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

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

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 number 1. Two strokes represented 2. Nine strokes for the number 9.

Since the Egyptians had not yet invented the “zero” in 3000 BC, representing the number 10 required a new symbol-- a sort[...] Click here to continue reading

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

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 the point of a sword.

Italian city-states like Venice and Florence had been famously demanding “forced loans” from their wealthy citizens for centuries.

But the Dutch figured out how to turn government loans[...] 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

Finding a safe bank that actually pays a solid interest rate

Probably around the time I was 12 years old, my parents opened up a bank account on my behalf.

Decades later, even though 99% of my assets are outside of the United States, I still maintain a small balance at that bank.

I appear to be suffering from some sort of bizarre financial nostalgia.

This morning I received an email from the bank informing me that they were increasing the interest rate[...] Click here to continue reading

These guys are destroying Uber. Yet few westerners have ever heard of them.

[Editor’s Note: Peter K, the chief analyst of Sovereign Man’s private investment division, is filling in for Simon today.]

I’m visiting my brother in Indonesia right now.

Being a good host, he was fixing us vodka martinis, when he realized he ran out of olives.

Both of his drivers had finished for the day so I was expecting him to compromise on the olives.

No need.

He loaded up a[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s one alternative, but it’s extremely unpopular

It’s my usual custom whenever I land at a major airport to stop by the rental car counters and inquire how much it costs to rent a vehicle.

For me this is a sort of informal, albeit imperfect, economic indicator.

High prices suggest strong demand from plenty of business travelers and tourists, which will likely have a positive economic impact.

Cheap prices, conversely, suggest that there’s something wrong.

Well, there’s definitely[...] 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

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

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