This Time it is Different

This time it is different. International business… global investing… our lives.

LifeStore - Banking - Insurance

See below how even in Smalltown USA… the smart money sees that life, business and investing will be different this time.

First, let’s go back to September 2006 when a small town Danish bank, (Jyske Bank started in a tiny farming community and became one of the second largest Danish banks) opened a totally new branch layout in all their branches.  To design this layout, they sent a team to the US to come up with new ideas, but did not look in banks. Instead they visited places like Barnes & Noble and Starbucks.

This was smart in my opinion because this time the banking business will be different. Then Jyske invested $72 million dollars in a renovation that gave them a great lead and eventually began to turn all commercial banking upside down.

Several years ago Jyske Bank changed its entire image… and the way its offices were run… looked… interfaced with its customer, because… they saw that this time it is different.

Jyske, Denmark’s second largest independent bank, underwent a major change. In just three months Jyske – pronounced Youska – Bank transformed all 125 of its branches – both physically, and from a business model perspective as well. Their goal: To make Jyske Bank Denmark’s most customer-oriented bank by introducing “Jyske Bank Generation Two,” a bold attempt to enhance customers’ experience and encourage them to change the way they think about banking. As part of this goal, they worked to make the bank less of an office for the employees and more of a comfortable, inviting, and informative environment for the customers.

The Coffee Bar Bank

One way they succeed with the “comfortable and inviting” goal is by hosting some of the most popular coffee bars in town.

In the first months after unveiling their newly designed branches to its 470,000 customers they served more than six tons of coffee. Each branch has its coffee bar near the front window, inviting passers by to pop in instead of rushing past.  But even though the free coffee draws a lot of attention, the bank’s profile is about more than just a good cup of java.  It’s about meaningful and helpful communication with customers as well as employees and management.

This is where the ‘informative’ part of the goal comes into play.  This is the Information Era so Jyske added an extensive use of A/V.

Jyske Bank
Many Jyske Bank branches, like this one, use multiple, large displays to inform and welcome passers by.

They improved information flow with 1,000 digital signage displays placed throughout the banks’ lobbies, and 500 interactive plasma displays in conference rooms.

Their deposits soared.

So I am impressed with Jyske’s ability to select good investments.  I was impressed by the way that Jyske survived the sub prime horrors (they were barely involved) and how they avoided Madoff.

I am especially impressed on Jyske’s continual search for value and by the fact that they are one of the few overseas banks that still accepts US investors.  For decades our newsletters and websites have warned about the gradual deterioration of the ability of Americans to bank abroad.

The US government has placed so may restrictions on what overseas banks must do to accept American clients that most overseas banks have simply closed their doors to Americans.

Now even some US banks are looking for ways to avoid Americans!

We can see this in an excerpt from last week’s USA Today article “Will financial firms go abroad to dodge overhaul?” by Paul Wiseman.

U.S. banks, hedge funds and other Wall Street firms are weighing whether to move more of their operations abroad now that Congress has toughened financial regulations at home.

“We’ve talked about it with a number of clients,” says Jeff Visithpanich, principal at Wall Street compensation adviser Johnson Associates. The new bill is creating “a large administrative hassle. … If you own a big hedge fund, there’s very little reason you need to be in New York or Greenwich (Conn.).”

President Obama is expected to sign the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial system since the Great Depression on Wednesday. The bill is designed to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis of 2008 by cracking down on Wall Street excesses.

Once bankers have digested the 2,300-page legislation, the research firm CreditSights says, they are likely to conclude that the U.S. consumer market now offers “less attractive returns and that growth abroad is much more favorable.” (my bold).

In a recent report, CreditSights says Citigroup is in a good position “to deal with the brave new world” because it is already well-established in promising developing markets around the globe. It also noted that Wall Street icon JPMorgan Chase has dispatched top executives to review growth opportunities overseas.

Among the provisions that analysts say could send financial firms packing:

*The Volcker Rule, named for former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker, which prohibits banks from trading in financial markets for their own profit but not their clients’ and limits bank investments in hedge funds and private equity funds.

*Regulation of the shadowy market in over-the-counter derivatives, where Wall Street firms earned tens of billions in trading revenue and commissions. During the debate over financial reform, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., warned, “This bill will chase risky financial trades overseas and further into the unregulated shadow banking system.”

Under the legislation, banks also will have to set aside more capital as a cushion against loan losses, leaving less money available for loans and possibly driving corporate borrowers to foreign lenders, Bove says.

More on banking abroad in a in a moment.  First, let’s shift from Denmark to Ashe County, North Carolina and see how another financial institution sees that this time it really is different.

Last year AF Financial Group, the holding company for AF Bank, became LifeStore Financial Group.  The changes represent the seventh time that the bank has taken a new name since 1939 when the bank first set up its operation in the Parker Tie building.  The Parker Tie building still exists and houses Parker Tie Hardware.

I bought stain for our deck there last week.

The bank, Lifestore, however has moved on… a lot…  with seven branches, with its main presence in Ashe County.

Many of our neighbors think that the bank was crazy to change its name. Just as Jyske Bank was criticized by many when they made their changes in 2006.

Yet I see these shifts in Ashe County and in Denmark… by small town banks as a huge progression… a recognition that the days ahead will differ… a lot.

Bob Washburn, the president and chief executive of Lifestore, said of the change: The selection of LifeStore comes from what we really are. Banks are typically called branches and insurance offices are referred to as agencies, but we realize that we are truly a retail store for your life.

Let’s connect dots… to see trends in places as far apart as Copenhagen and West Jefferson. We can see that banking and finances will never be the same.

Take bank privacy as an example.  911 eradicated this. I saw the result this week when Merri and I had to make an emergency trip from North Carolina to Florida.  We drove straight through for 18 hours and next day when I went to buy more gas… my credit card would not work.  I have used this card for 18 years and always paid the total balance every month.   Merri called. “What’s up?” she asked.

We were told the largest credit card fraud in the US takes place at small gas stations.  My large purchase of gas in one day was outside my norm and the credit card company shut down my card for security reasons.   The security person told us every place and everything we had purchased the previous day and after asking some security questions…of course reopened the card.

We are lucky to be able to bank abroad at all!  This time it really is different which is why it is so interesting to be going to Copenhagen next month to speak at Jyske Bank Global Wealth seminar.

I would go even if I were not a speaker to hear the key note speaker, Kenneth Rogoff. who co authored the book “This Time It Is Different” with Carmen Reinhart.

Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart at Ms. Reinhart’s Washington home. They started their book around 2003, years before the economy began to crumble.  (Photo by CATHERINE RAMPELL for the NYT.)

There is a great article about Rogoff and the book in the Sunday’s New York Times by Mary F. Calvert entitled “They Did Their Homework (800 Years of It).”
This article tells how Reinhart and Rogoff started their book around 2003, years before the economy began to crumble. The excerpt below shows why I am so interested in hearing what Rogoff has to say:  Like a pair of financial sleuths, Ms. Reinhart and her collaborator from Harvard, Kenneth S. Rogoff, have spent years investigating wreckage scattered across documents from nearly a millennium of economic crises and collapses. They have wandered the basements of rare-book libraries, riffled through monks’ yellowed journals and begged central banks worldwide for centuries-old debt records. And they have manually entered their findings, digit by digit, into one of the biggest spreadsheets you’ve ever seen. Their handiwork is contained in their recent best seller, “This Time Is Different,” a quantitative reconstruction of hundreds of historical episodes in which perfectly smart people made perfectly disastrous decisions. It is a panoramic opus, both geographically and temporally, covering crises from 66 countries over the last 800 years.

The book, and Ms. Reinhart’s and Mr. Rogoff’s own professional journeys as economists, zero in on some of the broader shortcomings of their trade — thrown into harsh relief by economists’ widespread failure to anticipate or address the financial crisis that began in 2007.

Mr. Rogoff, 57, has spent a lifetime exploring places and ideas off the beaten track. Tall, thin and bespectacled, he grew up in Rochester. There, he attended a “tough inner-city school,” where his “true liberal parents” — a radiologist and a librarian — sent him so he would be exposed to students from a variety of social and economic classes.

He received a chess set for his 13th birthday, and he quickly discovered that he was something of a prodigy, a fact he decided to hide so he wouldn’t get beaten up in the lunchroom.

Soon, he began traveling alone to competitions around the United States, paying his way with his prize winnings. He earned the rank of American “master” by the age of 14, was a New York State Open champion and soon became a “senior master,” the highest national title.

When he was 16, he left home against his parents’ wishes to become a professional chess player in Europe. He enrolled fleetingly in high schools in London and Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, but rarely attended. “I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be doing,” he recalls.

He spent the next 18 months or so wandering to competitions around Europe, supporting himself with winnings and by participating in exhibitions in which he played dozens of opponents simultaneously, sometimes while wearing a blindfold.

After much hand-wringing, he decided to return to the United States to attend Yale, which overlooked his threadbare high school transcript. He considered majoring in Russian until Jeremy Bulow, a classmate who is now an economics professor at Stanford, began evangelizing about economics.

Mr. Rogoff took an econometrics course, reveling in its precision and rigor, and went on to focus on comparative economic systems. He interrupted a brief stint in a graduate program in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to prepare for the world chess championships, which were held only every three years.

After becoming an “international grandmaster,” the highest title awarded in chess, when he was 25, he decided to quit chess entirely and to return to M.I.T.

He did so because he had snared the grandmaster title and because he realized that he would probably never be ranked No. 1.

Teaching stints followed, before the International Monetary Fund chose him as its chief economist in 2001.


I love to play chess… strictly amateur… though in the Hong Kong chess club (long ago) I did once play against a man who had played versus Bobby Fischer. I do not know how his game with Fischer turned out… but do know how our game ended (very badly for me).  My chess set in North Carolina, I bought in Hong Kong about 40 years ago… the only material possession left from those days.
My set in Florida (above) is Bakelite and in Ecuador it is made of glass.  Chess is like life.

In the opening position in a chess game, White has twenty moves, and Black has twenty different replies to each of these — thus there are four hundred possible positions after the first move. After two moves there are more than twenty thousand positions, and after five moves the number of potential chess positions is into the trillions.

A chess master once said “I only think one move ahead. The right one.” While this is more a product of his own (biased) perception of how he thinks, it is partially right. Chess masters don’t gain the advantage from thinking further ahead but from pursuing good lines, and discarding bad moves. The better a player… the less focus is made on thinking about bad moves.

Chess masters also think in chunks.  They think about move in groups, or chunks of moves, while ordinary players think of each move one at a time. Ordinary thought is “I capture his pawn with my knight.”   A chess master thinks “Okay, we continue the Sicilian Defense, then I try another gambit. If he accepts, I go for his king. If he declines, I protect my vulnerable bishop.”  Chunking allows the player to think further ahead, and frees short term memory, the RAM of the brain.

I always have believed that the thought process in chess is similar to investing.  We need to see a bigger picture.  We need to deal with infinite possibilities and we need to connect dots and think in terms of larger pictures.  In my life, I always have a number of chess games going with a number of people…the boards are set up permanently on the farm and in Florida as well as in Ecuador….and online of course with my son who lives in Bristol, UK.  I like the thinking, plotting and enjoy the game immensely.

Know one knows for sure what the economic future will bring and how we’ll end up investing, doing business and living. Thinkers like Rogoff however (I try to fall into this group) simply see a bigger more connected picture.

Whether it is coffee served at your bank (Lifestore by the way serves popcorn)… a new name… a total loss of privacy… another recession or worse or a brilliant recovery… there is one thing we can count on… This time will be different.

If you are looking at the old ways of business and investing, expect that they won’t work.  look instead for new ways that the global economy will unfold.

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

Merri and I walk  the waterfront every day when we are in Copenhagen.  We love…


the sights, the…


cafes and…


open air.

Merri and I hope to meet you in Denmark in August!


How We Can Serve You

How to Have Real Safety in 2020

The most important investment you can make in 2020, is in yourself. 

Invest in more time.  Invest in less stress. Invest in greater security.That’s why four years ago we created the Purposeful Investing Course (PI) because when it comes to finances, there are only three reasons why we should invest.  We invest for income.  We invest to resell our investments for more than we had invested.  We invest to make our world a better place.

We should not invest for fun, excitement or to get rich quick, or in a panic due to market corrections.

The core model portfolio we teach in the PI Course rarely changes, but is highly diversified in thousands of shares around the world… so there is higher long term profits, less stress and greater safety.

The portfolio consists of 19 country ETFs.  During the four years since we created the Purposeful Investing Course and set up a $40,000 real time portfolio at Motif Brokers, we have held the same 19 shares and have only traded three times.

The portfolio started with $40,000 and has risen to $53,591 ($49,015 in shares and the balance in accumulated cash).

The portfolio did really well from 2015 to 2018, better than the DJI Index.  Then as the US dollar grew in strength it fell behind.

The chart below shows the actual results of thos portfolio compared with the S&P 500.



This good value portfolio above is based entirely on good value financial information and mathematically based safety programs developed around investing models that date back 91 and 24 years.

The Pifolio is a theoretical portfolio of MSCI Country Benchmark Index ETFs that cover all the good value markets developed combining my 50 years of investing experience with study of the mathematical market value analysis of Keppler Asset Management.

In my opinion, Keppler is one of the best market statisticians in the world.  Numerous very large fund managers, such as State Street Global Advisers, use his analysis to manage over $2.5 billion of funds.

The Pifolio analysis begins with Keppler who continually researches international major stock markets and compares their value based on current book to price, cash flow to price, earnings to price, average dividend yield, return on equity and cash flow return.  He compares each major stock market’s history.

Fwd: keppler

Michael Kepler CEO Keppler Asset Management.

Michael is a brilliant mathematician.  We have tracked his analysis for over 20 years.   He continually researches international major stock markets and compares their value based on current book to price, cash flow to price, earnings to price, average dividend yield, return on equity and cash flow return.  He compares each stock market’s history.  From this, he develops his Good Value Stock Market Strategy and rates each market as a Buy, Neutral or Sell market.  His analysis is rational, mathematical and does not cause worry about short term ups and downs.  Keppler’s strategy is to diversify into an equally weighted portfolio of the MSCI Indices of each BUY market.

This is an easy, simple and effective approach to zeroing in on value because little time, management and guesswork is required.  You are investing in a diversified portfolio of good value indices.

A BUY rating for an index does NOT imply that any stock in that country is an attractive investment, so you do not have to spend hours of research aimed at picking specific shares.  It is not appropriate or enough to instruct a stockbroker to simply select stocks in the BUY rated countries.  Investing in the index is like investing in all the shares in the index.  You save time because all you have to do is invest in the ETF to gain the profit potential of the entire market.

To achieve this goal of diversification the Pifolio consists of Country Index ETFs.

Country Index ETFs are similar to an index mutual fund but are shares normally traded on a major stock exchange that tracks an index of shares in a specific country.  ETFs do not try to beat the index they represent.  The management is passive and tries to emulate the performance of the index.

A country ETF provides diversification into a basket of equities in the country covered.  The expense ratios for most ETFs are lower than those of the average mutual fund as well so such ETFs provide diversification and cost efficiency.

Here is the Pifolio I personally use.

70% is diversified into Keppler’s good value (BUY rated) developed markets: Australia, Austria, France, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

30% of the Pifolio is invested in Keppler’s good value (BUY rated) emerging markets: Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The Pifolio consists of iShares ETFs that invested in each of the MSCI indicies of theseall good value BUY markets.

For example, the iShares MSCI Australia (symbol EWA) is a Country Index ETF that tracks the investment results the Morgan Stanley Capital Index MSCI Australia Index which is composed mainly of large cap and small cap stocks traded primarily on the Australian Stock Exchange mainly of companies in consumer staples, financials and materials. This ETF is non-diversified outside of Australia.

iShares is owned by Black Rock, Inc. the world’s largest asset manager with over $4 trillion in assets under management.

The fact that the Pifilios are invested in all the shares of the MSCI Index in each good value market reduces long term risk.

When the US stock market bull ends, know one knows for sure how long or how severe the correction will be.

When the bear arrives, what will happen to global and especially good value markets?

No  one knows the answer to this question.

What we do know is that the equally weighted, good value market Pifolios have the greatest potential long term and that math based trailing stops can be used to protect against a secular global stock market correction when it comes.

My fifty years of global investing experience helps take advantage of numerous long term cycles that are part of the universal math that affects all investments.

What you get when you subscribe to Pi.

You immediately receive a 120 page basic training course that teaches the Pi Strategy.   You learn all the Pi strategies, what they are, how to use them and what each can do for you, your lifestyle and investing.

You also begin receiving regular emailed Pifiolio updates and online access to all the Pifolio updates of the last four years.  Each update examines the current activity in a Pifolio, how it is changing, why and how the changes might help your investing or not.

Included in the basic training is an additional 120 page PDF value analysis of 46 stock markets (23 developed markets and 23 emerging stock markets).  This analysis looks at the price to book, price to earnings, average yield and much more.

You also receive two special reports.

In the 1980s, a remarkable set of two economic circumstances helped anyone who spotted them become remarkably rich.  Some of my readers made enough to retire.  Others picked up 50% currency gains.  Then the cycle ended.  Warren Buffett explained the importance of this ending in a 1999 Fortune magazine interview.  He said:  Let me summarize what I’ve been saying about the stock market: I think it’s very hard to come up with a persuasive case that equities will over the next 17 years perform anything like—anything like—they’ve performed in the past 17!

I did well then, but always thought, “I should have invested more!”  Now those circumstances have come together and I am investing in them again.

The circumstances that created fortunes 30 years ago were an overvalued US market (compared to global markets) and an overvalued US dollar.  The two conditions are in place again!

30 years ago, the US dollar rose along with Wall Street.  Profits came quickly over three years.  Then the dollar dropped like a stone, by 51%  in just two years.  A repeat of this pattern is growing and could create up to 50% extra profit if we start using strong dollars to accumulate good value stock market ETFs in other currencies.

This is the most exciting opportunity I have seen since we started sending our reports on international investing ideas more than three decades ago.  The trends are so clear that I have created a short, but powerful report “Three Currency Patterns for 50% Profits or More.”   This report shows how to earn an extra 50% from currency shifts with even small investments.  I kept the report short and simple, but included links to 153 pages of  Good Value Stock Market research and Asset Allocation Analysis.

The report shows 20 good value investments and a really powerful tactic that shows the most effective and least expensive way to accumulate these bargains in large or even very small amounts (less than $5,000).  There is extra profit potential of at least 50% so the report is worth a lot.

This report sells for $29.95 but in this special offer, you receive the report, “Three Currency Patterns for 50% Profits or More” FREE when you subscribe to Pi.

Plus get the $39.95 report “The Silver Dip” free.

With investors watching global stock markets bounce up and down, many missed two really important profit generating events over the last two years.  The price of silver dipped below $14 an ounce as did shares of the iShares Silver ETF (SLV).   The second event is that the silver gold ratio hit 80, compared to a ratio of 230 only two years before.

In September 2015, I prepared a special report “Silver Dip 2015” about a silver speculation, leveraged with a British pound loan, that could increase the returns in a safe portfolio by as much as eight times.  The tactics described in that report generated 62.48% profit in just nine months.

I have updated this report and “Silver Dip” report shares the latest in a series of long term lessons gained through 40 years of speculating and investing in precious metals.  I released the 2015 report, when the gold silver ratio slipped to 80.  The ratio has corrected and that profit has been taken and now a new precious metals dip has emerged.

I have prepared a new special report “Silver Dip” about a leveraged speculation that can increase the returns in a safe portfolio by as much as eight times.

You also learn from the Value Investing Seminar, our premier course, that we have been conducting for over 30 years.  Tens of thousands of delegates have paid up to $999 to attend.  Now you can join the seminar online FREE in this special offer.

This three day course is available in sessions that are 10 to 20 minutes long for easy, convenient learning.   You can listen to each session any time and as often as you desire.

The sooner you hear what I have to say about current markets, the better you’ll be able to cash in on perhaps the best investing opportunity since 1982.


Tens of thousands have paid up to $999 to attend.

In 2020 I celebrate my 54th anniversary in the investing business and 52nd year of writing about global investing.  Our reports and seminars have helped readers have better lives, with less stress yet make fortunes during up and down markets for decades.  This information is invaluable to investors large and small because even small amounts can easily be invested in the good value shares we cover in our seminar.

In this special offer, you can get this online seminar FREE when you subscribe to our Personal Investing Course.

Triple Guarantee

Enroll in Pi.  Get the basic training, the 46 market value report, access to all the updates of the past two years, the two reports and the Value Investing Seminar right away. 

#1:  I guarantee you’ll learn ideas about investing that are unique and can reduce stress as they help you enhance your profits through slow, worry free, easy diversified investing.

If you are not totally happy, simply let me know.

#2:  I guarantee you can cancel your subscription within 60 days and I’ll refund your subscription fee in full, no questions asked.

#3:  You can keep the two reports and Value Investing Seminar as my thanks for trying.

You have nothing to lose except the fear.   You gain the ultimate form of financial security as you reduce risk and increase profit potential.

Subscribe to Pi now, get the 130 page basic training, the 120 page 46 market value analysis, access to over 100 previous Pifolio updates, the “Silver Dip” and “Three Currency Patterns For 50% Profits or More” reports, and value investment seminar, plus begin receiving regular Pifolio updates throughout the year.

Subscribe to a Pi annual subscription for $197 and receive all the above.




They Did Their Homework (800 Years of It)

Will financial firms go abroad to dodge overhaul?