June 19, 2012
Exactly three years ago, we launched this daily e-letter… and needless to say, it’s been eventful.
It should be clear by now that the topics we routinely discuss in our daily conversations are actually happening:
– The grand fiat experiment is unraveling.
– Governments are, in fact, going bankrupt.
– And they’re turning the heat up against their own citizens in a desperate attempt to maintain the status quo.
Here in Europe, bank runs are becoming commonplace, and depositors are being frozen out of their accounts without warning. Politicians in many countries have seized private pensions and are once again touting capital controls as the panacea.
Meanwhile, privacy continues to be stomped out in the worst possible way. Western governments have made coordinated assaults on everything ranging from banking privacy to Internet usage. It never stops.
To boot, Google just reported an alarming increase in government requests to block, censor, or obtain user data; this year’s requests are on course to -quadruple- last year’s 3.3 million requests.
And then there’s the printing… the endless expansion of sovereign debt and silly pieces of paper that are being passed off as money by handful of morally bankrupt individuals who control the whole game.
These politicians and bureaucrats still haven’t figured out that nations don’t become wealthy by printing paper currency… or by raising taxes, or through big entitlement programs, or by going into debt.
Going into debt and consuming does not create wealth. It temporarily creates the illusion of wealth… until the house of cards collapses.
Just like individuals, nations become wealthy by being productive and saving.
None of this is rocket science. And yet, the guys controlling the system don’t seem to get it. They’re doing all the wrong things, worrying much more about their own electability rather than getting the hell out of the way.
In Europe, a lot of people have finally started waking up to this reality; they at least understand that they’re dealing with serious problems that aren’t going away.
In the United States, I’m not so sure.
I just spent about a month on the ground in the US, and I came away with a feeling of tremendous discomfort. Never before have I seen such a massive disconnect between sentiment and reality.
Everywhere I went– Dallas, Los Angeles, Reno/Lake Tahoe, Denver, New York, and San Francisco, everything appeared to be fine. Shops and restaurants were full, the mood was light, and people seemed fairly optimistic that things were OK.
There was definitely no air of doom and gloom like there is here in Europe.
And yet, the real story in the US is disastrous:
– There has been no meaningful growth in years.
– The true rate of unemployment is a postwar record high.
– Foreclosures and bankruptcies are on the rise once again.
– The average American’s income and net worth are both much lower than 4-years ago.
– The federal government is totally insolvent, as are most state and local governments.
The numbers don’t lie. They have no sentiment, they don’t feel optimistic or pessimistic. They just are what they are. And they’re terrible.
The massive disconnect between what the data tell us and people’s optimism are deeply concerning; it suggests that the majority of people are completely oblivious to what’s happening.
Just like when the housing bubble burst, most people were blindsided and totally unprepared for the pain that followed.
I’m concerned that the same thing is going to happen again… only this time, the collapse of the sovereign debt bubble is much, much bigger.
So much of what we have discussed over the past few years has already come to pass, and the next phase is playing out right now in Europe. The writing is on the wall for the US.
Undoubtedly, this is a time when thinking people should be getting prepared.
For one, it means buying real assets— something tangible that you actually own or control yourself, and that stands a chance of retaining its value.
Think precious metals, operating businesses, agricultural property, collectibles.
Don’t underestimate the counterparty risk of assets which are merely claims– ETFs, stocks which are not registered in your name, sovereign debt.
Also, the importance of international diversification is paramount right now. And I mean now. Given the speed with which banks are shuttering, a lot of people are about to become victims.
Most folks put all of their eggs in one basket. They live, work, invest, own their property, store gold, run a business, etc. all in the same country of their citizenship.
And all of those assets/interests are subject to the whims of any number of government agencies.
Direct confiscation is a primary tactic of insolvent governments… as Greeks and Italians are finding out now.
When you spread your assets and interests across multiple locations– a bank account in Hong Kong, gold stored in Singapore, owning property in South America– you’re taking your hard earned savings and moving it outside the control of your home country’s bureaucrats.
This puts you ahead of 99.8% of the population (based on IRS filings) who aren’t taking these steps.