Sunday, June 16, 2013

The New Stalinism

Sovereign Digest-
                          From Erika Nolan and Jeff Opdyke

  • I am not a terrorist. I am relatively certain that Erika is not a terrorist. And I am pretty sure that everyone reading this is not a terrorist. It's unfortunate that our government doesn't look upon us so favorably. In the eyes of the White House, apparently everyone in America potentially has a bomb strapped to their belly just waiting for the chance to blow up a bus or a shopping mall. No matter how you slice it, that is the upshot of the National Security Agency scandal that has revealed the vast assortment of Big Data that Big Government is collecting on all of us. No longer is anyone in America presumed innocent. No longer does the Fourth Amendment apply - the one that protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures and which requires probable cause before legal authorities invade our lives.

    The Obama Administration, several members of Congress and D.C. insiders all play this affair as "much ado about nothing." Some are employing a guilt-trip tactic, saying that if we haven't done anything wrong, then we have no reason to worry. Others, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California's cancer on Congress, take the Father Knows Best approach and tell us that "it's called protecting America."

    No, Senator, it's not called protecting America. It's called weakening America. A broad-based snooping campaign that pulls every American into a net of potential terrorists is a dangerous step toward a Fascist America, one where neighbors spy on neighbors for reasons of national security. Sadly, don't expect the furor to lead to any changes. The last decade has seen America plunge into an Orwellian world in which Washington regularly eviscerates our freedoms and liberties: The laughably named Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, drones spying on us from above, the mass collection of electronic data, including claims by an AT&T technician that the NSA has a "secret room" at an AT&T facility in San Francisco that acts like a vacuum cleaner sucking up every bit of email and web-surfing data.

    I'm fed up with the "national security" line D.C. trots out every time it wants to strike down another freedom. Not everything can be about national security without turning America into a police state where freedoms are in name only, and where government can revoke them for whatever spurious claim that it's in the nation's security interests. Want to know why I so stridently advocate offshore investing, foreign real estate and residency/passports overseas? Look no further than the NSA spying scandal and the disdain for our rights that it entails. –Jeff
  • "It's Stalinism of the world…" Bob Bauman and I were in the private law offices of one of the top – and most outspoken – lawyers in the Cayman Islands last Friday, just as the truth came out about the government spying on its own citizens. Michael Algebra was openly sharing his thoughts on the latest moves by the U.S. and the E.U. to destroy personal privacy and to implement financial tracking on nearly every transaction. In his unique Jamaican accent, Michael continued… "Stalin would be jumping up and down with joy to see how easily the West has taken civil liberties and freedoms away from its citizens"… all without a single gun, revolt or a war.

    Data gathering is a danger to all of us – and especially if you have any type of wealth. Look at the heart of FACTA and all the compliance as of late … where will it end up? It will be a database delivered to the IRS. It will gather all the financial data on anyone born in America – regardless of whether you have actively lived in the country or you just happen to be born on U.S. shores. And many of those in that database will be wealthy – very wealthy. Now, think this through with me for a moment. We know that every database in the world can be easily compromised – either legally or via hackers and corrupt employees who sell the info for serious cash. What would a criminal pay to get a list of the world's wealthiest families … to know the names of the people who set up the accounts, the names of all their beneficiaries – who will most likely be children or grandchildren – and address information for these people? And once they pay for the information, what will they do with it? They will target these people for kidnappings and demand huge ransoms.

    This may sound dramatic. But it's a very real possibility. As Michael pointed out during my meeting with him in George Town, many wealth people are now including kidnapping clauses in their trust documents. While kidnappings are rare in the U.S., they are all too normal in Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, part of the Middle East … if you fear you could be a target, you set a limit on the ransom amount your trustee can pay to secure your return. Setting the price of your own life is something I wouldn't wish on an enemy. But it's more common than you'd think, Michael told us … and with more and more data gathering happening, it's likely to continue to rise as the world's criminals hack into the world's databases. It's the dark, unspoken consequences of lists – information gathering – and we've seen this before. In Germany, prior to and during World War 2, in parts of Africa, in the Middle East… now the West.

    As we left Michael's office, he asked us, "When will the American people tell the government to get out of their lives?" Soon, I hope … very, very soon. –Erika
  • The summer swoon has begun… with markets around the world declining in recent weeks. Japanese stocks have officially entered a bear market, falling more than 20% in less than a month. But as I told my EMS readers this week, there's little reason to fret. At the core of the current woes are investor worries that central bankers around the world will soon end their era of easy money. Investors fear the U.S. Federal Reserve, in particular, might reduce its bond-buying program – the infamous Quantitative Easing program. Doing so would lead to higher interest rates … which would trickle through the corporate sector in the form of higher expenses … which would hit earnings … which drive stock prices. It's all very textbook. But, by its very nature, it's also very reactionary.

    Investors are guessing at what they think the central banks will do, and when, and they are trying to get ahead of the curve. That's fine; it's what investors must do: you always want to be ahead of the curve. But sometimes you also need to sit on your hands.

    And this is one of those moments.

    Central bankers are in no rush to reverse course anytime soon. Indeed, central banks in Korea, Australia and Poland surprised the world with interest-rate cuts just last month. And despite chatter about the Federal Reserve easing away from its QE program, Ben Bernanke has been abundantly clear that he will not allow rates to back up dramatically for many more years because of his larger worry that rising rates will extinguish any semblance of economic recovery in America.

    Oddly, this preoccupation with rising rates signals good news hidden beneath all the worry … and that's what I am focusing on these days. Uncertainty in the U.S. economy is receding, and Europe is much-improved. China, too, is looking better. So my advice is this: be patient and ride out the summer swells. The dark clouds are temporary and on the other side, economies will look much brighter. –Jeff
  • In the TSI Portfolio this week… Sabana (Singapore: SSREIT), our Singapore-listed industrial REIT, came under pressure this week, losing 7%. That's a byproduct, I believe of the 50% gain the shares racked up in the past year and the Japanese-inspired Asian-market weakness recently that has given investors a reason to book their profits in Sabana and move on. We're still up about 44% in this stock, with 17.6% of that coming from the dividends we've received since buying the shares in late-2011. Because the shares have retreated a bit, Sabana is back in the buy range and is yielding a very chunky 8.6%. As such, the stock, now at S$1.13, is a buy up to S$1.25. Sabana will continue to grow its business, which will, in turn, allow it to continually increase its dividend payments to us. So the 8.6% you're getting today will rise in coming quarters.

    Elsewhere in the portfolio, Goldcorp (NYSE: GG, buy up to $40) has announced its latest monthly dividend payment. If you own the shares, you will receive $0.05 later this month. – Jeff
  • Finally, Erika and I are headed into the heart of Africa. We land in Accra today and will spend the next two weeks in Ghana, Kenya and the Seychelles. We have meetings set up with a broad collection of businesses, think tanks, small-business owners, brokerage firms and even a tour of the largest slum in Africa, the Kibera slum in Nairobi … all part of the continuing research for my book on the rise of prosperity in the non-Western world. Erika, meanwhile, will be spending time looking at some potentially interesting residency, banking and real estate opportunities in the Seychelles. We will have more for you in coming weeks from our African tour. I will tell you now that the continent is crowded with investment opportunities as the middle class here emerges. By some estimates, Africa already has some 300 million consumers, a population as large as America. It's a different form of consumerism, but it's consumerism nonetheless … and I've already secured some interviews with companies using a very unique strategy to profitably sell goods to consumers who can spend just a few cents to a dollar or two at a time. More on that soon…

Until next week,

Erika Nolan and Jeff Opdyke
Accra, Ghana
June 16, 2013

P.S. Obama won't stop until he's controlling every aspect of your life. But there is a way for you to (legally) fight back. We just put the final touches on a short video that could cause quite a stir. The video is for Total Wealth Symposium, an event where you'll learn specific strategies to help loosen the tyrannical grip Washington has on your life. To watch this 2 minute video before we're forced to take it down, click here now. And if you're serious about safe-guarding your wealth and rights from an administration determined to destroy them, I urge you to save your spot at the Symposium now. Click here for full details and be sure to use the Coupon Code TWS13SALE to save nearly $400.


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