Are you a deflationist? Or an inflationist? No matter which way you believe the wind will blow, the truth is this: it’s up in the air. But, as Jim Rickards explains, there are things you can do to cover your assets, no matter which one wins the tug-of-war. Read on…
Smart meters are supposed to be our saving grace. Reduce pollution… reduce blackouts… and keep you and your family safe. The truth, though, is the exact opposite. What’s the true agenda behind smart meters? And why are you being lied to? Read on…
You hear a lot about gold these days. But what about silver? Chris Campbell speaks out about the moon metal with one shocking confession. Read on…
Markets have you spooked? You’re not the only one. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll hear from three market experts on how to stay safe, no matter what direction the overall market heads. Read on…
Savvy investors: Two experts weigh in on why having your own personal gold standard… and betting that Ebola will get worse… could be your best investment decisions of 2014. Read on…
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
Writing a book? Chris Campbell shares a PROVEN system to making your book go viral on the Internet. But he doesn’t just tell you how to do it, he shows you how he did it too. Just last weekend he received nearly 7,000 downloads in only three days. Read on…
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
Let’s head back in time…In 2004, a mere decade ago, the US national debt rang the register at $7.4 trillion. That represents “debt per citizen” of over $25,000. You, me, your neighbor, your 4-yr old grandson, you name it and they’re portion of the U.S. debt is $25k.But flash forward to today and you’ll see […]
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
A great technology solves a problem that we didn’t know we had. It makes us aware of deprivations we didn’t know existed until we discover the new thing. Once discovered, we can’t go back.People in the 1950s, for example, never missed the smart phone. They were pleased to have a phone at all. But today, […]
Fifty years after the 1929 crash, a group of money managers and investment thinkers put together a collection of essays looking back at that experience. The result was a distillation of some pretty fine investment wisdom. Timely, I think, to review now.One of the contributors was Arthur Zeikel, then with Merrill Lynch. The title of […]
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
In early July 1944, delegates from 44 countries gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. A three-week summit took place, at which a new system was agreed to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the Second World War.The U.S. was already the world’s commercial powerhouse, having eclipsed the British […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
People jacked up about income inequality can find a new hobby. The 1% are victims of a doomsday machine, and the countdown is ticking. Machine, thy name is “family.”This came to mind as I was reading a preview of Columbia Professor Andrew Ang’s forthcoming, must-read book on Asset Management. Ang is that oxymoron, an exciting […]
During the 2008 credit crisis, a horde of central bankers, Treasury officials and large corporations screamed that the end of the world was upon us — unless trillions of your money were spent (or created) to prop up the existing financial and banking systems.
The presumption was that the existing structure must never be changed, or the Fed’s control over the financial and monetary system ever brought into question. Everything is just as it should be. This is a minor blip on the radar screen, nothing to be concerned about, provided certain steps were taken.
So we were all looted. There was the debt run-up, the new regulations, the funny money creation, the absorption of bad debt that was revarnished and relabeled as assets, the complicated payouts to every institution that Bernanke and his friends deemed to be too big and too crucial to our well-being to be allowed to fail. The government must be permitted to throw around inconceivable amounts of money, they said, in order to save our glorious system.
Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives and every conventional media outlet on this green earth agreed: No expense can be spared to solve this great emergency. Anyone who resists this multiyear bailout, began under Bush and continued under Obama and to be continued by whomever follows, is clearly an egregious cretin who doesn’t understand the depth of the emergency we (as a nation) face.
Yet here we are not too many years later, and it seems that entrepreneurs understand something that the political and banking classes did not understand: The system is rotten and needs to be fixed. It doesn’t serve consumers, which is to say that it does not serve society. There are too many layers between us and the people running the show.
These young entrepreneurs have been hard at working to find new ways for us to develop financial relationships with each other, human ways that don’t rely on force, fraud and freaking out at every sign of trouble. The most-remarkable thing is how they are doing this within the rigid existing structure, regardless of every barrier thrown in their way.
I’ve been exploring some fascinating new digital-age systems for banking, money, loans and payments. If you aren’t following this stuff day to day, you would miss them. They might be used by millions to transfers billions of dollars, yet even still, they aren’t in our purview. This is because people are using digital media as never before to create and innovate in ways that the mercifully spared money institutions of old could not even imagine.
Let’s name a few from simple to complex. And let me say, just before marching through these things, if you have had a rotten day, working in a routine job in which nothing new ever happens, or you have been sitting in a desk listening to some drone professor babble on about the dated falsehoods that clog his brain, these little tools will seriously lift your spirits.
Squareup. This is an innovation by Jack Dorsey (Twitter fame) and his friends, and came about only in 2010. The first problem they were trying to overcome was there has to be an easier way for merchants to accept credit cards. They decided to give the hardware away for use on simple mobile phones, and then charge per transaction. Win!
In the course of developing the business, which is valued already at $1 billion, they solved an even stranger problem that all of us have but never really noticed that we have: If we don’t have our wallets with us, we can’t buy anything.
Now this is genius: Square allows you to pay by saying your name. The merchant matches a picture of your on the square system with your physical face. You look each other in the eye and the deal is done. Anyone can sign up. Yes, it is incredible. Simple and wonderful.
The Lending Club. Again, this is mind-blowing. The Lending Club matches up lenders and borrowers while bypassing the banking system altogether. The idea emerged in October 2008, just as the existing credit system seemed to be blowing up. Today, the company originates $1 million in loans per day.
Anyone can become a lender with a minimum investment of $25 per note. Lenders can choose specific borrowers or choose among many baskets and combinations of borrowers to reduce risk.
Any potential borrower can apply, but of course the company wants to keep default rates at the lowest possible level, and these are published daily (right now, they are running 3%). As a result, most applications to borrow are declined (this is good!).
The average rate of interest on the loans is 11%, cheaper than credit cards but more realistic than the Fed’s crazy push for zero. As a result, the average net annualized return is 9.6%.
The focus if of course on small loans for weddings, moving expenses, business startups, debt consolidation and the like. If you are an indebted country with large unfunded liabilities, you probably can’t get a loan. But if you are student with a job who needs upfront money to put down on an apartment, you might qualify.
Dwolla. This is a super-easy, super-slick online payment system that specializes in linking payments through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Like most of these companies, the idea was hatched in 2008 in response to the crisis. The system was breaking down and needed new services that worked. Dwolla got off the ground in 2009, and today, it processes more than $1 million per week.
An easy way to understand Dwolla is to view it as the next generation of PayPal, but with a special focus on reducing the problem that vexed PayPal in its early years: getting rid of credit card fraud. Dwolla is focussing its product development on ways to pay that do not require sending credit card information over networks.
Dwolla has also taken a strong interest in the Internet payment system called Bitcoin, a digital unit of account that hopes to become an alternative to national monetary systems. It is a long way from becoming that, but it is hardly surprising that a young and innovative company would be interested in competition to failed paper money.
These are a few of the services, but there are hundreds more. None were created by the money masters in Washington. They are results of private innovation, individual entrepreneurs thinking their way through social and economic problems and coming up with solutions. They accept the risk of failure and enjoy the profit from success.
What they all have in common that is missing from the current monetary, financial and banking structure — a maniacal focus on serving the individual consumer. If or when the official structure blows up, such private enterprises will be there to save us.