South Africa’s brand new president vows to confiscate land from white farmers

If you’ve been following much international news, you’ve probably heard that, after literally years of scandal, abuse, and incompetence, South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma was finally forced to resign last week.

This is a big deal for South Africa.

The country has been suffering for nearly a decade under Zuma’s corruption.

And people are certainly hoping that the new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, will represent a positive, new chapter for South Africa.

[...] Click here to continue reading

Terrified of Bitcoin, banks forced to innovate for the first time in 40+ years

Yesterday morning, several banks in Australia started rolling out a new payment system they’re calling NPP, or “New Payments Platform.”

Until now, sending a domestic funds transfer in Australia from one bank to another could take several days. It was slow and cumbersome.

With NPP, payments are nearly instantaneous.

And rather than funds transfers being restricted to the banks’ normal business hours, payments via NPP can be scheduled and sent 24/7.

[...] Click here to continue reading

This may be the beginning of the Great Financial Reckoning

Less than two weeks ago, the United States Department of Treasury very quietly released its own internal projections for the federal government’s budget deficits over the next several years.

And the numbers are pretty gruesome.

In order to plug the gaps from its soaring deficits, the Treasury Department expects to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year.

Then nearly $1.1 trillion next fiscal year.

And up to $1.3 trillion the year[...] Click here to continue reading

Meet the world’s next central banker: Mark Zuckerberg

Within the last week, Facebook announced a ban on all advertisements about bitcoin, initial coin offerings and other cryptocurrencies.

Facebook (along with Google) virtually controls Internet advertising. So their policies have enormous influence over consumer behavior.

Banning ICO advertisements on its platform, for example, will certainly have a negative impact on the amount of money flowing into new ICO’s.

Facebook said it instituted this ban to “protect its users” from financial scams[...] Click here to continue reading

This tiny corner of Rhode Island shows us the future of Social Security

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit gave us an interesting glimpse of the future last week when it ruled on an obscure case involving government pension obligations.

Ever since the mid-1990s, police officers and fire fighters in the town of Cranston, Rhode Island had been promised state pension benefits upon retirement.

But, facing critical budget shortfalls over the last several years that the Rhode Island government called “fiscal peril,”[...] Click here to continue reading

Why Albert Einstein thought we were all insane

In the early summer of 1914, Albert Einstein was about to start a prestigious new job as Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics.

The position was a big deal for the 35-year old Einstein-- confirmation that he was one of the leading scientific minds in the world. And he was excited about what he would be able to achieve there.

But within weeks of Einstein’s arrival, the German government canceled plans[...] Click here to continue reading

This is the most important meeting I attend every year

[Editor’s Note: Today's Notes, originally published one year ago, is about one of the most impactful things I do each year. If you know a young entrepreneur who may be interested in what we're doing, please forward this piece along. It could change their lives…]

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[...] Click here to continue reading

“We choose debt. . .”

I’ve long held a working theory that US voters are completely predictable in Presidential elections.

The idea is that Americans almost invariably tend to swing wildly every few election cycles, voting for the candidate who is as close to the opposite of the current guy as possible.

Let’s go back a few decades to, say, Jimmy Carter.

In 1976, the country was sick and tired of the corruption, scandal, and disgrace of[...] Click here to continue reading

GE just signaled the next crisis and nobody’s paying attention

Earlier this month, General Electric took a $6.2 billion charge to its insurance unit for the fourth quarter. And the company said it will set aside another $15 billion over seven years to bolster reserves at GE Capital.

The charge had to do with long-term care policies (to pay for nursing homes and other late-life care) GE holds on its books.

So, one of the oldest and most highly-regarded companies in America just[...] Click here to continue reading

Message from Planet Japan: The good times never last forever

After having traveled to more than 120 countries in my life, the only person I know who’s been to more places than I have is Jim Rogers.

Jim is a legend-- a phenomenal investor, author, and all-around great guy.

(His book Adventure Capitalist is a must-read, chronicling his multi-year driving voyage across the world.)

Some time ago while we were having drinks, Jim remarked that he occasionally tells people, “If you can[...] Click here to continue reading

The time when Kiefer Sutherland beat me to the punch

Back in 2013 I had an idea for a movie.

The basic premise was that some unknown domestic terrorist group executes an attack on the United States government by blowing up the Capitol during the President’s State of the Union Address.

It’s a little silly, but I even wrote a small treatment for it, including this scene--
ATTACKER speeds off to a parking garage where he ditches the bike, takes off his black[...] Click here to continue reading

Social Security proposes “immediate and permanent reduction” in benefits

On a deep, dark evening last June in the spectacularly celestial deserts of northern Chile, scientists made a phenomenal discovery.

It was a supernova… one that they named ASASSN-15lh.

This wasn’t just any supernova. It was the BIGGEST and BRIGHTEST supernova ever recorded.

Supernovas are exploding stars whose ejected mass and energy can create a light show so brilliant that they can sometimes be seen with the naked eye in our own[...] Click here to continue reading

It doesn’t matter that we “owe it to ourselves”

[Editor’s Note: As we’re coming up on the end of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to republish some of our most popular articles. Today’s was originally published on March 14, 2017]

Thousands of years ago, as far back as 3000 BC, the ancient Egyptians had developed a highly advanced system of writing using hieroglyphic symbols.

The used hieroglyphs for numbers as well.

A single line, for example, represented the[...] Click here to continue reading

Yes, governments CAN go bankrupt. And no, it’s NOT impossible…

[Editor’s Note: As we’re coming up on the end of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to republish some of our most popular articles. Today’s was originally published on March 13, 2017]

In the year 1517, one of the most important innovations in financial history was invented in Amsterdam: the government bond.

It was a pretty revolutionary concept.

Governments had been borrowing money for thousands of years… quite often at[...] Click here to continue reading

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

[Editor’s Note: As we’re coming up on the end of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to republish some of our most popular articles. Today’s was originally published on January 2, 2017]

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.

[...] Click here to continue reading

Saxo Bank predicts Bitcoin collapse to $1,000 in 2018

It’s that time of year again-- the time when everyone seems to be channeling his or her inner Nostradamus, peering into the crystal ball, and making predictions about what we’re going to see next year.

There’s a great quote that’s often mis-attributed to Mark Twain: “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.”

(The source of the quote is actually an old Danish proverb… though like a number of witty sayings, Twain somehow manages[...] Click here to continue reading

A young foreigner’s first impressions of America

Last weekend while I was in Denver, I had the opportunity to speak with a young man from the Netherlands who was attending our charity event.

It was his first trip to the United States, and I’m always interested to hear people’s first impressions.

He told me he was really overwhelmed with the size and scale of everything. China is about the only other country in the world that does everything as big[...] Click here to continue reading

The government is coming for your Bitcoin

The same day Bitcoin cracked its all-time high above $11,000, the government dealt its first blow to the crypto world…

On Wednesday, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the popular Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase, to provide the IRS with information on over 14,000 account holders.

The taxman noticed that only 800-900 people reported gains related to Bitcoin in each of the years between 2013-2015. It seemed unusual given Bitcoin’s meteoric rise.

So[...] Click here to continue reading

Is it Tuesday? Time for another banking scandal

Another day, another major banking scandal. It’s getting to the point where you can practically set your watch to these things.

The latest involves our old friend Wells Fargo. The Wall Street Journal reported last night that Wells has been screwing its customers on foreign currency exchange rates.

According to the Journal, Wells Fargo conducted an internal review of its fee arrangements and found that they had massively overcharged 88% of the sampled[...] 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

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

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

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

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

What do these CEOs know that we don’t?

Last night a good friend of mine came over for dinner.

He’s originally from Poland, and growing up there he heard a lot of bizarre stories about what it was like during the Nazi invasion and World War II.

In 1939, even as 1.5 million German soldiers prepared to invade, the general mood in Poland couldn’t have been more carefree.

My friend’s grandfather once told him that, just prior to the Nazi[...] Click here to continue reading

How one Silicon Valley entrepreneur lost his faith in the system

Today I’m going to introduce you to my friend Ben, easily one of the most unique, intelligent people I know.

I first met Ben at my summer Liberty and Entrepreneurship camp several years ago.

He had recently dropped out of Harvard after winning the prestigious Peter Thiel fellowship, which has an incredibly competitive selection rate of less than 1%.

He was working on an intriguing new business, and after conducting our own[...] Click here to continue reading

The most shocking revelation from the CIA spying scandal

It happened again-- another spying scandal in the Land of the Free.

Yesterday Wikileaks released 8,761 CIA documents detailing the agency’s hacking of smart phones, routers, computers, and even televisions.

These files reveal that the CIA can and has hacked devices that were supposedly secure-- iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

The documents further reveal that the CIA is deliberately infecting personal computers with spyware, including Windows, Mac OS/X, Solaris, Linux, and other[...] Click here to continue reading

Sock puppets and vomiting ghosts

[Editor’s note: This letter was written by Tim Price, manager of the VT Price Value Fund and frequent Sovereign Man contributor.]

It was at the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999 that The Onion famously satirized the epically irrational stock market:
“Anabaena, a photosynthesizing, nitrogen-fixing algae with 1999 revenues estimated at $0 billion, will offer 200 million shares on the NASDAQ exchange next Wednesday under the stock symbol ALG. The shares are expected[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s an example of a bank you want to avoid

A few weeks ago, one of our Europe-based Total Access members reached out to ask us about a bank account he was considering for his new business.

This is important stuff.

As I’ve written before, most people spend more time thinking about what they’re going to have for dinner than even considering whether or not their bank is safe.

In finance there’s hardly anything more critical.

Never forget that the moment[...] Click here to continue reading