While traveling across Europe recently, Sovereign Man’s CEO (Viktorija) became quite ill and needed some urgent medical treatment. First, she’s doing fine, and we’re grateful for that. Second, it’s not COVID. I know that in the collective mind of most of the world, and for especially public health experts, no other disease exists except for COVID. In the US, for example, CDC data on influenza show that, in a ‘normal year’ (2019, for example), the hospitalization rate for patients with influenza is around 65 per 100,000 people. But, miraculously, in 2020/2021, the hospitalization rate for influenza dropped 99%, down to just 0.8 patients per 100,000 people. Do these people actually expect anyone to take this data seriously? Are we honestly supposed to believe that they managed to virtually eradicate the flu? Or is it possible that, maybe just maybe, the hospital system is counting influenza cases as COVID? Perhaps all that government COVID data isn’t as accurate as they claim. Anyhow I digress-- back to our CEO. She started feeling some terrible abdominal pain last week that persisted for several days. On Tuesday she was in such bad shape that I urged her to go to the Emergency Room. She’s presently visiting family in Lithuania, so she went to the best private clinic in the country, located just outside of the capital city of Vilnius. When she video called me a few hours later to check in, she was hooked up to an IV in a private room, clearly feeling much better. But she admitted to me that she was concerned about how much the bill would be. She had been undoubtedly scarred by a medical procedure in the US several years ago where the hospital bill rang up to more than $150,000, and she was terrified the clinic in Lithuania would charge her the same. “Relax,” I told her, “it’s probably going to be a couple of thousand euros.” We were both wrong. The total bill for her Emergency Room visit was 140 euros… about $163 at today’s exchange rate. We write a lot in this column about the importance of having a Plan B, and specifically the importance of having a second passport or residency. The idea is to ensure that, no matter what happens, you and your family will always have another place to go. It’s the ultimate insurance policy. And just like a flood or fire insurance policy that covers your house, you hope you’ll never have to use it. But you’ll damn glad you have it in case the worst ever happens. Unlike a fire or flood insurance policy, however, having a second residency or citizenship is an insurance policy that can provide a lot of extra benefits. As Viktorija’s case shows, one of those benefits might be access to inexpensive, high quality medical care. She tells us all about her experiences in today’s podcast, as well as the “beautiful mess” of vaccine passports that’s breaking out across Europe. In Lithuania right now, for example, there are plenty of businesses standing up to vaccine passports, insisting that they’ll continue to serve unvaccinated customers. She also tells us about how she recently traveled through an airport in Europe where no one was wearing masks. It’s a great story-- you can listen in here.
D'autres épisodes de "Sovereign Man"
How to become a billionaire… even if it takes 200 years
21:49It’s a simple question of arithmetic. Imagine you could go back in time to 1871 and ask one of your long lost ancestors to invest $2,500 for the benefit of future generations. That amount of money wasn’t insignificant… but certainly not a major fortune; it would be worth roughly $50,000 in today’s money. When placed in the right structure, and benefiting from compounding returns over the next 150 years, that $2,500 initial investment would be worth an astounding $1.4 BILLION today. Now, sadly none of us owns a time machine. But we do have the power to be that long lost ancestor to future generations. In other words, there’s little stopping you from setting aside some savings in a long-term structure-- like a trust, or even a smart contract-- that could have an enormous impact on the future. $50,000 invested in the right structure today at, say, a 10% compounding return, will be worth $73 billion in 150 years. Granted we’ll all most likely be long gone by then. And inflation will definitely have eaten up a large chunk of that return. But it’s still going to be an enormous amount of money. And with the right planning, you have the power to decide, today, how that money will be spent and allocated in the future. If you wanted to, you could leave behind strict instructions (which are legally binding) to have the assets liquidated at a certain point in the future, and donated to your favorite charity. Or you could provide future trustees the discretion to make certain donations based on causes that are important to you today. The point is that it’s possible to continue growing your wealth long after you’re gone, and to still exercise significant control over how it can impact the world and future generations. This is the topic for today’s Freedom Podcast, which you can listen to here.
Does anyone honestly believe that inflation is ‘transitory’ anymore?
32:37In the early summer of 1514, Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon returned home to the court of King Ferdinand as a hero. De Leon was among the first of Spain’s conquistadors to discover gold-- right here in Puerto Rico. And that was enough for him to be knighted and bestowed all sorts of royal honors. By that time, Europe had been suffering a shortage of gold and silver for nearly a century; mines and mints had closed down all across the continent, triggering what economic historians call ‘The Great Bullion Famine’ in the mid 1400s. So the supply of money, i.e. gold and silver, was essentially stagnant. Technically European money supply was falling, because most European kingdoms ran a trade deficit with Asia and the Middle East. Yet at the same time, European economies were finally starting to grow again following the consequences of the Black Plague and the Hundred Years War. English wool production, for example, nearly tripled between the mid 1400s and the early 1500s. So with more goods and services being produced at a time that money supply was falling, prices declined. This essentially what deflation is. Wages, rents, and food prices in Spain, for example, dropped 25% over a century, according to economic historian E.J. Hamilton. Now that actually sounds pretty good. But to Europe’s rulers, this deflation was a total catastrophe. And it sparked a number of international expeditions to find more gold. Ponce de Leon was just one of many conquistadors to discover rich mineral deposits in Latin America… and then enslave the local populations to mine them. The end result was a veritable mountain of gold being transported back to Spain, triggering a flood of new money into Europe’s economies. Suddenly there was a surge in the money supply… yet roughly the same amount of goods and services being produced. You can probably imagine what happened next: inflation. These are clearly simple concepts; it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to understand that, when you flood the financial system with money, it’s going to have an impact on prices. That was true in Spain in the 1500s. And it’s true today as well. Earlier this year when the government announced sharply higher inflation for the month of March, the Federal Reserve deemed the inflation to be ‘transitory’. That was six months ago. Inflation has surged even higher since then. It’s not hard to understand why. First off-- the Fed expanded the money supply last year more than in any other year in US history except for 1943. That’s obviously going to have an impact. At the same time, the government forced businesses to close… and then paid people to stay home and NOT work. So essentially we had a LOT more money in the system, but far fewer goods and services being produced. This has predictably created substantial inflation. Here’s what’s really interesting, though. In its announcement yesterday, the Fed tacitly acknowledged this big inflation problem. They understand that their zero interest rate policy and their bonanza of money printing are both driving prices higher. They also understand that inflation is a MAJOR concern. But then they essentially said, “Yeah, we’ll get to it in a couple of months.” This was astonishing. To give you an example, the Fed has been engaged in a ‘bond buying’ program… which means that they’re flooding the financial system with $120 billion per month in new money. This is definitely a major factor that contributes to inflation. Yet according to its announcement yesterday, the Fed is not even going to START the process of terminating this program until November. And even then, it will take them until the middle of NEXT YEAR before it’s been fully wound up. What’s more, the Fed suggests that they might start raising interest rates by the end of 2022… and only HALF of the voting members think that’s a good idea. Unreal.
… where the real estate isn’t insanely overpriced
43:13When Gideon Gono became the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in late 2003, his country was already suffering from terrible hyperinflation. Throughout the 1990s, inflation in Zimbabwe averaged well over 20%. And just a few years later inflation had reached 200%. That’s when Zimbabwe’s government hired Gideon Gono to fix the inflation problem. Gono had a reputation as a sharp, competent banker. He had previously been the managing director of Zimbabwe’s largest bank-- Bank of Credit and Commerce-- so the government thought that Gono had the skills to turn Zimbabwe’s economy around. Despite his keen understanding of money and finance, however, Gono’s policies plunged Zimbabwe even further into hyperinflation. Inflation was running at 600% per year when Gono took over the central bank. And at first, inflation fell to ‘only’ 133%. But by 2007, four years into his term, inflation in Zimbabwe reached more than 60,000%. And by the end of 2008, nearly 80 BILLION percent. Such figures are incomprehensible. I’ve been to Zimbabwe several times and have heard a number of first-hand accounts from residents who lived through this period. There were food shortages, fuel shortages, electricity shortages, and more. Unemployment skyrocketed. Crime rates soared. It was complete and total despair. What could have possibly caused such chaos? Simple. Gono printed absurd quantities of money. And that tidal wave of money flooding into Zimbabwe’s economy caused prices to spiral out of control. By 2006 they had to issue a new currency, essentially chopping a few zeros off of the old currency. Then they started printing million, billion, and trillion dollar bank notes, with which you could barely buy a loaf of bread. In his later memoirs, Gono acknowledged the inflationary risks of his actions. He knew that prices would rise. But as he explains, the situation was so bad that the only sensible course of action was to keep printing more money! Gono’s book, Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges, reads something like Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War… or Andrew Cuomo’s ridiculous book on leadership during Covid. They’re all fairly pompous and self-aggrandizing; Gono even defends his actions, saying “To ensure that my people survive, I had to print money. I found myself doing extraordinary things that aren’t in textbooks.” He’s a true hero. It’s ironic, however, that Gono is considered almost a joke among central bankers for failing to control hyperinflation, and he’s soundly criticized for having printing so much money. Yet in an interview with Newsweek, it was Gono wagging his fingers at Western central bankers, saying, “The whole world is now practicing what they have been saying I should not. . .” In other words, most central banks in the world have resorted to printing unimaginable quantities of money, just like Gono did. What’s interesting is that Gono made those comments back in 2009-- during the first Global Financial Crisis. Central banks responded to the big crash back then by printing money and expanding their balance sheets; the Federal Reserve, for example, created so much money after the financial crisis that its own balance sheet increased from $850 billion (in 2008) to more than $4 trillion by early 2020. And then Covid happened. In the last 18 months or so, the Fed has printed so much money that its balance sheet now stands at more than $8.3 trillion. That’s nearly TEN TIMES the size from 2008, before the last financial crisis. By comparison, the US economy has grown 23% in ‘real’, i.e. inflation-adjusted terms since 2008. So, the last 13 years has seen 23% real economic growth… and 946% growth in money supply. Last year in particular, M2 money supply grew at a higher rate than any other year in US history aside from 1944. And in completely unrelated news, US inflation over the past several months is near its highest level in more t...
COVID freedom in an unfree world
35:34It’s not generally in my nature to heap praise upon a place with a 53% tax rate, a 25% VAT, or one of the top ten highest tax burdens in the world. But as I often remark, nearly every place in the world has something great going for it… some unique competitive advantages that set it apart from its peers, balanced against a multitude of disadvantages. Iran is a great example; it suffers from long-term economic decay, constant sanctions, and an authoritarian government. Its disadvantages are numerous. But at the same time the country is an archaeological dream, full of well-preserved ruins from civilizations so old that they were studied by ancient Greek scholars. This is a unique advantage. And for a few people, that sole advantage may outweigh Iran’s numerous disadvantages. After all, everyone has his/her own particular set of priorities. Another example: earlier this year when my wife and I were planning out the birth of our child, we chose to have the baby in Mexico. It was a deliberate decision made after careful consideration of our priorities. We wanted extremely high quality and personalized care from physicians, midwives, etc. who would be available to us around the clock. And I didn’t want COVID restrictions factoring into the birth at all. I wasn’t going to risk being in a place where local rules or hospital policy would have forced my wife to wear a mask during labor… or to keep me out of the delivery room. We very rationally laid out our priorities. And after some research and investigation, we landed on Cancun. For us, it was an incredible decision. Cancun, and Mexico in general, are far from perfect; there are certainly plenty of disadvantages. But for my particular priorities at that moment in time, it was absolutely the right place for me. And that leads me to Sweden. There are plenty of disadvantages. High taxes. High cost of living. Cold weather and lack of sunshine. But for some people those problems might be outweighed by Sweden’s long-standing COVID freedom. To this day there are still countless cities, towns, states, and provinces around the world that continue to restrict freedom. They’ve created first and second class citizenships based solely on someone’s vaccine status. It doesn’t matter if an individual has a severe medical condition-- like an autoimmune disorder, for which the FDA itself states, “no data are currently available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people with autoimmune conditions.” Yet if someone, under advice of their physician, chooses to delay being vaccinated until more data is available for their particular condition, they can be denied basic freedoms, including being a functioning member of society, or potentially having a job. On the other hand, a registered sex offender with a bad case of tuberculosis is welcome with open arms. Politicians and policymakers have also waffled on mask mandates, school openings, and more. Sweden has famously taken a completely different approach during the pandemic-- one that they have been constantly derided for in the woke media. But Sweden’s generally light touch with COVID has proven to be quite effective; they did not suffer the economic devastation. And more importantly they did not suffer the mental health devastation. Sweden has not dehumanized its population… nor cultivated a mentality where people view others as filthy, disease-infested vermin rather than friends and neighbors. And yet their COVID track record is just as good, if not better, than its peers in North America and Western Europe. Again, Sweden is not without its challenges and silly rules. But we thought it was worth investigating further… so I asked our CEO Viktorija to spend some time there are report on her findings. She tells us all about it in today’s podcast; you can listen in here.
How long will the US dollar’s dominance last?
58:01301 AD was a big year for the Roman Empire. That was the year that, amid spiraling inflation, Emperor Diocletian issued his Edict on Maximum Prices, essentially fixing prices of just about everything across the Roman Empire. The price of wheat, a day labor’s wages, a quart of olive oil, transportation rates-- everything was established by the Emperor’s edict, and enforced under penalty of death. Diocletian’s edict infamously didn’t work, and the empire plunged into even more severe inflation. The other big event of 301 AD was the introduction of the solidus gold coin, roughly 4.5 grams of nearly pure gold. And while the Romans had a history of debasing their other coins, like the silver denarius and sesterce, the government actually did a pretty good job maintaining the value and purity of the gold solidus. Even hundreds of years later, after the western empire in Rome had fallen to the barbarians, and imperial power was concentrated in Byzantium, the gold solidus was still approximately as pure as it was in the early 300s. That’s an extraordinary track record for currency stability. Confidence in the gold solidus was so high, in fact, that various tribes and kingdoms around the world used the coin for trade and savings. This became a source of pride for the Byzantine Empire; Justinian I, who ruled in the mid 500s, stated that the solidus was “accepted everywhere from end to end of the Earth,” and that it was “admired by all men in all kingdoms, because no kingdom has a currency that can be compared to it.” It wasn’t until the mid 11th century, more than seven centuries after the introduction of the solidus, that an Emperor began to debase the currency. Just like Hemingway described going bankrupt, the debasement of the solidus was gradual… then sudden. Emperor Constantine IX, who ruled from 1042 to 1055, reduced the gold purity down to 87.5%. His successor brought it down to 75%. By the end of the century it had been reduced to just 33%. The rest of the world took notice. The Byzantine Empire’s political, economic, and military power were waning. And with the rapid debasement of the solidus, international traders looked for other options. Soon the rising Italian city states, particularly Venice and Florence, began minting their own gold coins; Italy was rapidly becoming the dominant economic power in Europe, so their ducats and florins became widely accepted, essentially replacing Byzantine coins for international trade. Throughout history, in fact, reserve currencies have routinely changed, just as frequently as power and wealth shift. For example, the Spanish real de ocho was the dominant reserve currency for hundreds of years, just as the Spanish Empire was the dominant power in the world. But eventually Spain’s wealth and power waned, and the real de ocho was replaced. The Dutch guilder dominated European trade in the 1600s and 1700s, just as the Netherlands’ wealth and power soared. Yet they were displaced by the British Empire and pound sterling in the 1800s and early 1900s. Both the United States and the US dollar have held this status for the last 80 years. And at the moment this is still the case. History, however, is very clear on this point: wealth and power shift. Reserve currencies change. And it would be foolish to assume that this time is different. Reserve currencies hold their status because the rest of the world has confidence-- confidence in the soundness of the currency, confidence in the power and prestige of the country that issues it. But let’s be honest: the rest of the world is probably not brimming with confidence in the United States right now. They’re looking at this shameful, disgraceful catastrophe in Afghanistan and wondering, “Is this seriously the world’s dominant superpower?” But it’s more than Afghanistan. It’s endless deficits. It’s ridiculous spending initiatives that pay people to stay home and NOT work.
The $163 emergency room visit
41:17While traveling across Europe recently, Sovereign Man’s CEO (Viktorija) became quite ill and needed some urgent medical treatment. First, she’s doing fine, and we’re grateful for that. Second, it’s not COVID. I know that in the collective mind of most of the world, and for especially public health experts, no other disease exists except for COVID. In the US, for example, CDC data on influenza show that, in a ‘normal year’ (2019, for example), the hospitalization rate for patients with influenza is around 65 per 100,000 people. But, miraculously, in 2020/2021, the hospitalization rate for influenza dropped 99%, down to just 0.8 patients per 100,000 people. Do these people actually expect anyone to take this data seriously? Are we honestly supposed to believe that they managed to virtually eradicate the flu? Or is it possible that, maybe just maybe, the hospital system is counting influenza cases as COVID? Perhaps all that government COVID data isn’t as accurate as they claim. Anyhow I digress-- back to our CEO. She started feeling some terrible abdominal pain last week that persisted for several days. On Tuesday she was in such bad shape that I urged her to go to the Emergency Room. She’s presently visiting family in Lithuania, so she went to the best private clinic in the country, located just outside of the capital city of Vilnius. When she video called me a few hours later to check in, she was hooked up to an IV in a private room, clearly feeling much better. But she admitted to me that she was concerned about how much the bill would be. She had been undoubtedly scarred by a medical procedure in the US several years ago where the hospital bill rang up to more than $150,000, and she was terrified the clinic in Lithuania would charge her the same. “Relax,” I told her, “it’s probably going to be a couple of thousand euros.” We were both wrong. The total bill for her Emergency Room visit was 140 euros… about $163 at today’s exchange rate. We write a lot in this column about the importance of having a Plan B, and specifically the importance of having a second passport or residency. The idea is to ensure that, no matter what happens, you and your family will always have another place to go. It’s the ultimate insurance policy. And just like a flood or fire insurance policy that covers your house, you hope you’ll never have to use it. But you’ll damn glad you have it in case the worst ever happens. Unlike a fire or flood insurance policy, however, having a second residency or citizenship is an insurance policy that can provide a lot of extra benefits. As Viktorija’s case shows, one of those benefits might be access to inexpensive, high quality medical care. She tells us all about her experiences in today’s podcast, as well as the “beautiful mess” of vaccine passports that’s breaking out across Europe. In Lithuania right now, for example, there are plenty of businesses standing up to vaccine passports, insisting that they’ll continue to serve unvaccinated customers. She also tells us about how she recently traveled through an airport in Europe where no one was wearing masks. It’s a great story-- you can listen in here.
2020 called, it wants its chaotic public health policy back
1:00:27Think back to where you were two years ago today. For me, I was in Trakai, Lithuania. It was Day 4 of our 10th annual Sovereign Academy entrepreneurship camp. My dear friends Bill and Marco were giving a joint lecture to the students on hiring, firing, and building culture within a business. Craig Ballantyne was up next with a talk about Instagram marketing. And I was going to finish up the afternoon with a presentation on sales and negotiation. Maybe you were on holiday. Or, since August 4, 2019 was a Sunday, perhaps you were spending a relaxing weekend with family and friends. Now imagine if someone had come up to you two years ago and said-- A few months from now, a novel Coronavirus will spread around the world. The virus will definitely be a problem, and a LOT of people will needlessly die. Yet government data will eventually show the virus to have a 98.3% survival rate… and a survival rate of more than 99.8% for people under the age of 75 who aren’t morbidly obese. Despite this data, however, the virus will be treated as the worst thing in the history of the world by politicians, the media, and unelected public health officials. They will wage a crusade to eradicate the world of this virus, no matter the cost. They will systematically dismantle the core pillars of modern society, from private property rights to individual liberty. Some of the most advanced representative democracies in the world, like Australia, will literally deploy the military to the streets in order to keep people locked in their homes… essentially at gunpoint. And governments will indebt themselves by tens of trillions of dollars, going so far as to pay people to stay at home and NOT work. Politicians will assume unlimited spending authority and use the pandemic as an excuse for every entitlement pet project they’ve ever conceived. Inflation around the world will surge as a result of this orgy of debt and money printing, but central bankers will dismiss the data and pretend that everything is fine. Meanwhile, the scientific community will lose all objectivity. They’ll claim, for example, that protesters against racial injustice are exempt from following public health lockdowns because of their moral righteousness. Yet simultaneously they’ll say that people protesting against public health lockdowns are a danger to society. Pharmaceuticals companies will be given total immunity from prosecution and liability to develop a host of vaccines to combat the spread of the virus. The initial clinical trial data will show significant promise in keeping people safe from severe infection. However long-term studies, by definition, will not exist for a number of years. Despite these limitations, world governments will push these vaccines on the global population. Some will make vaccination mandatory; others will subjugate the unvaccinated population and take away their most basic freedoms until they submit. Personal choice will no longer be an option. Anyone who hesitates or dares ask a question will be ridiculed as a selfish murder by social media. And the Big Tech companies will squash intellectual dissent. Even prize-winning, highly respected scientists will be censored for expressing views that don’t conform to the official narrative. And then, after nearly 18 months, just when you think the pandemic is over, a new variant will emerge… and public health officials will go right back to the same policies all over again. If someone had said this to you two years ago, you might have thought they were completely delusional. And yet, all of it has happened. It’s been a long time since I’ve written about this topic. That’s partly because of my wishful thinking that the worst had subsided. But to be perfectly honest, I’ve also steered clear of the topic lately because I didn’t feel like being canceled by Big Tech. (It turns out that trying to appease Big Tech is a dumb idea; YouTube tempor...
Most so-called ‘Socialists’ know nothing about Socialism
47:52By the summer of 1849, Karl Marx was still an obscure writer struggling to make an impact. He had published The Communist Manifesto-- a short, 23-page pamphlet-- the previous year in 1848. But as yet it had failed to catch on. Marx was operating a fledgling newspaper in Germany at the time. But he kept getting in trouble with the German tax authorities for failure to pay taxes. (This taxation double-standard still exists today. Marxists LOVE high taxes… but only if they’re not the ones paying.) That’s why Marx was forced to leave Germany (technically Prussia) in 1849-- after having also been previously expelled from France and Belgium too. Marx infuriated the local authorities so much, in fact, that he was also denied Prussian citizenship. This made him officially stateless. And in an ironic twist of fate, Marx ended up in Great Britain-- the wealthiest country in the world at the time, and the birthplace of modern capitalism. The reason was simple: Britain had few barriers to entry for immigrants-- something that was quite rare in the 19th century. Thousands upon thousands of refugees, exiles, and radicals immigrated to London as a result. Marx was among them. Yet the fact that he had benefited from the laissez-faire policies of this free market society did not change Marx’s views on capitalism. He still hated the system and blamed it for everything that went wrong. Marx and his family lived in abject poverty in their earliest years in London. He constantly had debt collectors knocking on his door, and landlords routinely evicted him from his home. Of course, people don’t realize the real cause of Marx’s financial troubles was that he almost never had job. He thought it was degrading to work so that someone else could profit from your labor. So he simply refused to work. Marx subjected his family to live in filthy, squalid conditions, and his children often went without food. In fact only three of his seven children even survived to adulthood. Yet Marx still refused to work. And he continued to whine that capitalism was the source of his economic hardship; not once did Marx turn the lens onto his own fanaticism as the root cause of his poverty. This is also ironic, because modern day socialist and communist parties love to praise workers and talk about giving benefits to the working class. It’s just like taxation: Marxists love work… as long as they’re not the ones actually doing it. Honestly the entire Marxist philosophy is complete hypocritical. And there are people today who call themselves Marxists (like the BLM co-founders, who are self-avowed Marxists). Yet they probably don’t have the foggiest idea that their patron saint literally watched his children go hungry because he’d rather complain about capitalism than go get a job. Socialists are the same way; even though (according to a recent Axios poll) 41% of Americans view socialism in a positive light, most of these people don’t actually understand the first thing about socialism. When they say ‘socialism’ they think it means Sweden, free university, and six weeks of paid vacation. They have no idea how wrong they are. One key difference that people fail to understand is that, while Marx despised capitalism, he never made it personal. He didn’t shame individual people for their success, or automatically assume that rich people were evil. The only reason Marx was lifted out of poverty, in fact, was because a wealthy capitalist gave him money. In our modern world, however, so-called socialists love to make it personal. They ridicule people on social media because of their success. Activist newspapers illegally leak confidential tax information in an effort to ‘name and shame’ wealthy people. Even Marx didn’t stoop to that level. This is the topic of our podcast today: Marxism, socialism, and communism… and why most people who claim to embrace these ideas don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
Why Warren Buffett may be wrong about America’s future
29:27Nearly every year in his annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters, Warren Buffett spends a few pages talking about the dynamism of the American economy. His message is clear: the United States has faced adversity before. It will again. But America always prevails and you should never bet against it. That theme has certainly held true during Buffett’s life. He was born in 1930 and came of age at a time when the US had become the world’s undisputed dominant superpower. Buffett’s entire business career, in fact, took place at a time when America was on the rise. But even Buffett would have to acknowledge that times have changed. Today the government is obsessed with passing regulations that create obstacles to growth and new business formation. They’d rather pay people to stay home and NOT work rather than encourage production and innovation. They rack up enormous quantities of debt without a single thought to the long-term consequences. They engineer inflation. They stifle competition. And they constantly ridicule anyone who took a chance, worked hard, and became successful. Not only do they want to raise your taxes, they want to shame you because of your hard work and success. Buffett knows this now from personal experience. Last month, in an effort to make wealthy people look bad, Buffett’s private personal tax returns were illegally leaked on the Internet for everyone to see. He never had to deal with that sort of rage before in his life. Moreover, when Buffett was a young man, he never had to contend with fanatical mob of woke Marxists. And he never knew a time when the biggest companies in America bent the knee in subservience to them. And while there have always been small groups of Communist sympathizers and socialists in America, Buffett made his fortune at a time when the vast majority of people understood the awesome, prosperity-generating powers of a capitalist system. But today, socialism is totally mainstream, with New York Magazine last month proclaiming that “Socialism isn’t a dirty word anymore.” And according to a recent Axios poll, most Gen Z (ages 18-24) have a negative view of capitalism. Bottom line, the America of today is not the same America where Buffett made his fortune. This isn’t to say that there aren’t extraordinary opportunities to create wealth and become successful. Of course there are-- opportunities abound everywhere, both within the US, and around the world. But it would be foolish to ignore these trends, or the fact that the country may be past its economic and political peak. To paraphrase former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, how much longer can the worlds biggest debtor continue being the world’s biggest superpower? How much longer can a country which debases its currency, embraces socialism, silences intellectual dissent, brainwashes its youth, and encourages unproductive behavior, continue being the world’s most dynamic economy? These are not controversial statements. They’re relevant, important questions that any independent-minded person might consider. This is the topic of today’s podcast, which you can watch here (on YouTube) or here (on SovereignMan.tv), or listen to here:
Why a second residency abroad makes so much sense
1:18:14The most astute investors in the world understand that there is no such thing as a risk-free investment. Every investment carries at least some risk; stocks, bonds, venture capital, real estate... even something as simple as keeping money in a bank.… they all carry some degree of risk. Sharp investors take steps to identify and hedge their risks, so if the worst happens, they’ll still be protected. Stock market investors, for example, might purchase ‘put options’ which increase in value in the event that their stocks fall. That way, if there’s a crash, the investor is protected from any major losses. Bondholders often purchase credit default swaps, which is like an insurance policy in case the bond issuer defaults. And real estate investors routinely buy insurance to mitigate the risk of property damage caused by fire, flood, and hail. These are all sensible precautions that can dramatically reduce an investors’ risk. And this is ultimately what a Plan B is all about-- taking sensible steps to reduce obvious, often substantial risks. Inflation is an easy example; we’ve long argued that misguided government and central bank policies (like paying people to stay home and NOT work, or conjuring trillions of dollars out of thin air) would eventually create painful levels of inflation. This was a significant risk, but one that could be mitigated with certain investments (like gold, which is up 16% since the start of the pandemic, or silver which is up nearly 60%.) But there are plenty of risks that don’t have anything to do with money or finance. Over the past year, for example, we’ve seen an aggressive erosion of our freedom, angry mobs hijacking our children’s education, increased tensions with China, etc. These are all obvious risks. And one type of ‘insurance policy’ to protect against these sorts of non-financial risks is looking abroad and making sure that you and your family always have another place to go. That means having either a second passport, or at a minimum, legal residency in another country. Like any other insurance policy, you might never need to use it. No one goes to bed at night complaining that they haven’t been able to ‘cash in’ on their home’s fire insurance policy. But if you ever really need it, you’ll be extremely happy that you took the steps to set up residency in another country. Besides, there’s very limited downside in having another option to travel and live somewhere, especially if it’s a place that you and your family really enjoy spending time. This is the topic of our podcast today; Viktorija is actually in Panama at the moment applying for residency there, and she recently obtained legal residency in Mexico too. We talk about both of those, and much more. You can watch it here (on YouTube) or here (on SovereignMan.tv). Or can access the podcast here: