|Akin to Porcupines Mating|
|by Nick Giambruno, Senior Editor | October 29, 2014|
That was how the slow and careful rapprochement between Russia and China has been described by Eric Margolis, one of my favorite geopolitical writers.
US shenanigans in Eastern Europe and the East China Sea—fomenting so-called colored revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia (both on Russia’s periphery) and egging on China’s neighbors to make aggressive territorial claims—have pushed the Russian bear and Chinese dragon together. In May, the two uneasy neighbors reached a de facto alliance represented by a 20-year, $400 billion deal for Russia to supply China with natural gas.
A Russia/China alliance shifts the Earth’s geopolitical axis. Historians may look back at the energy deal as the moment the post-Cold War era and the US’s singular position came to an end. The Russia/China team is now a consequential economic and military counterweight to the US. It will operate as an attractant for every country and every faction that for any reason resents the US’s giant footprint in world affairs.
For example… Russia is making strides in assembling a massive new trading bloc known as the Eurasian Union. When it opens for business on January 1 of next year, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan will be a barrier-free market with 170 million people and a GDP of $2.7 trillion. Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan likely will join in the near future, which would expand the Eurasian Union to 217 million people and a GDP of $2.8 trillion.
In the military and security realm, there’s the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an intergovernmental security organization shared by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan will join in September 2014.
The two organizations add up to exactly what Zbigniew Brzezinski and other American geostrategists feared the most—the emergence of a power bloc in Eurasia that could stand up to the West.
And it’s certainly not for lack of trying that the US failed in preventing this. It was just outplayed and outmaneuvered at every turn by Vladimir Putin.
Love him or love to hate him, Putin is one smart, tough, ruthless SOB. He’s not the kind of opponent I would want to have. The point of all this should be that regardless of Russia’s troubles at the moment, the country is not going to blow away.
Brzezinski’s concern about an emerging Eurasian power is one of the reasons the US has tried to knock Ukraine out of the Russian orbit. Absorbing Ukraine into NATO would further the goal of isolating Russia, and that is exactly what the US attempted to do—however clumsily.
We’re not referees charged with deciding which political players are good guys and which are bad guys. As potential crisis investors, what we want to know about Russia is its staying power, which we rate as high. The portrait of Putin as a Hitler or a crazy man leading his country toward disaster—the picture you get from the mainstream media and from many politicians—is suitable only for propaganda posters.
As things stand now, the effort appears to have backfired on the US. Putin likely will walk away with de facto control of all the militarily and economically strategic parts of eastern Ukraine, while the US/NATO will end up with the bankrupt western parts—like a Greece on steroids. It seems Russia will emerge from the Ukraine crisis stronger.
In the end, Russia’s economic and geopolitical cooperation with China and other non-Western Eurasian powers means that whatever happens in the West, it has real and arguably more attractive alternatives.
This is exactly why the current negative sentiment and cheap valuations of Russian stocks makes them an excellent speculation. This is just what Doug Casey and I are looking for in Crisis Speculator.
Baron Rothschild may have been an unsavory character in many ways, but he was absolutely correct when he stated that, “The time to buy is when blood is in the streets.”
This statement perfectly captures the essence of speculating in crisis markets.
Huge investment returns have been made throughout history where astute investors took advantage of the semi-hidden opportunities wrapped in an outward cloak of apparent danger in crisis markets.
Doug and I aren’t just blindly running toward disasters. We’re looking for hated markets with cheap valuations that, critically, have an identifiable catalyst. Russia fits the bill perfectly, and that leads us to our latest investment recommendation in Crisis Speculator. It’s a solid Russian company selling at a steep discount and is easily accessible to US investors (and no, it’s not Gazprom).
We believe it will be a profitable financial adventure. If you want to join the party, be sure to check out Crisis Speculator.
Until next time,
Questions or comments? Send them to email@example.com.
|5.5 Million Americans Eye Giving Up US Citizenship, Survey Reveals (Forbes)
73% of Americans abroad are tempted to give up their U.S. passports, reveals a new survey by deVere Group, an independent financial advisory organization. There are an estimated 7.6 million Americans living overseas. At 73%, that’s approximately 5,548,000 Americans weighing handing in U.S. passports.
If all those considering renouncing followed through, it would be the biggest spike ever in renunciations. Already, Federal Register data reveals renunciations spiked by 39% shortly after FATCA—the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act—came into effect. FATCA is the culprit, says the survey, which is based on 400 expatriates.
73% have considered or are considering renouncing. 16% said they would not consider it, and 11% don’t know. Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group, comments: “It is alarming that nearly three quarters of Americans abroad said that they are going to or have thought about giving up their U.S. citizenship.”
“Nationality, especially for an expatriate, is an incredibly important part of one’s identity and typically it’s a very emotional issue too. It is our experience that most Americans are extremely saddened at the prospect of giving up their U.S. citizenship to avoid the harsh implications of a new and utterly flawed tax law,” said Green.
“However, it should come as little surprise that such a high number are prepared to do so because FATCA’s reporting requirements are excessively onerous, burdensome and expensive. Also many non-U.S. banks and other financial institutions will no longer work with Americans which can make living outside the U.S. achingly complicated.”
To address this topic we’ve prepared for International Man readers a free report called The American Expatriation Guide—How to Divorce the US Government. This report will guide you through the process of renunciation in amazing detail. To get a copy, simply log in to the International Man site and then go to the Free Guides & Resources section to download the PDF.
The worst law most Americans have never heard of.
FATCA Envy Spreads Across Hemisphere (Forbes)
The South American nation of Colombia does not have its own version of FATCA, but its government wishes it did. That’s evident from its current tussle with neighbor Panama. The root of the problem between the two nations is FATCA-style reporting of bank data, or the lack thereof. Colombia wants it badly; Panama wants nothing to do with it.
Panama City boasts a thriving financial center, one of the largest in Latin America. Together with the Canal Zone it accounts for most of the country’s GDP. One reason for the Panamanian banking sector’s success is ring-fencing. This policy attracts capital flow from wealthy foreign investors all over the world. Banks in Panama don’t collect information on accounts held by nonresident depositors, so there is no information to share with tax collectors in other countries.[FATCA alters that policy, but only for U.S. accountholders.]
Colombian law requires taxpayers to fully disclose bank deposit income regardless of where it was earned. But If a Colombian taxpayer failed to report his or her income from a Panamanian bank, the tax authorities would be very unlikely to detect the omission because of Panama’s lack of reporting. For practical purposes, the offshore account would remain a secret known only to the bank and the accountholder. Taxable income is thus concealed from Colombia’s revenue body with minimal risk.
Recently, Colombian officials asked their Panamanian counterparts to sign a bilateral tax information exchange agreement, known as a TIEA. The TIEA would have been reciprocal in nature, meaning it would oblige each signatory nation to collect and share bank information about the other nation’s residents. Panama said “no, thanks.” It has little to gain from a TIEA with Colombia.
Colombia retaliated by threatening to tag its northern neighbor with a “tax haven” designation. That legal status would trigger punitive taxes on all money transfers into Panama. It would also inflict reputational damage on Panama’s entire financial system, which could have a chilling effect on foreign investment.
It’s well known that tax laws have unintended consequences. Could one of FATCA’s ripple effects be the inclination of other countries to mimic its outcome? What cash-strapped government wouldn’t seek parallel treatment when its citizens put money offshore, particularly if banks have already implemented mechanisms to gather the relevant data? This may prove to be FATCA’s true legacy. For better or worse, FATCA envy could be here to stay.
Panama responded by threatening to deport Colombian workers, repatriate Colombian criminals from Panamanian jails, and impose travel restrictions on Colombians attempting to enter the country. It’s also considering a 300 percent increase in tariffs on goods imported from Colombia. Panama might also cancel a cross-border electricity sharing agreement.
This is precisely what FATCA was for, to pave the way for a global version (otherwise known as GATCA, more on that here).
How many other Western executives who dare to help Russia bypass sanctions—and turn it into an energy powerhouse—will die under suspicious circumstances?
GATCA Meeting in Berlin (AFP)
The finance ministers of around 50 countries meet in Berlin on Wednesday to sign a deal they hope will put an end to banking secrecy.
The forum, set up under the auspices of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union, brings together representatives of more than 120 countries.
The finance ministers are scheduled to sign on Wednesday a Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, which will designate which institution in each country is responsible for transferring tax data to other member states.
An international movement to end banking secrecy has gathered momentum in recent years, particularly following the enactment in the United States of its 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA.
GATCA is expected to be up and running in 2018.
Record Number of Americans Renouncing Citizenship Because of Overseas Tax Burdens (ABC)
Frustration over taxes is as American as apple pie, but some U.S. citizens are becoming so overwhelmed by the Internal Revenue Service that they’ve decided to stop being Americans altogether.
There’s also the problem of so-called “accidental Americans,” who were born in the United States but have lived most of their lives in Canada. American tax law mandates that citizens pay U.S. taxes regardless of the country in which they reside, meaning that in the last five years, when the U.S. government started cracking down on foreign tax evaders, many Canadians born in the U.S. realized for the first time that they might owe the IRS back taxes.
Among them was one man who was born in the U.S. but was brought to Canada right after birth, who insisted on anonymity because he is still in the process of renouncing his American citizenship – which he didn’t even realize he had until, on a 2011 trip south of the US-Canada border, he was told he needed an American passport in order to re-enter the United States.
“I don’t break any laws,” he said. “It’s an accident of birth.”
We recently had the chance to speak with one of these “accidental Americans.” It’s a shocking story that you should know about it. Article link is here.
Straws in the Wind
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
|“Inflation is the fiscal complement of statism and arbitrary government. It is a cog in the complex of policies and institutions which gradually lead toward totalitarianism.”
~Ludwig von Mises
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