Doug Casey on Guns

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Posted on 15th October 2015 by Administrator in Economy

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Doug Casey on Guns

By Doug Casey

(Interviewed by Louis James, Editor, International Speculator)

This interview was originally published on March 17, 2010

Editor’s Note: In yesterday’s Weekend Edition, Casey Research founder Doug Casey explained his controversial views on drugs, alcohol and guns.

In today’s edition, Doug explains why it’s essential to own a gun…and tells us about the guns he personally owns.

L: What would you say to our European readers or readers from other places with less tradition of firearms ownership than there is in the U.S.? Many of them think that governments keep people safe, and that individuals should not have firearms – or any weapons at all – only the police should have them.

Doug: I think that’s a ridiculous attitude that flies in the face of history and the abundantly evident darker side of human nature. I think such people are both deluded and degraded.

It’s striking how much things have changed on this front as well. As late as the 1930s, the period of the Indiana Jones movies accurately portray the hero as taking his pistol with him anywhere in the world, even on airplanes. In the ’60s, when I was a kid, I put my rifle and my pistol in the overhead compartment on a couple of flights in the U.S., and nobody thought twice about it, including me. If you read Sherlock Holmes stories, which I’ve always enjoyed, you’ll find that not only was Sherlock Holmes a notorious smoker of tobacco, but he was also known to indulge in other chemical substances that are illegal today. And he would often sit at his flat on Baker Street, shooting his revolver into the mantelpiece to practice his marksmanship. It wasn’t mentioned, but I hope he was wearing ear protection.

L: Maybe he loaded his own ammo and made some light rounds for practice? He must have gone through a lot of mantelpieces…and had to replace the masonry of his chimney often. But that was a different world – many people say that individuals don’t need guns today, that they are an anachronism.

Doug: They are simply wrong. And fools. In places where it’s assumed that almost everyone has guns in their homes, like West Virginia and Alaska, the crime rate is very low. In places where guns have been outlawed in recent years, like Australia, violent crime rates have risen. And in Washington D.C., once the murder capital of the U.S., the crime rate plummeted after the city’s draconian anti-gun laws were reduced. Of course, that never gets mentioned in the popular press.

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The Deep State

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Posted on 9th October 2015 by Administrator in Economy

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The Deep State

By Doug Casey

Master speculator and economic expert Doug Casey believes a global financial crisis is just around the corner, which will result in what he has termed the “Greater Depression”…

This essay originally appeared in The Casey Report. In it, Doug details a hidden but powerful force known as the “deep state” that’s ruining the country.

Whether you agree with his views or not, I’m sure this will be one of the most educational – and most entertaining – pieces you read this year…

Until next time,

Nick Giambruno
Senior Editor
International Man


The Deep State

By Doug Casey

I’d like to address some aspects of the Greater Depression in this essay.

I’m here to tell you that the inevitable became reality in 2008. We’ve had an interlude over the last few years financed by trillions of new currency units.

However, the economic clock on the wall is reading the same time as it was in 2007, and the Black Horsemen of your worst financial nightmares are about to again crash through the doors and end the party. And this time, they won’t be riding children’s ponies, but armored Percherons.

To refresh your memory, let me recount what a depression is.

The best general definition is: A period of time when most people’s standard of living drops significantly. By that definition, the Greater Depression started in 2008, although historians may someday say it began in 1971, when real wages started falling.

It’s also a period of time when distortions and misallocations of capital are liquidated, and when the business cycle, which is caused exclusively by currency debasement, also known as inflation, climaxes. That results in high unemployment, business failures, uncompleted construction, bond defaults, stock market crashes, and the like.

Fortunately, for those who benefit from the status quo, and members of something called the Deep State, the trillions of new currency units delayed the liquidation. But they also ensured it will now happen on a much grander scale.

The Deep State is an extremely powerful network that controls nearly everything around you. You won’t read about it in the news because it controls the news. Politicians won’t talk about it publicly. That would be like a mobster discussing murder and robbery on the 6 o’clock news. You could say the Deep State is hidden, but it’s only hidden in plain sight.

The Deep State is the source of every negative thing that’s happening right now. To survive the coming rough times, it’s essential for you to know what it’s all about.

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Three Reasons Why the U.S. Government Should Default on Its Debt Today

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Posted on 18th September 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Three Reasons Why the U.S. Government Should Default on Its Debt Today

By Doug Casey

The overleveraging of the U.S. federal, state, and local governments, some corporations, and consumers is well known.

This has long been the case, and most people are bored by the topic. If debt is a problem, it has been manageable for so long that it no longer seems like a problem. U.S. government debt has become an abstraction; it has no more meaning to the average investor than the prospect of a comet smacking into the earth in the next hundred millennia.

Many financial commentators believe that debt doesn’t matter. We still hear ridiculous sound bites, like “We owe it to ourselves,” that trivialize the topic. Actually, some people owe it to other people. There will be big transfers of wealth depending on what happens. More exactly, since Americans don’t save anymore, that dishonest phrase about how we owe it to ourselves isn’t even true in a manner of speaking; we owe most of it to the Chinese and Japanese.

Another chestnut is “We’ll grow out of it.” That’s impossible unless real growth is greater than the interest on the debt, which is questionable. And at this point, government deficits are likely to balloon, not contract. Even with artificially low interest rates.

One way of putting an annual deficit of, say, $700 billion into perspective is to compare it to the value of all publicly traded stocks in the U.S., which are worth roughly $20 trillion. The current U.S. government debt of $18 trillion is rapidly approaching the stock value of all public corporations — and that’s true even with stocks at bubble-like highs. If the annual deficit continues at the $700 billion rate — in fact it is likely to accelerate — the government will borrow the equivalent of the entire equity capital base of the country, which has taken more than 200 years to accumulate, in only 29 years.

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Money – How to Get It and Keep It

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Posted on 1st September 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Money—How to Get It and Keep It

By Doug Casey

Editor’s note: Casey Research founder Doug Casey literally wrote the book on profiting during economic turmoil. His book, Crisis Investing, spent multiple weeks as No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and became the best-selling financial book of 1980. Today, he is one of the most entertaining and controversial newsletter writers in the world.

Doug believes America is headed for a huge financial disaster. In today’s weekend Masters Series essay, he shares some of the ways to protect yourself and prosper in an economic crisis. Even if you disagree with Doug, this essay – originally published in June 2012 – will teach you plenty…


Even if you are already wealthy, some thought on this topic is worthwhile. What would you do if some act of God or of government, a catastrophic lawsuit, or a really serious misjudgment took you back to square one? One thing about a real depression is that everybody loses. As Richard Russell has quipped, the winners are those who lose the least. As far as I’m concerned, the Greater Depression is looming, not just another cyclical downturn. You may find that although you’re far ahead of your neighbors (you own precious metals, you’ve diversified internationally, and you don’t believe much of what you hear from official sources), you’re still not as prepared as you’d like.

I think a good plan would be to approach the problem in four steps: Liquidate, Consolidate, Create, and Speculate.

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Why You Should Go to Africa Instead of College

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Posted on 19th August 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Doug Casey on Why You Should Go to Africa Instead of College

By Doug Casey

Recently Doug Casey was a guest on the always excellent podcast, The Tom Woods Show.

Tom and Doug talked about the enormous economic potential in Africa, Doug’s efforts to build a truly free market country, and better uses of your time and money than going to college.

It’s an exciting and informative conversation.


Tom Woods: What a pleasure and a delight it is to welcome back to the show Doug Casey.

Doug is a libertarian economist, best-selling financial author, international investor, entrepreneur, and the founder and chairman of Casey Research.

Doug, welcome back to the show.

Doug Casey: Thanks, Tom. It is my pleasure.

Tom: You’ve been up to some interesting activity in Africa that I’d like to ask you about. Let’s start off by telling us what you’ve been busy doing there.

Doug: Well, the last two weeks, I’ve been visiting the Islamic Republic of Mauritania with a short side trip to Senegal. I’ve been pursuing my hobby, which is to propose to a backward country a plan for complete and total free marketization… including taking the country itself public on a major stock exchange and distributing most of the shares directly to the people who theoretically own the government assets. I felt like I had Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis” playing in the back of my mind the whole time I was there.

Tom: Suppose you got everything you wanted, what would the outcome look like?

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Doug Casey on the Real FIFA Scandal

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Posted on 6th August 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Doug Casey on the Real FIFA Scandal

By Doug Casey

Recently, high-ranking officials at FIFA, the world’s governing soccer (aka “football”) body, were charged with corruption and fraud. The US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is deeply involved in the case. Doug Casey weighs in on the real scandal… the one you’re not reading in mass media.

The truth be known, I really don’t give a damn about soccer. Nor do most Americans.

Indeed, until recently, all that most Americans knew about “football” was that Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey, to display a great physique, after she scored the winning goal for the US in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup playoff against China.

However, “football”, as it’s known to the 6.7 billion non-Americans on the planet, is revered by the rest of the world as a secular religion.

But now football, and FIFA, the sport’s governing body, is in the news because of an alleged corruption scandal. Let’s not discuss the details of who was bribing whom, and where all the money went, for two reasons.

First, that’s all over the Internet, and you don’t need me to repeat it here.

Second, and much more important, it’s really none of our business. Despite the fact that the FBI has taken it upon itself to prosecute at least 14 FIFA officials for corruption.

Why is it none of our business? Because FIFA is a Swiss association that’s been around over 100 years. All of its officers and directors are non-US persons. And about 99% of its players, officials, and spectators are non-American.

But that doesn’t matter. The FBI has decided to prosecute FIFA’s officials for corruption, and is successfully moving to have them all extradited to the US for trial.

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Why Most of the World’s Banks Are Headed for Collapse

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Posted on 19th July 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Doug Casey

You’re likely thinking that a discussion of “sound banking” will be a bit boring. Well, banking should be boring. And we’re sure officials at central banks all over the world today—many of whom have trouble sleeping—wish it were.

This brief article will explain why the world’s banking system is unsound, and what differentiates a sound from an unsound bank. I suspect not one person in 1,000 actually understands the difference. As a result, the world’s economy is now based upon unsound banks dealing in unsound currencies. Both have degenerated considerably from their origins.

Modern banking emerged from the goldsmithing trade of the Middle Ages. Being a goldsmith required a working inventory of precious metal, and managing that inventory profitably required expertise in buying and selling metal and storing it securely. Those capacities segued easily into the business of lending and borrowing gold, which is to say the business of lending and borrowing money.

Most people today are only dimly aware that until the early 1930s, gold coins were used in everyday commerce by the general public. In addition, gold backed most national currencies at a fixed rate of convertibility. Banks were just another business—nothing special. They were distinguished from other enterprises only by the fact they stored, lent, and borrowed gold coins, not as a sideline but as a primary business. Bankers had become goldsmiths without the hammers.

Bank deposits, until quite recently, fell strictly into two classes, depending on the preference of the depositor and the terms offered by banks: time deposits, and demand deposits. Although the distinction between them has been lost in recent years, respecting the difference is a critical element of sound banking practice.

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Unsound Banking: Why Most of the World’s Banks Are Headed for Collapse

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Posted on 21st April 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Unsound Banking: Why Most of the World’s Banks Are Headed for Collapse

By Doug Casey

You’re likely thinking that a discussion of “sound banking” will be a bit boring. Well, banking should be boring. And we’re sure officials at central banks all over the world today—many of whom have trouble sleeping—wish it were.

This brief article will explain why the world’s banking system is unsound, and what differentiates a sound from an unsound bank. I suspect not one person in 1,000 actually understands the difference. As a result, the world’s economy is now based upon unsound banks dealing in unsound currencies. Both have degenerated considerably from their origins.

Modern banking emerged from the goldsmithing trade of the Middle Ages. Being a goldsmith required a working inventory of precious metal, and managing that inventory profitably required expertise in buying and selling metal and storing it securely. Those capacities segued easily into the business of lending and borrowing gold, which is to say the business of lending and borrowing money.

Most people today are only dimly aware that until the early 1930s, gold coins were used in everyday commerce by the general public. In addition, gold backed most national currencies at a fixed rate of convertibility. Banks were just another business—nothing special. They were distinguished from other enterprises only by the fact they stored, lent, and borrowed gold coins, not as a sideline but as a primary business. Bankers had become goldsmiths without the hammers.

Bank deposits, until quite recently, fell strictly into two classes, depending on the preference of the depositor and the terms offered by banks: time deposits, and demand deposits. Although the distinction between them has been lost in recent years, respecting the difference is a critical element of sound banking practice.

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Doug Casey: Signs of a Resource Sector Bottom

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Posted on 2nd April 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Doug Casey: Signs of a Resource Sector Bottom

By Doug Casey

Interviewed by Louis James, Editor, International Speculator

L: Well, Doug, we’ve seen another quarter of high volatility and significant world events. What strikes you as most important at present?

Doug: Everything is still held together with chewing gum and baling wire, for which I’m grateful, considering what’s coming. It’s very clear to me that the global economy is in very much the same space as it was in 2007—in other words, on the edge of a precipice.

[…]

L: On the global economy, my question is this: If Obama and Yellen have saved the US and Merkel and Draghi are saving the EU, why are commodities selling off so dramatically? Iron, copper, oil—just about everything is selling off. How can an economy be recovering if it’s not using raw materials?

Doug: That’s another reason why I believe that the Greater Depression started in late 2007. During a depression, people are forced to consume less, and you see that reflected in the price of commodities—at least in real terms. This can be obscured in current price terms, depending on the debasement of the currency in question.

But it’s important to remember that commodities are only a good bet when they’re cycling upward, and that only lasts for a time. The longest trend of all is the downward trend of real commodities prices, as the march of technology makes them and the cost of life itself cheaper over time. Real commodity prices have been going down for at least 2,000 years, but probably 4,000 or 5,000 years—at least since the invention of agriculture. And I think they will continue falling, despite the fact that most large, high-grade, close-to-surface mineral deposits have been discovered.

L: Hubbert was right about “peak oil” in terms of West Texas Intermediate, but oil is still getting cheaper because of the fracking revolution.

Doug: Exactly. Because we’ve made so much money on commodities and because we believe in gold and silver as money, people think of us as commodity bulls. But actually, in the big picture, I’m a commodity bear, and always have been. Nanotech will transform city dumps into high-grade ore bodies. The asteroids will be mined at low cost. Ocean water will be processed economically. It’s simply a matter of technology and energy. The future could be—should be—better than we can even imagine.

L: I understand that—but I have to step in here and remind readers that gold is not a commodity—or at least not a regular commodity, since it’s also the most successful and enduring form of money ever devised.

Doug: Yes. No matter how many times we tell readers that no one can time the market, they still want to know what I think of the timing of the gold market.

So let me tell you that even I have been feeling a bit abused and unloved by the market over the last couple years. If I’m feeling that way, I’m sure the average person in the sector is feeling it in spades—and that’s actually a strong sign of a bottom.

It’s not as if we’re buying at $35 in 1971 or $250 in 2001—both times when gold was clearly a one-way street. But at $1,200, it’s very reasonable considering how explosive the world situation is.

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Doug Casey on ISIS, Gold, Oil, and What to Expect in 2015

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Posted on 17th February 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Doug Casey on ISIS, Gold, Oil, and What to Expect in 2015

By Louis James, Chief Metals & Mining Investment Strategist

Today’s feature is a special treat: a peek into the brain of one of the most successful speculators of all time. In what follows, Doug Casey talks to Louis James about what to expect in 2015. Doug weighs in on today’s most important issues, including ISIS, oil, Putin, and the stock market. He even sticks his nose out to make a bold call on gold.

This (usually subscriber-only) content originally appeared in The Casey Report.

Enjoy!

Louis James: It’s been a long, eventful quarter since we last spoke, Doug. What’s most on your mind as 2014 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2015?

Doug Casey: Let’s start with gold, since that’s the main focus we’ve had for so long. The Swiss gold reserve referendum just went down in flames, of course, and that was a big disappointment to many.

L: Really? I don’t know anyone who was surprised.

Doug: Well, surprise and disappointment aren’t the same thing. I’m constantly disappointed by how stupid people are, but I’m never surprised by it. There were early signs of support for the measure, but the powers that be mounted an immense propaganda campaign against it, and they succeeded. I hear that the balance sheet of the Swiss central bank has expanded faster than that of any other central bank in the world—

L: Whoa—that would explain a lot.

Doug: Yes. Relying on the Swiss franc to preserve your capital today is like relying on Swiss banks to preserve your privacy. Only fools would trust in either at this point. Despite that, Switzerland may still be sounder than any other country in Europe—which is really saying something about how bad things have gotten in Europe.

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2015 Outlook: What You Really Need to Know

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Posted on 2nd February 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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2015 Outlook: What You Really Need to Know

By Jeff Clark, Senior Precious Metals Analyst

In the January issue of BIG GOLD, I interviewed 17 analysts, economists, and authors on what they expect for gold in 2015. Some of those included what we affectionately call our Casey Brain Trust—Doug Casey, Olivier Garret, Bud Conrad, David Galland, Marin Katusa, Louis James, and Terry Coxon. The issue was so popular that we decided to reprint this portion.

I think you’ll find some very insightful and useful reading here (click on a link to read his bio)…

Doug Casey, Chairman

Jeff: The Fed and other central banks have kept the economy and markets propped up longer than you thought they could. Has the Fed succeeded in staving off crisis?

Doug: I’m genuinely surprised things have held together over the last year. The trillions of currency units created since 2007 have mostly inflated financial assets, creating bubbles everywhere. There’s an excellent chance that the bubble will burst this year. I don’t know whether it will result in a catastrophic deflation, extreme inflation, or both in sequence. I’m only sure it will result in chaos and extreme unpleasantness.

Jeff: Are we still going to get rich from gold stocks? Or should we face reality and start exiting?

Doug: The fact so many people are discouraged with gold and mining stocks is just another indicator that we’re at the bottom. Gold and silver are now, once more, superb speculations. And I think we’ll see some 10-to-1 shots in gold stocks—if not this year, then 2016. I can afford to wait with those kinds of returns in prospect.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

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Posted on 9th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

“The way you get wealthy is by producing more than you consume and saving the difference – not by consuming more than you produce, and borrowing the difference.”

Doug Casey

Doug Casey on Russia and Russian Stocks

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Posted on 10th December 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Doug Casey on Russia and Russian Stocks

By Nick Giambruno, Senior Editor, InternationalMan.com

Nick: Okay Doug, so looking around, what markets look cheap to you today?

Doug: I saw recently that many stocks in Greece are selling at around four times earnings. But I don’t know what the quality of their earnings are. Of course, the dividend yield on Greek stocks isn’t very high, and dividends are, I think, the best real indicator of how much free cash flow there actually is in a company.

Nick: One market that has struck me as cheap—with a decent dividend yield—and that’s accessible is Russia. What are your thoughts on Russia?

Doug: I think that things might get better there. That they’re doing this big natural gas deal with China is a plus. The fact that the Russians have apparently been continuing to buy a lot of gold is a plus.

As far as Ukraine is concerned—with the proviso that I don’t believe in the sanctity of any nation-state, and so I don’t cheer for any of them—you’ve got to be on Putin’s side of that situation from an ethical and a practical point of view. So I’m not terribly afraid of Russia. I don’t think there’s going to be a war of any type with Russia, and because the market there is now so cheap, it could be very interesting.

In any event, the colors of the world map have been running since the first map was drawn. And Ukraine isn’t even a coherent country to start with—it’s an ethnic intertidal zone. It’s certainly no place where the US government should stick its nose, which is only making things worse.

One thing I’ve learned in years of wandering around the world, trying to figure out how things actually work, is that few things are either as good or as bad as you might have been led to believe, whether it’s an idyllic paradise or a war zone.

Nick: What’s interesting about Putin’s Russia is that it’s one of the few countries in the entire world that’s actually capable of resisting bullying by the US. We’ve seen this with Russia’s granting of asylum to Edward Snowden, among other things. Russia is also one of the very few countries that the US would hesitate to bomb. And I think that makes it an exceptional place. My first visit to Russia was in 2006.

Doug: Mine was in 1977. By the next time, in 1996, the country had changed radically. In 1977, the only places open to foreigners were Moscow and Leningrad, which were, I assure you, as grim as anything Orwell ever imagined. By 1996—just five years after the collapse of the USSR—those cities had been transformed. They were almost indistinguishable from any Western European metropolis. Even the old factories along the river have been converted into fashionable lofts.

But outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which attracted all the money and talent, Russia in 1996 was still a depressing Third World country. But today it’s well past the stage when the main imports were stolen cars and the main exports were prostitutes. I really should have gone there to live in the early ‘90s. That’s when the streets were paved with opportunity, but I believe recent events have again set the table for making serious money in Russia.

Nick: That brings to mind the Russian oligarchs, who built their mountains of money through crisis investing. By buying when Russia was in chaos, they were able to pick up some of the crown jewels of the Russian economy for just a few pennies on the dollar.

Doug: It’s an instructive example. The post-Soviet government gave everyone vouchers that could be traded for shares in the state-owned businesses that were being privatized at the time. The average person had no idea what his vouchers meant or what they were worth. The few who did—today’s oligarchs—profited enormously from that confusion and from the fear that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. They bought up the vouchers and paid just a tiny percentage of their value. The good thing about Russia being as screwed up and volatile as it appears is that there will be opportunities to do nearly the same thing with publicly traded shares.

Nick: As it is now, no matter what happens in the West, Russia has some big positives working in its favor—like the gas deal with China you mentioned earlier, and also Putin’s Eurasian Union. So despite the overwhelmingly negative sentiment about Russia in the mainstream media and the cheap valuations, it doesn’t seem like Russia is going out of business. Does that make it a good crisis investment market, in your opinion?

Doug: The examples of extreme opportunity I like to bring up are from the mid-1980s, when stock markets in Belgium, Hong Kong, and Spain were all selling at two to three times earnings, half of book value, and with dividend yields on the order of 12-15%. That shows how cheap things can actually get. Today, markets around the world are overpriced because interest rates are so low. At this point, I think Russia is a place you ought to be watching from the long side a lot more than, say, the US.

Nick: Another market that might have seemed interesting from a crisis perspective is Thailand, with its recent military coup. However, coups aren’t exactly rare. This is Thailand’s twelfth since 1932; the previous one came in 2006. Thai stocks essentially shrugged off this year’s rotation of power.

Doug: You’re right. During the Asian crisis of 1997, Thai stocks collapsed, and dividend yields jumped above 10%, in some cases close to 20%. So I guess there’s a lot of money out there that runs scared, but this year’s coup didn’t seem to unsettle anybody.

Nick: In your view, are dividend yields a better gauge of value than other measures?

Doug: I think you’ve got to look at dividends, because reported earnings can be fictional, and book values can be subject to accounting tricks. But dividends are actual cash in your pocket. They are real. So I’d have to say that if there were one really quick indicator of value, dividends are at the top of the list. It’s incredible what you can get in dividends alone when a market is at a bottom—something a lot of people have forgotten.

Nick: I totally agree. Thanks for sharing your informed perspective.

Doug: My pleasure.

You’ve just read an excerpt from Crisis Speculator, International Man’s new publication dedicating to identifying crisis-born investment opportunities.

The article Doug Casey on Russia and Russian Stocks was originally published at caseyresearch.com.

Doug Casey: “There Is a Rogue Elephant in Your House”

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Posted on 8th September 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Doug Casey: “There Is a Rogue Elephant in Your House”

By Doug Casey, Chairman

One time when I was in Burma (now Myanmar), I spent a couple of days riding around the forest by elephant back. Elephants are a fine thing to have in the forest but, believe it or not, you have one living in your house with you. And you should do something about it now, before your house is wrecked and you and your family get stomped in the process.

Any amount of financial success won’t mean much if you get stepped on by the elephant in the room. The damage you routinely suffer from the elephant—not to mention the lingering threat that he’ll go completely berserk someday—dwarfs the importance of the best investment decision you’ll ever make. So, I’m going to invite your attention to a problem of overriding importance: How can you protect yourself and your wealth from the elephant?

The elephant in the room is, of course, the government.

The elephant is your permanent roommate, and it has a permanently big appetite. In the name of “income tax,” it regularly eats 40% or so of everything you earn. You may not like it, but by now you’ve probably learned to live with it.

After you’ve lived out your income-tax paying years, the elephant will attend your funeral—not to console the mourners or to recount your good deeds, but to collect estate tax. In the name of the “estate tax,” the government will take up to 40% of what you leave for the next generation and perhaps more of what you leave for your grandchildren.

It’s not the kind of roommate you’d advertise for. In fact, if you add things up, government probably is the most expensive disaster you’ll ever suffer. Almost every year, you lose more to it in taxes than you lose on your worst investments. And unless you’re a champion crime victim, you’ll lose less to a lifetime’s worth of burglars, bandits, muggers, and con men than your estate will lose to the tax collector… if you don’t do something about it.

Most successful people respond to the elephant by trying harder—working harder, working smarter, and earning enough to live well on what the elephant doesn’t eat. They’re like the farmer who plants enough to have a good harvest even after the bugs have taken their share. This is a workable solution, up to a point. But it won’t work at all if the elephant decides to take everything.

The idea of losing everything is literally unthinkable for many people. It is so far outside the range of their experience that all they can do with the idea is to reject it as not worth considering. Unfortunately, this also means rejecting all the opportunities for protection—just as many Titanic passengers shunned the early invitations to a lifeboat.

But the danger of a total wealth wipeout doesn’t go away. Some people do in fact lose everything to the elephant. In a few cases, it happens through seizures. A government agency points to an individual, calls him a bad name (drug trafficker, money launderer, polluter, racketeer, or tax evader), and takes everything the target owns. The target may not even have enough money left to hire a lawyer to help recover a portion of what he’s lost.

More commonly, it’s a lawsuit that takes everything a person has. The judge hears a story. The judge likes the story. The judge orders the defendant to give the plaintiff everything the defendant owns. Then the plaintiff wonders why a seat in the lifeboat seemed so uncongenial.

Perfect Protection

The best protection you can have from the elephant is not to own anything. What you don’t own can’t be taken from you by a tax collector, by a government agency, by a results-oriented judge, or by anyone else. You don’t want to be poor, obviously. But there’s a strategy that lets you have it both ways—the safety of not owning anything and the benefits of being wealthy. You can have it both ways by transferring your assets into an institution in another country that will return them to you (or family members) only when you want them back.

That’s the essence of an international trust. It puts just enough distance between you and your assets that the assets can’t be taken from you. But it makes those assets available to you when you want them. An international trust needs to be designed in just the right way. It mustn’t leave you with any rights that a local court or government agency might try to take away from you; and it mustn’t leave you with any powers you could be forced to use against your wishes. On the other hand, the trust must give you emphatic assurance that the trustee will never lose sight of your real objectives—otherwise you’re not going to use it.

Here’s an outline of how an international trust protects you from the elephant:

  1. You are the grantor of the trust—the person who transfers legal title to selected assets to the trustee.
  1. The trustee is a bank or trust company in a country with no income or estate taxes and a legal system that won’t tolerate a US-style litigation explosion. The trustee takes legal responsibility for the safekeeping of trust property and applying it for your purposes.
  1. You and everyone else you care to include are the beneficiaries—the persons who are eligible to receive cash distributions or other benefits from the trust. You can include family members (including descendants who haven’t been born yet), or anyone else.
  1. You are the protector of the trust. As protector, you have the legal power to monitor the trustee’s performance and the power to replace it with another institution if needed. You also have the power to name your successor as protector—so that the trust will continue to have a protector even after your lifetime.

The relationship among the participants is spelled out in a written trust agreement. Two provisions are essential to getting maximum protection. First, the trust should be irrevocable. If it isn’t, then anyone can undo your trust simply by forcing you to revoke it.

Second, the trust should be discretionary. “Discretionary” means that no one beneficiary owns a particular share of the trust. Instead, each beneficiary receives what the trustee, in its discretion, decides to give the beneficiary. With a discretionary trust, no beneficiary owns anything he can be forced to assign to a judgment creditor or tax collector. And a discretionary trust makes it impossible for any tax collector to attribute the trust’s income to a beneficiary.

These two key features—irrevocable and discretionary—are both powerful and cautionary. They are powerful in that they put up a wall around your assets that the elephant can’t knock down. The elephant can’t reach trust assets directly, because they’re held by an institution offshore, where US courts and government agencies have no jurisdiction or power to enforce a judgment. And it can’t reach them through you because you don’t have the power to get them back without the consent of the trustee. You can do or sign whatever you’re ordered to and still be confident that your wealth is protected.

But that same power is a source of caution. How can you be confident that the trustee will use the discretionary authority you’ve given it in the right way? How can you be confident that the trustee will send you a check when you need it? You get that confidence by being the protector.

The trust agreement should give you, the protector, the power to replace the trustee with another institution of your liking—in other words, you should have the power to fire the trustee.

Two other features should be included to ensure that the trustee uses its discretionary authority correctly. First, the trustee should be obligated to consider all the advice it gets from the protector. Second, the trustee should be absolved of liability for decisions it makes based on the protector’s advice. Together with the power to fire the trustee, these provisions give the protector all the influence he needs.

Using an international trust for lawsuit protection and tax savings doesn’t interfere with your freedom to make investment decisions. If you want, the trustee can open a brokerage account for your trust anywhere in the world and appoint you as the trading advisor. You continue to give the buy and sell orders. Or you can ask the trustee to hire a particular investment manager for your trust. Or you can keep complete management control by using a limited partnership. You transfer the real estate, business, or investments you want to protect to a limited partnership and then transfer the limited partnership interest to the trust. As general partner, you would still make the day-to-day investment and management decisions, but the value of the assets is protected by the trust.

The biggest, simplest benefit of an international trust is lawsuit protection. You can’t be forced to hand your assets over to the winner of a lawsuit (or to any other creditor), because you no longer own them. The trustee is the legal owner. Anyone who hopes to reach those assets must bear the expense and bad odds of legal action in another country. Provided you’ve selected the right country for your trust and assuming that you were solvent when you funded it, his prospects are extremely dim.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers know how difficult it is to break into a properly established international trust. As a result, having your assets protected by an international trust means that litigation against you never gets started or gets settled on terms that are extremely favorable for you.

Income tax savings for yourself aren’t automatic. They depend on how your trust investments are structured. This is a complex topic, but the summary is short: Merely transferring assets to an international trust won’t achieve any income tax savings in your lifetime.

For future generations, the income tax consequences of an international trust are far more dramatic. The trust will have no ties to the US tax system. It can be used to accumulate and compound investment returns free of current income tax. Future generations will face no tax on the profits until they spend them. Even then much of what they take from the trust can come to them free of income tax. An international trust allows you to pursue any type of estate plan you want (or none at all). You can do all the conventional things you’re likely to hear about if you visit an estate planner, and also do some other things that wouldn’t be possible without going international. For example, with an international trust, you can get property out of your estate and still be eligible to receive the money back for your own support if you later find that you need it. This frees you to act aggressively to reduce your taxable estate without the fear of planning yourself into the poorhouse.

The biggest estate-planning advantage is finality. The wealth you leave in an international trust disconnects from the US tax system. It will never be included in the taxable estate of any future generation. For your family, estate tax comes to an end. The elephant will have to dine elsewhere.

Previously, getting the protection of an international trust demanded so much effort and expense that almost no one did it. But now an international trust is cheap and easy to use.

What has opened up the world of international trusts is Terry Coxon’s International Trust Guidebook. This guidebook takes all the mystery out of the topic. The material is laid out in such a clear and direct fashion it will quickly make you feel like a minor expert.

It’s thoroughly footnoted with tax law and court case references, the kind of supporting details that your lawyer or accountant would insist upon. Plus professional commentary is provided by noted tax and asset protection attorney Robert B. Martin, Jr.

Mr. Martin writes from the real-world perspective of 43 years of legal experience. He’s the author of dozens of published articles on tax and other legal topics and has been the point man in hundreds of legal battles.

It’s like having your own asset protection lawyer right by your side and can save you thousands in legal fees in setting up an international trust.

Several members of my family are taking action using international trust. If you’re inclined, I urge you to do so now, not later. The US government could one day arbitrarily make it impossible to form an international trust.

If you’re interested in using an international trust to protect your wealth from the elephant in the room, you can find out more about the International Trust Guidebook by clicking here.