Conventional Western views of Africa are of a poverty-stricken continent devoid of modern technology and economic opportunity. But over the past few years, indicators have emerged to challenge this dated and misplaced narrative. The combined GDP growth of Africa makes it the second-fastest-growing economy in the world. Clearly, there are investments on this continent worthy of anyone’s portfolio.
The United States was founded on the principles of personal freedom and individual liberty. Unfortunately, we seem to have wandered far from these standards. In 2013, U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden told us just how far: The government can look into our personal lives via phone records, emails, and our internet histories. The NSA has the capacity to reach nearly 75% of all U.S. internet traffic. It can read the written content of emails and access the information of phone calls made via the internet.
Individual investors in China and India are buying physical gold in ever-growing quantities…and yet the price of gold isn’t rising. What gives? The short answer would appear to be that Western investors remain fairly persistent sellers of gold, thereby suppressing the gold price. The longer answer is that no one really knows. During Asian trading hours, gold has gained a cumulative $738 an ounce since September 2011. But during New York and London trading hours, gold has racked up a loss of $1,177 per ounce. The bigger point here is that the “Asian bid” for gold is large and growing.
In October of last year, China and Russia signed a landmark currency-swap deal allowing Russia to tap into $24.4 billion in liquidity. This was followed by an announcement that the People’s Bank of China would permit trading of renminbi-ruble derivatives and China’s Import-Export Bank extended credit to two sanctioned Russian banks. In other words, China’s doing what it can to help Russia keep its head above water. This is one of the greatest economic chess moves in recent history. And could be one of the greatest investment opportunities in our lifetime.
At the beginning of 2015, the crazy market barber was chasing down every solar stock in town with a pair of shears. But against all odds (and the charts) solar stocks are quickly re-growing these days—and setting up a hell of a trading opportunity for you, too. And you’re looking at a 20% gain in just a few months if you have the stones to pull the trigger today. I backed off solar at the beginning of 2015 because every finance article that wasn’t about the oil crash was about solar power. But in February, solar started looking a little less awful. It started slinking higher, while the major averages had a brownout. That was our clue that something big was brewing. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSE:TAN) is now up 20% since bottoming out in January. That’s a new bull market, baby!
Back in November 2013, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) floated the idea of a “one-off wealth tax” to help pay off the debts of heavily-indebted developed countries, like the U.S., Japan, and much of Europe. Such a tax had been used earlier that year in Cyprus. It wasn’t just the IMF, either: The European Union, the German Bundesbank, and the Bank of England had all been dropping hints that a wealth tax could be coming soon. Ideally (for government, anyway), a “wealth tax” would be imposed on households’ net worth —including their shareholdings and fixed assets such as real estate—but this would pose difficult logistical and enforcement problems. So the most likely scenario is a levy on bank balances, as in Cyprus. Banks would simply be instructed to deduct a certain percentage of the balance—say, 10%—of each savings, checking, or deposit account and transfer it to the government or central bank.
The plain fact is that the world is awash in oil…for the moment. So it’s no great surprise that the oil price is tumbling, as are the shares of oil and gas companies. But I think we’re getting close to a buying opportunity. Global oil supply is already 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) higher than it was a year ago. Meanwhile, global oil demand is only 700,000 bpd higher than it was a year ago. Don’t panic—this is a seasonal thing. The difference this time around is that we already have a 2 million bpd oil surplus on the market, and production in the U.S. and Middle East looks set to rise through next year. The good news is that not all energy companies are loaded with debt. In fact, some should do quite nicely. But they’re all getting pounded lower now. Of course, that means we’re coming to an incredible buying opportunity in select stocks.
A war looms in Asia, though you won’t have heard of it. This will be a war fought for resources and strategic positioning in the global economy of tomorrow: a war for economic dominance in what is emerging as the most crucial region of the world. The challenge for us—investors—comes in knowing where to go to profit from this new war in Asia. And I know where. Burma…a country less than two years removed from a military junta that ruled, often violently, since 1962. The aging military leaders have finally released their death-grip on power and now businesses from pretty much every major country you can think of—Australia, Japan, China, Canada, Singapore, Korea, India, Great Britain, Thailand—are beginning to swarm to opportunities that exist everywhere.
In October 2014, the tiny Baltic country of Estonia invited people worldwide to register as “e-residents,” opening its digital borders and moving toward a world in which a person’s identity online matters just as much as their identity offline. The eastern European country invited anyone, anywhere, to open a bank account or start a business there. This means that now, anyone with an Internet connection can live their financial life based in Estonia, without being physically present—which is great for business and investment.
My wife, Suzan, and I have lived abroad for almost 14 years, and we’ve had several foreign bank accounts. I wasn’t allowed to write checks on any of them. Not that foreign banks don’t allow check writing—they have all the same services U.S. banks do. But the banks we dealt with in Latin America all seem to be much more serious about signatures than our banks in the U.S.
I’ve raised the prospect of state-sponsored financial tax confiscation many times in the past. It’s becoming a more common government grab than you may have noticed. It happened in Argentina in 2008 and Cyprus in 2012. And last year, Poland followed suit. Could an act of financial tax confiscation happen in America? Could your hard-earned retirement funds forcibly be transferred to federal control to enable more politicians’ out-of-control government spending? The guarded answer is, yes.
Is it un-American to go offshore? In the United States, government officials and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service have for years done their best to convince people that obtaining a second passport is somehow crooked, even unpatriotic. The media persists with this steady drumbeat of negativity, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the legal and constitutional right of U.S. citizens to hold dual or even multiple citizenships. Indeed, a second passport—a second citizenship—is one of the most important tools in any sovereign person’s personal and financial toolkit.
“Chinese stocks have the potential to deliver triple-digit returns within 24 months,” I explained in a recent CNBC interview. That was a bold thing to say on camera… but I believe it’s absolutely possible… In fact, twice in the last decade, Chinese stocks have soared by triple digits within two years. When China goes up, it can soar… In China’s 2006-2007 bull market, Chinese stocks soared by 500%. It soared by more than 100% in its 2009 bull market as well. Importantly, Chinese stocks today are just as cheap as they were when they started their last two triple-digit runs in 2006 and 2009. They are hated, too… Investors have been avoiding them for the last year. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks are now in a definite uptrend. This is the ideal setup for big gains… So how can you trade it?
Contrary to what your broker, banker, or financial advisor has probably told you, you can own just about anything in your retirement account—not just the products they choose to pitch at you (generally stocks and bonds). You can own all sorts of investments within your Individual Retirement Account (IRA)—and 401(k), too, for that matter—including foreign real estate. Most IRA custodians have a list of approved investments that they won’t deviate from. I do understand why they keep options so limited: They must endure grueling audits. If they do anything wrong, they can be fined or shut down by regulators. It’s just easier to say “no” to anything even slightly off the beaten track.
William Francis “Willie” Sutton Jr. was a prolific American bank robber. During his 40-year criminal career he stole an estimated $2 million, and spent more than half of his adult life in prison, escaping three times. In response to a question about why he robbed banks, he famously replied: “Because that’s where the money is!” Willie would find it odd that these days it is more likely that your own government will be the robber that grabs your bank account.
Oil prices have fallen hard this year. The same thing happened in the first half of last year due to soaring production. The reasons for the decline in price are fourfold. Last year, U.S. production rose to its highest levels since the 1990s. Furthermore, OPEC saw its production leap to a nearly two-year high in September, averaging 30.96 million bpd (barrels per day). Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has cut its global oil growth forecasts for 2015 as a result of second quarter consumption sliding to a 2.5-year low.
I walked into the main Credit Suisse branch in Chicago and told the doorman I wanted to open a Swiss bank account. I was led to a private office overlooking the Chicago skyline. Was asked for my minimum deposit. Being just 31 at the time, I played it conservative and started with just $2,000 (about $4,300 in today’s dollars).
Sales for the 1,000 most sought after single-malt scotches have risen around 175% since 2008. That’s based on auction figures compiled by Scottish company, Whisky Highland, which track the market. In 2013, some 20,211 bottles were sold at auction, up from 5,431 in 2010.
Romania acceded to the European Union back in 2007… just in time for the global financial crisis to bite it in the neck. GDP growth, which at a robust 6% to 7% during the previous few years had been among the highest on the continent, promptly collapsed. The economy contracted by a whopping 6.5% in 2009 and remained in the red the following year. It’s been in a state of tentative recovery ever since.
Benjamin Franklin—one of the most astute and beloved of America’s Founding Fathers—once observed: “Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” Whether the people of the United States have remained true to the intent of America’s Founding Fathers is certainly open to question. Since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans have been subjected to the questionable Patriot Act, massive government NSA surveillance, and a flood of restrictive and questionable laws that curb liberties.
China is changing. That much we all know. And in the last few years a major shift has been in people’s diet. Spurred on by improved incomes, the growing Chinese middle class has developed a hunger for western-style foods—that means more meat and dairy.
Most folks think that finding a property overseas that fits their tastes and budget is tough. In fact, it’s much easier than they think. There’s plenty of opportunity out there when you know where to look, even when you’re on a tight budget.
With the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) revealed as global master snoops, potentially spying on every phone call, email, and computer, perhaps you have given up on protecting your personal and financial privacy. Or maybe you are one of the millions who thoughtlessly bear all for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. (Don’t!)
Many Americans of or near retirement age count their IRA as their greatest source of wealth. But despite contributing as regularly as they possibly can and watching their nest egg grow, many of those same people are at a loss when it comes to deciding how to make that investment grow further.
When it comes to hedging against dollar debasement, few things have performed better than gold. Holding some physical gold might just qualify as the very definition of “preparing for the worst.” But even though the historical case for gold is strong, the raw supply/demand case for platinum and palladium might be even stronger.
One of the best ways to minimize the “what-ifs” and the worry that goes with them is with a trust. With an inventory of your possessions, a few hours’ planning, and the help of a good attorney, anyone with wealth and assets can create one and they are among the most fool-proof, ironclad legal entities known to man.
Many emerging markets are actually in much better physical shape than the United States. So for instance, while people think of countries like Indonesia as being highly risky from a fiscal standpoint, Indonesia is actually on much sounder financial footing than the U.S.
Puerto Rico’s Stunning New Tax Advantages U.S. citizens and permanent residents have only limited opportunities for going abroad to reduce their taxes.
If you don’t hold a second passport yet, what’s stopping you? When you hold a second passport, a world of opportunities opens up to help you protect your finances, safeguard your privacy, and to grow your financial nest egg free from high taxes.
Asia is vast and diverse but a few things unite it, one of which is a love of noodles. Every day from Beijing to Bangkok billions of noodles are sucked up and scoffed by everyone from lunching laborers to office workers in a hurry. And for the biggest producers times have been good.
In the United States, Suze Orman is a popular financial guru on public television. Typical of her advice: “A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life.” One of the best ways to minimize the “what-ifs” and the worry that goes with them is with a trust.
If you want to increase your future returns while reducing your risk, you should add some emerging-market stocks to your portfolio. It may surprise you that adding riskier, emerging-market assets to a portfolio will reduce overall risk, but it shouldn’t. These markets do not move in lockstep with the U.S. market, which hit a series of all-time highs in the fourth quarter of 2013.
The old notion that “when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold” is fading. U.S. businesses and consumers no longer rule the globe. And for smart investors everywhere, the message is clear: For solid profits, you must put some wealth to work in markets beyond U.S. borders.
When it comes to figuring out U.S. taxes, there’s no one I trust more than Nick Hodges. That’s why, whenever I have a question about anything tax-related that you need to know about, I turn to him for a clear, concise, easy-to-understand explanation. His credentials are impressive—he has more professional qualifications than you can shake a stick at: CPA/PFS, MBA, and CFP.
We all look for ways to minimize our U.S. tax bill and to maximize our freedom abroad. We all desire to simplify our tax and reporting responsibilities. We want to think less about taxes…and enjoy more of our international experience. The good news is, if you approach your taxes in the right way, you can save yourself from the stresses of Tax Day every year…free up thousands of dollars that you’re legally entitled to that might otherwise go to the IRS…and avoid unnecessary and costly non-disclosure penalties.
As a wise man once said, “Forewarned is forearmed”…and that’s never truer than when it comes to taxes. Informing yourself of all the IRS regulations is a sensible idea—and could save you thousands of dollars. While it’s important for every American citizen to understand the phraseology of the regulations, if you’re thinking of living, working, or investing abroad, it’s even more important.
At a G-20 meeting held in September, central bankers, finance ministers, and an assortment of other central planners touted what they hoped would be a new “global standard” of the automatic sharing of financial information. The U.S. has taken the lead with the odious FATCA law…
Big-spending, deep-in-debt governments everywhere are looking for money. So national tax collectors have dusted off variations on an old scheme they hope will attract foreigners and bring in cash. It’s called “economic citizenship”—better described as “passports for sale.”
If you believe that spreading your political risk beyond one jurisdiction is the single most important thing you can do today, then obtaining a second passport and citizenship in another country is a critical part in achieving your goal. This is because it’s a fundamental step toward minimizing the political risk of being subjected to the whims of any single government. The political diversification benefits that come with obtaining a second passport are universal and prudent for anyone in the world to obtain…
Your dreams of living abroad are taking shape. You’ve traveled enough to know that you are comfortable with other cultures and exotic locations. You even have a few places that you know you want to return to. You are talking with expats and reading everything you can get your eyes on. You want to make sure that your dream turns out just how you envision it.