I am not a number. I am a free man. No 6 in The Prisoner
I probably don’t need to remind you of the precarious nature of our existing political and social systems. What, on the surface, appears permanent - something we have got used to during our own lifetime - can suddenly look very fragile. I’m talking about the potential impact of economic crisis and dislocation. This possiblity is very real as I write this. Various stresses and strains are building up under our political and economic foundations and hidden tectonic power shifts are under way - even if they are not clearly visible right now.
Just take one example. As of writing a number of nations are in serious economic trouble. And I’m not talking about obvious “banana republics”. No, I’m referring to ”old world” countries in Europe - including the United Kingdom. And even more surprisingly, also the USA.
Over the past decades each of these countries has lived in a mirage economy created by debt. The whole social welfare/socialist experiment has been built on the shakey foundations of deliberate devaluation of paper money, income transfers, and passing the financial buck on to future generations. But the game may be up.
Take the danger of a sovereign debt default. This is where a country gets itself into such a financial hole that it is unable to borrow without paying ever higher interest rates. This type of national borrowing is done through the issuance of sovereign bonds, which have historically been considered as a “safe-haven” asset class, due to the expected reliability and permanence of the government in question. However, when any government has deficit that approaches or exceeds 100% of its GDP, then the bond markets demand a greater rate of return (interest). This in turn pushes up the borrowing costs for the nation concerned, creating what is in effect a debt trap - where more and more of the nation’s income is eaten up in servicing such debt.
Trouble is, the only way out of this (apart from an actual debt default and devaluation) is to cut back on government expenditure. This may sound entirely logical and rational, but due to the dynamics of western democracies, which all have significant welfare expenditure in place, the options for cutting back are not great.
The very fact of democracy makes governments more concerned about short-term gains rather than long term consequences. And any serious financial cut-backs would have to include cutting back the various entitlement programmes - something which the recipients would be loath to give up! This could easily get ugly as a result. If any nation state starts to get serious about living within its means, then the blowback from disgrunted residents and welfare recipients could get quite nasty, with riots, strikes and other forms of civil unrest.
If it gets bad enough it would naturally provoke a state reaction in the way of increased police powers and various “lock-downs” - even military rule. This would escalate the problem, leading to more draconian “emergency” laws and more civil unrest as a result. And if the worst came to pass, then things could get completely out of hand - and civil disorder could turn into widespread lawlessness.
I’m sure you can see the potential consequences in such a scenario for you and your loved ones. No one wants to find themselves in a full-blown break-up of the social order - something which is entirely possible, given the nature of the political and economic problems that exist.
The solution is to have some “insurance” in place. And what type of insurance would cover such an unpleasant eventuality? I’m talking about having a second residence or passport up your sleeve. Now while this may deem drastic, I can assure you it’s not. It’s like having fire insurance for your home. The odds your house will actually burn down are not that great, but you still purchase insurance cover in case of a worst-case scenario. Same goes for residency/citizenship insurance.
If you are living in any country where such a “debt bomb” is possible, then your only hope of preserving your freedom would be to make a quick exit to somewhere safer. But unless you have pre-planned for such an eventuality, you will not have many options.
A second residency or citizenship is therefore not a luxury, but a necessity in this fast-changing world. Being able to buy an airline ticket and fly somewhere else - somewhere far from potential trouble spots - is the ultimate in “peace of mind” insurance. And while such a strategy may seem strange and difficult to you right now, I can assure you it’s nowhere near as difficult as you think. There are literally many places that could offer a safehaven should you need one - and it pays to think long-term on such matters and investigate the options available to you while you still have the time and freedom to do so.
As a virtual “prisoner” of the country you were born into (via immigration and passport controls) the only way to increase your freedom is to have more than one passport or residency up your sleeve. And I certainly recommend you give this your serious attention.
Liberty is the seed and soil, the air and light, the dew and rain of progress, love and joy.Robert G Ingersoll
I’m sure you realise that one of the greatest barriers to freedom of movement is likely to be one’s job or career. And while it’s certainly possible to uproot yourself and start over again in another country - if offered the right opportunity - it’s not an easy choice to make.
The fact is, in many ways one’s present work is a millstone around one’s neck. If it’s a typical employment situation then obviously one’s freedom is restricted by the terms of such employment. But even if one is self-employed, such a situation can easily become a prison of one’s own making - with all the limitations of a normal job, albeit a job that you created for yourself.
If you’ve read any of Robert Kiyosaki’s books, you’ll be aware of his Cashflow Quandrant concept - where you can identify yourself as either an “E” - employed person, an “S” - a self-employed person, an “I” - a professional investor, or a “B” - a business owner. And if you’re familiar with those definitions you’ll recall how financialfreedom is to be found in the “I” and “B” quadrants - as either an investor or business owner. However, keep in mind that by “business-owner” Kiyosaki is referring to those who own a business - a fully functioning and staffed enterprise that does not require the full-time imput of the owner.
The desire for financial freedom is a natural component of any desire to be free, because self-sufficiency in money provides the means to make choices in life. It may be popular to denigrate money as somehow “dirty” or “tainted” or below some people’s moral horizon, but the truth is that money is a tool of freedom. If you have no money your choices are severely restricted. On the other hand, the more money you have, the more choices - and hence more freedom - you have.
Ever since the popular usage of the internet took hold, during the mid-nineties, a completely new way of doing business has presented itself. I recall this clearly myself - when I first got on the net in 1996. It didn’t take me long to realise that the internet was a revolutionary tool for freedom, as it provided a completely new way for people all over the world to interract with each other. And one “interraction” that stood out to me was the obviousbusiness potential.
By 1998 I had started my first internet business, and was amazed at the leverage it created by providing an economical means of reaching a global market. Just think of the comparison between “main street” and “cyber street”. On one hand the cost of getting started in business on “main street”, and of maintaining such a business, can be astronomical (real estate, rent, stock, overheads etc.) On the other hand, the cost of getting started and maintaining a business online is negligible by comparison.
This has opened the door to the possibility of doing business with the whole world, from the comfort of your own home - with nothing more than a computer and internet connection. Typical online business costs are ridiculously low - things like domain registration, website hosting, software requirements. And even advertising is revolutionised by such services as Google Adwords, where you only pay for results. Try that on with your typical “old world” newspaper or TV station!
Perhaps the most powerful potential benefit of the internet is the opportunity it presents, to anyone motivated to act on it, for creating a portable business online. By “portable” I mean a business that can be operated from anywhere on earth where there’s an internet connection. The freedom acquired by having such a portable business is unprecedented, when compared with pre-internet times.
What this means is that not only can you do your banking offshore, protect your assets offshore and invest offshore, but you can literally live offshore if you so choose. This represents a major paradigm shift. No longer does anyone have to put up with a miserable day job, or work at something that bores them silly, or struggle on “main street” trying to beat the financial odds of making a success of business. All that has now changed. The business playing field has suddenly become more open, level and free - and all due to the opportunity created by the internet.
All you need is a good idea, a product or service in demand, an identifiable market, a working knowledge of online business methodologies, and the ability to generate traffic to a dedicated website - and you’re in business!
I’ve proven this to myself for over 12 years now, and there is no other way I’d want to work - for myself, on my own terms, according to my own interests, and whenever and wherever I want. It’s worked for me, and if you’re looking to discover the ultimate freedom ”tool”, then a portable occupation is the key, and it could work for you too.
Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.Warren Buffett
One of the greatest fallacies is to believe that the best investments can only be found “at home”. The fact is that most of the growth is occurring in the emerging markets, and hence some of the best opportunities are likely to be found in Asia.
In many ways, investing offshore involves the same paradigm shift in thinking that’s required for banking offshore - a willingness to step outside your habitual comfort zone and peer into the whole wide world. It also offers opportunities to build your wealth faster.
But the most important thing to consider, when investing anywhere, is the nature of the investments and the potential for profit. It’s not enough to simply jump in to a rising stockmarket, hoping for the best, because at many times the stockmarket is little more than a casino where investor psychology is the main factor - both negative and positive. And while it’s tempting to climb on an apparently successful “bandwagon”, the current global economic environment suggests caution.
Why? Because ever since the mortgage-backed securities debacle and the prime-pumping of economies by governments of all countries, there is the real potential for more “bubbles” and the inevitable collapse that follows. And nowhere is that truer than for the stockmarket.
An important factor in any offshore investing strategy is to determine your own level of risk-tolerance - whether you’re looking for modest but relatively safe returns, or whether you’re prepared to go after more aggressive profits with perhaps higher risk.
Some categories of investment are of obvious interest in the current environment - including energy, commodities (which include gold and silver), global food producers and specialist high-tech companies. The trick is to know which companies and which opportunities.
When it comes to investing in stocks, you basically have two options - to seek profit in the share price itself, via an active trading strategy, or to seek long-term returns via dividend yield and solid companies. The latter is similar to investing in property, where you hold such properties for the long term - generating income via rental returns. Both property investing and value share investing offer good opportunities at present. And when you factor in the access to such in international arena, there is plenty to choose from.
One of the things to be wary of on the internet is the apparent “easy money” to be had in the forex market. Over the last few years a number of such investing vehicles have popped up - offering tempting potential monthly returns. However, I should warn that unless you truly know what you are doing, it’s much easier to lose money than make it. And even if you do have a good run, all can be lost again in a single day.
The other issue to be concerned about is scams - both obvious and hidden. By “obvious” I mean the various “advance fee” scams that abound - which invariably involve you paying money first without seeing the promised returns. These should be clearly indentifiable to any astute person of course. However, never a days goes by without my receiving such offers via my own email box, and one can only assume that such scamsters are still having easy pickings among naive people.
What is more worrisome is the prevalence of apparently legitimate investments which are in fact no more than ponzi schemes in disguise. I’m sure you know what a ponzi is, but just in case, it’s when an “investment” is offered where the returns are actually the funds brought in by new investors. In other words, there is no investment at all, rather the paying out to earlier investors with money got from later investors. In the end all ponzi schemes collapse - include long-running ones like the social security scams perpetrated by various governments around the world.
A typical example of a ponzi disguised as a legitimate investment would be say a forex trading opportunity - where you are invited to invest funds into a pooled account. The warning signs on these types of schemes include the ability to invest very small amounts, often as little as $20; the use of e-currency payment systems for funding (rather than using normal bank wires); the very high fixed returns being offered; and a generous referral system in place.
Provided you remain clear-headed, have access to reliable information, and have your own well-thought-out investment goals, then investing offshore offers many exceptional opportunities - and you should certainly be making an effort to discover what and where they are.
Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Ayn Rand
I’m sure you know that making money is one thing, but holding on to it is quite another! And nothing acts as a magnet for various unsavoury people like the wealth you may have accumulated. This is why protecting what you have is so important.
Consider the following:
As you can see, even though the facts quoted above are specific to the USA, the very existence of wealth can attract unwanted attention no matter where you live. The basic goal of asset protection is to make you, as an individual, untouchable. How do you do this? By placing your assets under the ownership of another entity. If you don’t legally own your assets, then no one can sue you or come after you.
Depending on the jurisdiction chosen for such asset protection, you may decide to form a trust, a foundation, or even an offshore company. There are a number of variables involved and each asset protection plan should be tailored to the particular needs of the individual.
The 10 key points to a good asset protection plan are:
And one final bit of advice: The right time to put in place an asset protection plan is before you need it. I’m often contaced by people who want to act after a threat has been identified, and unfortunately this is usually too late.
Don’t be caught with your “pants down”. Get yourself set up with an effective offshore asset protection plan real soon!
Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the hidden confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way
of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. Alan Greenspan (1966)
You’ve probably heard “educated” people and even some economists refer to gold as that “barbarous relic”, as if precious metals were somehow irrelevant in the modern world. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in the wake of the banking crisis and the growing sovereign debt debacle, gold and silver are starting to come into their own and represent a serious asset class you cannot afford to ignore.
But why gold and silver? To answer that question it’s important to understand what paper fiat money is. It’s money by “decree”, or money that is made money by legal declaration. This paper money, and the fractional reserve banking system that generates it, is supported soley by faith, faith that the government backing the paper money is sound and honest. However, the truth is that both paper money and fractional reserve banking are a fraud, a giant ponzi scheme that is bound to crash and burn. And the reality of this is becoming clearer every day.
Gold, on the other hand, represents money as it has evolved in the free market over a period of 2,630 years - from 700 BC to 1930 AD. Precious metals became money due to the obvious qualities they exhibit - including the fact they cannot be “forged”, are durable, divisible, portable, and widely accepted as a means of exchange etc.
The important thing to understand, regarding the difference between paper fiat money and gold or silver, is that the latter cannot be created “out of nothing”, as paper money is. And it is this fact which is responsible for governments all over the world abandoning gold as money - because it placed restrictions on their ability to spend and control.
In the present economic environment, where governments everywhere are printing money like there’s no tomorrow in order to “reflate” the economy, the value of gold and silver as money is becoming more and more obvious. Why? Because at the end of the day you have to ask yourself whether you would rather hold precious metals that historically protect against currency devaluation, or prefer holding on to potentially “Weimar” or “Zimbabwe” money - that is, money that has the potential to devalue to the level of toilet paper.
To illustrate this fact, that gold holds its value compared with fiat paper money, consider this:
According to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, since 1935 the US Dollar has lost 93.5% of its value. That means if you had put $100 under your mattress in 1935, its purchasing power today would be just $6.50. But if you had simply held gold since that time you wouldn’t have lost any purchasing power at all – as the following illustrates:
In 1935, when an ounce of gold was worth $35, you could buy:
Today, with gold at say $1,060 an ounce: (its actually $1,405 but I dont have time to redo all the math)
As you can clearly see, the prices for those items remains virtually the same when expressed in gold rather than paper fiat money. So on that basis alone it’s worth holding physical gold.
Just as banking offshore provides “insurance” against possible confiscation and monetary devaluation of your own government’s paper money - by putting your money in other countries and currencies - so gold provides “super insurance” against all paper monies. And just as it’s wise to have your money held offshore, it’s also wise to have your gold stored offshore, outside your home country. In fact, with gold and silver you can apply a dual holding strategy. You can physically possess gold and silver coins, as insurance against any possible currency collapse at home. And you can store larger quantities of gold or silver in reputable overseas vaults, to protect against any possible consfiscation edict that could be issued by your own government.
How much gold and/or silver should you own? Personally I suggest converting 50% of your cash savings into “real” money. Obviously you need access to paper cash for day to day living, but when it comes to any long-term savings, then you should most definitely diversify into precious metals.
The other important thing to remember is that you can always sell off gold or silver on the spot market at any time, which provides virtually instant liquidity for your holdings.
The time to buy gold and/or silver is now - not later. If you have any reasonable amounts of cash as savings, then it would be prudent to convert a good percentage of that into gold or silver (or both) at your earliest convenience.
Get your money out of the country before your country gets the money out of you. WG Hill
Let me ask you some important questions. How safe do you think your money is in a domestic bank account? Do you trust your local bank? Do you trust your politicians? Do you trust the government to look after your interests? I’m assuming you don’t, which is why you’re reading my reports. So let me state quite clearly, the money you have worked hard to acquire and the assets you have built up are all under threat.
When you keep your money in a domestic bank account you are vulnerable to a number of risks. The first risk is the fact that your government can access your bank account without your permission. If the state believes you owe it money, and you’re not willingly paying up, then it’s easy for it to directly access your bank account and siphon off your money - literally while you sleep!
The second risk is devaluation of your money. One of the most insidious things the state does is use monetary inflation as a way of paying for things that can’t be afforded. Trouble is, this constant inflation eats away at the value of any money you have saved - which undermines its future purchasing power. When you bank domestically you are hostage to your government’s inflationary policies and could face a future financial catastrophe.
The third risk is of outright confiscation or default. This may seem far-fetched, but given the dire state of most government finances, it is entirely possible that a “bank holiday” could be announced and that you could lose access to your funds for a period of time. Even worse, such a bank closure could be used to announce an immediate devaluation - wiping out a significant part of the value of your cash savings overnight.
The only way to protect yourself against such possible predations is to ensure your savings are safely out of harm’s way - sitting in a reputable bank overseas and held in the most advantageous foreign currencies.
This is where offshore banking comes in.
An offshore bank is simply a bank in a country other than your own - “offshore” to your home country. So if you’re in the USA, then even Canada could be seen as offshore. Offshore banking is perfectly legal (for now!) and even though such banking practices get bad press, you are fully entitled to bank wherever you like.
Some countries require you to report the existence of an offshore bank account - as does the USA at present. In the case of the US, this reporting requirement kicks in when you have in excess of $10,000 on deposit. So while you lose any financial privacy as a result of such reporting, you still get to keep your funds at “arm’s length” from possible seizure by your home country’s government.
However, the overriding concern of many people right now is the possibility of capital controls being implemented. This is not simple fear-mongering, as at any time of economic hardship, especially with possible sovereign debt defaults, governments close ranks and may seek to impose capital controls to stem the outflow of money. In this way getting yourself set up with an offshore bank account now - not later - is of the utmost importance. In fact I’d go so far as to say this is the single, most straightforward thing you can do in the way of immediate financial “self defence”.
The primary requirements when opening an offshore bank account are as follows:
You should always look for a multi-currency facility, where you can bank in any one of the major currencies. Obviously you’ll want good, secure internet banking. And you’ll want an ATM debit card at least, or preferably and Visa or MasterCard debit card.
Offshore banks do not lend money, due to the fact they are not prepared to advance funds on properties outside their jurisdictional reach. Nor do they offer normal credit cards, where you can gain access to credit. However, the more common use of Visa or MasterCard debit cards gives you the same functionality of a credit card, but draws funds directly from your offshore bank account.
Offshore accounts must be funded by bank wire, and money can be withdrawn either by bank wire or by using a debit card.
I consider getting an offshore bank account to be both a practical and emotional first step on the freedom road. Why “emotional”? Because most people are deeply wedded to the idea of domestic banking and are actually fearful of banking offshore. So taking that first step offshore by opening such a bank account is a significant step forward, and creates a new mindset - as you will discover when you have done it!
It’s probably already obvious to you that freedom is under threat. No matter where you look you see evidence of more controls, more regulations, more surveillance, more corruption, more police powers - and more desperate actions by politicians.
Ever since 9/11 the global financial system has been under a “security” lock-down, with ever-more reporting requirements and ever-higher barriers to entry. And ever since the mortgage-backed securities debacle western democracies have been under intense economic pressure - witnessed most recently in the threat of sovereign debt defaults in Europe and beyond. This threatens the economic base of all democratic social welfare systems, and inhabitants of such countries are not likely to take drastic “belt-tightening” lying down. Rather, such debt-induced squeezes could result in various forms of mass revolt.
All this is putting the squeeze on ordinary people, as financial institutions and even governments get “bailed out” at the expense of present and future tax payers. This squeeze and potential civil unrest has rather unpleasant ramifications for your personal and financial freedom - and you need to seriously consider your options.
The one option you cannot ignore is the need to preserve and secure what you have - your life, livelihood and assets.
The very first step on the freedom road is getting your head in the right place, and having the right mindset. And this mindset is best described as the determination to declare your personal independence. If you’re an American you will probably be able to quote the following. And even if you’re not American, you’ll likely have heard it before:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Of course, the above is the first sentence of the Preamble to the US Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Those words are revolutionary. Why? Because throughout history man’s lot on earth has been primarily one of subjugation and slavery. The American Revolution represents the first time in history an explicit declaration was made as regards to man’s moral right to freedom.
Consider these words carefully: “… Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. What do those words mean to you? How woud you define life, liberty and happiness?
What is life? It’s something you possess. It includes your body, your mind, your mental, creative and productive capacities, your ability to take action, to communicate, to form relationships, to work and produce.
What is liberty? It’s the opposite of slavery. It’s the freedom to live your life as you see fit, without being subject to the will of others, and to grant others the same right, to not impose your will on them.
What is happiness? It’s what every human being seeks - to be happy. An absolute precondition of being happy requires that you have full control over your own life, body, mind, actions - and full control over any and all productive or creative derivatives of your life. Having a right to the pursuit of happiness is not a guarantee of happiness, rather that you have the moral right to take whatever actions necessary to achieve such a goal - consistent with the liberty of others.
All the above can be summarised in the concept of “self ownership”. You are a self-owner. In order to be free, you cannot be owned by anyone else - either person, organisation or state - you must be the owner of your ownlife.
In the past our forebears did not think to own themselves and were under one form of subjugation or another. They had a ruler. This ruler was usually a king or queen - the sovereign, the local chief or warlord, or a religious authority. The revolutionary words in the preamble of the US Declaration of Independence assert you should be free - that you should have no ruler, and that you have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of your own happiness.
In other words, this revolution in thinking turns the old use of the word ”Sovereign” on its head. Instead of you being the “subject” of a Sovereign (as in king or queen etc.), you are sovereign. You are the owner and ruler of your own life. And once you accept this moral position - that you are sovereign over your own life - then you are ready to take the practical steps necessary to make that soveriegnty, that freedom, a reality - by becoming a Sovereign Individual.
And how do you do that? The first step on this freedom road is to emancipate yourself from the idea of belonging to just one nation. Why? Because the nation you were born into makes a number of ownership claims against you - and enforces these claims in various destructive ways. In order for you to gain the freedom you desire you must dispense with the idea of being owned by just one country. You need to consider the whole world as your “home” and use, to your advantage, the rules, cultural norms and various opportunities that other nations provide.
The second step on this freedom road is to realise that your freedom depends on your ability to protect all your property - that is, your own life, your actions, thoughts, ideas, innovations, and all the tangible derivatives of your life - the things you produce or own.
These international property protection strategies can best be described as “going offshore” - meaning that you can make use of the conditions in other countries to enhance your own practical freedom. Such strategies include banking offshore, insuring yourself against fiat currency collapse, protecting your assets offshore, investing in more profitable foreign markets, and making arrangements - like alternate residencies or passports - for living elsewhere, should you need to.
These internationalist property protection strategies can be thought of as the 7 Steps to Freedom, which are:
Each of the above steps can be taken separately and progressively, depending on your own situation and needs. The more steps you complete, the more you will have put into place an effective strategy for ensuring your own freedom. Each part of these blog posts will provide you with an overview of each step, as well as links for further information and recommended actions.