, invest, own a business, and hold your assets in the same country of your citizenship, you are putting all of your eggs in one basket, and once that basket heads in the wrong direction, you can kiss your assets goodbye.

There are nearly infinite possibilities that pose substantial risks[...] Click here to continue reading

In Thailand, they sell T-shirts at the revolution

February 22, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

I was in the back of a black sedan on Friday morning speeding along Highway 7 from Pattaya to Bangkok when my driver's phone rang. He picked up, jabbered for a few seconds, and then said to me:

"Sir, my friend call me from Bangkok; he say big protests in city, we need to go around."

"No chance--" I replied. "Let's go see how serious they are[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Jobs update, a dollar crisis, gold banking in Singapore, sustainable community

February 19, 2010
Bangkok, Thailand

I really need to start out today's letter by expressing how truly humbled I am to be part of such a fantastic community.

Matt and I have spent much of the last few days combing through resumes (200+ so far) for the job openings that I posted on Monday, and the caliber of talent and energy is really impressive.

Applicants vary in age from 17 to 70.[...] Click here to continue reading

This survey will make you want to leave immediately

February 17, 2010
Bangkok, Thailand

I couldn't believe what I was hearing... and I found myself wondering out loud- "Are these people insane??"

Apparently, yes.

I was watching Richard Edelman this morning on Bloomberg Television discussing the latest results of his research and PR firm's annual "trust survey."  Edelman takes a scientific poll each year, drawing on a global pool of educated, well-informed people from G20 nations.

The theme is always[...] Click here to continue reading