Tag Archive | "Credit Suisse"

Insane Risk


Low interest rates are leading investors to take insane risks.   A  Wall Street Journal article “A Battle Brews Over Negative Rates on Mortgages” (1) tells that due to European interest rates  near or below zero there are proposed laws in Spain and Portugal that would cause lenders to owe money to borrowers.

If interest rates are below zero, banks would have to make mortgage payments to borrowers instead of vice versa.  The banks not surprisingly are fighting this.  Any fool who thinks about human nature for even a minute realizes that no economic system like this will work.  The Western world is build on a capitalistic system where capital creates income not expense.

The problem is not the borrower paying the bank. The problem is the bank not paying depositors any interest in the first place.

Zero interest has created some insane investments.

For example, the Swiss bank, Credit Suisse, launched an unusual new bond that would pay investors relatively high interest rates.  The catch is Credit Suisse could take the investor’s principal if rogue trading, information-technology breakdowns or even accounting errors by the bank lead to massive losses for the bank.

This is simply insane. In essence, investors are insuring the bank against its own mismanagement.

Credit Suisse is the same bank that has in recent years been caught up in a variety of scandals involving its role in helping wealthy U.S. and German customers evade taxes, its apparent violations of U.S. laws prohibiting dealings with countries such as Iran and Sudan, and its involvement in selling toxic subprime mortgage securities to investors. It pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge related to the tax issue and was forced to pay a penalty of $2.6 billion.

In 2012 the (USA) SEC  charged Credit Suisse Securities with misleading investors in offering of residential mortgage-backed securities.  Credit Suisse agreed to pay $120 million to settle the SEC’s charges.

In 2014 according to a BBC article, Credit Suisse admitted to misleading investors and violating securities law in the way they operated dark pools.  Credit Suisse paid $60m and another $24.3m relating to other violations.  The New York Attorney General and the SEC have both censured the banks.

Bloomberg News reports (4) that this year a Credit Suisse wealth manager and the bank face criminal accusations of fraud.

The article says: The timing is terrible for Switzerland’s No. 2 bank.  Its new CEO, Tidjane Thiam, is betting its future on managing money for the rich.  Wednesday, he announced plans for more cuts at its investment bank.  He also told Bloomberg Television he was blindsided by risky debt and illiquid positions taken at the trading unit that he expects to contribute to a loss for the bank in the first quarter.

The story tells about criminal complaints against Credit Suisse accusing the bank of money laundering and “churning” accounts to boost its revenue with unnecessary trades.

These are just a few of Credit Suisse’s recent misdeeds. There appear to be many more, but these alone make it seem irrational and irresponsible to accept this bank’s risk of mismanagement.

Yet low interest rates are getting investors to look at investments like this.

This would seem to not be our problem since Credit Suisse is only offering these investments to large qualified institutional investors.  Regretfully these investors include hedge funds, asset managers and firms that pool capital from pension funds.  Higher yields make pension managers look better, until something goes wrong, a likelihood that seems too possible to me.  This means your pension, or your bank or your insurance company many call bonds such as this your asset.

What is the reward for taking such risk?  The bonds are expected to pay a “mid-single digit” interest rate.  Take on Credit Suisse’s risk of mismangement for 5% or 6%?  That is really nuts. This is why we each need to keep as much control of our own investing as we can.   This is why we need a purpose for our our investments and always need to seek value.

Gary

(1) http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-spain-and-portugal-bankers-and-borrowers-fight-over-negative-rates

(2) http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-fromcredit-suisse-bonds-for-self-inflicted-catastrophes

(3) http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35456219

(4) http://www.bloomberg.com credit-suisse the jailed banker

Quantum Wealth & Independence


This is the official holiday for the 4th of July so here is a thought about independence and freedom.

Technology has robbed the world of a lot freedom… just as it has added great freedom in other ways.

HK-waterfront

Technology allowed me to live in Hong Kong in the 1970s.

Technology has brought us the freedom to see the world in an instant… to speak to the world in an instant… to message the world in an instant… to travel the world… to buy and sell with those who offer the best deal… plus ever so much more.

Yet the same technology has allowed governments everywhere to restrict privacy and in many instances lifestyle.

For example… US legislation has slowly created such a burden on overseas banks that to serve US citizens most overseas banks will no longer accept Americans as customers.

london-house

Technology allowed me to live in London and …

Manx-waterfront

work in the Isle of Man in the 19080s.

Our newsletters and later this website have warned about this problem for nearly 4o years as we have observed the gradual erosion of American access to global banking.

The first clues of our restricted freedom came clear back in the early 1980s when overseas mutual funds started dropping American investors. I saw the results of this myself. The 2nd book  I wrote about global investing “Three Confidential Reports About Making Money Abroad”  recommended several overseas mutual funds including Action Suisse (A Swiss fund that invested in Swiss shares) and Deutscher Investment-Trust (a German fund investing in German shares). These were great funds for that time as the Swiss franc, German mark and these stock markets were exploding.

I invested in these funds and was making triple digit returns when my Swiss banker at that time, Credit Suisse wrote and said…”Sorry we have to sell these funds for you because you are an American.  Thank you very much.”

Since that time Swiss bankers and banks globally have been fighting a rear guard action against more and more legislation that does not make it illegal for Americas to bank overseas…. just financially impractical.   The cost of complying with all the legislation is so high that overseas banks can’t charge enough.

The beginning of the end came in in 1996, when the USA concluded a new double taxation agreement with Switzerland, which, among other things, regulated the conditions for administrative assistance in matters of taxation. Switzerland agreed to provide assistance with regard to “tax fraud and the like”.

“And the like.”  Three infamous words.

This extension of the concept of “tax fraud”  was like a ticking time bomb. US  authorities simply had to wait for some bank and in this case it was UBS to act in a way so the US authorities could expand their control over non US banks.   Thus banking secrecy was well and truly dead not in 2009, but already in 1996.

UBS activity allowed the US government to pile so much additional paperwork on overseas banks that other banks in other countries began closing down American accounts as well.

A Daily Telegraph article “Lloyds Bank hit by Obama tax purge”  shows what happened to Americans (even those who had lived in England for decades) says:  Lloyds Banking Group is ditching American customers based in Britain pending a crackdown on international tax evasion planned by President Barack Obama.

This week American private client account-holders at Lloyds’s received letters informing them of an “important change in policy regarding clients who are resident, domiciled or linked to the United States by property or asset holdings”. They were told the bank had “no choice” but to “cease acting as your investment manager.  One letter sent to Bank of Scotland’s portfolio management division, which is now part of Lloyds, said: “The USA has a mature regulatory environment governed by its Securities and Exchange Commission. These regulations mean that we are not licensed to manage portfolios for US clients”.

The letter added: “Unfortunately we cannot offer an equivalent service from within Lloyds Banking Group.” Clients have been advised to transfer their assets.

One recipient, who has lived in the UK for over 25 years, said: “After all this time, I’ve suddenly been told I must take my money elsewhere and I don’t understand why. Now I’m scared that other banks won’t take me on either.”

There you have it.   Americans are totally free to bank abroad… yet many cannot because the cost of compliance is so high. This is true in many other fields.    There are some great natural health products available that aren’t offered because of the high cost of  FDA approval. The list could go on.

This is not a unique American phenomenon by the way. European food supplements are even more restricted than in the US.

What can we do to maintain  freedom?

Freedom is an attitude and lifestyle we choose… not something legislated so we can use technology to help us be free as citizens of the world which I recommended in my first book (written in the 1970s) “Passport to International Profit”.

Here is an excerpt from that book.

Don’t be a Shooting Duck

This is the first story in the second chapter of a book, Passport to Profit, I wrote in 1979. Does this now apply to you?

Having a Harbor

Doesn’t everyone dream of having some safe harbor for the ultimate escape? A completely dependable last line of defense, so that when everything else falls to pieces, one can drop back inside this cozy little shelter and enjoy a safe snug comfortable life. Certainly it is sensible to have one. In fact, to my way of thinking, anyone who doesn’t have quite a few safe harbors is not only playing a dangerous game he doesn’t have to play, he is missing one of the greatest contentment’s of life..confidence.

Duck in the Pond Theory

We would all have our own little partnership with our own little pond if we were ducks. The pond gives us water, food, shelter and peace. We, in turn, give it ducks. For what is a pond without ducks? We clean it, eat up unnecessary plants and in general keep everything in tiptop condition. However, every once in a while the hunters arrive. Very quickly the rules of the partnership change. You see, the pond as your partner has a limited range of powers. Whether it likes it or not, a new partnership is about to be imposed upon the pond. It will be forced to join in a hunter/pond partnership and part of the rules of that relationship is that the hunters can shoot at the ducks on the pond. This not only throws you, the duck, into an unrequested, unwanted hunter/hunted partnership but threatens to terminate quickly your duck/pond partnership.

It’s possible if you are not careful that you will become a diner/dinner partner on the wrong end of the fork. Logic dictates what to do in a situation like this. Since your pond partner is no longer dependable because the rules are about to be changed, you should take the initiative. Rule #1 of the Duck in the Pond Theory is in fact “Don’t be a sitting duck when the shooting starts”, so you’ve go to decide what to do.

All too often in real life, people get too upset with change to use logic. Their first reaction instead is dismay. They sit there wallowing in disappointment, shock and anger because their pond has let them down. Or even worse, they sit there looking at the gun barrels and choose to blind themselves to the reality of the situation, saying this is some sort of joke or the hunters are really looking for rabbits or the pond won’t let this happen.

Rule #2 in this theory is “be realistic”. If you don’t accept partnerships change daily or ignore the limitations of your partner; you are not capable of deciding when to run for your harbor. You’ll lie to yourself and probably to your partner. This gums up the whole works. You’ll mess up a fairly clean machine by adding unwanted, useless nuts and bolts which do nothing but clog everything up.

The human mind/body partnership has an almost unlimited capacity to ignore its eyeballs, to adjust reality to match its desires. This inbred flaw causes humans to ignore reality and expect the world to revolve around them. Being realistic is accepting that no person, thing or partnership is indispensable or permanent. Realism is recognizing change and accepting it when no one is able to stop it.
If, by being realistic, you recognize that as much as you love your pond and as much as the gun barrels look harmless, that the shooting is not far away, you must act. You must get off the pond. Where do you go?

Rule #3 of the theory is to be sure you have another pond to go to. I call it having a positive pond factor. The more places you have to go, the more positive your pond factor.

Technology allows Merri and me to live on a remote Blue Ridge farm…

global-citizen

in Florida…

global-citizen

and Ecuador now.

global-citizen

Until next message, where we learn how to find other ponds, may your pond be a good one.

Gary

One bank that still welcomes Americans is Jyske Bank. They spent years (and probably millions in legal fees I might add) figuring out all the ways to make it possible for them to serve Americans.  This is why I am pleased to be speaking at their 9th  Global Wealth seminar.

See details on how to join Merri and me at Jyske’s bi annual Copenhagen seminar here Global Wealth Management Seminar.

emerging-markets

Join us on the waterfront restaurants and coffee shops along Nyhavn as we learn about global investing in Copenhagen.

How We Can Serve You

Ecuador & International Banking Update


Here is an important Ecuador & international banking update created by the wonderful world of mobility in which we live.

Our global mobility provides huge benefits… broadens our horizons and enriches mankind through global trade.   Yet being global also creates some problems… one of them is banking.

This site recently posted a message about Ecuador banks that began with, “I do not trust Ecuador Banks.”

This is not a slight on Ecuador.  This statement is a comment on the realities of trying to maintain control of one’s own wealth in an era where almost all governments are increasing control over money.

The banking article was followed by  another article stressing  the importance of diversification in Ecuador Diversified.

Here is a reminder of the importance of this information.  A couple of years ago I purchased a block of buildings in Ecuador planning to resell them.  I am according to plan selling them now and recently received a payment.

My attorney wrote this to me:

They deposited funds in my account last Wednesday to pay for the condo and asked me to send to you.  There is a 2% tax on money going out of Ecuador which was recently established, plus bank commissions.  I will wait for your instructions  to wire these funds to you.

There previously was a 1% tax but it has now been increased to two percent. This increase is not a big deal but a step in the wrong direction and a reminder that we should never trust any one country, currency or banking system.

I just sent our Ecuador Living subscribers an alert about one more Ecuador banking problem.  Ecuador Living subscribers click here.

Learn how to subscribe to Ecuador Living here.

Hence my mantra to have what I call a “Six Point Command Posture” which is to:

Live in one country
Bank in a second country
Invest in many countries
Earn in two or more countries
Use a company incorporated in a fifth country
Take a second residence

Where to Bank

Knowing where to bank is a growing problem… especially for Americans.  Non Americans should read this article any as you’ll see that you are not exempt from this problem either.

Americans are being crushed between a rock and a hard spot.

The Rock. Many US banks will no longer accept Americans residing overseas because they have a foreign address. This has been caused by the US Patriot Act.  Banks have to know their clients so they refuse to accept (or keep) clients with overseas addresses, even Americans who have banked with them for decades, but change their address.  The following banks have been sited as closing accounts with just 30 days notice of long term customers just because they took on a US address: Ameriprise, Bank of America; Bank of New Hampshire; Citibank; Citizens Bank; Edward Jones, St. Louis; E- Trade; Fidelity Investments; INGDirect; JPMorganChase; Morgan Stanley; National City Bank in Riverview, Michigan; Provident Bank, Maryland; Smith Barney; T. Rowe Price; USAA Federal Saving Bank; Vanguard mutual fund; Wachovia; Washington Mutual; Washington Mutual Investment, Spokane; WellsFargo; Zions Direct.

The Hard Spot. At the same time the IRS has created a set of regulations that discourage non US banks from accepting Americans.

Many Swiss and British based banks will no longer accept Americans.

Here’s an excerpt from a 13, June 2009 Telegraph article entitled “Lloyds Bank hit by Obama tax purge” by By Louise Armitstead:   Banking group drops American customers in UK ahead of costly proposals to stamp out tax evasion  Lloyds Banking Group is ditching American customers based in Britain pending a crackdown on international tax evasion planned by President Barack Obama.

This week American private client account-holders at Lloyds’s received letters informing them of an “important change in policy regarding clients who are resident, domiciled or linked to the United States by property or asset holdings”. They were told the bank had “no choice” but to “cease acting as your investment manager.”

One letter sent to Bank of Scotland’s portfolio management division, which is now part of Lloyds, said: “The USA has a mature regulatory environment governed by its Securities and Exchange Commission. These regulations mean that we are not licensed to manage portfolios for US clients.”

The letter added: “Unfortunately we cannot offer an equivalent service from within Lloyds Banking Group.” Clients have been advised to transfer their assets.

One recipient, who has lived in the UK for over 25 years, said: “After all this time, I’ve suddenly been told I must take my money elsewhere and I don’t understand why. Now I’m scared that other banks won’t take me on either.”

The Brits are no the only group shedding US account holders.

A July 12, 2009 USA Today article entitled “Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap”  by Kevin McCoy explains how other banks have booted Americans as well.  An excerpt says: The closely watched Justice Department court fight to get the names of 52,000 suspected American tax evaders from Swiss banking giant UBS has prompted some other foreign banks to drop U.S. clients they once welcomed, tax experts said Monday.

Eager to avoid a similar struggle with federal prosecutors, banks including Credit Suisse and HSBC in recent weeks have notified American clients they must close their offshore accounts or transfer them to the institutions’ U.S.-based operations, where tax reporting requirements are far stricter.

“Overall, the international banking community, and particularly the offshore banking community, has been very friendly to American account holders,” said William Sharp, a tax law specialist at the Sharp Kemm law firm in Tampa. “That changed in the past couple of months as a result of the UBS case.”

The Dutch were early in dropping American clients.

ABN AMRO, a huge, Dutch based, international bank gave all clients  with U.S. passports within 30 days notice in 2008 and then closed their accounts because of the  high costs to comply with U.S. regulations.

Expect this problem to get worse! Beginning in 2010 stronger US reporting rules will force even more overseas banks to stop accepting Americans.  They simply cannot afford to fill all the obligations.

Americans should not feel totally alone…nor should non US investors feel totally safe from being shut out of a banking center.

According to the British Times Newspaper, Barclays Bank used the US anti-terror laws to shut down the personal bank accounts of British citizens who were working for Iranian owned businesses.

The bank enforced anti-Iran sanctions under the US Patriot Act.  Accounts of Iranian owned companies that operated completely legally in Britain were shut.  But Barclays went much further. They amazingly shut down accounts of directors of these companies and even more amazing they shut the personal accounts of ordinary staff members, including clerical officers, computer engineers and bank tellers, just because they worked for an Iranian owned company.

Here is an excerpt from a June June 6, 2008 Times of London article entitled, “Barclays bank rejects customers to comply with US terror law:”  Barclays began the account closures in February, shortly after reports from industry sources that US Treasury agents had been touring the City of London putting pressure on financial institutions to withdraw from any form of business that might have Iranian links.

One source told The Times that City banks had been warned that they would lose access to the US market if they continued to deal with Iranian businesses. Barclays has extensive business interests in the United States.

Case study: Cast out in the supermarket

Chris was doing the shopping in Tesco when Barclays rang to tell him that his bank account was being closed. Later that evening his wife was told that her Barclays account, which she had held for 25 years, was also being closed.

Chris, 46, works in IT for Bank Saderat, and his wife is in the accounts department of Melli Bank. Both institutions are Iranian-owned. “They said it was because of sanctions but I knew there were no British sanctions on the banks. I asked them if they were responding to US laws and they said they didn’t have to give me a reason,” he said.

The couple opened new accounts with one of Barclays’ rivals but they had difficulty transferring standing orders, especially Chris’s child-support payments. He said: “I know that UK banks are being pressured by America to stop all dealings with Iran but what impact will it have to shut an English bloke’s account with an English bank? The Iranians won’t give a monkey’s. What upsets me is the lack of respect Barclays have for their customers.”

This last comment hit me strongly… the lack of respect many of the big banks have for their clients.

This is one reason I have enjoyed banking with Jyske Bank in Denmark for more than 20 years.  Jyske is big and well managed enough to be very safe, but small enough to provide genuine care and attention to the individual.

This is why I was not surprised that a number of years ago, Jyske made the decision to spend a lot of time, energy and money to comply with US law so they could continue to serve US as well as non US investors around the world.

This shift though has created some confusion. For example a Reader from the Netherlands sent me this note:  Hello Gary, Since beginning of this year we are subscribed to your newsletter. In your articles we read that it is possible to go to Jyske Bank and start doing multi-currency for about 30,000 dollars. We were very enthusiastic about this philosophy and asked the Jyske Bank for information. However we were very surprised when we got information back including the message that we have to start with $150,000 euro. Can you help us and maybe clarify the misunderstanding about this starting amount?  Thank you very much in advance!

The services and minimums required by Jyske Bank Private Bank (JBPB) for non US investors differs from those offered by Jyske Global Asset Management (JGAM) who serves US investors.

Jyske Global Asset Management (JGAM) offers Americans managed accounts, advisory accounts and IRA services to US clients.

JGAM’s managed accounts provide Americans with access to international investments in all currencies, traded on all stock exchanges.

There are two levels of managed accounts for US investors:

Mutual Fund Managed Accounts, $50,000 to $200,000.  Accounts from $50-200,000 are mainly  invested in mutual funds and ETF`s in order to get the appropriate diversification.

Individual Investment Managed Accounts from $200,000 up are mainly invested in individual securities as trading costs are not prohibitive for this size of account.

There are two forms of advisory accounts for US investors.

Advisory Accounts for US Residents.  Accounts for US residents are available and provide access to investments in currencies, commodities and US listed securities.

Advisory Accounts for Americans who are resident outside the US.   US citizens who are resident outside the US (proof of residence is required) have access to investments in currencies, commodities and all international investments in all currencies, traded on all stock exchanges.

The minimum required to start an advisory account is $25,000.

Because the minimum annual fee is  $1,000 JGAM recommends an initial deposit of minimum $50,000.

IRA accounts are managed accounts with more conservative investments than those in a normal  managed account.  IRA accounts require a minimum investment of $50,000.

Jyske Bank Private Bank offers the following services to non US investors.

Non US Clients can open accounts with minimum deposit of Euro 150,000 (approximately 220,000 USD), or equivalent in another currency.

JBPB works with six profiles:

Income profile. A low-risk profile, invested in currency accounts (cash) and/or traditional bonds.

Stable profile. A low-risk profile, invested in bonds (incl. high- yielding bonds), a small equity part.

Balanced profile. A medium-risk profile, invested in equities and bonds (main emphasis on bonds).

Dynamic profile. A medium-risk profile, invested in equities and bonds (main emphasis on equities).

Growth profile. A high-risk profile, invested mainly in equities and a lesser share in bonds.

Aggressive profile. A high-risk profile, invested almost exclusively in equities.

There are six managed strategy funds (available only in Euro) for investors who want managed services with minimum deposits of US$ 220,000. These six funds are based on the principles of asset allocation and match the investment profiles above so all investors can attain risk diversification, risk management with even a limited investment.

There is a full Discretionary Portfolio Management service for investors who want managed services with US$ 350,000 and above. This service is also based on the six strategies above. Jyske Bank will invest and manage the clients portfolio in close cooperation with the Bank´s experts and their network of international partners. These strategies are offered in EUR, USD, GBP, DKK and SEK.

Investors, who do not want managed services, and have accounts of US$ 220,000 or more, can wish to engage in an active dialogue with their advisers and be very involved in the decision-making process. based on the client’s investment profile. They can invest in currency accounts in a large number of currencies, all tradeable equities and bonds, mutual funds and commodities.

Here is one huge feature I like very much about both JBPB and JGAM…  No Jyske employees in  management, advisory services or any employee receives any kind of bonus pay. This eliminates any temptation for hidden agendas to exist.  Employees have no incentive give any advice or take any action that is not in the client’s best interest.

Technology has given great mobility to our wealth. This mobility is good for the individual and the global economy… but governments do not like this as they wish to control our finances.  The tension created by this struggle between the individual and the collective has created a never ending thrust and counter thrust of regulations and adaptions to these rules.  It is harder to maintain a diversified global portfolio than it used to be… but the effort is still worthwhile.

Gary

The greatest asset of all is the ability to earn wherever you live, which brings everlasting wealth.

This is why we offer our course Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business.

A clear mind and healthy body are also a vital assets… plus a second language is a powerful diversification tool.

This is why I am giving everyone who enrolls in our North Carolina or Ecuador International Business & Investing seminar in October or November our “Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business Course” (offered at $299) free.

Here are comments from a reader about the way we help:  Thank you for your inspiration and information outlining foreign banking and retirement.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome for planning the steps to evaluate the early stages of living abroad.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Super Thinking + Spanish Course

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Join us with Jyske. Learn more about global investing, how to have an international business and diversification in Ecuador at the seminar.

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina with our webmaster  David Cross & Thomas Fischer of JGAM

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Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

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Attend any two Ecuador seminar or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

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Read the full articles:

Lloyds Bank hit by Obama tax purge

Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap

Barclays bank rejects customers to comply with US terror law

Bank Privacy Gone


The problem of getting Bank Privacy is gone.  Now the problem is being able to get a good international bank at all.

The problem is that Americans have lost control of their wealth.

An insidious form of of loss has been taking place for decades and now we are in the end game.

The theft has taken place in the same way the Nazis robbed the Germans of control.

A German industrialist once explained how the Nazi’s took over when he explained that very few people were Nazis.  However many enjoyed how the Nazis brought back an external German pride.  Most were just too busy to care.  The majority let it all happen at an early stage.   Too late the realization came that the Nazis were in total control.   See how this has happened to your wealth here.

This is what has happened to American wealth.

Now we are in the end game.  I have been warning about this problem of reduced bank privacy for over 2o years… first in my printed books and newsletters… later at my web site.

Here is what I wrote at this site almost nine years ago to the day, July 13, 2000.

More on the loss of bank privacy

Bank privacy no longer exists. Some years ago I wrote about the insidious tactics that the US and other governments have used to erode financial privacy and personal liberty and pointed out that the problem is that the government does not attack the individual but puts the pressure on the overseas financial institutions. The current additional move by the US government to collect tax is just one more small step.

The message below shows that one of our readers does not understand this yet. After his message I put my comments below.

“Gary  How can a non-US institution, and there must be many thousands of them in hundreds of countries, be “forced” to comply with the IRS and become a tax collector for them? I would think that most of them would tell the IRS to stick it. Or simply ignore it. Sounds more like scare tactics for US “taxpayers.”

The problem began in the 70s when the SEC sued an investment manager in the US who was managing an overseas mutual fund which kept all its money in Switzerland. The SEC demand to the Swiss bank (Credit Suisse) that they return the money (it was many millions) to the US. The Swiss bank pointed out that the fund had not broken any law and that they had no legal way to return the money.

The US simply seized an equivalent amount of Credit Suisse’s money in the US. The was the beginning of the end of bank privacy. The simple fact is for an international bank to operate it must hold accounts in the US, England, Germany, Japan, etc. This makes these institutions vulnerable to the authorities in each country.

Now we can see that this bank privacy problem has grown so serious that more and more international banks will not accept US investors.

Excerpts from USA TODAY article entitled “Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap”  by Kevin McCoy shows how far the loss of bank privacy has grown.

The closely watched Justice Department court fight to get the names of 52,000 suspected American tax evaders from Swiss banking giant UBS has prompted some other foreign banks to drop U.S. clients they once welcomed, tax experts said Monday.

Eager to avoid a similar struggle with federal prosecutors, banks including Credit Suisse and HSBC in recent weeks have notified American clients they must close their offshore accounts or transfer them to the institutions’ U.S.-based operations, where tax reporting requirements are far stricter.

“Overall, the international banking community, and particularly the offshore banking community, has been very friendly to American account holders,” said William Sharp, a tax law specialist at the Sharp Kemm law firm in Tampa. “That changed in the past couple of months as a result of the UBS case.”

The owner of an HSBC account in Jersey, one of the English Channel islands, recently received a 45-day notice to close the account, said Robert McKenzie, a tax law specialist at Arnstein & Lehr in Chicago. A client with an offshore Credit Suisse account got a similar notice, he said.

Some foreign banks elsewhere now avoid offshore business with Americans because they know the Justice Department plans “to extend this effort to other jurisdictions beyond Switzerland,” said Martin Press, a tax expert at Gunster Yoakley Valdes-Fauli & Stewart in Fort Lauderdale.

It was a smart move. Overseas banks do not vote and do not lobby in Congress.   US banks of course do not mind the competition getting kicked.

A few writers, (ourselves included) have been sounding the warning… in our case for decades.

Yet we are small potatoes and this never reached the majority of the public awareness.

The freedom to bank abroad has never been removed. Conditions have just been set so overseas banks cannot serve Americans.

Clever.  This leaves US investors with fewer ways to protect against inflation created by irresponsible spending.

The loss of bank privacy is not as bad as the loss of being able to use competent international banks.

Fortunately some banks like Jyske Bank (the Danish bank I have worked with for decades) has taken the time and considerable expense to qualify to serve US customers and actively accept them.

One way to overcome this problem is move.  Live and/or retire outside the US. Retire in Ecuador or somewhere you enjoy… as many Germans who saw what was coming did before the Nazis took total control.

This is one reason why so many Americans are moving abroad. See more at America Moving Abroad.

Gary

Join us at our North Carolina farm this July or October for our International business & investing seminars below. Learn more about early retirement and Ecuador.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

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Or join us in Ecuador and learn more about living and retiring in Ecuador.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

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Or join us in Ecuador and learn more about living and retiring in Ecuador.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Spanish Course
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Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

See the entire article Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap at http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2009-07-12-ubs-secrecy-case_N.htm

Multi Currency Bank Risk


Multi currency investing and multi currency banks reduce risk.

During this current credit crisis, it makes sense to pay attention to ways to bank risk as well as investment and multi currency risk.

Eleven US banks have failed in 2008, seven of them since mid July.

Now a Warren Buffett owned insurance company has stopped insuring bank deposits above the federal $100,000 guarantee. This withdrawal of insurance shows that many insurers and bankers are worried about future bank failures.

One of many reasons I have banked with Jyske Bank (beyond the fact that they are multi currency experts) for many years is their strong safety ranking.

I like the fact that Denmark has ranked high in Moody’s and other country ratings as one of the safest countries in which to bank.

However, recently one Danish Bank had problems.

Thomas Fischer at Jyske Bank sent me this note in July 2008:

“Hi Gary, I just want to keep you informed that this morning Roskilde Bank (a Danish regional bank) had to ask the Danish Central Bank for support. It is the 9th largest Danish bank and it has been hit hard as it has been involved in the Danish real estate market. The share dropped 45% this morning. Some other smaller regional banks have seen their share prices falling between 10-20%. Jyske Bank has dropped 1.3% The Central Bank will probably put Roskilde Bank up for sale either the entire bank or parts thereof. The bank will not be allowed to collapse and the clients are thus not going to lose any money but it is obvious not good timing to get a situation like this. Thomas”

Thomas was correct and shortly after the Globe and Mail reported:

COPENHAGEN — Denmark’s central bank unveiled an $896.8-million U.S. bailout of Roskilde Bank acting to confine the negative effect of the struggling bank on the Danish financial system. The central bank stepped in after Roskilde, Denmark’s eighth-largest retail bank by market share, failed to receive any offers after putting itself up for sale in the face of bigger than expected writedowns on real estate loans.

The article outlined that Roskilde was extraordinary as a Danish bank in
that it was heavily exposed to the property sector and that other Danish banks in general were well prepared in a deteriorating Danish economic situation.

The Danish Central Bank had no expectations of any other banks suffering
similarly.

In fact a June 2008 report from Denmark’s National Bank says:

Denmark’s domestic and foreign central-government debt has the highest rating from Standard & Poor’s (AAA), Fitch Ratings (AAA) and Moody’s
(Aaa). Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s affirmed the rating
in September 2007, December 2007 and April 2008 respectively with an
unchanged stable outlook.

Analytical reports and specific ratings on individual government secu-
rities are available on the websites of respectively Standard & Poor’s
(www.standardandpoors.com), Fitch Ratings (www.fitchratings.com) and
Moody’s (www.moodys.com).

Jyske Bank also ranks well on its own and has a stable outlook at this time. unlike most major banks. Here are current rankings:

Bank Rating Outlook
Jyske Bank A+ Stable
Citigroup AA- Negative
Deutsche Bank AA- Negative
Goldman Sachs AA- Negative
JP Morgan Chase AA- Negative
Credit Suisse A+ Negative
Lehman Brothers A Negative
Morgan Stanley A+ Negative
UBS AA- Negative

As can be seen, Jyske Bank is doing well. Jyske is the only bank on the list with a stable outlook. All others are on the watch list for down-grading.

Note that Jyske Bank has the same rating as Morgan Stanley but a better outlook.

Jyske Bank’s rating is better than Lehman (after today probably much better), the same as Credit Suisse and one grade below the others. However, it’s very seldom that S&P give a rating above A+ for a relatively small bank like Jyske Bank. The other banks on the list benefit from their size but this does not tell much about how well they are run.

If you have any questions on how Jyske Bank you can see the bank’s home page www.jyskebank.dk/english and read the latest semi-annual report.

US investors should contact Thomas Fischer at fischer@jgam.com

Non US investors should contact Rene Mathys mathys@jbpb.dk

The thousands of other reasons I like Jyske are the people that work there.

An article at scienceblog.com entitled “Happiness is rising around the world” says that Danes are the happiest people in the world.

The article says:

People in most countries around the world are happier these days, according to newly released data from the World Values Survey based at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

During the past 26 years, the World Values Surveys have asked more than 350,000 people how happy they are, using the same two questions.

Data from representative national surveys conducted from 1981 to 2007 show the happiness index rose in an overwhelming majority of nations studied.

The 2007 wave of the surveys also provides a ranking of 97 nations containing 90 percent of the world’s population. The results indicate that Denmark is the happiest nation in the world and Zimbabwe the unhappiest. The United States ranks 16th on the list, immediately after New Zealand.

Economic growth, democratization and rising social tolerance have all contributed to rising happiness, with democratization and rising tolerance having even more impact than economic growth. All of these changes have contributed to providing people with a wider range of choice in how to live their lives—which is a key factor in happiness.

“The results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives,” Inglehart said.

As an example, Inglehart points to the tolerant social norms and democratic political systems in Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada all of which rank among the 10 happiest countries in the world.

In my opinion this happiness shows through at Jyske. Our dealings have always found the staff to be helpful, cheerful and willing to take an extra step to help make us as their customer happy as they are

Until next message, may you be happy too.

Gary

Join me and Thomas Fischer from Jyske Global Asset Management in North Carolina to learn more about economic trends.

International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina

We’ll have lunch at the farm and enjoy the leaf change.

farm colors

Thomas Fisher speaking to our delegates at the farm.

seminar-roses

orange-roses

multi-currency-meeting

Delegates enjoying a private conversation with Thomas Fischer during a coffee break at the farm.

This is the most beautiful time of the year on the Blue Ridge.

multi-currency-meeting-in-autumn