The Zenconomics Report August Issue

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Zenconomics Report August Dispatch

August 31, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,176. Gold closed at $1,314 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $46.42 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.57%. Bitcoin is trading around $573 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

The August issue of the Zenconomics Report has gone out to members of our network. In this issue:

Low trading volumes and little volatility in the financial markets this month… The state of the sovereign debt markets… Two large banks pass on negative interest rates to clients… The latest on monetary-financed fiscal programs in Japan… Global investment demand for gold the highest on record for the first half of 2016… All eyes on the Federal Reserve next month… A quiet change to IMF’s special drawing right currency… A correction hits the gold stocks sector… the Zenconomics Report Model Portfolio updates… Two new additions to our model portfolio

This month we added two new positions to our model portfolio which is constructed according to the Beta Investment Strategy. This portfolio is designed to capitalize on the prominent macro trends in the world of finance, and it is built to be fluid and flexible when trends change.

The Zenconomics Report is 100% independent, and all opinions are our own. It is also 100% free, though it is only available to members of our network. For access, simply sign-up using the form below or at http://www.zenconomics.com/report.

New members receive access to all previous monthly issues, and we will also send you two free reports as a ‘thank you’ for subscribing.

Assess, Mitigate, Implement, and Prosper is a report detailing the concept and implementation of asset allocation. Asset allocation is about strategically spreading your capital out across several different asset classes, and it is a critical part of the Beta Investment Strategy. This report also covers the ins-and-outs of managing an investment portfolio, including the risk management techniques that everyone should understand before putting a dime into the stock market.

The Zenconomics Guide to the Information Age is a 28 page report covering money, commerce, jobs, Bitcoin wallets, peer-to-peer lending, Open Bazaar, freelancing, educational resources, mutual aid societies, the Infinite Banking Concept, peer-to-peer travel, Internet privacy, and numerous other Information Age tips and tricks with an eye on the future. This guide is designed to be very practical – each section is loaded with action items – but it is also written to be entertaining as well.

To financial freedom!






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How I Escaped the Rat-Race

submitted by jwithrow.rat-race

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
How I Escaped the Rat-Race

May 28, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,123 – almost exactly where it was at the same time last week. Gold closed at $1,186 per ounce yesterday. Oil checked out at $57 per barrel. The 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.13%, and bitcoin is trading around $238 per BTC.

Dear Journal,

We are back in the serene mountains of Virginia after a week spent on the gorgeous Carolina coast. Madison’s first beach trip was a success and we enjoyed five consecutive days of low 80’s with a cool breeze. Your editor even squeezed in a half-day fishing trip towards the end of the week after building up Dad points by handling Maddie’s late morning nap time indoors for the first several days so Momma could lay in the sand.

Last week I shared with you my view of the coming monetary crisis and I promised to expand upon what I have done to prepare for it and how I managed to escape the rat-race in the process.

Career is often one of the first items up for discussion when catching up with friends. You know the process: “What are you doing now? How’s that going? Do you like it?”

I find that very few friends tell me they like their job. Most say it is okay or tolerable. Some say they are miserable for one reason or another. Even the ones who say their job is tolerable express a certain sense of anxiety on Sunday afternoons as they look forward to the grind starting back up for another week.

Despite this, most people become addicted to their paycheck because they fashion their lifestyle accordingly. A couple things tend to happen when the paycheck gets bigger: the house gets bigger, the car gets nicer, and the hobbies become a little more luxurious. The problem is many of these things come with monthly payments. The big house comes with a big mortgage and strong HOA dues. The nice car comes with a big car payment and probably a satellite radio subscription. The luxury hobbies might include membership fees of various kinds: country clubs, golf courses, dinner clubs, mega-gyms, etc.

Now there is nothing wrong with any of this unless your goal is to escape the rat-race. If so, you need your paycheck to maximize capital rather than support your lifestyle. The following is the abbreviated version of how I went about maximizing capital so I could leave the rat-race in the dust.

My first step was mental: I crafted a vision of living outside the rat-race as I became more disillusioned with corporate America. I had been working in the corporate banking world for several years by this point and I had worked my way up to a comfortable salary relative to my circumstances. I was contributing the standard 3% match rate to my 401(k) and I was maxing out my self-driven IRA each year as I had been educated to do so I had a decent financial cushion to start with.

I created a spreadsheet to track my monthly expenses and pretty soon I was able to trim the fat and start saving 75% of my net income each month. I didn’t become cheap for its own sake – I still took my fiancé (now wife) out to dinner every Friday – but I did stop all frivolous spending. Though I couldn’t see far enough ahead to envision my day of liberation, I did know that I would be able to break the employment chains in the near future if I amassed a decent pool of working capital.

As my knowledge of Austrian economics grew, so did my appreciation for the precious metals. I began to make periodic trips to the local coin shop to redirect some of my monthly savings into gold and silver bullion. I didn’t originally have an asset allocation model in place so my purchases were somewhat sporadic but I did accumulate a (relatively speaking) decent precious metals base over the course of a year.

Austrian economics also helped me see how the housing bubble was being partially re-inflated by the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) and zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). Private equity firms like Blackstone and American Homes 4 Rent (AH4R) were taking advantage of this easy money to buy up huge quantities of single family homes in the U.S. to build their rental real estate portfolios. These private equity companies were taking the Fed’s cheap credit at near-zero rates to buy middle class homes which they rented back out to the middle class with a huge profit margin built in. Now there is nothing wrong with reaping huge profits as long as they are honestly gained but there is a major problem with a system that distorts the market economy in favor of special interest groups.

I was bothered by what was going on in the housing market but I also understood that I was powerless to change it. Therefore I did the next best thing – I took advantage of the situation and sold my home to AH4R for a sizable gain. Some of that gain went to pay the real estate agent’s commission and I rolled the rest into a down payment on a 5-acre rural property at the end of a gravel road way up in the mountains which is where I reside today.

My goal for our mountain home was to make it as resilient as possible such that we could be totally self-sufficient for at least six months should hard times befall us. I don’t have room in this entry to go into the specifics, but we accomplished this by securing surplus water, food, provisions, and energy sources. The end result is that I am confident in my household’s ability to be self-sufficient for at least six months should the need arise which means our livelihood is not solely dependent upon consistent monthly income. The cost to maintain this self-sufficiency is pretty negligible after the initial purchases are made.

It took me roughly six months to complete these base self-sufficiency preparations and then it was time to hone in on my finances. I set up a spreadsheet to monitor my asset allocation model and I established the initial allocation ratios: 29.5% cash, 10% precious metals, 15% stocks, 0.5% bitcoin, and 45% real estate.

I was already in excess of my cash and real estate allocation because of my 75% savings habit and my 20% down payment on our 5-acre property so I used the excess cash outside of my IBC policy to bring the precious metals, stocks, and bitcoin allocations up to par.

All the while I was researching how to build location-independent income streams online in my spare time. There are more entrepreneurial opportunities today than ever before in modern history. Thanks to the internet anyone can reach millions of prospective customers with just the click of a button and there are very few barriers to entry. This means all you need to be an entrepreneur is a product that provides value to people in some capacity and a basic understanding of online marketing techniques. It requires very little capital to launch these types of products. More importantly, you can launch these products without needing to obtain permission from the government first in the form of certifications and licenses. In comparison, try to start a traditional brick & mortar business without government permission and see how that experience goes.

So to recap:

• I invested in my own education first by developing a strong understanding of Austrian free market economics.
• I purchased a rural 5 acre property with advantageous financing.
• I made ample water, food, energy, and provision preparations so as to be self-sufficient on this property for at least six months should the need arise.
• I shored up my asset allocation model to spread my capital across several asset classes: cash, precious metals, stocks, bitcoin, and real estate.
• I began to build location-independent income streams online.

I have an entire chapter dedicated to the specifics involved in this process in the 2nd edition of The Individual is Rising which I hope to launch later this summer. I will keep you posted as that progresses.

I will sum up this entry by repeating a common theme here at Zenconomics: life is meant to be lived.

It is up to you to make your life exciting and meaningful – no one else will do it for you. This requires a break from Modernity which emphasizes a fear & control mindset intended to put life in a box and stomp out any potential randomness before it happens. We are all conditioned to live within Modernity’s box so it is difficult to step outside and blaze your own path. But your life may depend on doing just that.

More to come,

Signature

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and creating diversified income streams please read “The Individual is Rising: 2nd addition” which will be available later this year. Please sign up for the notifications mailing list at http://www.theindividualisrising.com/.

How to Get Paid Up Front to Buy Stocks

submitted by jwithrow.stocks

Want to get paid up front to buy stocks you want to own at a price you specify? Selling put option contracts allows you to do just that.

Put options are a contractual agreement between two parties. The owner of the put option contract has the right to sell the designated stock to the counter-party at the agreed upon strike price at any time prior to the specified expiration date. In exchange for this right the owner of the put option must pay a market-based premium to the seller up front. Each contract is for 100 shares of the underlying stock.

For the owner, put options can serve two purposes – either as a downside hedge or as speculation. Generally speaking, the owner of the put option profits from the deal if the stock declines below the strike price.

In order to get paid up front to buy the stocks you want you simply need to “be the store” for hedgers and speculators and sell puts on stocks you would like to own. You choose the stock, the strike price, and the expiration date and you receive the premium immediately upon execution. That premium is yours to keep no matter what happens. If the stock is still above the strike price on expiration day then you walk away from the trade with pure profit. If the stock is below the strike price and the put option is exercised then you are obligated to buy 100 shares of the stock per option contract sold and the premium you were paid up front serves to reduce your cost basis in that position.

There are two basic strategies for selling put options. The first is to sell in-the-money puts on stocks you absolutely want to buy. This strategy can enable you to buy the stock at a lower price than it is trading for at the time.

Let’s use AUY as an example of this strategy (not a recommendation). AUY is currently trading at $4.48 per share. Instead of purchasing AUY at $4.48/share you could sell the February 20 5.5 Put for approximately $1.30 per share. This would obligate you to purchase 100 shares per put contract of AUY at $5.50 per share on or before February 20 and you would be paid $130 per contract up front to do so.

Now there are only two possible results. If AUY is trading above $5.50/share on February 20 then the put option expires worthless and you walk away with $130 per contract sold and you can explore selling more put options on AUY if you want. If AUY is still trading below $5.50/share on February 20 then you will be “put” the stock and you must purchase 100 shares per contract at $5.50/share. But you were already paid $1.30 per share so you would effectively be buying AUY at $4.20 per share ($5.50-1.30). Recall AUY was trading at $4.48 when you sold the put so you are buying the stock at a lower price than you could have originally.

The second strategy is to sell out-of-the-money puts on blue-chip stocks that you don’t think will dip below the strike price but you wouldn’t mind owning if they did. This is primarily a low-risk strategy for generating income and the lower premiums reflect this.

Let’s use WMT as an example of this strategy (not a recommendation). WMT is currently trading at $89.68 per share. We could sell the WMT March 20 82.5 Put for approximately $0.70 per share. In this example WMT would have to decline by roughly 8% in a little over two months for the put contract to be exercised. We walk away with $70 per contract unless that sharp decline happens.

As you can see, selling put options involves limited risk. You must keep enough cash in your brokerage account to purchase the underlying stock should the option be exercised but that is the most you can lose in each trade. If done properly, selling put options is actually less risky than buying stocks outright.

As always, be mindful of your asset allocation model before venturing into the equity markets.

Asset Allocation

submitted by jwithrow.asset-allocation

Asset allocation is a necessary tool for saving money and building capital within a fiat monetary system. Within a fiat system, the purchasing power of your currency is gradually inflated away and the value of various asset classes can fluctuate rapidly based on central bank monetary policy. Thus, it is important to have a principled yet flexible asset allocation model in place.

The concept of asset allocation is to allot a percentage of your capital to various asset classes and to maintain each allocation ratio until you deem it necessary to adjust your model. For example, a basic asset allocation model could consist of 25% cash, 25% precious metals, 25% real estate, and 25% stocks. You would then allocate your income to each asset class accordingly.

The beauty of this strategy is that you cannot be wiped out by any wild swings in the market and you will always have cash on hand with which to purchase assets when they go on sale (when the market tanks). Of course you can always add additional asset classes into your model such as bonds or bitcoin or cattle depending upon your outlook and you may need to adjust your percentages based on new analysis from time to time as well.

The Infinite Banking insurance strategy that we talk so much about here at Zenconomics and in our book works perfectly to house much of your cash allocation. An IBC policy serves to compound returns on your cash while it sits idle waiting to be put to use without sacrificing any liquidity whatsoever.

As for your precious metals allocation, you can purchase gold and silver bullion from any local coin shop or from reputable dealers online or you can purchase through companies like Hard Assets Alliance which will facilitate fully allocated domestic or international storage for you.

Of course to follow an asset allocation model you will need to save a large percentage of your income. I think 50% is a good benchmark. 75% savings is preferred. Very few people have the discipline to pull this off but those who do never have to worry about financial problems again.

If maintaining such an asset allocation model for your household sounds extremely tedious and time-consuming that’s because it is. This is the price we must pay for living under a fiat monetary regime. In a sound monetary system we would be able to build capital simply by saving money in a bank account because our money would maintain its purchasing power over time. Instead, saving money in a bank account is a losing strategy so we are all forced to become financial analysts or have our wealth systematically transferred away from us.

The Stock Market Deception

submitted by jwithrow.GW Paper Money

The stock market is comprised of numerous exchanges through which buyers and sellers can trade securities. The New York Stock Exchange is the world’s largest stock exchange followed by the NASDAQ. The Tokyo Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange are third and fourth in terms of market capitalization.

As we mentioned, the exchanges enable buyers and sellers to trade securities with one another.

We repeat this statement to emphasize the next one:

The exchanges are not where businesses raise capital unless an initial public offering (IPO) is taking place.

We think it is important to recognize this fact.

The vast majority of trades on a stock exchange are simply speculative – there is very little productive activity taking place. Even IPOs are usually not terribly productive as the intent is often not to raise capital for business operation but rather to enrich the owners and private investors.

So if most trades are just speculation then why do we view the stock market as a gauge of economic health? Why do we assume that the underlying economy is good when stock prices go up?

We do not assume that the economy is good when corn or oil prices go up. But corn and oil contracts are also traded on futures exchanges and there are speculators who profit when their price rises.

Conversely, why do we assume that the underlying economy is bad when stock prices go down?

Nothing real is destroyed when stock prices fall. Buildings don’t collapse. Equipment doesn’t break. Goods don’t go up in smoke. Engineers don’t lose their knowledge.

Maybe there was a time when stock prices somewhat reflected the financial health of individual companies, but those days are long gone. With mark to unicorn accounting, leveraged stock buy-backs, and all other manner of financial wizardry, CEO’s can and do manipulate stock prices regularly.

Additionally, the Federal Reserve has spent the past three decades ensuring that liquidity flows directly into the stock market so that equity prices continuously rise in unison over time.

The point is that there is a huge disconnect between the stock market and the productive sector that mainstream finance pays no attention to. In fact, mainstream finance has convinced most people that speculating in the stock market is the _only_ way to invest for retirement.

There may be a place for stocks within your asset allocation model, but it is important to recognize the stock market deception for what it is and understand the game you are playing if you do delve into the market. I would highly recommend enlisting the services of independent financial analysts if you do allocate some of your capital to the financial markets.

As we have touched on in a number of other essays here at Zenconomics, financial planning should be comprehensive and diversified according to your own unique circumstances. Simply amassing paper equities denominated in fiat currency is a very fragile plan.

As Nelson Nash says: “If you know what’s going on, you’ll know what to do.”

Be wary of the stock market deception and plan accordingly.

**Want more information on how to build a sustainable financial plan? Are you ready to turbo-charge your retirement portfolio? Do you yearn to exit the rat-race? Is financial freedom calling to your spirit?

Do not take a backseat when it comes to your own finances. Learn everything you need to know to master your finances in 30 days by enrolling in Finance for Freedom today!

MyRA-QE Taper Connection

submitted by jwithrow.Government Help

We have a question for you:

Is it a coincidence that the government has introduced the “myRA” plans just as the Federal Reserve has begun to taper its quantitative easing programs?

Let’s think this thing through for a minute.

We know:

  • China is now a net-seller of U.S. Treasuries so the Federal Reserve has had to step in and purchase U.S. Treasury Bonds in increasing quantities to support government spending.
  • The average American saves for retirement in a qualified retirement plan focusing primarily on mutual funds, exchange traded funds, and stocks with bonds comprising a small portion of the allocation.
  • The proposed myRA plans are designed to focus on U.S. Treasury Bonds.
  • The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programs have pumped massive amounts of liquidity into the system which has resulted in a broad increase of stock prices across the board.
  • Tapering QE will withdraw liquidity from the system which will almost certainly result in a broad decrease of stock prices across the board and quite possibly a severe stock market crash.
  • A falling stock market would likely cause many Americans to seek investment options that they deem “safer”.
  • The government is already hard-selling their myRA plans stating that there is “no risk to lose what you put in”.

Hmm.

Maybe our benevolent bureaucrats really do think that myRA plans will help the common man.

But we hold dearly to a personal mantra:

Maximize Capital,
Minimize Crap,
Never Trust the Government.

With that mantra echoing in our mind, we can’t help but be a little suspicious – something funny seems to be afoot.

What do you think?