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Sovereign Man Notes from the Field Date: July 22, 2011 Reporting From: Split, Croatia

In Business/Political Trends Worldwide, currency, Expatriation, Government, History, personal and business, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Sovereign Man

Notes from the Field

Date: July 22, 2011
Reporting From: Split, Croatia

Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten away from our usual tradition of having a weekly Q&A session, so I’m going to get right to it today.

First, Constanza asks, “Simon, you were writing recently about ‘international diversification.‘ Can you explain a bit more about this?”

Sure. It’s becoming obvious that there are massive problems in the developed world– ballooning debts, stagnating economies, soaring inflation, high unemployment, food and energy shortages, rising crime, increased regulation, diminished civil liberties, etc.

These problems aren’t going away just because some politicians pull an accounting stunt or deny that they exist.  These problems are real, and thinking individuals need to realize that the consequences of inaction are only going to get worse.

Most people will unfortunately do nothing and wait for a political solution. Their faith in their elected leaders will unfortunately be rewarded with a front-row seat to witness the final erosion of their country.

Others will take the approach of trying to change the system. Relying on the democratic process certainly seems like a noble cause, but remember that democracy is really just two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.

International diversification is the cornerstone of my own ethos– it involves looking overseas to protect you interests and seek new opportunities. If your home, your work, your family’s safety, your savings, your healthcare, and your entire livelihood are tied to one crumbling country, you are exposed to substantial risk.

Diversifying internationally can drastically reduce this risk. It might mean finding more stable sources of income overseas, better stores of value for your savings, stronger markets to invest in, safer places for your family to live, more cost effective places to obtain healthcare, more secure places to store gold, etc.

I’m not suggesting that everyone should get on a plane tomorrow and leave home… though for some people who have reached their breaking points, this is the ultimate solution. What I am suggesting is that people stop limiting themselves to a single country that’s in decline, and begin to consider the wider world.

On that note, Alvinium asks, “Simon, you recently wrote that owning agricultural land is a great hedge against rising food prices. What about the FDA, USDA, and other agencies that are stepping up their efforts to make it a crime to grow one’s own organic food?”

Easy. I think people in the US should consider buying property overseas where there is no FDA or USDA to stop them from reducing their ‘agflation’ risk.

A few months ago in an issue of Sovereign Man: Confidential, I interviewed Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms; Joel was featured in the documentary Food, Inc., and he has decades of personal anecdotes in dealing with various agencies, many of which are chronicled in his book ‘Everything I Want to Do is Illegal.

He told me one recent story about a school in California that grows its own carrots. The children pick the carrots and wash them before eating, but the local Health Department came in and said that the children are not allowed to wash and eat those carrots without a Food Handlers’ license.

It sounds like a sick joke, but the system definitely favors the big ag companies at the expense of individuals. To me, you can try to fight the system, or simply go somewhere else where you are free to do what you want.

Chile is the place that I’ve chosen for our resilient community exactly for this reason. In the future, I don’t think there will be too many things more important than a steady, healthy, independent food supply… and I’m not willing to take the risk of having some government agency dictate what I can/can’t do.

Last, Elai asks, “Simon, a lot of people blast Ben Bernanke, but given the tools that he has at his disposal, what can he do to improve the economy?

Think about it like this– even in the most basic economics classes, students learn that price controls just don’t work. Electricity is a great example– many governments (Argentina for instance) fix retail electricity prices at artificially low levels. This creates excess demand, often causing major power shortages.

Suppose the government announced that iPads would now cost $1. Everyone would rush out immediately to buy one, and as there would no longer be a profit incentive for Apple to continue manufacturing them, an iPad shortage would quickly ensue.

Simply put, price fixing creates terrible distortions in the marketplace that lead to shortages or gross misallocations of resources.

Now, consider that interest rates are essentially the price of money– the price which a willing borrower agrees to pay a willing lender in exchange for a specified amount of capital.

If we can agree that price controls are a bad idea, why does it seem like a good idea to give one man nearly sole control to set the price of money? This is absolutely the one price that shouldn’t be controlled above all else!

The price of money affects everything in an economy— savings, spending, investment, foreign exchange rates… the price of money has the most far-reaching implications, and yet our financial system leaves setting this price to the serially erroneous prognostications of a single individual rather than the market.

Bernanke’s role is to control the price of money, and it’s a role that should not exist. The issue isn’t what he can do to improve the economy… but that he has any function in the economy whatsoever!

Until tomorrow,
Simon Black
Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com 


This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

Thanksgiving, a cherished Holiday, or one that may not be cherished soon??……..Admin/capecoralblogger

In Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Constitution of The United States, Expatriation, History, Political, Political parties, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm

THIS MAY NOT BE AS FAR FETCHED AS SOME MIGHT SAY

—–Original Message—Sent: Thu, Jul 21, 2011 12:58 pm by a unknown blogger.
Subject: Thanksgiving 2022

“Winston, come into the dining room, it’s time to eat,” Julia yelled to her
husband.
“In a minute, honey, it’s a tie score,” he answered.Actually Winston wasn’t very interested in the traditional holiday football
game between Detroit and Washington .Ever since the government passed the
Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle football for its
“unseemly violence” and the “bad example it sets for the rest of the world”,
Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to be.Two-hand touch wasn’t nearly as exciting. Yet it wasn’t the game that
Winston was uninterested in.
It was more the thought of eating another Tofu Turkey . Even though it was
the best type of VeggieMeat available after the government revised the
American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of
federally-forbidden foods, (which already included potatoes, cranberry
sauce, and mincemeat pie), it wasn’t anything like real turkey.And ever since the government officially changed the name of “Thanksgiving
Day” to “A National Day of Atonement” in 2020, to officially acknowledge the
Pilgrims’ historically brutal treatment of Native Americans, the holiday had
lost a lot of its luster.

Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting. The unearthly gleam of
government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the Tofu Turkey look even
weirder than it actually was, and the room was always cold.

Ever since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act of 2016, mandating all
thermostats – which were monitored and controlled by the electric company –
be kept at 68 degrees, every room on the north side of the house was barely
tolerable throughout the entire winter.

Still, it was good getting together with family. Or at least most of the
family.

Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October, when she had used up
her legal allotment of life-saving medical treatment.

He had had many heated conversations with the Regional Health Consortium,
spawned when the private insurance market finally went bankrupt, and
everyone was forced into the government health care program.

And though he demanded she be kept on her treatment, it was a futile effort.

“The RHC’s resources are limited”, explained the government bureaucrat
Winston spoke with on the
phone. “Your mother received all the benefits to which she was entitled. I’m
sorry for your loss.”

Ed couldn’t make it either. He had forgotten to plug in his electric car
last night, the only kind available after the Anti-Fossil Fuel Bill of 2021
outlawed the use of the combustion engines – for everyone but government
officials.

The fifty mile round trip was about ten miles too far, and Ed didn’t want to
spend a frosty night on the road somewhere between here and there.

Thankfully, Winston’s brother, John, and his wife were flying in.

Winston made sure that the dining room chairs had extra cushions for the
occasion.

No one complained more than John about the pain of sitting down so soon
after the government-mandated cavity searches at airports, which severely
aggravated his hemorrhoids.

Ever since a terrorist successfully smuggled a cavity bomb onto a jetliner,
the TSA told Americans the added “inconvenience” was an “absolute necessity”
in order to stay “one step ahead of the terrorists.”

Winston’s own body had grown accustomed to such probing ever since the
government expanded their scope to just about anywhere a crowd gathered, via
Anti-Profiling Act of 2022.

That law made it a crime to single out any group or individual for “unequal
scrutiny,” even when probable cause was involved.

Thus, cavity searches at malls, train stations, bus depots, etc., etc., had
become almost routine.
Almost.

The Supreme Court is reviewing the statute, but most Americans expect a
Court composed of six progressives and three conservatives to leave the law
intact.

“A living Constitution is extremely flexible”, said the Court’s eldest
member, Elena Kagan. ” Europe has had laws like this one for years. We
should learn from their example”, she added.

Winston’s thoughts turned to his own children.  He got along fairly well
with his 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, mostly because she ignored him.
Winston had long ago surrendered to the idea that she could text anyone at
any time, even during Atonement Dinner.

Their only real confrontation had occurred when he limited her to 50,000
texts a month, explaining that was all he could afford.

She whined for a week, but got over it.

His 16-year-old son, Jason, was another matter altogether. Perhaps it was
the constant bombarding he got in public school that global warming, the
bird flu, terrorism, or any of a number of other calamities were “just
around the corner”, but Jason had developed a kind of nihilistic attitude
that ranged between simmering surliness and outright hostility.

It didn’t help that Jason had reported his father to the police for smoking
a cigarette in the house, an act made criminal by the Smoking Control
Statute of 2018, which outlawed smoking anywhere within 500 feet of another
human being.

Winston paid the $5,000 fine, which might have been considered excessive
before the American dollar became virtually worthless as a result of QE13.

The latest round of quantitative easing the federal government initiated
was, once again, to “spur economic growth.”

This time, they promised to push unemployment below its years-long rate of
18%, but Winston was not particularly hopeful.

Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston thought, before
remembering it was a Day of Atonement.

At least, he had his memories.

He felt a twinge of sadness when he realized his children would never know
what life was like in the Good Old Days, long before government promises to
make life “fair for everyone” realized their full potential.

Winston, like so many of his fellow Americans, never realized how much
things could change when they didn’t happen all at once, but little by
little, so people could get used to them.

He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up while there
was still time, maybe back around 2011 , when all the real nonsense began.

“Maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today if we’d just said ‘enough is
enough’ when we had the chance,” he thought.

Maybe so, Winston. Maybe so.

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field Date: July 21, 2011 Reporting From: Split, Croatia

In Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Continental Travel, currency, Expatriation, Food and Staples, Government, History, Money and Finances, Offshore accounts, Opportunity, Personal, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Sovereign Man

Notes from the Field

Date: July 21, 2011
Reporting From: Split, Croatia

Print. Lie. Borrow. Deceive. Deny. These are a the principal tenants of the Greek restructuring plan that were released today from Brussels… it’s as if EU policymakers put it together after shaking a Magic 8-ball.

The whole world knows that Greece is bankrupt and has been living bailout to bailout for over a year. Deep in debt and devoid of cash, the country has completely forsaken its sovereignty in exchange for becoming a ward of the European Union; Prime Minister George Papandreou is now a hapless stooge awaiting instructions from Germany.

It’s ironic that the Greek proposal released today calls for a ‘Marshall Plan’ of investment across Europe… given that the last time Greece was being controlled by Germany was during the country’s occupation by Nazi forces after being vanquished by Hitler’s 12th Army in April 1941.

And so, with limited debate and even less fanfare, Europe has just officially signed on to destroy its own currency. Utterly worthless, quasi-defaulted Greek debt will become perfectly acceptable collateral, much in the same way that the US Federal Reserve took every scrap of toxic paper it could find off banks in 2008 and 2009.

Given the favorable market reaction, European politicians must be feeling pretty proud of themselves. The euro is up. The stock market is up. Oil is up. Well, never mind about oil, they’ll blame that on evil speculators… just like food prices.

And the proposal is so deliberately vague, they can go back home and tell constituents whatever they want. Angela Merkel can tell German voters that the French are paying for it, and Sarkozy and tell French voters that the Germans are paying for it. Win, win!

The European sovereign default SOP has just been set. When Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland’s time of insolvency arrives, it will be handled just like this: Print. Lie. Borrow. Deceive. Deny.

Every day it becomes more and more obvious that the financial system as we know it is breaking down. The United States and European monetary union, whose currencies comprise nearly the entirety of the world’s fiat reserves, have both signed up to debase their currencies as rapidly as possible.

This is going to kick inflation up another notch as anyone holding on to Greek debt is going to trade out of it as quickly as possible. All that money has to go somewhere… and it’s a sure bet that a lot of it will feed rising commodities price (which translates into more inflation).

If you haven’t found a safe haven for your savings yet, it’s time to start. Now. No more excuses. A few you could consider:

Swiss franc, Norwegian krone, Singapore dollar, Chilean peso: These four currencies are generally regarded as safer, stronger, and managed by less obtuse central banks. In a world of fiat, these are among the least worst of the bunch.

Unidad de Fomento (UF): This is a special unit of account used in Chile that was set up during the hyperinflation days of the 1960s. The UF is designed to keep pace with inflation and it’s possible to establish a bank account denominated in UF in Chile. I’ll be telling SMC members how to do that in an upcoming issue.

Agricultural Property: Nothing hedges your risk against rising food prices like being able to produce your own food. This idea underpins the concept for the resilient community we’re planning in South America.

Precious Metals: Portable, divisible, durable, and scarce, precious metals are the classic hedge against rising prices. Gold and silver aren’t going to go up in a straight line, and gold in particular is due for a correction, but in a world ruled by an economic magic 8-ball, it’s a much safer store of value than a government IOU.

High quality equities: If my only two options are Apple stock and a bank account earning 0% interest, I’m going with Steve Jobs. The chief problem with equities is that the more money that central banks print, the more money flows into equities… pushing valuations up to dizzying (and unsustainable) levels.

Firearms and ammunition: Weapons and ammo serve a dual purpose of providing better home security, as well as a reasonable store of value. Unfortunately, they can also serve a third purpose– putting you on some government agency’s radar.

This list is by no means exhaustive… but if you have the majority of your savings just sitting there wasting away, it’s time to act.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black
Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com

This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field Date: July 20, 2011 Reporting From: Split, Croatia…..”Take Heed America” added by Admin/floridabusinessportals.com

In Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Continental Travel, Expatriation, Government, History, Interesting places, Money and Finances, Offshore accounts, Opportunity, Personal, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field

Date: July 20, 2011

Reporting From: Split, Croatia

Bruce Lee, a long-time hero of mine, died 38-years ago today, and in tribute to his intellect and philosophy, I wanted to blow the dust off an old quote of his that seems quite prescient:

“Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.”

Each day it becomes increasingly obvious that there are essentially two kinds of people in this world– those who are unaware that they walk in the darkness, completely oblivious to the real dangers in the world, versus those who understand reality and seek the truth. The former group comprises the vast majority of society.

This is your voting electorate and mainstream media audience, and they’ll buy every bit of propaganda that’s sent their way… whether it’s support for the war(s), ruinous economic programs, child molesting TSA policies, or just plain old fear and hate. In its latest effort to spread fear and hate, the Ministry of Love, also known as the Department of Homeland Security, has produced an Orwellian new video intended to encourage Americans to rat each other out.

If you’re not in a place to watch the video right now, I’ll summarize briefly. First of all, it’s one of the most pathetic attempts at filmmaking in the history of motion picture; the average shampoo commercial has better acting and production quality… and is much more subtle in its message.

In the world of Homeland Security, terrorists all drive unmarked full-size vans, wear hooded sweatshirts, and deposit backpacks in conspicuous public places. They might as well have had a cackling James Bond villain twirling his moustache in the corner.

At its core, the video is filled with scenes of ordinary citizens spying on each other and alerting the authorities to their compatriots’ suspicious deeds. In my favorite scene, a woman calls the police after snooping over the shoulder of a young man typing away on his smartphone. Naturally, it’s all for the common good… for everyone’s safety and security. In fact, everyone shares in this responsibility according to DHS, so we should all be on our toes to rat each other out at the first sign of suspicious activity.

Apparently this is yet another obligation that comes with citizenship. For the majority of people who watch this video, their chests will swell with pride in the knowledge that they now have a role to play in their country’s security. These are the folks walking around in the darkness, unaware. You can’t talk to them about things like personal liberty as they’ll just regurgitate the propaganda they’ve been spoon fed since birth. These are the same folks who take their shoes off at the airport and proclaim, “Whatever it takes to keep us safe,” or “I have nothing to hide!”

Truthfully, real criminals aren’t back alley types, but rather the policymakers who spread fear and paranoia in the name of justice. They cloak their crimes in good deeds while building a brainwashed class of future Thought Police. If Orwell had written a prequel to 1984, this would all be part of it. It seems the boiling frog is getting just a bit warmer..

. Until tomorrow, Simon Black Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com

SIMON FINDS NUMBERED ACCOUNTS FOR DEPOSITS AS SMALL AS $8,000 Not yet a Sovereign Man: Confidential subscriber? This edition could have been a double issue. Here’s what you’re missing in what may be the best month yet: * This country may be a small country wedged in between two European powerhouses, but it checks just about every box for Simon. Hint…it’s NOT Switzerland. From safety, lightning-fast Internet, low taxes and minimal government intervention, this country should be on the top of your list for places to visit. Simon shares where to stay and how to fly in and out. For a land-locked location, it may be one of his favorites! * Simon proves this country isn’t just a tourist spot. He’ll show you how to get residency for an relatively small investment . Find his contact to get it done quickly. He also highlights the most difficult documentation requirement and how to be sure you have it covered. * Privacy in offshore banking? YES, this stable, European country still has private, numbered accounts AND will do business with US Citizens. Simon will share the different banks and even has negotiated a discount for Sovereign Man: Confidential members. You won’t want to miss this. * Ever-opportunistic, Simon will give some easy entrepreneurship opportunities in an emerging frontier, Kosovo. These options are the equivalent of “selling shovels to gold miners”. * Mark Nestmann also returns to go further in depth for those interested in expatriation with an honest assessment of the worst-case scenario. * Tim Staermose also offers his actionable insight from his most recent China trip. You need to have an understanding of the social and financial implications of the coming bust. To learn more about SMC and get access to the archive, click here for more information.


This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field -Date: July 18, 2011 Reporting From: Becici, Montenegro

In Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, currency, Government, History, Opportunity, Personal, personal and business, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Sovereign Man

Notes from the Field

Date: July 18, 2011
Reporting From: Becici, Montenegro

In March 2010, President Obama signed into law one of the most arrogant, unfeasible bills ever to hit the books.

Known as FATCA [Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act], it was enacted as part of the inappropriately titled HIRE Act; the law requires that foreign banks must disclose personal account details for their US clients, essentially agreeing to get in bed with the US government.

If a foreign bank does not agree to disclose information on all of its US customers, then the law further requires that noncompliant banks withhold a 30% tax on all payments that may have originated from the United States.

The arrogance of this law is overwhelming. It would be as if the Saudi King issued a decree forbidding US grocery store chains to sell pork to Saudi citizens while on US soil. Crazy, right? Americans would be up in arms– who do those Saudi’s think they are, trying to control a US company on US soil?

But that’s exactly what FACTA does. Needless to say, the international banking scene has been up in arms since March 2010 when the law was passed. Those cries have largely fallen on deaf ears… until late last week when the US government granted a brief extension for the law to take effect.

This is important, and I’ll explain why.

We’re in the early stages of what I call the Age of Turmoil– a tumultuous time in which governments turn to increasingly desperate, authoritarian measures in order to maintain the status quo.

They drive their economies into the ground, generate painful inflation, and destroy the livelihoods of millions, even hundreds of millions… and when you don’t like it, they turn their police forces after you to ensure they still get to live a life of power and privilege on your dime.

We’ve already seen these people in action– they’ve seized pension accounts, turned the nation into a police state, ruined the economy with corrupt, reckless spending programs, inflated the currency to dangerous levels, and made it extremely difficult to do basic things like establish a business or even open a bank account.

There are a few things you can try to do about it. The default option for most people is to do nothing. They’ll stick their heads in the sand as things continue to get worse and their families’ livelihoods get eaten away by public policy.

Others think they can ‘vote the bums out,’ only later to realize that the brand new crop of politicians is just as bad as the old batch.

I’ve long been an advocate of the internationalization approach– diversifying your assets and interests overseas to reduce the control that one single government has over you.

If you live, work, bank, invest, own property, store gold, operate a business, etc. in the same country of your citizenship, you are truly putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Internationalization is an approach to take back your privacy, cut your ‘sovereign risk,’ and declare your economic independence, and it’s what I discuss every month in our premium service, Sovereign Man: Confidential. Think of it as your personal, offshore intelligence service.

To give you an idea, here’s what you missed in the July edition that just came out over the weekend:

– How to LEGALLY establish a private, numbered account in one of the world’s strongest banking jurisdictions… as well as how to remain compliant with the law. I tell you exactly who to contact to get started.

– How to establish residency in an extremely safe, modern, vibrant, cost effective, beautiful, and FREEDOM LOVING European location… it’s a fantastic choice for families, retirees, and even singles. Again, I tell you exactly who to contact.

– My boots on the ground recommendations for entrepreneurial business ideas in one of the world’s most opportunity-rich boom towns. Some require very little up-front capital, and you can make a fortune;

– New intelligence just revealed about relinquishing US citizenship;

– Portfolio strategies to protect against (and profit from) the coming economic slowdown that we see happening in China

– How to make the right kinds of internationalization decisions– walking through your own situation, and what to do about it.

This is the sort of actionable intelligence that can help you survive and thrive in the Age of Turmoil by reducing your exposure to any one single government. It will take time for you to implement these strategies… and given the FATCA extension I told you about earlier, the limited window of opportunity is now open.

I strongly encourage you to consider these strategies; no matter what happens, you will sleep better at night knowing that your family’s livelihood is much better protected.

The alternative– doing nothing– could be devastating.

Click here to read more about a risk-free trial to our premium intelligence service, Sovereign Man: Confidential.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black
Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com
This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field Date: July 13, 2011 Reporting From: Thessaloniki, Greece

In Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Continental Travel, currency, Government, History, Opportunity, Political, Political parties, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Sovereign Man

Notes from the Field

Date: July 13, 2011
Reporting From: Thessaloniki, Greece

I went to dinner last night in an upmarket area of Thessaloniki. It wasn’t a touristy part of town at all, nearly everyone there was local.

As we walked down a narrow cobblestone path flanked by traditional Greek restaurants, all the various hostesses and proprietors ran out to greet us and pitch their menus.

“We have the freshest seafood!”

“We have the cheapest prices!”

“We offer free drinks and dessert!”

Within seconds, outright calamity ensued with each thrusting menus in our faces, pulling at our shirtsleeves, and shouting over the competition. Then a shoving match… and then finally an all out physical altercation, literally coming to blows over what amounted to a $20 dinner tab.

Now, aggressive behavior is common in this part of the world; it gets even worse in Turkey and North Africa. But there is an element of desperation that I have not yet seen before here. Given the graveyard of former restaurants gone bust nearby, it’s clear that last night’s owners are trying to stay afloat at any cost.

Later in the evening, I dropped by the city’s ancient agora ruins. Inside I could see a number of stray dogs marking their territory as they saw fit, and it was the perfect metaphor. This place has literally gone to the dogs.

Coincidentally, the Greek government held a ‘successful’ bond auction yesterday, unloading 1.6 billion euros of six-month bills. This sounds like a lot of money until you figure that it just barely covers this month’s interest payments on the roughly 340 billion euro debt that they already owe.

Just last month alone, the Greek budget deficit was 2.2 billion euros. Greece must continue indebting itself not only to make interest payments, but simply to keep the lights on. Meanwhile, the principal balance owed keeps rising while tax revenues are falling… making the situation perpetually worse.

Bailouts can’t fix this problem. Think about it like this: say your best friend is swimming in debt, paying $5,000 per month in interest. His best job prospect is $1,000 per month, so he’s in the hole $4,000 per month and rising.

If he receives a new $10,000 line of credit, would this fix his problems? Not at all. He’d be staring at bankruptcy again within 3-months.

Living bailout to bailout while going deeper into debt is simply an unsustainable Ponzi scheme. And given the Greek government’s current cash position and bond auction calendar, the next do-or-die bailout should come to a head this summer.

Europe will have to make a decision: (a) continue financing Greek largess and hope that taxpayers don’t care or notice; (b) take cover and allow the Greek government to default; or (c) an ‘orderly restructuring’ that combines loan workouts, haircuts for bondholders, and strings-attached cash injections from the ECB and IMF.

The most likely is the third option, but no matter how you dress it up, it’s still a default.

We’ve seen this play out once before in Dubai. The emirate underwent a steep restructuring period on roughly 50% of its $59 billion debt load in late 2009 and 2010, and it caused a deep recession and losses in the local market. Two big differences, though.

First, Dubai had a wealthy big brother in Abu Dhabi. Europe has angry German taxpayers.

Second, Dubai was isolated. Europe has a number of insolvent countries whose collective debts far exceed the capacity for any bailout.

If the market is allowed to function, the consequent derivatives chain reaction from default will cause a wave of bankruptcies among a number of large financial institutions, triggering even more government intervention (read: taxpayer bailouts) and a deflationary sell-off in financial markets.

Barring a miraculous, no-strings-attached emergency bailout, I think we can expect the opening salvos within the next few months.

So why should you care if you’re not Greek? Because the ensuing capital controls, raids on public and private pensions, and social chaos met with overwhelming police brutality will be a preview of things to come when the rest of Europe and the United States arrive at their financial reckoning days.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black
Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com
This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field Date: July 12, 2011 Reporting From: Chongqing, China

In Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Continental Travel, Government, History, Political, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Sovereign Man

Notes from the Field

Date: July 12, 2011
Reporting From: Chongqing, China

[Editor’s note: Tim Staermose is filling in for Simon Black today with more boots on the ground observations in China.]
 

By some accounts, Chongqing is the largest metro area in the world with a population of some 32 million. They ought to call it the largest construction site in the world.This is a place that, if you believe the official numbers, posted 17% GDP growth in 2010. It doesn’t take too long to figure out how that happened. Driving around town, I found that Chongqing is in such a building frenzy, they’re actually tearing down perfectly good (and reasonably new) buildings and infrastructure, and rebuilding them.

To give you an example, next to my 45-story downtown hotel was a building site where the constant drone of jackhammers signaled to me that there was some breaking of concrete going on. The new tower under construction had reached the 11th floor, but then they decided to tear it down and start all over again with something even bigger (102-stories).

[There are a half-dozen other such towers in Chongqing. Most of them are officially “on hold,” signaling to me that China is getting ever closer to facing its bubble reality– that demand simply cannot support such investment.]

Then there are the pavement workers… half of them digging up the road, half of them putting it back together. It is the literal equivalent of digging ditches only to fill them back up, all in order to create employment.

The government certainly hopes that actual businesses will come to Chongqing to mop up all the excess productive capacity that they’re building (and then tearing down and rebuilding).

Chongqing is, in fact, at the epicenter of the “Go West” drive in China, whereby manufacturers along China’s coast are being encouraged to move their production facilities inland to take advantage of the untapped labor pool and cheaper all-around costs of doing business.

Curiously, Ford Motor Company is one of the region’s cornerstone investors.  The company’s biggest concentration of production plants outside of Detroit is in Chongqing.  Ford aims to use the city as its beachhead in China where its market share currently languishes at a paltry 2.6%.

Perhaps in the years and decades to come, dozens, even hundreds of businesses will relocate to Chongqing. Maybe the Chinese have it all figured out and are thinking 25 years in advance. But today, it’s hard to see how ripping down buildings and roadways (and replacing them with ghost towers and the exact same roadways) could prove to be a worthwhile investment.

A half-built building is a liability. A completed building sitting empty is an even bigger liability. These aren’t signs of clever planning, but of wasteful misallocations that are starting to crack the facade of the Chinese economy.

So much superfluous construction did create temporary economic growth… but now you can see the visible signs of unemployment rising. The sheer volume of downtrodden and destitute Chinese on the streets, coupled with rising consumer prices and declining output, all suggest that deep instability is looming.
The Chinese have an old proverb: “Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.”  They have been telling lies to the world and masquerading as an economic miracle for years, but the signs of stress are showing.
Yes, China does have the right kind of potential with over a billion people, substantial productive capacity, and a high savings rate. But these dizzying growth rates have been a total illusion. With so much of the world’s economic hopes pinned on the continued fantasy of 10% growth, it’s going to be a hard landing for everyone once China’s reality sets in.
Until tomorrow,

Tim Staermose
Editor, SovereignMan.com 

This article appears courtesy of <a href="http://www.sovereignman.com">SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field</a>, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
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Sovereign Man Weekend Edition Date: July 2, 2011 Reporting From: Roissy, France

In Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Continental Travel, currency, Money and Finances, Opportunity, Personal, Political, Political parties, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on July 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Sovereign Man

Weekend Edition

Date: July 2, 2011
Reporting From: Roissy, France

I imagine that travel used to be quite glamorous back in the 1960s… when airline captains were accorded same social status as mid-rank diplomats, and stewardess (as they were known back then) were little more than Vegas cocktail waitresses.

Today is a bit different. It seems that most legacy carriers are still employing the exact same flight attendants that they did 40-years ago, and nightmare delays are commonplace.

In addition, there are now so many ridiculous fees involved in flying.  Just the taxes alone can add an additional 30% on top of the ticket price– another example of Thursday’s note about how taxation is just another form of inflation.

Then they tack on extra fees for the fuel. The ground service. Checking luggage. Checking in. And my all-time favorite, the “payment fee” where they actually charge you to pay them. This is very common inEurope, and if you’ve never experienced this before, don’t worry– it’s coming soon to an America near you.

Anyhow, I got waylaid here in Paris (not a bad place to be stranded) for a day on my way to Eastern Europe. After finishing up my business in Bulgaria, I plan on putting boots on the ground once again inGreece (what’s left of it). Hopefully the default will occur when I’m there… I do love a good crisis.

Speaking of PIIGS, earlier in the week I wrote a piece about my most recent observations in Spain– including remarks about some small villages in the north of the country that have been using the Spanish peseta once again (Spain’s pre-euro currency). This is certainly a sign of Europe’s post-euro future.

Remember, Europe is a continent with over a thousand years’ history of tribal warfare, genocide, inquisition, and marauding invasions. Sure they’ve been playing nice for the last 20-years, but it’s foolish to think that a German hairdresser is willing to take on greater taxes, inflation, or public debt so that a Greek hairdresser can retire at age 50. More to follow on this.

[As an aside, I also wrote about the growing police presence in Spain… and I would not characterize them as friendly. Writing from Santiago, Chile on Friday, Dr. John Cobin filled in for me to talk about how Chilean police actually treat people with courtesy and respect.]

Meanwhile, our Asia-based partner Tim Staermose has his boots on the ground in China once again. He’s tired of all the ‘economic puff pieces’ talking about how Chinese demand is going to save the global economy and promise endless sunny days, especially for commodity exporters like his nativeAustralia.

It seems that these optimists have a very short memory and have forgotten the hard lesson that all booms bust. They seem to think, instead, that ‘this time is different …,’ the four most expensive words in finance.

Last, I want to mention that we held our monthly premium teleconference for Sovereign Man: Confidential members this week; this live Q&A call is something that we do especially for SMC members at the end of each month, and this call was full of great questions.

We received a lot of questions about the plans for our resilient community project, as well as details about the property we’ve selected in central Chile. I have so much to say on the topic, I was practically bursting at the seams.

We also had a lot of questions about moving and storing gold, some great places to bank overseas, how to establish a business offshore, what to do with a US-based retirement account at/near retirement age given so many threats to pension funds, and more.

The monthly teleconference is just one of the benefits of SMC membership; members also receive a monthly letter that’s packed full of actionable information from our boots on the ground around the world– internationalization strategies, investment opportunities, time-sensitive deals, contacts, and more.

You can think of it as your personal intelligence service.

Then there’s our members’ only website, where people within the community can connect, build relationships, discuss their ideas, and trade experiences. This site is a fantastic way to build a strong network of like-minded people, and it’s been my privilege to interact with so many members using this tool.

If what I’m describing sounds like it would add value to your life and help you to prepare and thrive in the tumultuous times ahead, I encourage you to read more and sign up for our no-risk membership. You’ll receive instant access to past issues, as well as the teleconference we just conducted.

Have a great weekend.

Simon Black
Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com 

This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field Date: June 27, 2011 Reporting From: London, England

In Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Constitution of The United States, Continental Travel, Food and Staples, Jobs, Medicine, Opportunity, Political, Sovereign Man, Taxes, Travel on June 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

Sovereign Man

Notes from the Field

Date: June 27, 2011
Reporting From: London, England

Are you a US taxpayer? Do you have at least $10,000 in overseas accounts? It’s time to put those annual disclosure statements in the mail… and quickly. Let me explain.

Each year by June 30th, US taxpayers are obliged to report all foreign financial accounts in which they have either a beneficial interest or signature authority, so long as the aggregate value of all the accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. The form is known as the FBAR.

You must accurately disclose the highest value of each account during the previous calendar year on your FBAR… so make sure you go back through your bank and brokerage statements to check.

Let me give you a few examples:

Iggy Noramus is a US citizen who keeps all of his money in the United States. He happily watches the value of his dollars depreciate and completely ignores important warning signs like the Treasury Department confiscating pension funds to make up for their budget shortfalls. Iggy does not need to file the FBAR.

Guy Sharpe is also a US citizen who took action in 2010 to set up a foreign bank account in Hong Kong after reading an issue of Sovereign Man: Confidential. He only funded the account with $1,000, figuring that he just wanted to have an overseas account ready in an emergency. Guy doesn’t need to file the FBAR either.

Dee Pockets is a US citizen with four overseas accounts. One personal account in Switzerland has just over $1 million, one business account in Singapore has $5 million, one small account in Belize has just $50, and a Cayman brokerage has $250,000. Dee must file the FBAR and declare each of the four accounts.

Goldie Bugg is another US taxpayer who established an account in 2010 with GoldMoney; she opened the account with only $8,000 at the beginning of the year, but the market value of her gold peaked at $11,500 during 2010. Goldie must file an FBAR as well.

The gold ruling is new this year, and we first reported this back in March. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Division (FinCEN) made it quite clear that any gold held in the custody of another firm or individual constituted a foreign financial account and needs to be reported on the FBAR.

Frankly I’m starting to believe that this was part of a larger movement to recast gold as a ‘financial instrument,’ subjecting precious metals to regulation, control, and potential confiscation.

Given what we’re seeing now with so many brokerages cutting off their OTC gold contracts, this hypothesis is becoming more credible. I’ll have more on this working theory in another letter.

For now, make sure that you get your FBAR’s filed in time. The Treasury Department changed its language in the instructions this year, spelling out that they expect to receive the report by June 30th, which is this coming Thursday.

The form only takes a few minutes to fill out (assuming you have the information), and the instructions are self-explanatory. Consult your tax advisor with any questions.

If you don’t have a foreign bank account yet, you really ought to consider it for four key reasons:

1) A foreign bank account often makes it much easier to diversify out of the dollar. If you believe that, excluding some short-term rallies, the dollar’s long-term trend is lower, you can easily hold foreign currencies in a foreign account.

2) Foreign banks are often much stronger, not these quasi-zombie banks propped up with deceptive accounting rules and public funds we see in the west. Singapore, for example, has never had a banking failure, ever. I’ve even recommended one bank in SMC that keeps 100% of deposits in cash equivalents.

3) Banks overseas are typically much more innovative. In the west, banks think they’re being innovative when they get a Twitter account. In Asia, you can sign up for the next big IPO from an ATM. You can send a worldwide wire transfer from your mobile. You can denominate accounts in different currencies and precious metals.

4) Foreign banks are not controlled by your government. Get sideways with a bureaucrat in your home country and see what happens to your assets; there are dozens of agencies and courts out there, whether at the state, local, or federal level, that can freeze you out of your own money with a single phone call.

They can’t do that if your money is offshore. Capital controls, fear and intimidation tactics, frivolous lawsuits, etc. have limited impact on offshore accounts. It’s often possible to apply through the mail, and I’ve seen some banks with account minimums as low as $0.

If you have any savings at all, I strongly urge you to consider moving at least a portion of it overseas for the reasons I outlined above.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black
Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com
This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

Sovereign Man Notes from the Field Date: April 25, 2011 Reporting From: En route from Santa Cruz, Bolivia

In Banking, Business, Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Continental Travel, Jobs, Medical treatment, personal and business, renminbi currency, Sovereign Man on April 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Sovereign Man
Notes from the Field

Date: April 25, 2011
Reporting From: En route from Santa Cruz, Bolivia

[Editor’s note: Simon put an unusual amount of photos in today’s letter, you can see all of them online.]

Anyone who has any doubt that central planning and corruption destroys an economy should head to Bolivia. The country is a classic example of a resource-rich nation whose economic potential has been squandered by socialism.

It wasn’t always this way. Bolivia has had several periods of prosperity in its relatively brief history; in the late 1800s, for example, the price of gold began to rise dramatically against silver which was backing many currencies at the time such as the US dollar. (see chart).

Bolivia’s mining industry dates back to the 16th century, and as the country was rich with gold, its economy prospered. The good times lasted until the global depression in the 1930s when Bolivia and Paraguay went to war over the Chaco, each side thinking there was oil underneath the ground.

Following a terrible defeat and a resurgence of tough times, a number of revolutionary movements sprouted around the country. These took hold for several decades, eventually leading to a series of failed military dictatorships that were finally abandoned in the 1980s.

With an inflation rate of roughly 25,000%, Bolivia’s new market-oriented government took immediate steps to liberalize the economy, reduce capital and trade barriers, privatize state-owned companies, and attract foreign investment.

By 1985, the economy was heading back on track, and the prosperity lasted through the early 2000s when nationwide turmoil broke out over the fate of Bolivia’s massive natural gas reserves.

In light of new gas discoveries near Santa Cruz, the government provided concessions to a group of foreign companies who were willing to invest the necessary intellectual and financial capital to exploit the reserves. This move was widely opposed by many Bolivians and resulted in violent protests.

Ultimately, socialist presidential candidate Evo Morales was elected in 2006 and began his tradition of May Day nationalization decrees, starting with the natural gas reserves.

Morales considers himself a champion of the poor, and his stated aim is to distribute the profit from Bolivia’s resources among the people. Certainly, there is a large contingent of the population within Bolivia that lives in abject poverty, and their prospects have changed little over the years.

Socialists like Morales think that you can cure poverty by throwing money at the problem. They believe that by confiscating profits from evil capitalists and sprinkling them among the poor, they can lift people out of poverty.

This is a logical failure. Poverty isn’t caused by a lack of money… it’s caused by the lack of ability or opportunity to create value. Showering poor people with money does not address this problem, just ask any millionaire lottery winner who’s ended up back in the trailer park.

Like an incompetent physician who routinely misdiagnoses an ailment, socialism tries to treat the symptoms of poverty rather than address its root cause. Consequently, these measures ultimately end up as catastrophic failures.

The most common play is to vastly expand the size of government and hire legions of new workers. To give you an example, there is a network of toll roads outside of Santa Cruz. You pay the toll, not for the upkeep of the roads (which are in terrible condition), but to pay the salary of the guy who collects the toll.

Army bases are everywhere in Bolivia. You can’t drive 30 kilometers without passing some sort of military installation where a bunch of jackbooted monkeys are parading around waiting for the Brazilians to invade.

Perhaps the best example is at the airport.

When you want to leave Bolivia, there is first a three-step check-in procedure. Following that, you have to stand in another line to pay the airport departure tax. Needless to say, this revenue doesn’t go to improve the airport, but to pay the salaries of the people who collect the tax.

Following that is the passport border control, another line. Following that is an INTERPOL check, yet another line. Following that is narco-trafficking checkpoint, where they go through your carry-on baggage looking for drugs.

In my case, the inspecting officer actually sniffed my iPad, leading me to believe he was either heeding
New York Fed President Bill Dudley’s culinary advice, or honestly thought that I could manage to pack the circuitry full of cocaine without damaging the touch screen functionality.

After that is yet another line for final customs clearing. The whole process takes 2-hours on a good day.

Each of these people along the way has a job… yet not a single one of them is adding any value or gaining any valuable experience. The net effect of such policies cascading across the entire economy has been unmitigated wealth destruction.

Deep down, Bolivia is a nice country. It’s incredibly cheap, the people are friendly, the women are attractive, and the weather is quite nice. But it truly takes a special person to be able to deal with the constant misgivings and inefficiencies in this centrally planned state.

When I compare Bolivia to it’s southern neighbor Chile– clean, modern, developed, civilized, market-oriented– it’s a night and day difference.

Fundamentally, these are the same people who have taken two completely different paths. One leads to wealth and is a great example of how a pro-market, limited government can benefit society. The other leads to poverty, and is the clearest example of what happens when politicians drive an economy.

Where do you stand– is it possible to eradicate poverty by giving out money for free? Let me know what you think.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black
Senior Editor, SovereignMan.com

This article appears courtesy of SovereignMan.com: Notes From The
Field
, a free newsletter dedicated to individual freedom,
internationalization, asset protection and global finance. For a
complimentary subscription, visit http://www.SovereignMan.com

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