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Doug Casey is a highly respected author, publisher and professional investor who graduated from Georgetown University in 1968. Doug literally wrote the book on profiting from periods of economic turmoil: his book Crisis Investing spent multiple weeks as #1 on the New York Times bestseller list... More
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  • Doug Casey: “There Is A Rogue Elephant In Your House”

    One time when I was in Burma (now Myanmar), I spent a couple of days riding around the forest by elephant back. Elephants are a fine thing to have in the forest but, believe it or not, you have one living in your house with you. And you should do something about it now, before your house is wrecked and you and your family get stomped in the process.

    Any amount of financial success won't mean much if you get stepped on by the elephant in the room. The damage you routinely suffer from the elephant-not to mention the lingering threat that he'll go completely berserk someday-dwarfs the importance of the best investment decision you'll ever make. So, I'm going to invite your attention to a problem of overriding importance: How can you protect yourself and your wealth from the elephant?

    The elephant in the room is, of course, the government.

    The elephant is your permanent roommate, and it has a permanently big appetite. In the name of "income tax," it regularly eats 40% or so of everything you earn. You may not like it, but by now you've probably learned to live with it.

    After you've lived out your income-tax paying years, the elephant will attend your funeral-not to console the mourners or to recount your good deeds, but to collect estate tax. In the name of the "estate tax," the government will take up to 40% of what you leave for the next generation and perhaps more of what you leave for your grandchildren.

    It's not the kind of roommate you'd advertise for. In fact, if you add things up, government probably is the most expensive disaster you'll ever suffer. Almost every year, you lose more to it in taxes than you lose on your worst investments. And unless you're a champion crime victim, you'll lose less to a lifetime's worth of burglars, bandits, muggers, and con men than your estate will lose to the tax collector… if you don't do something about it.

    Most successful people respond to the elephant by trying harder-working harder, working smarter, and earning enough to live well on what the elephant doesn't eat. They're like the farmer who plants enough to have a good harvest even after the bugs have taken their share. This is a workable solution, up to a point. But it won't work at all if the elephant decides to take everything.

    The idea of losing everything is literally unthinkable for many people. It is so far outside the range of their experience that all they can do with the idea is to reject it as not worth considering. Unfortunately, this also means rejecting all the opportunities for protection-just as many Titanic passengers shunned the early invitations to a lifeboat.

    But the danger of a total wealth wipeout doesn't go away. Some people do in fact lose everything to the elephant. In a few cases, it happens through seizures. A government agency points to an individual, calls him a bad name (drug trafficker, money launderer, polluter, racketeer, or tax evader), and takes everything the target owns. The target may not even have enough money left to hire a lawyer to help recover a portion of what he's lost.

    More commonly, it's a lawsuit that takes everything a person has. The judge hears a story. The judge likes the story. The judge orders the defendant to give the plaintiff everything the defendant owns. Then the plaintiff wonders why a seat in the lifeboat seemed so uncongenial.

    Perfect Protection

    The best protection you can have from the elephant is not to own anything. What you don't own can't be taken from you by a tax collector, by a government agency, by a results-oriented judge, or by anyone else. You don't want to be poor, obviously. But there's a strategy that lets you have it both ways-the safety of not owning anything and the benefits of being wealthy. You can have it both ways by transferring your assets into an institution in another country that will return them to you (or family members) only when you want them back.

    That's the essence of an international trust. It puts just enough distance between you and your assets that the assets can't be taken from you. But it makes those assets available to you when you want them. An international trust needs to be designed in just the right way. It mustn't leave you with any rights that a local court or government agency might try to take away from you; and it mustn't leave you with any powers you could be forced to use against your wishes. On the other hand, the trust must give you emphatic assurance that the trustee will never lose sight of your real objectives-otherwise you're not going to use it.

    Here's an outline of how an international trust protects you from the elephant:

    1. You are the grantor of the trust-the person who transfers legal title to selected assets to the trustee.
    1. The trustee is a bank or trust company in a country with no income or estate taxes and a legal system that won't tolerate a US-style litigation explosion. The trustee takes legal responsibility for the safekeeping of trust property and applying it for your purposes.
    1. You and everyone else you care to include are the beneficiaries-the persons who are eligible to receive cash distributions or other benefits from the trust. You can include family members (including descendants who haven't been born yet), or anyone else.
    1. You are the protector of the trust. As protector, you have the legal power to monitor the trustee's performance and the power to replace it with another institution if needed. You also have the power to name your successor as protector-so that the trust will continue to have a protector even after your lifetime.

    The relationship among the participants is spelled out in a written trust agreement. Two provisions are essential to getting maximum protection. First, the trust should be irrevocable. If it isn't, then anyone can undo your trust simply by forcing you to revoke it.

    Second, the trust should be discretionary. "Discretionary" means that no one beneficiary owns a particular share of the trust. Instead, each beneficiary receives what the trustee, in its discretion, decides to give the beneficiary. With a discretionary trust, no beneficiary owns anything he can be forced to assign to a judgment creditor or tax collector. And a discretionary trust makes it impossible for any tax collector to attribute the trust's income to a beneficiary.

    These two key features-irrevocable and discretionary-are both powerful and cautionary. They are powerful in that they put up a wall around your assets that the elephant can't knock down. The elephant can't reach trust assets directly, because they're held by an institution offshore, where US courts and government agencies have no jurisdiction or power to enforce a judgment. And it can't reach them through you because you don't have the power to get them back without the consent of the trustee. You can do or sign whatever you're ordered to and still be confident that your wealth is protected.

    But that same power is a source of caution. How can you be confident that the trustee will use the discretionary authority you've given it in the right way? How can you be confident that the trustee will send you a check when you need it? You get that confidence by being the protector.

    The trust agreement should give you, the protector, the power to replace the trustee with another institution of your liking-in other words, you should have the power to fire the trustee.

    Two other features should be included to ensure that the trustee uses its discretionary authority correctly. First, the trustee should be obligated to consider all the advice it gets from the protector. Second, the trustee should be absolved of liability for decisions it makes based on the protector's advice. Together with the power to fire the trustee, these provisions give the protector all the influence he needs.

    Using an international trust for lawsuit protection and tax savings doesn't interfere with your freedom to make investment decisions. If you want, the trustee can open a brokerage account for your trust anywhere in the world and appoint you as the trading advisor. You continue to give the buy and sell orders. Or you can ask the trustee to hire a particular investment manager for your trust. Or you can keep complete management control by using a limited partnership. You transfer the real estate, business, or investments you want to protect to a limited partnership and then transfer the limited partnership interest to the trust. As general partner, you would still make the day-to-day investment and management decisions, but the value of the assets is protected by the trust.

    The biggest, simplest benefit of an international trust is lawsuit protection. You can't be forced to hand your assets over to the winner of a lawsuit (or to any other creditor), because you no longer own them. The trustee is the legal owner. Anyone who hopes to reach those assets must bear the expense and bad odds of legal action in another country. Provided you've selected the right country for your trust and assuming that you were solvent when you funded it, his prospects are extremely dim.

    Plaintiffs' lawyers know how difficult it is to break into a properly established international trust. As a result, having your assets protected by an international trust means that litigation against you never gets started or gets settled on terms that are extremely favorable for you.

    Income tax savings for yourself aren't automatic. They depend on how your trust investments are structured. This is a complex topic, but the summary is short: Merely transferring assets to an international trust won't achieve any income tax savings in your lifetime.

    For future generations, the income tax consequences of an international trust are far more dramatic. The trust will have no ties to the US tax system. It can be used to accumulate and compound investment returns free of current income tax. Future generations will face no tax on the profits until they spend them. Even then much of what they take from the trust can come to them free of income tax. An international trust allows you to pursue any type of estate plan you want (or none at all). You can do all the conventional things you're likely to hear about if you visit an estate planner, and also do some other things that wouldn't be possible without going international. For example, with an international trust, you can get property out of your estate and still be eligible to receive the money back for your own support if you later find that you need it. This frees you to act aggressively to reduce your taxable estate without the fear of planning yourself into the poorhouse.

    The biggest estate-planning advantage is finality. The wealth you leave in an international trust disconnects from the US tax system. It will never be included in the taxable estate of any future generation. For your family, estate tax comes to an end. The elephant will have to dine elsewhere.

    Previously, getting the protection of an international trust demanded so much effort and expense that almost no one did it. But now an international trust is cheap and easy to use.

    What has opened up the world of international trusts is Terry Coxon's International Trust Guidebook. This guidebook takes all the mystery out of the topic. The material is laid out in such a clear and direct fashion it will quickly make you feel like a minor expert.

    It's thoroughly footnoted with tax law and court case references, the kind of supporting details that your lawyer or accountant would insist upon. Plus professional commentary is provided by noted tax and asset protection attorney Robert B. Martin, Jr.

    Mr. Martin writes from the real-world perspective of 43 years of legal experience. He's the author of dozens of published articles on tax and other legal topics and has been the point man in hundreds of legal battles.

    It's like having your own asset protection lawyer right by your side and can save you thousands in legal fees in setting up an international trust.

    Several members of my family are taking action using international trust. If you're inclined, I urge you to do so now, not later. The US government could one day arbitrarily make it impossible to form an international trust.

    If you're interested in using an international trust to protect your wealth from the elephant in the room, you can find out more about the International Trust Guidebook by clicking here.

    Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Sep 08 12:28 PM | Link | Comment!
  • How Is Doug Casey Preparing For A Crisis Worse Than 2008?
    He and His Fellow Millionaires Are Getting Back to Basics

    Trillions of dollars of debt, a bond bubble on the verge of bursting and economic distortions that make it difficult for investors to know what is going on behind the curtain have created what author Doug Casey calls a crisis economy. But he is not one to be beaten down. He is planning to make the most of this coming financial disaster by buying equities with real value-silver, gold, uranium, even coal. And, in this interview with The Mining Report, he shares his formula for determining which of the 1,500 "so-called mining stocks" on the TSX actually have value.

    The Mining Report: This year's Casey Research Summit is titled "Thriving in a Crisis Economy." What is the most pressing crisis for investors today?

    Doug Casey: We are exiting the eye of the giant financial hurricane that we entered in 2007, and we're going into its trailing edge. It's going to be much more severe, different and longer lasting than what we saw in 2008 and 2009. Investors should be preparing for some really stormy weather by the end of this year, certainly in 2015.

    TMR: The 2008 stock market embodied a great deal of volatility. Now, the indexes seem to be rising steadily. Why do you think we are headed for something worse again?

    DC: The U.S. created trillions of dollars to fight the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Most of those dollars are still sitting in the banking system and aren't in the economy. Some have found their way into the stock markets and the bond markets, creating a stock bubble and a bond superbubble. The higher stocks and bonds go, the harder they're going to fall.

    TMR: When Streetwise President Karen Roche interviewed you last year, you predicted a devastating crash. Are we getting closer to that crash? What are the signs that a bond bubble is about to burst?

    Warning

    Missing the 2014 Casey Research Summit (Thriving in a Crisis Economy) could be hazardous to your portfolio.
    Sept. 19-21 in San Antonio, Texas.

    REGISTER NOW

    DC: One indicator is that so-called junk bonds are yielding on average less than 5% today. That's a big difference from the bottom of the bond market in the early 1980s, when even government paper was yielding 15%.

    TMR: Isn't that a function of low interest rates?

    DC: Yes, it is. Central banks all around the world have attempted to revive their economies by lowering interest rates to all-time lows. It's discouraging people from saving and encouraging people to borrow and consume more. The distortions that is causing in the economy are huge, and they're all going to have to be liquidated at some point, probably in the next six months to a year. The timing of these things is really quite impossible to predict. But it feels like 2007 except much worse, and it's likely to be inflationary in nature this time. The certainty is financial chaos, but the exact character of the chaos is, by its very nature, unpredictable.

    TMR: Casey Research precious metals expert Jeff Clark recently wrote in Metals and Mining that he's investing in silver to protect himself from an advance of what he calls "government financial heroin addicts having to go cold turkey and shifting to precious metals." Do you agree or are you more of a buy-gold-for-financial-protection kind of guy?

    DC: I certainly agree with him. Gold and silver are two totally different elements. Silver has more industrial uses. It is also quite cheap in real terms; the problem is storing a considerable quantity-the stuff is bulky. It's a poor man's gold. We mine about 800 million ounces (800 Moz)/year of silver as opposed to about 80 Moz/year of gold. Unlike gold, most of silver is consumed rather than stored. That is positive.

    On the other hand, the fact that silver is mainly an industrial metal, rather than a monetary metal, is a big negative in this environment. Still, as a speculation, silver has more upside just because it's a much smaller market. If a billion dollars panics into silver and a billion dollars panics into gold, silver is going to move much more rapidly and much higher.

    TMR: Are you are saying that because silver is more volatile generally, that is good news when the trend is to the upside?

    DC: That's exactly correct. All the volatility from this point is going to be on the upside. It's not the giveaway it was back in 2001. In real terms, silver is trading at about the same levels that it was in the mid-1960s. So it's an excellent value again.

    TMR: In another recent interview, you called shorting Japanese bonds a sure thing for speculators and said most of the mining companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) weren't worth the paper their stocks were written on, but that some have been priced so low, they could increase 100 times. What are some examples of some sure things in the mining sector?

    DC: Of the roughly 1,500 so-called mining stocks traded in Vancouver, most of them don't have any economic mineral deposits. Many that do don't have any money in the bank with which to extract them. The companies that I think are worth buying now are well-funded, underpriced-some selling for just the cash they have in the bank-and sitting on economic deposits with proven management teams. There aren't many of them; I would guess perhaps 50 worth buying. In the next year, many of them are likely to move radically.

    TMR: Are there some specific geographic areas that you like to focus on?

    DC: The problem is that the whole world has become harder to do business in. Governments around the world are bankrupt so they are looking for a bigger carried interest, bigger royalties and more taxes. At the same time, they have more regulations and more requirements. So the costs of mining have risen hugely. Political risks have risen hugely. There really is no ideal location to mine in the world today. It's not like 100 years ago when almost every place was quick, easy and profitable. Now, every project is a decade-long maneuver. Mining has never been an easy business, but now it's a horrible business, worse than it's ever been. It's all a question of risk/reward and what you pay for the stocks. That said, right now, they're very cheap.

    TMR: Let's talk about the U.S. Are we in better or worse shape as a country politically and economically than we were last year? At the Casey Research Summit last year, I interviewed you the morning after former Congressman Ron Paul's keynote, and you said that you hoped that the IRS would be shut down instead of the national parks. There's no such shutdown going on today, so does that mean the country is more functional than it was a year ago?

    DC: It's in worse shape now. The direction the country is going in is more decisively negative. Perhaps what's happening in Ferguson, Missouri, with the militarized police is a shade of things to come. So, no, things are not better. They've actually deteriorated. We're that much closer to a really millennial crisis.

    TMR: Your conferences are always thought provoking. I always enjoy meeting the other attendees-it's always great to talk to people from all over the world who are interested in these topics. But you also bring in interesting speakers. In addition to your Casey Research team, the speakers at the conference this year include radio personality Alex Jones and author and self-described conservative paleo-libertarian Justin Raimondo. What do you hope attendees will take away from the conference?

    DC: This is a chance for me and the attendees to sit down and have a drink with people like Justin Raimondo and author Paul Rosenberg. I'm looking forward to it because it is always an education.

    Another highlight is that instead of staging hundreds of booths of desperate companies that ought to be put out of their misery, we limit the presenting mining companies in the map room to the best in the business with the most upside potential. That makes this a rare opportunity to talk to these selected companies about their projects.

    TMR: We recently interviewed Marin Katusa, who was also excited about the companies that are going to be at the conference. He was bullish on European oil and gas and U.S. uranium. What's your favorite way to play energy right now?

    DC: Uranium is about as cheap now in real terms as it was back in 2000, when a huge boom started in uranium and billions of speculative dollars were made. So, once again, cyclically, the clock on the wall says buy uranium with both hands. I think you can make the same argument for coal at this point.

    TMR: You recently released a series of videos called the "Upturn Millionaires." It featured you, Rick Rule, Frank Giustra and others talking about how you're playing the turning tides of a precious metals market. What are some common moves you are all making right now?

    DC: All of us are moving into precious metals stocks and precious metals themselves because in the years to come, gold and silver are money in its most basic form and the only financial assets that aren't simultaneously somebody else's liability.

    TMR: Thanks for your time and insights.

    You can see Doug LIVE September 19-21 in San Antonio, TX during the Casey Research Summit, Thriving in a Crisis Economy. He'll be joined on stage by Jim Rickards, Grant Williams, Charles Biderman, Stephen Moore, Mark Yusko, Justin Raimondo, and many, many more of the world's brightest minds and smartest investors. To RSVP and get all the details, click here.

    Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Tags: crisis, economy
    Sep 03 12:14 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Doug Casey: “America Has Ceased To Exist”

    "America is a marvelous idea, a unique idea, fantastic idea. I'm extremely pro-American. But America has ceased to exist," says Doug Casey. Watch him in this fascinating interview with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie discuss the political, social, and economic challenges the US must conquer as well as lessons we can learn from failed states.

    A severe economic and/or political crisis can sneak up on you before you know it. Learn from the three harrowing stories of international crisis survivors-and the insightful comments of experts like Doug-how to recognize a crisis in the making. You may need those skills soon because it can, and will, happen here… Watch Meltdown America, a 30-minute free documentary that predicts the economic and political unraveling of the US.

    Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Jul 07 12:01 PM | Link | 1 Comment
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