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How to Spot a Second Passport Scam

First, let’s set the scene: Common legal grounds enabling someone to acquire a second passport include marriage to a foreign citizen or birth in a foreign nation. In some countries like Ireland and Greece blood ancestry is a basis. Then there’s formal naturalization, meaning you apply and qualify for citizenship status.

A New “Nation” Emerges, Sweet Profits and much more…

Scandinavia is one of the most expensive regions in the world… and Norway is usually the most expensive country within Scandinavia. But thanks to a falling oil price coinciding with a rising U.S. dollar, Norway is on the bargain counter. The Norwegian krone recently touched a 13-year low against the dollar, while the shares of Statoil, Norway’s largest oil company, recently bounced off a six-year low (in dollar terms). These multi-year lows offer enticing buying opportunities for the forward-looking investor.

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Profit From the Arctic’s “Black Gold” War

If you were to make your way far below the icy North Pole to the seabed at a certain spot, you would find an unusual titanium flag. It’s Russian, and it was stuck there in 2007 by the crew of two mini-submarines as a symbolic land-grab that rivals anything in history. Though it’s not a “New World” that Russia and other Arctic countries are seeking. It’s new oil. And now, with the scramble for Arctic oil heating up, the abundant black gold buried beneath the ice could constitute a fantastic investment opportunity.

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A Second Passport: Your Ticket to an Easier Life

When it comes to taking your life and assets offshore, few tools are more valuable than a second passport. I have one, and it makes my life easier in many ways. For example, I am able to enter Brazil and several other countries on my second passport (South African) visa-free, since Brazil requires visas for U.S. passport holders. And when I go to certain countries—ones that aren’t big fans of the U.S.—using my second passport helps me avoid attention.

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Three Havens Where Residence is Easy

There are many countries around the world that offer you the right to residence without having to be physically there. The biggest benefit of having residence in another country is the ability to avail of offshore and financial protection strategies that would otherwise be unavailable to you as an America citizen.

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How to Legally and Safely Obtain Your Second Passport

One of my favorite scam stories is of the German lady living in Paraguay. Claudia Bettina Muller was arrested last year for printing fake passports in her basement. Police found printing and engraving machines, along with boxes of blank passports and counterfeit government forms. But before I had ever heard of Claudia Bettina Muller or the Paraguayan police caught up with her, I had heard of this scam. I had come across a speaker at an event in Nevada who claimed he could get anyone in the attentive audience a Paraguayan passport in as little as a month. This was possible he maintained, because he had high-level government contacts. The cost was only $45,000. (That’s half of what any of the second citizenship programs I work with charge.) Right then, as he spoke, I knew it was a scam.

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Two Ways to Bulletproof Your Assets

Why take your assets offshore with an international structure? Simple. It can make your assets virtually invulnerable to civil judgments. It can also protect you from risks such as civil forfeiture, exchange controls, repressive legislation, or political instability. It’s more difficult for creditors to collect against international assets. No country automatically enforces U.S. civil judgments. Many countries don’t enforce them at all. If you live in the States, a U.S. court can order you to repatriate your international assets. But if you’ve set up your structure properly, you won’t have the power to bring the funds back. And that’s a fantastic incentive for a creditor to settle the lawsuit.

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How Going Offshore Can Save Your Retirement

In 1986, 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 and 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). I was asked to fill out a one-page form and provide a copy of my driver’s license. I gave him a check and away I went. It took all of 20 minutes. In 1986, “offshore” was still exotic. It was something regular people didn’t really do. How things have changed in 29 years.

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What You Need to know About Taxes When you Retire Abroad

For U.S. citizens looking to retire overseas, one of the main concerns is their tax obligations. How will the big move affect the taxes they have to pay? And will they still be able to access their retirement income overseas without difficulty? By and large, these issues are more straightforward than you might expect.

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Plug into the Continent of a Billion Customers

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.

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Protect Your Privacy From the Snoops

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.

The Stealth Bull Market in Gold

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.

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Go Long: China’s Currency and Exports

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.

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Solar Stocks, Tax Credits and Street Cred…

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!

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The Best Way to Legally Preserve Your Wealth Overseas

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.

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Pitfalls for Energy Over the Coming Year

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.

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Burma’s Oil and Gas Market is Set to Take Off

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.

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Estonia Could Be Your Digital Offshore Haven

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.

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Foreign Banks – Confessions of an Account Holder

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.

Is There a Wealth Tax on the Way?

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.

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The Biggest Lie You’ve Been Told about Going Offshore

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.

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The Best Market for 100% Gains

“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?

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How to Buy Foreign Real Estate with Your IRA Funds

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.

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Capitalize on the Falling Price of Oil

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.

Putting Your Assets Offshore, “No Longer Just for the Super-Wealthy”

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).

To Drink or not to Drink…

To Drink or not to Drink…

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.

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Transylvania Bites Back

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.

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Escape from America Made More Difficult

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’s Appetite for Foreign Food

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.

Avoid These 5 Property Pitfalls Overseas

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.

Don’t Take Your Right to Privacy for Granted

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!)

Yes, You Can Buy Real Estate Overseas with Your IRA

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.

Why these Metals Might Beat Gold

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.

Protect Your Assets With an Offshore Trust

Protect Your Assets With an Offshore Trust

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.

Myths about Emerging Markets

Myths about Emerging Markets

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.

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Puerto Rico’s Stunning New Tax Advantages

Puerto Rico’s Stunning New Tax Advantages U.S. citizens and permanent residents have only limited opportunities for going abroad to reduce their taxes.

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Give Me One Good Reason Why You Don’t Have a Second Passport

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.

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What Asia’s Rising Middle Class Means for Noodles

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.

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How to Create a Shield for Your Assets with an Offshore Trust

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.

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