Assassination, first responder, state of emergency, attack, homeland security, shots fired, pipe bomb, dirty bomb, sex bomb…OK so we made the last one up. But those are some of the words that will trigger alarms at America’s internet snooping spy agencies. And now those words are in your inbox. Uh oh.
You are now being watched by the government.
As an aside, if any of you NSA snoopers reading this are looking for retirement advice, click here. You’ll find out how to set up tens of thousands of dollars of hassle free cash flow each year for you to collect in your golden years. Because if you took a look at the American government’s balance sheet, you’ll worry whether your pension will be there when you need it. Better do something about it…
You might decide to give up your pension altogether and become a whistleblower like Edward Snowden. He’s trying to retire to one of the three Retirement Havens identified in a free report that goes with a subscription to the Money for Life Letter.
Now back to the intended reader, if you don’t mind…
If you think you have nothing to hide from the snoopers reading this, think again. A poor fellow who had his dog shot by police in America this week had nothing to hide either. He was filming the police and was falsely arrested for his efforts. His trusty dog came to his rescue and a sniffle at the officer’s hand was enough to send a volley of bullets into the dog for its trouble. It wobbled around for a few seconds like a headless chicken while onlookers wailed and screamed. It also had nothing to hide…and now it’s dead.
You probably won’t be shot by police for sniffling at their hands. But you will have to deal with all powerful institutions who won’t hesitate to metaphorically do the same thing to your finances as the police did to the dog. In fact, that’s probably the one biggest lesson we’ve learned since leaving academia and setting foot in the ‘real world’.
Investing carefully is all well and good, but risks that have nothing to do with tipping the right stock can matter far more. And yet most investors don’t even know those risks exist. Worst of all, they discover that the supposed remedies they thought they had are completely useless.
But what are these risks?
Well you probably feel like financial institutions owe you a fiduciary duty-they’re supposed to have your interests at heart. But they don’t feel the same. Sure, some good eggs in the industry might feel that they should do what’s right. But they’re not always permitted to act like it by the institution they work for. Instead, those institutions use their power to encourage dodgy dealings and then cover up any consequences. When they get caught, they use their power to stonewall the victims.
Just how common this is makes you realise how big a danger your wealth faces.
The recent scandal of the CBA financial advisor is a great example. Hundreds of people received poor advice, had their signatures forged, savings misplaced and everything else you can imagine. But what’s worse is the cover up. And the pathetic efforts of regulators to help victims.
In The Money for Life Letter, we covered a loan scandal of incredible proportions. Thousands of Australians were given unaffordable loans by bankers and mortgage brokers who simply altered legal documents to get loans past lending standards. Luckily, Australian courts sided with borrowers and cancelled many of those loans, leaving people owning a home and debt free!
But banks have been playing dumb ever since. Money for Life Letter subscribers have been trying to get access to their documentation to see if the same alterations were made that could get their loan cancelled. A few have discovered exactly the changes that got loans cancelled in court cases and ombudsman hearings across Australia. But most readers complained the bank isn’t giving them the information they’re entitled to. Many simply gave up at this point, despite the potential opportunity to cancel their mortgage.
Then there are all the corporate frauds and incompetent management teams which have run savings and investment institutions into the ground. Banksia is one example where people were mislead about how safely their savings would be invested.
Worst of all is the Reserve Bank, which suppresses interest rates on all those who rely on interest income. Let’s not get started on the Australian Tax Office.
If you think about it, all these institutions could ruin your retirement plans. By mistake, deliberate policy, or just a rogue employee. And your chances of finding out what happened are not always high, given how often management teams attempt to cover up scandals. If you do find some dodgy goings on, your chances of fighting back successfully are pretty much nonexistent without a wealthy financial backer behind you – that’s how the mortgage scandal was first exposed.
To put it plainly, these large organisations control your wealth and you do not have much of a chance to win a fight with them if they get it wrong. In fact, many times it’s just not worth the time and expense to even try. It’s better to cut your losses and run. That’s part of their strategy.
Some operators in the industry have realised this. There’s an entire legal industry making a living defending people from legal challenges simply by doing one thing; playing dumb. Playing dumb runs up so many legal expenses on the other side that they quickly give in. For example, simply asking lawyers to clarify any ambiguous sections of their letters can add hundreds of dollars to your adversary’s legal bills.
This even works against the government by the way. If you’re a drug dealer, there are certain lawyers who are so well known to have perfected the art of delay tactics that prosecutors dump cases as soon as that lawyer appears as the defence. Prosecutors have a budget too, and there’s no sense wasting all your allocated cash on one case. Especially if that case would also involve a load of unnecessary monotonous work…
The solution to all this is simplicity. You have to avoid anything complex that you can’t monitor, control and understand. Understanding what you own, under what terms and with who’s involvement is crucial if you want to avoid being scammed, duped and then ignored. If you are, it’s often too late to do much about it.
This is probably the biggest argument there is to managing your own wealth. But what do you invest it in?
Well, you can’t avoid the complex and dangerous world of finance completely. But you can place some of your wealth outside its reach. There aren’t many assets that are ‘counterparty free’ – that means you’re not relying on anyone else to do their job properly. Owning shares relies on management and directors acting appropriately, for example. And your broker has to be doing what he says too.
The investments you can own to opt out of these difficulties are precious metals, property and other tangible assets. With gold at its cheapest for years, now is a good time to load up. You’ll feel less worried that your financial advisor is about to head for the Caribbean with your hard earned, and you’ll have wealth to protect yourself if he does.
Until next week,
The Daily Reckoning Weekend Edition
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