Below is the transcript for Simon Black: The Most Sound Opportunities Are Outside the Western World
Chris Martenson: Welcome. It’s Wednesday, April 6, 2011. I’m your host, Chris Martenson. And today, we’re talking with Simon Black, a real life international man of mystery. Simon, not his actual name, is the proprietor of the SoveriegnMan.com blog and has become well known for his sharp commentary on economic affairs, which is rooted in an old-school, boots-on-the-ground approach. You know I favor that. Simon travels to dozens of countries each year, meeting with key players in industry, government, and finance, to develop an insider’s advantage in understanding where world affairs are headed. His blog is dedicated to the principal of helping people find true freedom, which he defines as having sufficient wealth, time and personal liberty - all three. To that end, he produces a daily stream of both free and premium Notes From The Field for his readers.
Today, I’ll ask Simon about the more notable trends he’s observed in his recent travels, and we’ll get his views on what big developments are going to shape the rest of 2011. Which are the ones least known or appreciated right now? What steps should those seeking true freedom be taking today? Welcome, Simon. Hey, thanks a lot for the taking the time to join us today.
Simon Black: I really appreciate the invitation. It’s great to talk to you, and that’s a really kind introduction you gave me. Thank you, very much.
Chris Martenson: Oh, you’re more than welcome. So, Simon, let’s start with a little background on you for our listeners here. You have a military background, a love of travel, a mind for business. Describe how all these interests lead you to become The Sovereign Man.
Simon Black: Well, when I started off, I was, I guess in my early twenties. I came out of the military academy, out of West Point, in the United States. And I spent most of my tour - my assignment - overseas. And I managed to build up a fairly successful business while I was in. And when I left the military, which I could probably talk to you a whole lot about, but I’ve managed to block it all out from my memory.
It’s not something I really like to revisit too well. But, I’ll tell you, just kind of, since most of my time was overseas. It almost felt kind of weird to be back in the U.S. And so, the first place I started traveling to when I got out was Panama. And at the time, because I had some success with the businesses I had built up, I had a pretty reasonable amount of cash, particularly for a guy my age at that time in my life. And I started investing and traveling extensively. I first went to Panama. And I ended up down in, further down in South America. It took me to Asia. And over the course of time, I really started to kind of wake up to what was going on in the world, in sort of the western world, the old western hierarchy. And I started seeing the real truth of things, actually, on the ground around the world. And I realized that the world is actually a pretty big place, and there was a tremendous amount of opportunity, and the more interesting opportunities are really overseas. And combining that discovery, along with other discoveries about Austrian economics and the nature of free markets and true personal liberties, sort of led me to the lifestyle that I have now, which is one where I don’t really have a permanent home. I don’t have any fixed base anywhere. I spend my entire life traveling. Like you said, I mean, every year, I’ll visit anywhere between probably thirty and fifty countries. And each place I go I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting opportunities; whether they are business opportunities, investment opportunities, or even personal opportunities. And I think that more and more of those are really overseas.
Chris Martenson: Hm. And so, how long have you been doing this traveling now?
Simon Black: It’s been several years; it’s been several years like this. We’ve been doing the newsletter, probably just about two years. But I’ve been traveling like this for quite some time before that.
Chris Martenson: Right. And so, over those, I mean, this has been, let’s put this kindly, a rather tumultuous couple of years here, at least in the western world. What have you been seeing, in terms of changes, shifts, anything that’s been going on? Part of the story that I get from reading, is that maybe Brazil and some of the other developing economies are really not as impacted as maybe the western world is. They are sort of in a growth phase, or in an ascendency of what’s possible, where maybe the opposite is happening in my country, or other so-called developed countries.
Simon Black: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, everybody kind of knows the BRIC story. And of all of those, I tend to think, actually, Brazil probably has the brightest future, simply because, if you look actually at Brazil right now, I mean, the economy is really, is based on having these tremendous resources, so it’s able to export so much. And it goes way beyond oil, and industrial metals and things like that. I mean, Brazil is one of the places in the world where there’s actually the most fresh water, which is, I think, going to be of growing importance in the coming years. There’s a lot of arable land in Brazil. That’s something, you know, as we enter into, you know, potentially an era of peak food; obviously, something else that’s going to be of tremendous importance. And it’s a huge country, with an enormous population. There are about two million Brazilians that, sort of like North Americans, they have a tremendous propensity to consume. Brazilians are not exactly noted savers. Brazilians love to spend -they get money in their hand and they love to consume.
And I think that in the future, Brazil is actually going to be the most important consumer market in the western hemisphere. I think all these ships, loaded with useless trinkets that are manufactured in Taiwan and mainland China, are actually more going to be destined for Brazil than they are North America in the future. And it’s kind of interesting, because even at this point, in the United States right now, there’s somewhere in between they say twenty and twenty-five square feet of retail space per capita. And in Brazil, it’s less than five. And I think there’s some significant growth there, especially given the propensity of the Brazilians to consume. But there’s a lot of, sort of, unknown stories. Again, everybody kind of knows the BRIC story, but there are a lot of unknown stories around the world. And the place where I am right now, in Chile, has really just got such fantastic potential, in my opinion. It’s a much smaller market. There’s just fewer than twenty million people here in Chile. But this is a place that has the largest copper reserves in the world, the largest lithium reserves in the world. Lithium is something that, as you know, and a lot of your listeners know, obviously, that’s something of growing importance. But it’s a place that has really sound, solid, micro-economic and fiscal fundamentals. And, again, it’s a country that doesn’t play games with its monetary supply. And it’s a government that really rolls out the red carpet for talented individuals, professionals, foreign investors, investors of all kinds, entrepreneurs. There are a lot of programs right now for entrepreneurs; particularly there’s kind of an embryonic tech sector that’s growing here, actually quite rapidly. They want to turn this into kind of the Silicon Valley of South America. And they’re pulling out all of the stops to attract not only the financial capital, but also, the intellectual capital to this country. And I think that the long term, as you look at a healthy national balance sheet, and the resource fundamentals that they have; all the resource wealth and their level on infrastructure, in a county that’s attracting the intellectual capital; the brilliance that’s necessary for future economic growth, I think it really has just phenomenal potential. And I see a lot of opportunities down here.
Chris Martenson: Fantastic. So, as I looked over your website, you mentioned that you have been in twenty countries in the past three months, meeting with diplomats, entrepreneurs, the real people who live there. So explain for our listeners, if you could, what’s the edge you feel your boots-on-the-ground approach gives you. You know, what kind of insights can you collect that may be different from different analysts. Or, when you get there, what are you looking for? Like what do you do when you get there that tells you what you need to know about a country?
Simon Black: Well, I’ll give you kind of an anecdotal example. Columbia is a great example. And if you ask the average person about Columbia, they’ll say no, Columbia, don’t go there. You’ll get kidnapped.
You’ll get killed, you’ll get - all kinds of things. Columbia is a place, you know, what I tell everybody about Columbia is: first of all, forget everything you ever heard about Columbia, just forget it. Forget everything you ever heard about the drugs, about all of this stuff, just forget it. Throw it all out the window and pretend that it’s place that you don’t know anything about, like, you know, Botswana or Suriname, one of it’s regional neighbors, or something like that. Nobody knows anything about Suriname.
So you kind of have to go into it with a completely clean slate. When you get on the ground, then suddenly you find out, again, everything that you’ve ever heard about this place is completely wrong, and there are some really tremendous opportunities there; a lot fundamentals that are always kind of glossed over in the media. I’m fond of saying that Google is really the black hole of accurate information.
And a lot of people just go into their search engine and they type something up, and some article comes up that is generally written by a misguided mainstream media reporter who maybe has never been to the place, or has an agenda in writing about that not all the planes landed that day, and so on and so forth. I mean, it’s people who aren’t necessarily experts in the things that they’re writing about. And that’s the impression they give and they move onto something else. And when you really get there, and you talk to people that are doing business there; you talk to entrepreneurs on the ground, and the investors, and the workers and the people that are actually in the know, on the ground, doing stuff. You get a completely different story. And, I mean, you can see with your own eyes whether it’s a growing country or it’s a dying country. And we’re kind of of the opinion that things are either growing or they’re dying. And a lot of these places in the world that people have the wrong opinions about, are actually the places that you want to be; they’re growing rapidly.
Chris Martenson: It’s interesting, one of the views that I hold is that energy is the master resource. There certainly was a first mover advantage for many of the western countries that got into oil and, you know, go burning through the resources, and they went through the whole industrialization process, all of that. Well, it turns out that, history is more of a process than an event, and now we’re at this particular stage. And when I look across the landscape, I look at countries like Columbia, like Brazil, maybe like Chile, which might have been classified as sort of developing, or behind the curve, or something like that. But what they actually were, if you look at it through another lens, they were saving their resources for now. And they are the ones that actually have significant concentrations of resources, significant opportunities that maybe don’t exist in other places. The U.K., for example, they’ve burned through their coal, and they’re way past peak oil at this point in time, and so they’re going to struggle against a head wind for a very long time. That’s not obvious how that’s going to resolve itself. But Brazil is a completely different situation. Columbia, completely different.
Simon Black: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you. And there is some level of cycle to these things - and the countries, you’re right, have been sort of saving up their resources and working hard, and building up their balance sheets for a very long time. You know, this point is their time to shine. And this status quo simply cannot hold forever. And I don’t think, the thing is, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. A lot of people are sort of afraid by the decline in the western world; and they want to ignore it, they want to stick their head in the sand and they want to say no, this is impossible. I mean, I’m constantly seeing those when I turn on the financial media.
I see these guys who anchor CNBC or Bloomberg, and they just shake their heads, and they say, yeah, we’re having a tough time, but we’re going to come back -- maybe that’s true and maybe it’s not. But the fact of the matter is, that you just, you can’t be afraid of it. You just have to accept that in certain times, the opportunity is going to shift elsewhere. And that’s okay, and as smart, sophisticated people we have to just simply accept that and say, there are opportunities in other places that we really need to consider now. And it’s totally fine, it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s something to be embraced, in my opinion.
Chris Martenson: Oh, absolutely. I’m in complete agreement with you on that. First of all, it is what it is. It’s going to change whether we bury our heads or meet it head on; either way, it’s happening. So, I look at this and I see as many opportunities as challenges. And I’d like to talk about those challenges. Here we are, we’re three months into 2011, and I guess this is proving to be a year of immense challenges for the global community. We’ve got a very vulnerable recovery right now in the world economy. We’ve got a restive Middle East, North African region; Japan’s triple whammy of a disaster they’ve got going on. What are these key themes or trends, that you see, that are going to define the rest of this year? How do you see them playing out?
Simon Black: Well, I, you know, I do my best to stay out of the prediction business.
Chris Martenson: Good.
Simon Black: But I’ll tell you what I see as the trend. It had been there for a long time. Politicians and bureaucrats in general do whatever they can do to cling desperately to the status quo. And these guys have a very limited play book. They can tax people, which is basically confiscating other’s wealth. They can regulate and they can increase the amount of regulation, which is really just adding cost. It’s taxation by another means. It makes things more difficult for productive people to do things. And they can just continue inflating the currency. And that’s, I think, probably the biggest challenge that we’re looking at right now, everywhere in the world; particularly in the United States, as well as in Europe. We have - what have they added in the last couple of years to the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve? Something like $1.5 trillion dollars?
Chris Martenson: Uh-huh.
Simon Black: What has that done to the unemployment rate? I mean, it’s barely made a dent. I saw the other day at McDonald’s: it amounts to this big victory, that McDonald’s is going to be hiring fifty thousand people. So, I mean, you know, really? Like $1.5 trillion dollars later, and what we have to show for it comes with a Big Mac, at six bucks an hour.
Chris Martenson: Yeah.
Simon Black: That’s what we have to show for $1.5 trillion dollars. I mean, it’s amazing just the amount of money that’s been lost. And the consistent thing that I see, as I go around the world is how utterly embarrassingly weak the dollar is. I mean, it’s really embarrassing to go around the world.
And just see how little a dollar buys you in places. I mean, and I’m in Chile right now. And in Chile, if you ask somebody what’s the most expensive country out there? People will think, oh, Switzerland, Norway, you know, these types of places. They don’t think Chile, and Chile’s not an expensive place. But a dollar buys nothing down here.
And it’s really, it’s a joke. And I think that’s really one of the biggest, I think it’s one of the biggest challenges and because then we see more and more people getting away from the dollar as a reserve currency. People are starting to allocate, I mean, institutional wealth is allocating away from the dollar. And, you know, it will certainly be very interesting to see what happens after June 30th, when the current quantitative easing round is supposed to end.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. I couldn’t say what’s going to happen this year, or anything like that. But what I can say, I have a high degree of confidence in the fact that any bureaucrat and politician is simply invested in one thing, and that’s trying to maintain the status quo.
Chris Martenson: Right.
Simon Black: And with this very limited playbook, I think they’re just going to continue printing $1.5 trillion dollars, and increasing the debt levels to a record that the world has never even conceived before. If that doesn’t work, then they’re just going to continue doing the same thing over and over and over again. I think there’s a long way to go before we really hit the bottom. And there will be a bottom in the West. There will be a bottom, and then things will start to improve. But I think even the direction that things are going, that’s the much, much longer slide down before things can really improve. And that’s why I think that it’s really important the people just start looking at opportunities outside of their home countries; particularly if they are living the western world. Because that’s really where the most sound opportunity is, unless you’re in insurance.
Chris Martenson: Yeah, this process of maintaining the status quo. In my mind, I call it sustaining the unsustainable. Because what was unsustainable is we were living beyond our means, and we were doing it with debt based financing. And that’s fine for a while. But at the end of that, you either have to accept one of two things. You either live below your means for a while, or you risk trashing your currency. Those are you two choices in this output. I think Ludwig von Mises said it best of all. He said, “It’s either a voluntary abandonment of the credit expansion, or you risk catastrophe of the currency involved.” That’s where I think we’re going. And everything that I see, that’s the trend that’s in play right now. It’s not really a prediction. You know, a prediction is it’s going to be seventy-eight degrees next March 12th.
Simon Black: Exactly.
Chris Martenson: A trend is, I notice that every time I let go of a hammer it goes towards the ground, it doesn’t go up into the air. There’s a difference between those two things. Right now, the trend is, you know, the gravitational force in this story is we are just dumping more and more and more money in, and so this creates enormous risks. But what I’m hearing you say is that these risks are not going to be evenly distributed, they’re actually going to be contained to within the countries, which are behaving recklessly, if you will. And that, in your estimation, you see that there are countries out there that are either insulated from that process, or maybe not being as reckless; potentially countries that have been through inflationary cycles, so they know better. Is that fair?
Simon Black: Let me, I guess let me be more clear about that. I think that in the event that - well, I agree with you entirely, I mean, the trend is the trend. And that’s, I think, what’s going to continue to happen. And as I said, I think that we’ve got a long way to go before the west really hits bottom and starts to improve. And during that process, I don’t think that anybody’s going to be completely insulated from the effects of it. It’s impossible that you can take the largest economies in the world: the European Union and the United States, and basically have their economies walk off a cliff, Wile E. Coyote style and expect that other large economies – large and small economies in the world -aren’t going to feel it. I think everybody’s going to feel it to a degree. But there are a lot of places that are certainly much better protected. We talked about Brazil and places like that. I mean, these are places that have their own resources. They can pretty much do everything they need to themselves. They have large, growing consumer markets and things like that, so they are certainly in a much, much, better position to deal with these things. And that’s why, in the early days of the crises that unfolded in 2008, you know, they kind of got the sniffles and got over it quite quickly; versus, you know, the U.S. and Europe, they have these horrible flues and nasty head colds that have carried over for the last several years, and don’t really show any signs of improving any time soon. But yeah, I think in the long run, as decades of capital misallocations and inefficiencies in the global economy sort of get shaken out, there’s going to be a redistribution of the wealth. And I think the wealth is going to go to where it’s treated best, and places that have the best fundamentals. And I think at the end of the day, that’s really what I’m looking for: the places that have the most solid fundamentals and the best growth potential. And these are places that we’ve talked about that have the right kind of savings and resources, and governments that are favorable to businesses and investors and basically stay out of the way and letting the market do its thing.
Chris Martenson: Right. So at the core of your website, you talk about your vision of true freedom. And I’m going to guess that we’ve just talked about a couple of those elements. But can you define true freedom for us, just a little bit more specifically? And what are you trying to help people achieve?
Simon Black: Well, there are a lot of things. But fundamentally, what I want people to understand is, I don’t spend a lot of time in the United States. And it’s not because I don’t like it, I like it fine, I was just there. I spent a couple of weeks there just recently. I was in New York, and Texas. And I went skiing in Colorado for a little bit, and it was a nice time. I recognize that, particularly in the United States and in Europe, there’s a lot of doom and gloom. There’s a lot of constant bad news. And people just sort of react to it in different ways. Some people just kind of ignore it, and they keep doing what they’re doing, which I think is dangerous. Other people refuse to acknowledge it and they reject it, and they shake their head, and they say “No, no, no, that’s never going to happen in this country. We’re going to be just fine”. And every piece of data that they see, they reinterpret as why that’s a sign of recovery. But I know that there are a lot of feelings of despair; almost hopeless. And, you know, what I really want to show fundamentally is that there actually are solutions out there. There are places in the world that are sound and full of opportunities; and places where people can actually live the life that they feel like they used to be able to live, that are full of opportunities that they feel used to be in their country. And more and more every day, as people start to fear things like rising taxes and confiscation of their assets – this scenario has not played out. I mean, you’ve got a government that’s basically flat broke, it’s on the brink of - I mean, they’re on, they’re probably on the house floor right now, debating the debt ceiling. But, I mean, you’re literally on the brink of insolvency, and, you know, that carries with it a lot of implications. I mean, I’m of the opinion that in the United States, they’re going to start going after people’s retirement accounts, probably nationalize retirement accounts, to a degree. And, you know, start doing things like they mandate a certain portion of every managed retirement account into the safety and security of the United States Treasury, so basically loaning the money for the government at the rate 4½% for thirty years. You know, I mean, those sorts of things, when they really start coming after people’s wealth and productivity, you know, a lot of people get really nervous about it, and they get afraid. And again, what we’re trying to show on our site is to say that it’s okay to recognize that there are those challenges, but you don’t have to feel despair or hopelessness; that there are a lot of solutions out there. And that the world is a big place, and there’s a lot of good news stories out there, there really are. And, you know, all of these places that I go, I’m constantly seeing great signs, great opportunities and I try and tell those stories every day.
Chris Martenson: So are these opportunities really mostly available to the wealthy? Or do you feel like anybody could sort of pick up and go? I mean, certainly, people once upon a time immigrated to the United States with nothing but the shirt on their back.
Simon Black: Absolutely.
Chris Martenson: So if we follow that model, I guess it’s possible for anybody to pick up and go if they wanted to?
Simon Black: Yeah. Listen, I think that when you’re talking about internationalizing yourself, internationalizing your horizons, it means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some people it actually does mean picking up and moving. And that’s okay. And then for some people, whether they are professionals who have been unemployed for a long time, you’re looking for a great paying job somewhere, and it just doesn’t seem to be in your home country any more. Look at a place like Singapore, it’s just a really thriving, growing job market. You’re looking for, you’re retired, and your retirement funds just don’t go as far as they used to. So there’s a lot of places in the world where you can go and, even on a meager Social Security check, you can actually have a really great lifestyle. And for others, it doesn’t even mean leaving their own living room. They can stay exactly where they are, but if they want to start a new business, they can structure a business in another jurisdiction overseas that might be more beneficial to protecting their assets. Or one of things that I always recommend, is that people do things like moving a portion of their capital overseas, you know, into a foreign bank account. Or if people like to hold and store gold and silver, you can do it in an anonymous overseas, you know, private, secure, safety deposit facility. And, I mean, there’s just, if you’re an investor, you don’t have to necessarily stay in one particular market. You can really explore overseas, and you can see that, and there’s a lot of markets overseas that really have a lot more potential than they do, perhaps in your home market. These are the kinds of things I’m talking about. If you just think about all of the ways that you can internationalize yourself and whether it’s for the benefit of asset protection or increasing the growth potential of your wealth, or diversification, or a lot of different reasons, to do this sort of thing. But I think that, in this day and age, it’s really dangerous to stay so insular and ignore the fact that there is a huge world out there full of opportunities. Because, I mean, there really is. Everywhere you go, there’s a place – I just wrote recently, I had a hedge fund manger that I knew sometime ago, that actually made a killing in North Korean bonds.
Chris Martenson: North Korean bonds?
Simon Black: I mean, every place on the planet has something to offer. And I think it’s the time the people should really start looking into that.
Chris Martenson: That’s incredible, that part of the story. So, we’ve been talking that people might be concerned; they don’t want to be completely insular, don’t want to be undiversified in their biggest portfolio of all: their life. So for those concerned about where the world is headed, I don’t know, maybe they’re concerned about high taxes, or inflation, poor employment markets in their local area where they live, maybe even civil unrest in some areas of the world. Which countries are you recommending that people might consider looking at first, and why?
Simon Black: Well, I think, again, it depends specifically on what people’s goals are. I think that you should have a purpose for everything that you do. There shouldn’t be anything that’s done haphazardly. If it’s somebody’s just looking for a great place to go and live and just kind of ride out any potential social unrest, I think even right here in Chile, where I am right now, is a great place to do that. And one of the reasons I think so highly of Chile is because this is the place, remember, that had the earthquake last year. I guess it was last February, they had this horribly devastating earthquake. And just like the people in Japan dealt with it, Chileans dealt with it in an extraordinarily civilized way. They didn’t have this widespread looting and pillaging, where they were going and raping and killing and all of this sort of thing. They dealt with it in a very orderly, civilized way. And when you see somebody deal with just a horrible disaster in that way, you think to yourself, these are exactly the kind of people I want to be around in the event of some horrible disaster. But it’s a preeminently civilized place. It has all the resources it needs: all the food and arable land, and the water, and those sorts of things. It’s a great place to be and spend time and ride out any potential social unrest. Now, you talk about economic potential, again, for somebody who is skilled and looking for a job, there are a lot of places in the world, you - whether it’s in Abu Dabi, or Singapore, or Hong Kong, you know, these kinds of places, that just have a lot of growth. They’re still in a high-growth phase and they are looking for experienced, professional, talented foreigners to come and fill a lot of gaps that they have in their labor market. And so, I mean, those are the kinds of places that I think people ought to be looking.
Chris Martenson: So, somebody has to first structure their goals. What are they trying to do? So, I’m just trying to find some way to diversify my assets out of the country, here’s a set of things we might do. Wait, I’m looking for a place to spend part of the year. Wait, I’m looking for a place that I’m going to stretch my retirement money out and really enjoy a higher quality of life than I could back home for the same funds. They would start somewhere knowing what they want, and then they begin sifting through the countries. I assume that that’s what you help people do, is that true?
Simon Black: That’s exactly what we help people do. And we have, you know, we have, you’re exactly right. People should really start thinking for themselves, what is it that I’m really looking for? What are the benefits that I hope to derive by internationalizing myself? And for a lot of people that aren’t even necessarily sure, that’s kind of what our daily e-mails are about, is to give people a lot of ideas and basic information for that. And then we have a premium service that gives a lot more specifics about what you want to know about a particular country. You know, here’s what you need to know, who you need to contact. And people who are in my personal Rolodex contacts, people that I do business with or my own advisors on the ground in these places that can help people get started. The real specifics about things, whether it’s medical care in one country; or starting a business in another country; or structuring a business in another country; or banking in this location; or opening a brokerage in that location; or business in even another location. So these sorts of things really try and provide a lot very tangible, concrete information for all of these different countries. All the places that I go to; all the people that I’m meeting all the time, and put that into this one letter that we roll out on a monthly basis.
Chris Martenson: So, people can find out about that at SovereignMan.com, is that right? Is that the next best step? To go to your website and find out what you have to offer there?
Simon Black: Sure. It’s SoverignMan.com, it’s free. People can look at what we have, see if the information is useful to them. I really do think that it’s something that everybody should be considering because we’re in a situation now where you can’t really afford to be insular any more. You have to be looking internationally. The world is a big place, and there’s a lot of opportunities out there. And to shut yourself off to those could be potentially dangerous to your prosperity and future livelihood.
Chris Martenson: Right. Well, it is a growing concern; particularly as we see - and I can only speak for the country I live in, I guess - but I’m watching what I consider to be exactly the wrong approach is being taken to a variety of things. First of all, I think we have to get the right narrative going. And the narrative is: we’re not going to recreate what we just had, that’s gone. So, what’s the future going to look like? We have to start opening that conversation up. To me, energy has a huge role in that. There’s enormous structural reconfigurations that have to happen in this country, and we’re not even having the conversation yet. We are still stuck all the way back in how is it that we’re going to have exactly what we just had? Which, I don’t believe personally - we’re in belief opinion territory - that’s not coming back. So I look at that and say, there are huge risks in trying to sustain the unsustainable; not the least of which is, you find the brick wall at maximum speed, rather than getting a gentle way through. So, I love the advice that it’s a big world. There is a lot of great places out there. There are wonderful people all over the place. And that opportunity is not evenly distributed, at any point in history. And this is one of those times we might want to cast our gaze a little bit wider.
Simon Black: Absolutely.
Chris Martenson: I think that’s just great advice. Well, we could all use a little bit more freedom, I guess. And the story of people seeking out greater freedom by traveling to new spots is certainly a time honored tradition. So I want to support the spirit of that. And I want to thank you for your time today. I really do hope people check out your website and operation, because I think it’s, for some people, it’s going to be just the right answer. And it makes a lot of sense for anybody, but particularly for somebody whose got the means and opportunity, and maybe the motive. It sounds like a great thing, and it sounds like just a fantastic service that you’re offering.
Simon Black: I appreciate that, and I appreciate the invitation. It’s been great talking to you.
Chris Martenson: Well, thank you, Simon. The pleasure was really mine.
Simon Black: Okay, good.
Chris Martenson: All right. Take care.