December 2022


All individuals aspire to own a house and plan their financial investments and savings accordingly but when they finally decide to acquire such an asset, most of these individuals do not consider taking legal help in the matter. Hiring a real estate dispute lawyer right from the first stage of negotiations to the closure of the deal at the end will be helpful in safeguarding the interests of the buyer. Engaging a property dispute lawyer will be extremely beneficial as the professional can provide valuable guidance on a range of issues, some of which are being listed here.

#1. Negotiating With The Seller

A legal professional well-versed in laws regulating the sale, purchase, and development of real estate assets can be a valuable ally while negotiating the purchase of a house. More often than not, it is the broker who is involved in the process of negotiation and it is a correct practice but keeping a lawyer by your side will also be helpful. These professionals are adept at presenting their client’s cases and they will use the same skills to ensure that the person buying the house gets a favourable deal.

#2. Verification Of The Ownership Documents

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a real estate asset is verifying the proof of ownership provided by the seller. A lawyer can be of great help in this regard as he/she can easily ascertain the genuineness of the title and cross-check all the information provided by the selling party at the local authorities responsible for registering property transactions. The professional is also best-positioned to conduct the title search to check the ownership history of the property to spot any points that can affect the buyer in any manner.

#3. Conduct A Background Check Of The Seller

Just as it is critical to verify the ownership documents of the property, it is important for people to ascertain the identity of the seller. Lawyers can assist in this matter by conducting a background check to establish that the person selling the asset is a legal resident who is not in barred by the law from owning and selling the piece of property in question. Some assets are owned by organizations and in such cases, it will be pertinent to ask the legal adviser to find out whether the person conducting the negotiations on behalf of the organization has been authorized to do so.

#4. Compliance Of All Building Regulations

Another area that legal adviser can prove to be of immense help is in finding out whether the building has been constructed according to all the specified regulations. Buyers must look out for any such violations as they can create problems for them in the future. Zoning laws govern the usage and development of land in a particular area and it will be pertinent to see that the house complies with the latest regulations.

#5. Helpful In Identifying Unreasonable Terms

property dispute lawyers will come in handy in identifying any unreasonable terms that may prove to be detrimental for the client and impede his/her right to enjoy the property after purchase. It is seen that people use standard formats for agreements hoping that they will cover all aspects of the deal but each transaction is unique in nature and requires a different approach. A legal adviser will not only help remove unwanted conditions but will also insist on including appropriate ones.

#6. Drafting A Proper Purchase Agreement

The purchase agreement is the most crucial document that formalizes the transaction in a property transaction. Extreme care is required to draft this document which must include information about the price of the house, any alterations made to it and whether they are legal or not, and the consequences for both parties if the deal is not realized successfully because of either of them. No one other than a lawyer can prepare a carefully worded purchase agreement that contains all necessary information and considers all possible eventualities.

#7. Understanding The Tax Liabilities

It is not only the seller of a real estate asset who has to keep track of taxation on the amount earned from the sale, but the purchaser must also know about all applicable tax liabilities. An individual buying a house must pay taxes on the transaction and the requisite fees for registering the sale at the designated local government authority. A lawyer specializing in property issues will provide all the relevant information well in advance to the client so that he/she can make sufficient preparations.

#8. Conducting A Physical Survey Of The Premises

Most people will think that a legal advisor has no significant role to play in the physical survey of the premises but again a lawyer can provide valuable assistance in this matter. He/she will ensure that the dimensions of the house as stated in the legal documents match with those of the actual building besides checking that no encroachment has taken place on the property.

#9. Closing The Transaction Successfully

The closing of the deal with the buyer paying the full price of the property and the title of the asset being transferred into his/her name is another critical part of the transaction that an attorney must oversee. A legal professional will be helpful in preparing the closing statement besides providing assistance to the client in understanding the deed and mortgage papers.


A real estate lawyer can be an invaluable asset in property transactions. All individuals looking to buy a house must enlist a competent professional’s services to get assistance and close the deal successfully.

(Jeff Clark)  I remember my first drug high. No, it wasn’t from a shady deal made with a seedy character in a bad part of town. I was in the hospital, recovering from surgery, and while I wasn’t in a lot of pain, the nurse suggested something to help me sleep better. I didn’t really think I needed it—but within seconds of that needle puncturing my skin, I WAS IN HEAVEN.

The euphoria that struck my brain was indescribable. The fluid coursing through my veins was so powerful I’ve never forgotten it. I can easily see why people get hooked on drugs.

And that’s why I think silver, purchased at current prices, could be a life-changing investment.

The connection? Well, it’s not the metal’s ever-increasing number of industrial uses… or exploding photovoltaic (solar) demand… nor even that the 2014 supply is projected to be stagnant and only reach 2010’s level. No, the connection is…

Financial Heroin

The drugs of choice for governments—money printing, deficit spending, and nonstop debt increases—have proved too addictive for world leaders to break their habits. At this point, the US and other governments around the world have toked, snorted, and mainlined their way into an addictive corner; they are completely hooked. The Fed and their international central-bank peers are the drug pushers, providing the easy money to keep the high going. And despite the Fed’s latest taper of bond purchases, past actions will not be consequence-free.

At first, drug-induced highs feel euphoric, but eventually the body breaks down from the abuse. Similarly, artificial stimuli and sub-rosa manipulations by central banks have delivered their special effects—but addiction always leads to a systemic breakdown.

When government financial heroin addicts are finally forced into cold-turkey withdrawal, the ensuing crisis will spark a rush into precious metals. The situation will be exacerbated when assets perceived as “safe” today—like bonds and the almighty greenback—enter bear markets or crash entirely.

As a result, the rise in silver prices from current levels won’t be 10% or 20%—but a double, triple, or more.

If inflation picks up steam, $100 silver is not a fantasy but a distinct possibility. Gold will benefit, too, of course, but due to silver’s higher volatility, we expect it will hand us a higher percentage return, just as it has many times in the past.

Eventually, all markets correct excesses. The global economy is near a tipping point, and we must prepare our portfolios now, ahead of that chaos, which includes owning a meaningful amount of physical silver along with our gold.

It’s time to build for a big payday.

Why I’m Excited About Silver

When considering the catalysts for silver, let’s first ignore short-term factors such as net short/long positions, fluctuations in weekly ETF holdings, or the latest open interest. Data like these fluctuate regularly and rarely have long-term bearing on the price of silver.

I’m more interested in the big-picture forces that could impact silver over the next several years. The most significant force, of course, is what I stated above: governments’ abuse of “financial heroin” that will inevitably lead to a currency crisis in many countries around the world, pushing silver and gold to record levels.

At no time in history have governments printed this much money.

And not one currency in the world is anchored to gold or any other tangible standard. This unprecedented setup means that whatever fallout results, it will be of historic proportions and affect each of us personally.

Specific to silver itself, here are the data that tell me “something big this way comes”…

1. Inflation-Adjusted Price Has a Long Way to Go

One hint of silver’s potential is its inflation-adjusted price. I asked John Williams of Shadow Stats to calculate the silver price in June 2014 dollars (July data is not yet available).

Shown below is the silver price adjusted for both the CPI-U, as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the price adjusted using ShadowStats data based on the CPI-U formula from 1980 (the formula has since been adjusted multiple times to keep the inflation number as low as possible).

The $48 peak in April 2011 was less than half the inflation-adjusted price of January 1980, based on the current CPI-U calculation. If we use the 1980 formula to measure inflation, silver would need to top $470 to beat that peak.

I’m not counting on silver going that high (at least I hope not, because I think there will be literal blood in the streets if it does), but clearly, the odds are skewed to the upside—and there’s a lot of room to run.

2. Silver Price vs. Production Costs

Producers have been forced to reduce costs in light of last year’s crash in the silver price. Some have done a better job at this than others, but check out how margins have narrowed.

Relative to the cost of production, the silver price is at its lowest level since 2005. Keep in mind that cash costs are only a portion of all-in expenses, and the silver price has historically traded well above this figure (all-in costs are just now being widely reported). That margins have tightened so dramatically is not sustainable on a long-term basis without affecting the industry. It also makes it likely that prices have bottomed, since producers can only cut expenses so much.

Although roughly 75% of silver is produced as a by-product, prices are determined at the margin; if a mine can’t operate profitably or a new project won’t earn a profit at low prices, the resulting drop in output would serve as a catalyst for higher prices. Further, much of the current cost-cutting has come from reduced exploration budgets, which will curtail future supply.

3. Low Inventories

Various entities hold inventories of silver bullion, and these levels were high when US coinage contained silver. As all US coins intended for circulation have been minted from base metals for decades, the need for high inventories is thus lower today. But this chart shows how little is available.

You can see how low current inventories are on a historical basis, most of which are held in exchange-traded products. This is important because these investors have been net buyers since 2005 and thus have kept that metal off the market. The remaining amount of inventory is 241 million ounces, only 25% of one year’s supply—whereas in 1990 it represented roughly eight times supply. If demand were to suddenly surge, those needs could not be met by existing inventories. In fact, ETP investors would likely take more metal off the market. (The “implied unreported stocks” refers to private and other unreported depositories around the world, another strikingly smaller number.)

If investment demand were to repeat the surge it saw from 2005 to 2009, this would leave little room for error on the supply side.

4. Conclusion of the Bear Market

This updated snapshot of six decades of bear markets signals that ours is near exhaustion. The black line represents silver’s decline from April 2011 through August 8, 2014.

The historical record suggests that buying silver now is a low-risk investment.

5. Cheap Compared to Other Commodities

Here’s how the silver price compares to other precious metals, along with the most common base metals.

Percent Change From…
 1 Year Ago5 Years Ago10 Years

Only nickel is further away from its all-time high than silver.

6. Low Mainstream Participation

Another indicator of silver’s potential is how much it represents of global financial wealth, compared to its percentage when silver hit $50 in 1980.

In spite of ongoing strong demand for physical metal, silver currently represents only 0.01% of the world’s financial wealth. This is one-twenty-fifth its 1980 level. Even that big price spike we saw in 2011 pales in comparison.

There’s an enormous amount of room for silver to become a greater part of mainstream investment portfolios.

7. Watch Out for China!

It’s not just gold that is moving from West to East…

Don’t look now, but the SHFE has overtaken the Comex and become the world’s largest futures silver exchange. In fact, the SHFE accounted for 48.6% of all volume last year. The Comex, meanwhile, is in sharp decline, falling from 93.4% market share as recently as 2001 to less than half that amount today.

And all that trading has led to a sharp decrease in silver inventories at the exchange. While most silver (and gold) contracts are settled in cash at the COMEX, the majority of contracts on the Shanghai exchanges are settled in physical metal. Which has led to a huge drain of silver stocks…

Since January 2013, silver inventories at the Shanghai Futures Exchange have fallen a remarkable 84% to a record low 148 tonnes. If this trend continues, the Chinese exchanges will experience a serious supply crunch in the not-too-distant future.

There’s more…

  • Domestic silver supply in China is expected to hit an all-time high and exceed 250 million ounces this year (between mine production, imports, and scrap). By comparison, it was less than 70 million ounces in 2000. However, virtually none of this is exported and is thus unavailable to the world market.
  • Chinese investors are estimated to have purchased 22 million ounces of silver in 2013, the second-largest amount behind India. It was zero in 1999.
  • The biggest percentage growth in silver applications comes from China. Photography, jewelry, silverware, electronics, batteries, solar panels, brazing alloys, and biocides uses are all growing at a faster clip in China than any other country in the world.

These are my top reasons for buying silver now.

Based on this review of big-picture data, what conclusion would you draw? If you’re like me, you’re forced to acknowledge that the next few years could be a very exciting time for silver investors.

Just like gold, our stash of silver will help us maintain our standard of living—but may be even more practical to use for small purchases. And in a high-inflation/decaying-dollar scenario, the silver price is likely to exceed consumer price inflation, giving us further purchasing power protection.

The bottom line is that the current silver price should be seen as a long-term buying opportunity. This may or may not be our last chance to buy at these levels for this cycle, but if you like bargains, silver’s neon “Sale!” sign is flashing like a disco ball.

(Paul Rosenburg)  Nearly all of us grew up thinking that we registered ourselves to prove that we were safe and responsible. We advertised our services as “registered” or “licensed,” and we never thought about it beyond that point. After all, that was the way things were done, and we knew that it would help our customers trust us.

There is, however, another side to registration, one that’s about to bite a lot of decent people… and hard.

What Is Registration, Really?

What did we do when we registered with a government agency? We gave them our name, address, birthdate, and so on. If we thought about it at all, we thought that they were acting as some kind of guarantor of our services. But what really happened was that we told them how to find us and hurt us.

Registration involves making ourselves easy to find by enforcers, and placing ourselves at their mercy. Yes, I know that we did it ignorantly (I know I certainly did) and out of necessity, but we did hand our best “how to find me” information to enforcement agencies.

Now, what I’ve described above involves commercial and professional registrations. Unfortunately, the same thing applies to bank accounts and retirement accounts. When you register those with a government, you’re telling them where your money is and making it very easy for them to seize it.

Trillion-Dollar Deficits

In recent years, the US government has been spending $1 trillion per year more than it takes in. (And there are many additional factors at play.) The European situation is different, but not particularly better.

These situations can only last so long. At some point, the governments will need more money, especially as banks are poised to fail.

Governments will protect the big banks, at the expense of the citizens. You should take this seriously, and now.

Warning Shots

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a horrifying paper, called The Fund’s Lending Framework and Sovereign Debt. That paper in turn was based on one from December 2013, called Financial and Sovereign Debt Crises: Some Lessons Learned and Those Forgotten.

Major media ignored all of this, of course.

The December 2013 document, right at the start, says that “financial repression” is necessary. Here’s what it says:

The claim is that advanced countries do not need to resort to the standard toolkit of emerging markets, including debt restructurings and conversions, higher inflation, capital controls and other forms of financial repression.

It continues:

As we document, this claim is at odds with the historical track record of most advanced economies, where debt restructuring or conversions, financial repression, and a tolerance for higher inflation, or a combination of these were an integral part of the resolution of significant past debt overhangs.

So, in order to fix debt overhangs—currently at horrifying levels—financial repression is not just an option, but required.

That’s not my interpretation; those are their words.

And, of course, they’ve already had a trial run, when they stole funds directly from individual bank accounts in Cyprus. Here’s how that went down:

  • March 16, 2013: Cyprus announces a bank holiday and sets the terms of a “bail-in” to save the banks: 6.75% of all bank balances under €100,000 and 9.9% of balances larger than €100,000 will be confiscated. In honest language, the word for that is “theft.”
  • People screamed, and the government hemmed and hawed for a number of days.
  • March 24, 2013: People are permitted to withdraw €100 at a time from their bank accounts.
  • March 25, 2013: A bail-in deal is announced. Accounts with over €100,000 lose either 47.5% of their money (Bank of Cyprus) or 100% (Laiki bank).

And as it happened, a number of very rich people and companies were permitted to withdraw their money in full, regardless of the “bail-in.”

The IMF report goes on to say:

Governments can stuff debt into local pension funds and insurance companies, forcing them through regulation to accept far lower rates of return than they might otherwise demand. ….

Domestic defaults, restructurings, or conversions are particularly difficult to document and can sometimes be disguised as “voluntary.”

The paper that they slipped out also adds this:

The Fund would be able to provide exceptional access on the basis of a debt operation that involves an extension of maturities.

That means that 30-day notes can be instantly turned into 30-year bonds.

The US Treasury Is Already on the Job

It’s not just the IMF, of course. The US Treasury has had a group working on these ideas since the Bush administration.

And in August 2010, the US Departments of Labor and the Treasury held joint hearings, deciding how best they could take control of all assets in IRAs and 401(k) accounts. The decision was that they’d replace them with “Treasury Retirement Bonds.”

More Examples

  • In 2009, the government of Ireland swiped €4 billion from its National Pensions Reserve Fund in order to prop up its insolvent banks. They stole the remaining €2.5 billion the following March for another bailout.
  • In November 2010, the French parliament took €36 billion from a reserve pension fund to pay the debts of a “social” fund.
  • Also in November 2010, the government of Hungary effectively took 2.7 trillion forints ($13.5 billion) from 3 million retirement accounts.
  • The government of Poland nationalized one-third of future contributions to individual retirement accounts. That money will almost certainly disappear into the state treasury, robbing savers of some $2.3 billion per year.


Understand that the financial powers that be—the IMF, World Bank, Bank for International Settlements (BIS), assorted central banks, and your local government—are ready to rob you.

When the time comes, all their usual sucker-bait will be pulled out: “It only hits the rich,” “We have to trash the economy to save it,” “We must all sacrifice,” “It’s for the children,” and so on.

All the right-thinking people on television will wring their hands and say it’s the only way out. Perhaps they’ll even let a bank or two crash for good effect.

But in the end, they aim to steal your money. Government and the big banks will continue unharmed.

If you want to protect yourself, you need to get your wealth out of registered accounts, because that’s where they’ll grab first.

Understand that these people have only two real choices:

  1. Reform their system, close the central banks, and give up their power.
  2. Start grabbing the only big pile of portable wealth remaining: your retirement money.

I don’t think any of us believe they’ll take option number one.

(SYDNEY)  The world is facing a global jobs crisis that is hurting the chances of re-igniting economic growth and there is no magic bullet to solve the problem, the World Bank warned on Tuesday.

In a study released at a G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting in Australia, the Bank said an extra 600 million jobs needed to be created worldwide by 2030 just to cope with the expanding population.

“There’s little doubt there is a global jobs crisis,” said the World Bank’s senior director for jobs, Nigel Twose.

“As this report makes clear, there is a shortage of jobs, and quality jobs.

“And equally disturbingly, we’re also seeing wage and income inequality widening within many G20 countries, although progress has been made in a few emerging economies, like Brazil and South Africa.”

He said that overall emerging market economies had done better than advanced G20 countries in job creation, driven primarily by countries such as China and Brazil, but the outlook was bleak.

“Current projections are dim. Challenging times loom large,” said Twose.

The report, compiled with the OECD and International Labour Organisation, said more than 100 million people were unemployed in G20 economies and 447 million were considered “working poor”, living on less than US$2 a day.

It said despite a modest economic recovery in 2013-14, global growth was expected to remain below trend with downside risks in the foreseeable future, while weak labour markets were constraining consumption and investment.

The persistent slow growth would continue to dampen employment prospects, it said, and warned that real wages had stagnated across many advanced G20 nations and even fallen in some.

“There is no magic bullet to solve this jobs crisis, in emerging markets or advanced economies,” said Twose.

“We do know we need to create an extra 600 million jobs worldwide by the year 2030 just to cope with the expanding population.

“That requires not just the leadership of ministries of labour but their active collaboration with all other ministries, a whole of government approach cutting across different ministries, and of course the direct and sustained involvement of the private sector.”

In the face of below trend growth, Group of 20 leaders, who meet in Brisbane in November, have called for each member country to develop growth strategies and employment action plans.

They emphasised the need for coordinated and integrated public policies, along with resilient social protection systems, sustainable public finance and well-regulated financial systems.

“Coordinated policies in these areas are seen as the foundation for sustainable, job-creating economic growth,” the report said.

Earlier this year, G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Sydney agreed to work towards lifting their collective gross domestic product by more than two percentage points over the next five years.

However, an IMF report in July warned that the pledge could be wiped out by rising interest rates and weakening emerging economies.

(Nick Giambruno)  You may have wondered: “What’s the difference between having a bank account at Bank of America and having an offshore bank account?”

The truth is, there’s possibly all the difference in the world.

Here are the top 10 reasons why you need an offshore bank account.

Reason #1: Dilute Your Political Risk

Doug Casey has said over and over that the biggest risk you face today is not market or financial risk—as big as those risks are—but rather the risk from your own government.

There’s no doubt this kind of risk is rising in most parts of the West. Governments are hopelessly sinking deeper into insolvency. They’re turning to the same desperate measures they always have throughout history, and it’s a big threat to your savings.

It’s only prudent to expect more bail-ins (as we’ve seen in Cyprus), bank deposit taxes (as we’ve seen in Spain), retirement savings nationalizations (as we’ve seen in Poland, Hungary, Portugal, and Argentina), and capital controls (as we’ve seen in Cyprus and Iceland), among other destructive actions. And these are just a few recent examples.

If you think these kinds of things can’t happen in your country, think again.

According to Judge Andrew Napolitano: “People who have more than $100,000 in the bank are targets for any government that’s looking for money to shore up its own inability to manage its finances.”

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 capital controls are imposed, an offshore bank account will help 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.

Reason #2: Sounder Banking Systems and Banks

Almost all of the banking systems in Western countries are fundamentally unsound—leveraged to the hilt and backed by the promises of insolvent governments. Worse, most of these banks only keep a tiny fraction of cash on hand to meet customer withdrawal requests. This means that in the event of a financial shock like another Lehman-style event, you could have trouble accessing your money.

If you look to bank in a jurisdiction with low debt and a history of a stability, you can find banks that don’t gamble with customer deposits (i.e., your money), are much better capitalized, keep more cash on hand, and are otherwise much more conservatively run than those in the US.

Offshore banks are almost always more responsible custodians of your hard earned-savings.

Reason #3: Asset Protection

Maybe you think it’s just other people who live on the lawsuit firing line… and you live somewhere else. Think again.

The Legal Resource Network reports that 15 million lawsuits are filed in the US every year.

That works out to a new lawsuit for one out of every 12 adults each year… year after year. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, sooner or later your turn will come. You’re not going to like it.

It’s no fluke that 80% of the world’s lawyers—over 1.2 million of them—work in the US. That’s where the action is. Your money is the trophy they’re competing for.

While there is no such thing as 100% protection, an offshore bank account can help make you a hard target.

An offshore bank account also protects you from being paralyzed by a lightning seizure by any government agency armed with a summary power to freeze your assets, since such summary powers can’t reach beyond the US. If you ever find yourself in a wrestling match with a government agency or with a frivolous lawsuit, you’ll have resources you can count on.

Reason #4: Currency Diversification

Holding foreign currencies is a great way to diversify the risk in your portfolio, protect your purchasing power, and internationalize some of your savings.

Chances are though, that your domestic bank offers few—if any—options to hold foreign currencies.

Offshore banks, on the other hand, commonly offer convenient online platforms for you to hold foreign currencies.

Reason #5: Higher Interest Rates for Your Deposits

In what amounts to a war on savers, the European Central Bank and the Fed have manipulated interest rates to near historical lows. These artificially low interest rates amount to a wealth transfer from savers—who would otherwise enjoy higher returns on their deposits—to borrowers. In fact, if you live in the West, there’s a good chance that the interest you’re earning on your savings isn’t even keeping pace with the real rate of inflation.

If you look abroad, though, you can find banks that pay interest rates significantly higher than what you’d find at home.

Reason #6: Ensure Access to Medical Care Abroad

In the case you’re denied or delayed treatment in your home country—an increasing possibility with the disastrous Obamacare—you may want to seek medical care abroad.

In a dramatic scenario, this could be the difference between life and death. Suppose that for whatever reason, you cannot get the medical care you need in your home country and have to go abroad. That means you’ll have to transfer money abroad to pay for it. But if capital controls are imposed, it could be difficult or impossible to transfer funds abroad to pay for the medical care you need.

This is where having an offshore bank account—which isn’t held hostage to capital controls in your home country—can help ensure that you always have access to medical care abroad.

Reason #7: The Ability to Act Quickly

When it comes to international diversification, it’s always better to be a year early than a minute too late. Once a government has imposed capital controls or levied bank accounts, it will be too late to take protective action.

If you don’t already have one, you should open an offshore bank account now—even if it’s a small one. Just having one available—regardless of how much money you initially put in it—gives you meaningful benefits. Namely the option to act quickly and transfer more money abroad in the future, should the situation warrant it.

Reason #8: Maintain Limited Privacy

Americans who have an aggregate of $10,000 or more in foreign financial accounts at any time during the year must file an FBAR (FinCEN Form 114). However, if the aggregate total of your foreign financial accounts remains under $10,000 for the year, and they are not held in a trust, LLC, or other structure, you can legally maintain your privacy.

Reason #9: Peace of Mind

An offshore bank account is like an insurance policy. It helps protect you from unsound banks and banking systems and the destructive actions of a bankrupt government. It also makes you a hard target for frivolous lawsuits and allows you to pay for medical care abroad. Knowing that you have taken a strong measure to protect yourself from these things should give you a degree of mental comfort.

Reason #10: Maximize Your Personal Freedom

Having an offshore bank account gives you more options. More options means more freedom.

It’s a crucial step in freeing yourself from absolute dependence on any one country.

Achieve that freedom, and it becomes very difficult for any government to control your destiny.


It’s no secret that it is becoming harder and harder to open an offshore bank account. Soon it could be impossible. This is a strong incentive to act sooner rather than later to get one—even if you don’t plan to use it immediately.

Even if your home government doesn’t slap on capital controls or confiscate deposits, you’re no worse off for having moved your savings to a safer home. In fact, you’re far better off for the reasons described above. Obtaining an offshore bank account is a prudent step that makes sense no matter what.

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 best.

Be sure to get the free IM Communiqué so that you have the latest on the best offshore banking options.

You may also 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.

(Bill Coffin)  Few people can match the economic expertise of Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He served as the senior economic advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He set the bar for instructing an often ignorant and easily distracted Congress on matters of intricate economic policy. And he served as the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

So when he took the stage as a keynote speaker at KPMG’s 2014 Insurance Industry Conference Tuesday, he came with his bona fides in order, and ready to speak to an audience that was keenly interested in any vision he could provide on 1) where the economy is going, 2) why, and 3) when (if ever) is it likely to improve.

The short answers to those are: 1) nowhere fast, 2) because nobody is willing to invest, and 3) eventually, but nobody can tell when.

As he dug into the issues, he highlighted 7 key points on which our economic growth is hung up, and how the insurance industry plays into all of it. Read on.

9. Lack of confidence.

The U.S. economy is in a state of extraordinary change, Greenspan said, the likes of which he has never seen before. The most interesting thing about the current recession and recovery, he said, is that in the 10 recoveries we saw since WWII, every one except the current one was led by construction, essentially. This recovery is so sluggish because construction is, as Greenspan so delicately put it, “dead in the water.” The reason why construction is so dead is due, in part, to excess capacity built up before the economy crashed in 2008. But more importantly, businesses and households across the board are so skeptical of the future, they’re not willing to invest in it. Nobody is putting money into longer-lived assets, and until they do, the economy won’t really return to form.

Case in point: in the early 1990s, the amount of liquid cash assets companies were willing to invest in illiquid, long-term assets was way higher than it is now. You also see this in the yield spread in 5-year U.S. Treasury notes versus 30-year U.S. Treasury bonds, which is the widest in U.S. history. Why? Because people are far more willing to invest on a 5-year return than a 30-year one. That speaks to the depth of the worry people have in the future. And that kills growth.

8. Renting instead of buying.

The same is true in U.S. households. The single-family home construction market collapsed in the 2008 crash, and it induced a major shift; many more houses that are being built now are meant not for sale but for rental. Home ownership is way below where it was years ago, and there is no evidence that even with rising home prices that this will change any time soon.

That speaks to the degree of economic malaise in the U.S., Greenspan said. Unless we can change that, then we can’t change the effective demand needed to move the economy forward. And with effective demand several points below where it ought to be – with our economy working well below capacity – that is where our unemployment and overall economic weakness comes from, hanging around like an unwelcome house guest.

7. It’s a global problem.

This is not unique to the United States, Greenspan noted.

The “very tricky fiscal problems” that the United States is facing are fundamentally the same that are being faced by developed economies across the world, from the UK. Germany and the Eurozone, Ukraine, Japan, and elsewhere. Construction as a share of GDP is the same in these places as in the U.S., essentially, and construction remains down across the board. People are heavily discounting the future, Greenspan said.

One example is in how corporations evaluate the probable rate of return on a specific facility and then wonder what the variance on that return might be. That variance is really what the executivecommittees of corporation are really interested in, Greenspan said, and if a project is supposed to have a 30% yield, but there is a 10% chance of it returning a -10% yield, then the project will be dead in the water.

In this kind of environment, corporate tax rates become impossible to estimate, and that results in a serious curtailment of expenditures. When people don’t have a clue what the tax rate will be 20 or 30 years from now, and they have projected income from those years, then it drives up the effective cost of current projects.

China is the one part of the world where this isn’t a problem, but that’s about to change…

6. China’s debt bubble is going to burst.

China’s overall level of debt has gone from 140% of its GDP to 230% of GDP, which Greenspan glibly remarked is a sure sign that the Chinese economy is becoming overleveraged. It is requiring ever-larger amounts of social debt to fuel the country’s growth rate.

Greenspan noted that China has had “a remarkable run” the likes of which have never been seen before in measurable history. But, its gains in productivity and standards of living were all done with borrowed capital and technology. Annual lists of the world’s most innovative companies feature no Chinese companies, and nearly half of those lists are made up of American companies. This is leading to a narrowing productivity gap between China and the U.S. that is putting serious pressure on the Chinese economy.

This is big, since most of the institutional lending in China has been backed by the government. There is a substantial amount of essentially shadow banking that operates with the same presumed backing of the government, but that backing is not really there, and the government is about to let some companies know that the hard way. Look for some Chinese defaults in the future, perhaps in its seriously overextended steel industry or elsewhere in tis manufacturing sectors.

That said, Greenspan also noted that while bubbles, by definition, burst, not all bubbles are toxic. The dot-com bubble bursting in the 1990s was individually ruinous for many people, but it was not an institutional bubble. The subprime mortgate situation in the late 2000s was an institutional situation. China knows the difference and is doing everything to ensure that when its bubble bursts, it’ll be the first kind of problem and not the second kind. Will they succeed? Who knows.

5. A diminished U.S. military means an unstable world.

Greenspan noted that at the end of the Cold War, the U.S. was left standing as the sole superpower, and it used its military heft to act as the world’s policeman, suppressing conflict in a number of hot spots for a number of years.

Until recently, the share of gross domestic savings from business, households and government as a share of various forms of entitlements remained relatively constant. What we’re talking about here, really is Medicare and Social Security, which Greenspan described as the “third rail of American politics.” And there is serious growth there that is not going to stop, as the Baby Boomers get older and as Seniors live longer lives. These entitlements, Greenspan noted, tend to rise the most during Republican administrations, but they’re rising across the board, and unless we slow the rate of growth in our entitlements, the reality is that eventually, we will have to cut military spending to afford it all.

Greenspan pointed to Russia’s “Czarist” expansionism in Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin’s implication that what would be best for Russia was to restore the Soviet Union. He pointed to clear commitments to protect NATO nations against Russian aggression. And he pointed to the rise of ISIS in the Middle East means that the U.S. will have to get further involved in that region to protect the world’s oil supply – something only the U.S. can do.

This all points to severe strain on the U.S. military at a time when our spending on it is poised to fall, and fall dramatically. This means that hot spots that had been kept calm are likely to explode, and this will create further uncertainty across the world, which will help the economies of exactly nobody. The military budgets will have to go up, but with no will to raise taxes or cut other costs, the only solution to this particularly sticky wicket, Greenspan said, is “to repeal the laws of arithmetic.”

4. Interest rates and inflation.

Eventually, interest rates have to rise, Greenspan said, with the kind of vagueness that comforts no insurer who has seen their investments wither on the vine for the last five years or so. Greenspan said that a figure that interests him is that interest rates in 5th century Greece are pretty much the same as what they have been in the last 50 years or so across the globe.

There is something inbred into the system, he said, and inbred into the propensities of human nature that regulate interest rates. The long-term yield on things like stocks, real estate, earnings, etc., are critical and can’t stay at zero forever, and wouldn’t even be there if we weren’t keeping them there. The rates are suppressed, Greenspan said, because the Federal Reserve has absorbed so many mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasuries.

We have to taper at some point, and things will only turn around once we see commercial and industrial loans tease that money out of the federal system and paid out to the commercial markets. This is a necessary condition for inflation. It is not happening yet. But it will. And when it does, Greenspan says, it will surprise us with how quickly it moves. Be prepared.

3. Regulatory over-reach.

Greenspan is not a fan of recent regulatory developments, especially Dodd-Frank.

The principle of regulation, he said, is that it identifies a problem that exists in the system, and implies that if that problem is solved, the system will return to functioning as it ought to. This requires a good conceptual view of how the financial system works. The legislators who crafted Dodd-Frank did not have that view, and as such, they crafted an unholy mess of a law that can’t even be implemented.

Case in point: The day President Obama signed Dodd-Frank into law, Ford Motor Credit had a $1 billion asset-backed entity, but the SEC now required all asset-backed instruments to have a credit rating. But because Dodd-Frank stipulated that credit rating agencies must assume partial responsibility if the firms they rate go pear-shaped, Ford couldn’t get a rating for their instrument. So what did Ford do? They simply ignored the rule.

And they’re not the only ones, Greenspan noted. There are a huge number of cases where Dodd-Frank is simply not being enforced because the law doesn’t work.

The problem is that this is the kind of law that you can’t really unwind. Once you hire regulators, Greenspan said, their job is to regulate…and they will always find something to regulate. So while the law doesn’t work, we’re stuck with it.

“Undoubtedly, there were some very questionable practices prior to the financial crisis,” Greenspan said. A lot of it was in credit default swaps, which were a form of derivative. But interest rates are also a form of derivative, as are foreign currency exchanges and even wheat. There was a huge market for over-the-counter derivatives that went through the financial crisis without a single default because those markets worked exactly as they were supposed to, but now, they have extra regulation, essentially because of guilt by association.

None of this regulation helps the economy get back on its feet, Greenspan suggested. And just because there is evidence that Dodd-Frank isn’t working, and likely will never work, to think that is evidence it will be abandoned, he said, “is a non-sequitur.”

2. A lack of leadership.

Greenspan has worked with five Presidents, and he ws quick to point out the two which he felt were the most effective at getting what they wanted done, done. And those were Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

“The President has got to have an extraordinary number of characteristics, both of which Reagan and Clinton had,” Greenspan said. “They have to have a sense of what kind of democracy we have in this country and value systems and rule of law. And they have to have a sense of the history of it all. And they have to be able to convey to the populace where they think they are wrong.”

As an example, Greenspan cited Bill Clinton’s decision to bail out the Mexican government in 1995, despite the fact that he knew for certain that had this gone to a vote before Congress, it would have failed, and overwhelmingly so. But Clinton knew it had to be done, and that it could cost him politically, and so he crafted a way to make the monies available to Mexico. Mexico ultimately never drew on them, but the crisis disappeared.

“That is leadership,” Greenspan said. “And there were many similar ways in which Reagan did the same thing. The crucial issue is, are you a leader or a follower?”

Both Reagan and Clinton knew how to read polls well, but they weren’t going to let themselves be run by them. Much as we like to believe that we could run the government by referendum, the reality is that all we’d get from it are 100% of the people wanting more spending, and lower taxes. The political world wants things that range form the unrealistic to the impossible, and it falls to the President to run counter to that, and not every President has been equally able to do that.

Greenspan didn’t call out President Obama by name (or either President Bush), but draw your own conclusions.

1. Nobody appreciates insurance enough.

The insurance industry as we know it – or at least the actuarial mathematics that underpin it – got rolling when two Scottish ministers in the 18th century devised a fund that would take care of their widows, and the actuarial methods they used were pretty spot on and have not really changed that much since. Insurance, Greenspan said, is really nothing more than saving for a rainy day. And insurance, by its construction, is a major form of savings for this country.

“The whole structure of the industry is the mechanism by which you’re converting consumption into savings,” Greenspan said, “and the only way the economy can grow is to save.”

Insurance, he noted, is the most formidable mechanism we have to save as a society, and the economics of insurance have not been given proper weight by economists in how they look at the world. That is why the insurance industry needs to thrive and to be given the support it needs to thrive; getting the optimum amount into savings and investing in cutting-edge technologies are the only real way to get our standard of living to grow. And insurance is at the heart of it.

It’s only been a few years since cryptocurrencies like bitcoin first began taking the world by storm, offering what many people see as a more secure financial alternative to fiat currencies like the dollar. But the almost 20 percent bitcoin “flash” crash that recently took place just days ago on June 12 suggests that this may not actually be the case, and that relying on bitcoin as some kind of miracle store of value is more than a bit misguided.

Plummeting from nearly $3,000 per “coin” to about $2,550 in just four short hours, bitcoin revealed to the world its true volatility. It isn’t just going to be up, up, and up for bitcoin as many people falsely believe, including the tens of thousands of amateur investors throughout Asia who are right now stocking up on bitcoin in an attempt to secure what they believe will afford them a solid financial future.

Take a look for yourself at these revealing charts and you’ll see how quickly and dramatically bitcoin’s volatility could bring an uninformed investor to ruin. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing when it comes to bitcoin, you probably shouldn’t be investing in it – especially if you’re risking your life savings to do so.

New bitcoin investors don’t remember 2013 flash crash when bitcoin dropped over 70%

Prior to the recent flash crash, bitcoin’s value had risen in relation to the dollar by an impressive 210 percent since March, which is why many new investors have been jumping on-board the bitcoin train. But what many of these people don’t realize is that bitcoin has done this type of thing before, and the end result, at least in the shorter term, wasn’t pretty.

It was December 2013 when bitcoin had reached a high of over $900 per coin. It had been on the up and up for many months, with many a savvy investor starting to eye it as a potential new asset in their portfolios. Everything was looking just fine and dandy until suddenly it wasn’t – bitcoin went from $900-plus per coin to below $250 per coin, a more than 70% drop.

Some had anticipated this type of market correction, but few thought it would be this dramatic. It took about three years for the price of bitcoin to once again reach its previous levels. This wasn’t necessarily a problem for those who recognized bitcoin as a potentially risky currency alternative, investing as such. But for those who saw only dollar signs and who jumped headlong into the deep end with speculative intent, it was a financial disaster.

“The explosion [in the price of bitcoin] is mania,” says Raoul Pal, author and publisher of The Global Macro Investor, an elite macroeconomic and investment research service. Pal sees what’s happening today with bitcoin as a potential prelude to the same type of serious correction that took place in 2013.

“It’s people looking for a rate of return. It’s in the bubble phase. [Bitcoin] goes through this periodically … it rises several hundred percent, and then collapses.”

Pal himself admits to having made a lot of money on bitcoin when he purchased some several years back for about $200. But he’s decided that now is the time to cash out, and he’s warning others that they should do the same. He also has concerns about some of the changes that are potentially being made to bitcoin that increase the risks of investing in it pretty dramatically.

“This is the most exponential move we have seen,” he warns. “Bitcoin was supposed to be a store of value, you couldn’t mess with the formula … and now they are talking about a ‘hard fork’ changing it?”

Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to summer. But for young jobseekers, there is nothing to celebrate.

American retailers that have traditionally staffed up in summers are closing at an unprecedented rate. More than 3,500 stores have closed already this year, with at least 10 well-known retail chains filing for bankruptcy protection. These include RadioShack, Payless Shoes, and Rue21, which plan to close more than 1,000 stores this year. Other mall regulars like American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, BCBG, and Guess plan to close hundreds more.

Since last August, Macy’s, J.C. Penny, and Sears have announced they are closing nearly 400 stores, with the latter admitting it’s on the verge of bankruptcy. Because of these retailers’ outsized importance as mall anchor tenants, their pain trickles down to other nearby stores.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked 26,000 job losses at traditional retail stores in February alone. Once a symbol of youth summer jobs, malls are becoming a memorial to them.

This retail apocalypse is occurring for several reasons, including the fierce competition from online retailers and a slew of state and local minimum wage increases that eliminate scant profit margins. American cities with Amazon warehouses will probably fare alright, but the rest of the country is seeing its retail jobs disappear because of them.

Even traditional summer job opportunities that aren’t in direct competition with Amazon are disappearing. Many movie theaters now use ordering kiosks. Grocery and convenience stores have self-checkout lines. And major restaurant chains like Chili’s, Applebee’s and Panera use tablet ordering systems. These are automated tasks that were once performed by a mostly young workforce.

The disappearance of these jobs is demonstrated by the data. Less than one-in-three young Americans aged 16-to-19 has a job, significantly below the historical norm.

Last year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report indicating that one-in-six young American men aged 18-to-34 was either jobless or incarcerated, up from one-in-ten in 1980. These negative employment numbers are especially stark given the current strong economy.

Navigating a retail business in today’s chaotic retail environment would be difficult under any circumstances. But for any retailer working under the weight of a distressed balance sheet, their prospects can become very dark, very quickly.

Things are looking particularly gloomy right now for children’s apparel retailer Gymboree, with recent reports suggesting the company is preparing to file for bankruptcy. In many ways, Gymboree’s woes reflect those of the broader market: declining mall traffic, shifts in consumer spending away from material goods and toward services and experiences, e-commerce’s rapid absorption of market share, and growing competition from fast fashion, off-price and everyone else.

Now add a massive pile of debt to the equation: Gymboree’s more than $1 billion of debt — much of it stemming from private equity group Bain Capital’s leveraged buyout of the retailers in 2010 — has turned a sales drought into an existential crisis. With a multimillion dollar payment due June 1 and many hundreds of millions in principal due next year, the company has few options left but to restructure its debt and operations — if its creditors agree to a deal. (Gymboree and Bain did not reply to Retail Dive’s requests for comment.)

Gymboree recently appointed a new CEO — Daniel Griesemer, who ran teen apparel retailer Tilly’s for about five years until 2015​ — who will almost certainly oversee a company overhaul of some sort, quite possibly a rather painful one. While some experts indicate Gymboree could emerge from bankruptcy as a going concern with a much-diminished retail presence, the outcome will ultimately depend on how much debt forgiveness its lenders agree to as well as how much value its owners, creditors and — most importantly — its customers see in the company going forward.

If Gymboree can’t shed debt and reinvent itself for the current climate, it could face a bleak end to its story in liquidation. But regardless of whether Gymboree retrenches or worse, the harsh reality is that its competitors stand to gain.

‘Difficult traffic and conversion trends’

Just over 40 years-old, children’s apparel retailer Gymboree describes itself as making clothes “for every kid and every moment of childhood.” It operates 1,300 stores, largely based in malls and split among three separate brands: its higher-end Janie and Jack stores, its lower-price Crazy 8 stores, and the namesake Gymboree stores and their outlet counterparts. (Some experts believe the Janie and Jack stores, which are more profitable than the others, might expand under a  restructuring scenario.)

The company’s presence in the children’s apparel space is “centered on cute, wholesome, age-appropriate fashion featuring head-to-toe outfitting,” Monica Aggarwal, an analyst with credit ratings firm Fitch Ratings, said in a February report emailed to Retail Dive.

Founded by Joan Barnes in 1976, the company began as a play and music center for kids. A decade later, it added a line of specialty clothes. By the time Bain Capital bought and took the company private in 2010 at a premium for $1.8 billion, Gymboree was rapidly expanding, flush with cash and virtually without debt. The story has changed drastically since then: In December of last year, Gymboree reported a net sales decline of 4.6% compared to the prior-year period, a 5% drop in comparable sales and a net loss of $10.9 million.

In 1994, nearly 500 banks were headquartered in California. Today, there are fewer than 180. By the end of the year, if current trends hold, Californians will have only one-third the number of banks to choose from for their mortgage, small business and personal savings needs than they did just a couple of decades ago.

There are a few reasons for this disturbing trend, which is happening across the country. But the most important one — the reason I hear more than any other from bankers who decide to merge, sell or close their institution — is the increasing federal regulatory burden.

That doesn’t mean I oppose all regulation. In the wake of the financial crisis, regulatory changes were necessary, and provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act passed in 2010 helped improve financial stability. But nearly a decade after the crisis, we’ve ended up with too many duplicative and sometimes contradictory rules that don’t always promote safety and soundness, and may actually hinder banks from serving their customers and growing local economies.

For example, I recently heard from a bank in Southern California that, to its great regret, had to end its mortgage loan program. Dodd-Frank’s mortgage regulations and disclosures meant the bank would have to purchase expensive software to manage the new layers of red tape — so expensive, in fact, that the bank was going to lose money on every single loan.

Getting community banks out of the business of helping qualified Americans buy homes can’t have been what Congress intended when it passed Dodd-Frank. It makes sense to recalibrate some elements of that law to ensure that it’s working properly.

A proposal in the House would take important steps in that direction. The Financial CHOICE Act, which the Financial Services Committee recently voted to send to the floor, includes several sensible provisions that the banking industry endorses, as well as others that require further study and analysis.

Among the measures I support: The legislation would allow regulators to tailor their oversight to the unique risk profiles of individual financial institutions; provide greater opportunities for banks to appeal decisions by their examiners; and ease some requirements on mortgages that banks hold in their own portfolios (meaning they retain all the risk). The overall effect of these and other provisions would be to give banks more breathing space and consumers more choices.