In 1999, the Federal Reserve, under Alan Greenspan, convinced the US Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which had been passed in 1932 to eliminate banks’ abilities to offer loans far beyond the actual level of their deposits.
When I learned of this development in 1999, I anticipated that it was put through to allow banks to once again recklessly loan money and that the outcome would be essentially the same as what occurred in 1929 - a depression of major proportions.
Major depressions do not occur overnight. They go in downward waves, interrupted at intervals by false recovery waves. The first major event of what would become the Greater Depression took place in 2007 with the housing crash. A year later, right on cue, came the first of the stock market crashes.
Since then, the US Federal Reserve and the governments and central banks of much of the world have been involved in Band-Aid solutions to postpone further crashes, in spite of the fact that the economy is, in fact, a “dead economy walking.”
The Band-Aids have been many and various and, at some point, one of them will fail. The fact that they are all Band-Aids and not true solutions assures that, when the first one lets go, they will all fail in succession. Only at this point will the average person understand that we have been in the early stages of a depression all along.
What will happen will be a sudden and unseen event - a trigger that suddenly sends the economy downward, followed by another, then another, as the economy tumbles inexorably downward.
Along the way, emergency measures will be utilised to “save” the economy. They will be drastic, including confiscation of bank deposits, plus massive money creation. There will be dramatic inflation and very possibly, hyperinflation.
But the collapse will continue, unstoppably. Like any house of cards, once it begins to actually fall, no further Band-Aids will stop the inevitable.
So, what might that trigger be?
Well, there is literally no one in the world who might predict that with certainty. The reason is that as so many Band-Aids have been used by so many countries in so many areas of the economy, no one can say which one will fail first: which one will be the actual trigger that causes the chain reaction.
I believe that we are now closing in on that time. The house of cards is becoming evermore fragile and we will not need to wait much longer before the event occurs. As we get closer, increasing numbers of people are seeing the writing on the wall and, more and more, I’m being asked the same two questions.
“What Will the Fatal Trigger Be?”
Here’s a brief list of possible triggers:
- Creditors dump US debt back into the US market
- Commodity prices spike
- A crash occurs in the stock or bond market
- A backlash occurs from countries sanctioned by the US
- European countries default on their debt
- The US dollar ends as the petrocurrency (causing a sale in US treasuries)
- The US or EU introduce significant tariffs, diminishing world trade
- Interest rates rise, as they did in 1929
- The paper gold market crashes, when the shortage of physical gold is revealed
- Banks freeze or confiscate deposits
- FATCA accelerates the demise of the US dollar as the default currency
- A credit collapse occurs (followed by dramatic inflation or hyperinflation)
Any of the above is capable of triggering a collapse (and, as stated, this is not by any means an exhaustive list). Therefore, it would be wise to keep an eye out for indicators that one of them may occur. Any one of them that appears to be nearing the point of becoming a reality would suggest that the tipping point may occur soon.
“How Will I Know in Advance?”
Whatever advance warning you may have will be based on how closely you’re following the indicators that any of the possible triggers may be nearing fruition. Some, like the overbought stock market or the rise in commodity prices could kick in at any time.
Others, such as a bank freeze on deposits, or the collapse of the ETF market in gold, could happen quite suddenly and without any warning at all.
In discussing the above condition with investors, they often say, “Well, if it’s inevitable and I can’t time the event, there’s no use thinking about it. We’re all going to go down with the ship, so why bother?”
Quite frankly, I’m astonished that so many investors are so complacent that they’re prepared to shrug their shoulders and accept their own economic demise, yet this assumption is very common.
The enemy is not the coming events; the enemy is complacency toward those events.
The investor therefore has two viable choices: to either get blindsided by events and become an economic casualty, or be prepared (as much as possible) for the crashes, regardless of what the trigger might turn out to be.
Creating an Escape Plan
There can be no perfect solution - one which allows you to retain your present life, exactly as it is, within the system, whilst the system around you is in a state of collapse.
What can be done, however, is to remove your wealth and yourself from the system as much as possible, so that the impact of the collapse is minimised.
As a basic set of assumptions, you might consider one or more of the following actions:
- Remove all cash from exposure to bank freezes and confiscations by placing your money (other than three months of expenses) in banks in countries where no confiscation laws exist (i.e., outside of the EU, US and Canada).
- Convert a major portion of your cash into precious metals, to be stored in a minimum-risk jurisdiction, such as Singapore, Hong Kong or the Cayman Islands.
- If you’re a citizen and resident of a major country that is likely to be a casualty, create a place of legal domicile in an alternate country.
- Invest in land and/or built property in that country, or similar jurisdiction (property is the most difficult asset for any government to confiscate). Choose a country that has no annual property tax, if possible.
This is only the most basic of formats, but it works well, either in its entirety, or in part.
Many readers may say, “But I’m not wealthy. I can’t do any of those things.”
Again, this is complacency talking.
Anyone with $1,000 can create a foreign bank account. Anyone who additionally has the price of an ounce of gold can begin to remove his wealth, no matter how small, from risk.
Anyone with a skill can secure employment in a country where the damage is likely to be lesser than in his home country.
The cloud on the horizon is a flock of black swans. No one can predict when they might land. What can be said for certain is that, at some point, they most certainly will.
* * *
A big part of any strategy to reduce your political risk is to place some of your savings outside the immediate reach of the thieving bureaucrats in your home country. Obtaining an offshore bank account is a convenient way to do just that.
That way, your savings cannot be easily confiscated, frozen, or devalued at the drop of a hat or with a couple of taps on the keyboard. In the event that capital controls are imposed, an offshore bank account will ensure that you have access to your money when you need it the most.
In short, your savings in an offshore bank will largely be safe from any madness in your home country.
Despite what you may hear, offshore banking is completely legal and is not about tax evasion or other illegal activities. It’s simply about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your liquid savings in sound, well-capitalized institutions where they’re treated the best.
You may want to check out Going Global, our comprehensive publication where we discuss our favorite banks and jurisdictions for offshore banking including, crucially, those that still accept Americans as clients and allow them to open accounts remotely for small minimums.
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