Crowdfunding Regulation Cools Down

Better late than never…

Crowdfunding has the potential to be “the people’s Wall Street;” but the SEC worked out the final rulemakings of the JOBS act, set to address the regulatory environment for equity crowdfunding platforms. Last month, the SEC took another small step in addressing this, issuing final rules on “Regulation A+.” This has been creating a buzz in the investment community as the new rules are set to go into effect starting June of this year.Vector crowdfunding concept in flat style

To review, “crowdfunding” is the concept of raising money for a business, project or product through small amounts from a large amount of people, rather than big chunks of money from only a few select backers. Crowdfunding is best known for getting music albums, movies and gadgets to the market through popular sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. However, these platforms only allow people to receive products in return for their financial backing, not shares of equity, because current securities regulations do not allow it.

The JOBS act, signed into law April 2012, was set to address this issue. Another piece of this legislation has now been outlined through the SEC’s final rulemaking on “Regulation A+.” Regulation A was a little used exemption in the securities regulation that allowed companies to raise up to $5 million; but since they still had to comply with all federal and individual state disclosure agreements, the prohibitive compliance cost was too high relative to the amount that could be raised. The new Regulation A+ will allow companies to raise up to $50 million by selling securities to the general public. The other big change is that it is likely individuals will not have to be “accredited investors” (which means they are wealthy) to participate. It also pre-exempts all of the individual state “blue-sky” laws making it much easier and cheaper to comply.

This is certainly a step in the right direction as it removes legal barriers and reduces compliance costs for small businesses and startups whose capital is especially precious.

laws_piggy_bankWhile certainly a welcome development, it has taken the SEC years to get to this point of merely amending an already existing federal exemption rule. Rules for Title III of the JOBS act, which are particularly targeted at equity crowdfunding, are not yet complete. Unfortunately for small businesses, they must continue to wait which leads to opportunities lost and jobs not created. While the SEC and others may want to protect small investors from losses and scams, it is ironic that people can currently choose to risk their savings in a host of other ways, such as gambling (including state sponsored lotteries no less!), yet when it comes to making investments they cannot be trusted. Rather than taking a precautionary approach where citizens, entrepreneurs and investors need permission for any new financial innovation, the SEC and others should let people experiment on their own, letting them succeed or fail in the process. When unleashed, entrepreneurs have given us incredible innovations in a host of areas in our lives, financial markets and capital raising should be no different.

Chris Kuiper, CFA is currently a student and researcher at George Mason University pursuing a Master’s of Economics. His previous experience includes asset management, investing and banking.

Micronations of Liberty

Micronations of LibertyMicronations

First there was Galt’s Gulch (aka Mulligan’s Valley or Atlantis), the secluded community in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Founded by fictionalized banker Midas Mulligan, this community was populated by a group of spirited revolutionaries spurred on by the book’s capitalist working-class hero, John Galt. Readers of Rand’s prolific tone remember Galt’s Gulch as the hidden refuge where America’s most forward-thinking creators, industrialists and inventors sought community amidst an American society that had fallen prey to collectivism and government overreach. It is through this experimental culture that Galt sought to promote a transactional community of voluntary exchange, devoid of laws and regulations that hinder foundational principles of freedom and liberty.

Fast forward to 2015 where we could be witnessing a derivative of Galt’s vision, as exquisitely captured in Rand’s book. Known as “micronations,” these developments function as independent nations, states, or even just communities free of the restrictive controls of a central government. In a fully idealized form, these independent milieus might establish a dedicated currency system, community mission and other elements codifying their functional ecosystem.

Liberland Abound

Within libertarian circles, media attention is in full buzz around Liberland, a new micronation situated on a 2.7-mile swath of unclaimed territory between Serbia and Croatia. Originally done in jest as a publicity stunt, this proposed nation-state is now attracting a groundswell of interest, garnering nearly 250,000 citizenship applications over a short period of time from all parts of the world.

Liberland was officially codified on April 13, 2015, by acting President Vit Jedlicka and a couple of other Czech libertarians. Symbolically, this date was intended to align with the birthday of one of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. The purposeful intent of Liberland: To embrace the principle of limited government in alignment with voluntary taxes and public services. And according to Jedlica, no, Liberland will not be joining the European Union.

The hope is that Liberland will evolve over time into a libertarian utopia, with a population of 35,000, which would place it in the same category as Liechtensten, another small European state. State decisions will be made by referendum, embodying the philosophy of direct democracy and electronic voting. In lieu of a traditional tax system, the citizenry will be privy to an autonomous decision-making process that allows them to determine how much they want from the state and what they are willing to cough up in terms of money to pay for it.

By Land and By Sea

TaxesThere are also vast bodies of water worldwide being coveted by independent nation enthusiasts seeking to carve out new vistas of freedom and liberty. Perhaps the most ambitious initiative in play is currently fueled by the Seasteading Institute, founded in 2008 by libertarian activists Wayne Gramlich and Patri Friedman, with the aim of erecting autonomous communities on floating platforms situated in international waters. Interest in this concept mushroomed after word that PayPal founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel was a major backer.

According to the institute, as well as micronation advocates, these free market floating cities are the next big thing, with predictions of these communities taking shape in the next five years.

The “Live Free or Die” State

New Hampshire has always been somewhat of an odd duck among  the U.S. States. But amidst its majestic landscapes and beauty is a micronation initiative that has been showing momentum for some time. Known as the “Free State Project,” a migration of libertarians is taking place in this New England state, and they are intent on fueling a state of unencumbered freedom,

On tap are some lofty ambitions targeted by or before the year 2035: reducing government debt by one-half as well as government employment by 15 percent; the legalization of marijuana and prostitution; abolishing smoking bans; ending sobriety checkpoints; rolling back unnecessary regulation; impacting free enterprise; reducing incarceration rates and tax burdens to among the lowest in the U.S; facilitating the end of victimless crimes, among others.

The Glendale, Colorado Experiment

Quietly nestled within the mile-high City of Denver, Colorado, is a home rule municipality that is engaged in a quasi-micronation experiment. In the village known as Glendale, Mayor Mike Dunafon has a grand vision of transforming this 4,100 person community into the “go-to” destination for freedom lovers across the world.

According to Dunafon, decisions related to how the city is run are predicated on a philosophy or principle which upholds the freedoms and liberties of the individual. Here, the goal at every City Council meeting is to take at least two often obscure laws off the books that unduly target and punish its citizens or even visitors to the area.

Whether in Glendale or in an obscure part of the world where a new micronation community is sprouting up, the goal is to deregulate our lives through limited government and voluntary exchange. As Dunafon is quick to point out, very few, if any, laws are truly needed for people to govern themselves and act like reasonable, civilized people.

Harkening In The New Gults Gulch?

Irrespective of whether Liberland and other micro nation experiments succeed at their quest, this movement reflects a liberty-oriented consciousness that’s catching fire across the globe. Here questions abound:Freedom Land

Why are such onerous laws restricting our liberty still in vogue from days gone past?

Why are we so hemmed in by taxes that serve as barriers to individual initiative and free enterprise?

And what about our privacy rights?

And what about our freedom to use money as we see fit as long as we are not harming others?

Can’t we just live our lives as free human beings?

These questions and more are all spurring interest in autonomous, experimental enclaves where libertarian ideas can be beta-tested a la Galt’s Gulch. Moreover, they suggest growing interest in the principles of freedom and limited government as the new normal for a free society that works for all.

Michael Scott is the Founder and Principal Barista with Bookmark Global Connect, Inc a firm committed to creating collisions between authors and readers one book at a time. Find out more at http://allthatbookjazz.tumblr.com

Swiss Bank Refuses Large Cash Withdrawal

Swiss BankSwiss Bank Baulks

Swiss banks used to be world-renowned. The nation has had a reputation for banking secrecy and international neutrality, making it a relatively safe place to store wealth. Unfortunately, the costs of Swiss banking might soon outweigh those benefits. As negative interest rates continue to permeate the Swiss economy, at least one bank has declined a customer’s request for a large cash withdrawal. This probably occurred at the direction of the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

The negative interest rates took effect at the central bank in January 2015 amidst a failing Russian economy and crashing oil prices. Private lenders have been forced to follow suit. Instead of paying interest on deposits, some now charge customers for the use of their money. This has been a huge blow to the fiscally responsible Swiss. Those with retirement funds and similar investments are now losing money by keeping it in the bank.

Further problems arose when one pension fund manager tried to avoid those losses. He wanted to withdraw his fund’s money from the bank and move it to a separate storage facility. That would save his clients 25,000 Swiss francs per year for every 10 million francs in the fund. Storing cash in an insured vault would still cost money, but it would be far cheaper than keeping it in the bank.

Withdrawal Request Denied

WithdrawalSomewhat unexpectedly, however, the bank denied this request and provided little explanation for the decision. A letter to the fund manager simply stated that his expectations could not be met within the specified time period. Many have speculated that the bank’s actions were spurred by a directive from the SNB. The central bankers might feel that large withdrawals could lead to a cash shortage and cause banks to fail. If that happened, Europe could face an even more serious economic crisis.

At least one banking expert has suggested that the bank’s refusal was clearly illegal. Even if the SNB did issue a directive, it should not have superseded the law. The fund manager’s contract dictated that he should have been allowed to withdraw his money at any time and the private bank should have been legally obliged to honor that request.

In the financial sphere, there are all kinds of deposits, and some do take time to mature, but the pension fund’s account was not like that. It was known as a sight deposit account. The SNB itself defines sight deposits as “Funds which can be transferred immediately and without restriction to another account or which can be converted into cash.” Based on that definition, the bank should not have been allowed to withhold the pension fund’s cash.

Distressing News

Financial FreedomThis news is so distressing to many because Switzerland is supposed to be one of the world’s most economically free countries. (Switzerland is ranked at number 5 and the United States is number 12.) If the Swiss government can start restricting withdrawals on a whim, how much worse could things end up in countries that are less free? This might be an important sign that the global economy is still precarious and securing wealth in trusted, physical assets is essential.

Daniel Brown is the editor-in-chief of You, Me, and BTC. He’s also the “Everything Elf” at Liberty.me.

Every American Should Own Physical Gold & Silver

DecliningDollarGold & Silver

At this point (Spring 2015) in our constantly changing world of global economic and financial uncertainty, every American should own physical gold and silver. Period. Everyone. No matter how much or how little you earn or have invested.

Sadly, the average person understands very little about gold and silver. But the fundamental logic for every American to own physical gold now is enduring and inescapable.

Do You Have insurance?

It’s a fair bet that you have your home, car and health insured. Perhaps you even have life insurance. But do you have your wealth insured through ownership of physical gold and silver? Owning gold and silver is the ultimate hedge against inflation, deflation and currency depreciation, and it is a great tool for transferring wealth to your children and grand-children.

How Diversified Is Your Portfolio?DiversifiedPortfolio

Your portfolio is not properly diversified if it does not include physical gold & silver amounting to – at the very least – 5% of your total net worth. A much more prudent allocation would be 15%.

A Declining Dollar

The purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar has declined over 95% since The Federal Reserve was created in 1913. The cumulative rate of dollar inflation over the last 100 years is 2,238%, according to The Fed, which has been fudging annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) statistics since the early 1980s. ShadowStats estimates that the cumulative rate of dollar inflation since 1915 is actually over 9,000%. So what cost $1 in 1915, costs over $90 today!

Do You Trust Your Government?

GlobalBombA 12/18/13 Gallup Poll revealed that 72% of Americans think Big Government is the biggest threat to the U.S. in the future. This is the same ever-expanding Big Government that prints money like a Third World despot, reads your e-mails, eavesdrops on your cell phone conversations, rides roughshod over The Constitution, and uses government institutions like the IRS (targeting Tea Party organizations) and Justice Department (Operation Choke Point) to punish individuals and entities it simply does not like. Although Americans are becoming increasingly powerless to stop this juggernaut of Orwellian oppression, gold and silver empower the disenfranchised.

You Must Own Gold & Silver

With gold & silver, you never lose your investment. Add to your precious metal holdings over time, and be certain that you are doing what you can to preserve your wealth and to secure your family’s future in an uncertain world.

Gold & Silver, How Much Should You Own?

Own Physical Gold & Silver

Own Physical Gold & Silver

Why Gold & Silver?

Gold and silver are inherently valuable precious metals, readily convertible money that has withstood the test of time (5,000 years), and is traded worldwide. With gold and silver, unlike almost any other investment, you never suffer loss of principal.

Protect Purchasing Power

Owning physical gold and silver is the best way to protect your wealth from a declining dollar which has lost over 95% of its purchasing power since 1913. Since 1930, the price of gasoline has increased 3,600% in dollar terms, but an ounce of silver buys the same amount of gasoline today as it did then!

Essential Portfolio Insurance

Essential Portfolio Insurance

Essential Portfolio Insurance

Owning physical gold and silver is essential portfolio insurance in a world of unpredictable and volatile geopolitical events and economic uncertainty. Simply put, you owe it to yourself and to your family.

Is It An Investment?

Yes. Over the past decade, a typical diversified portfolio without gold would have returned 6.8% on an annualized basis. The same portfolio with 10% in gold (instead of cash) would have returned 8.9%.

Why Now?

The current prices for gold and silver are below the real cost of mining and refining! Buy now at/near rock-bottom prices, before prices rise….

How Much Should I buy?

Buy physical gold and silver, amounting to 5% to 10% (some experts say more) of your total net worth.

For example:

Now Is The Time To Buy

Now Is The Time To Buy

With a total net worth of $100,000, buy $5,000 to $10,000-worth (or more) physical gold & silver.

With a total net worth of $500,000, buy $25,000 to $50,000-worth (or more) physical gold & silver.

With a total net worth of $1,000,000, buy $50,000 to $100,000-worth (or more) physical gold & silver.

With a total net worth of $5,000,000, buy $250,000 to $500,000-worth (or more) physical gold & silver.

…. you get the idea.

What Proportion Of Gold To Silver?

The earth’s crust contains approximately 20 times more silver than gold. The gold-silver ratio represents the number of silver ounces it takes to buy an ounce of gold.

Act Now!

Act Now!

For 2,000 years, the ratio ranged from 10 to 17. But over the last decade, it has ranged between 33 and 84, and currently stands at around 70. A good place to start is 40; buy 40 ounces of silver for every ounce of gold you buy.

The Time To Act Is Today

Don’t wait until another financial crisis hits. Buy gold and silver today online at www.AnthemVault.com, using the promo code ‘wealthlock’ and get 6 months free metal storage plus 15% off dealer’s margin for life!

You know it makes sense, for you and your family…..

Own Physical Gold

PHYSICAL GOLDgold bar

John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management, speaking about physical gold:

“Gold is the one tangible asset that is both truly liquid and that can most reliably provide buying power during times of crisis. For preservation of large-scale wealth over generations, there is no substitute.

LIQUID BUYING POWER

Gold does what expensive homes, crates of Picassos, safe-deposit boxes packed with Rolexes, or a garage full of Aston Martin DB7’s cannot do…. morph quickly and easily into liquid buying power, with no haircut, when it matters the most.

Time and again throughout history, usually over a weekend, paper claims have been rendered non-functional, useless or worthless. Banks may shut down, securities exchanges may stop trading, wire-transfers may be blocked, arrangements may be suspended, or laws may change.”