The Trump Administration’s big government, anti-trade and border wall-policies, have generated surprising support from Republicans, the Alt-Right, and even Libertarians. But Jeff Berwick, publisher of the Dollar Vigilante newsletter, isn’t having any of it.
Berwick, this week, reiterated his call for US clients to hold at least part of their assets outside the country , and to consider getting a second passport in case the worst occurs.
“The American government has been increasingly curtailing personal, political and economic freedoms,” said Berwick. “This has happened under all administrations; Bush, Obama and now Trump. Don’t forget: a wall built to keep people out, can also be used to keep people in.”
Berwick isn’t alone. This week, the New Yorker Magazine published a piece titled “Survival of the Richest,” which discussed how some of America’s richest people, such as Reddit founder Steve Huffman, are prepping for disaster.
“Faced with evidence of frailty in the American project, some are permitting themselves to imagine failure,” notes staff writer Evan Osnos. “It is gilded despair.”
One particularly popular locale for second homes is English-speaking New Zealand, which has the rule of law, an upper-middle class culture and is off the beaten path. According to the New Yorker, 13,401 Americans registered with New Zealand’s immigration authorities during the first seven days after Trump’s election.
Is Acapulco safer than most US Cites?
Investors like to pride themselves as “out of the box thinkers.” However Berwick, an anarcho-capitalist, goes a lot farther than most.
“The US government is already going to extraordinary lengths to track American’s assets, and herd them into safe places where they can be seized,” says Berwick. “These include moves towards digital cash, exit taxes, FATCA (the Foreign Assets Tax Compliance Act) and global taxation policies. Now is not the time to take chances.”
An Internet pioneer, and founder of Stockhouse.com, one the world’s first financial news-sites, Berwick now holds fort in Acapulco, which, surprisingly, he claims is safer than most US cities.
There from offices overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he runs the Dollar Vigilante newsletter and its fast-growing YouTube channels.
The offices are also headquarters of the TDV Internationalization and Investment Summit, and Anarchapulco, both which take place later this month. Berwick, a shameless promoter, bills the latter event, which attracts an eclectic crowd ranging from mining investors to Bitcoin and yoga fanatics, as “the world’s largest anarcho-capitalist conference.”
What scares Berwick and free market advocates the most is not the US government’s attacks on financial freedoms, it is the attacks on personal freedoms. Trump’s threats to institutionalize torture, legitimize religious discrimination and criminalize free speech are particularly jarring.
When Trump floated the idea of taking away US citizenship from those who burn the flag, Berwick reacted by posting a video, which later went viral, of himself burning the flags of several countries, including Canada, where he was born, to the sound of “Freedom,” a song popularized by the late George Michael.
Heir to Doug Casey and The International Man
Berwick’s nervousness about the direction of US policies, while radical, flows in a long tradition of free thinkers of all kinds who were forced outside their home countries. Voltaire, Rousseau and more recently Alexander Solzhenitsyn, all got out of Dodge at some point in their lives.
However Berwick’s ideas most resemble those of global investor Doug Casey, author of Crisis Investing and whose book The International Man, published about 40 years ago, first introduced the general public to the idea of keeping one foot outside the United States.
Indeed, Casey was one of the first people that Berwick sought out when he founded his YouTube channel six years ago. Berwick flew down to Casey’s Argentina estate for a series of interviews and over the years, Casey has defended his controversial protégé.
Lessons from the old Soviet Union: broadening the ideas horizon
The idea that the United States is anything else other than a “shining city on a hill” is likely anathema to most Americans, despite the tough times that many are experiencing right now.
That opinion is likely correct. America has gone through rough patches in the past and has always bounced back.
However, gold investors think over a far longer time horizon.
Many remember policies in the old Soviet Union, which curtailed comments against the state, imposed restrictions on citizens moving assets aboard and foreign travel.
For example when Simon Mikhailovich, who is now managing director at TBR Bullion Reserve, left the Soviet Union, his family’s assets were essentially confiscated in the form of a series of quasi-exit taxes, which were in some ways similar to what the US IRS is currently levying on Americans who want to renounce their citizenship.
Critics like Berwick aren’t for everyone. But investors need second opinions now, more than ever.