May 28, 2010
Chicago, IL, USA
Chicago is a really beautiful city– one of my favorites in the United States, actually, along with Austin, TX and Sheridan, WY. But while I enjoy being back in the US as a tourist from time to time, I’m itching to get out of here.
The travel I’ve just scheduled is a bit insane. Next week, I’m traveling to New York for an Atlas 400 event. Immediately after, I head to Panama… then Chile, Brazil, Madrid, London, Norway, Lithuania, Lebanon, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, Pakistan… and more.
I’m looking forward to the travel and meeting up with old friends on the road. Most of all, I’m looking forward to bringing you even more boots on the ground insights, especially as we gear up for our new premium service.
More to follow on this upcoming trip soon. For now, let’s jump into this week’s questions.
First, Gene asks, “Simon, I do alright, but the majority of my money is tied up in retirement savings. I’m afraid of what’s happening in the stock market right now, and I’m thinking about buying gold instead. Do you think that gold is a good buy at this price, and can I do this with my IRA?”
Great question. I mentioned a few weeks ago that it’s really difficult to ‘value’ gold as an investment speculation. Unlike a company whose balance sheet and management can be probed, or real estate that generates income and agricultural yield, it’s impossible to determine the fair price for gold.
As a speculation, I have a tough time chasing anything that has enjoyed a huge run-up, though I do believe that gold is seeing some breakaway fundamental changes right now in the way that investors are perceiving risk.
That being said, as a means to hold and protect your savings, gold probably makes a lot more sense, regardless of the price level. I hold physical gold, and I don’t really care what the spot price is. Why? Because it holds its value in relation to ‘stuff’ irrespective of the changes in paper currency.
This, after all, is the true nature of savings.
With your retirement savings, you can buy gold (and silver) through what my friend Terry Coxon calls an “Open Opportunity IRA”. This is a self-directed structure that puts you back in control of your own money and allows you to invest in just about anything, including most classes of bullion.
For US taxpayers, this Open Opportunity IRA is really a no-brainer for anyone with more than a few bucks in his retirement account… and if you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to give Terry Coxon’s book a try. It’s called Unleash your IRA, and he tells you exactly how to do it yourself.
For Canadians, the tax code now allows RRSP-ownership of certain gold coins. They must be of at least 995 purity and produced by the Royal Canadian Mint.
For Brits, the ISA retirement structure leaves few options for holding bullion.
Next, in response to my article about Uruguay no longer being a tax-free residency jurisdiction, ‘lf’ commented, “Unless Simon will come up with an idea how to get Martian passports, I doubt that a viable option really exists.”
I find this perspective troubling.
Countries change from time to time. It’s happened in the US, it’s happening now in China, it’s happened in Europe. Uruguay is no exception– they went from being a tax haven to jumping in bed with the OECD.
But to say that there are no viable options out there is simply an erroneous, defeatist attitude. Singapore is a great example– there are plenty of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities available, the residency process is cheap and transparent, and you can become a citizen after 2 years.
I could cite several of other examples… but the larger point is that nothing is going to stay the same forever. You, your country, the environment, the society around you– all evolve and change over time.
The nice thing is that we can generally see major political changes coming years in advance. That gives us time to make preparations. Right now, you probably have a strong sense of the negative changes coming to the Western world, and that’s why we keep having these conversations.
Bob asks, “Simon, I was a bit confused about your article concerning Canadian citizenship. It seems more attractive to be a non-resident Canadian citizen. Is it possible to apply for this status directly without ever being a resident?”
No. You have to actually be physically present in Canada for 3 years out of a 4 year period. Then, and only then, can you apply for naturalization. If you take advantage of the offshore trust investor program, though, you can at least squeak by with a minimal tax burden.
Lastly, Jennifer asks, “Hi Simon. You haven’t mentioned anything about your sustainable community project in a while. Any update?”
Here’s the bottom line: I absolutely will develop a cost-effective, sustainable, offshore community where the amenities focus more on organic agriculture and livestock instead of golf courses and water parks.
Considering that I’m heavily involved in 3 operating businesses, multiple other investments, and I still write this letter each day, I simply don’t have the bandwidth to give a real estate development my 100% effort at this time… and I refuse to attempt something that I can’t give 100% to.
Given the upcoming offshore conference that we’re planning, as well as the pending launch of a premium service, I suspect it will be at least another 9-12 months before I’m ready to make that sort of commitment.
I appreciate all the emails expressing interest in the project, and I want to be clear that once I can allocate the time, it will be a top priority.