014-2020 Currency Wars

Title: Currency Wars (The making of the next Global Crises)

Author: James Rickards

This is my second book with this author (the first being “Aftermath”), and just as with the first book, he has given me more to think about regarding our finance system.

Our currency system, exchange of paper money in return for goods or services, is based on the mutual trust we have that the paper money is representative of value. As long as we maintain that trust in the currency, the society can continue to function the way it currently does. But, once we lose that trust, people make a run for the banks to get out as much as possible.

In the kingdoms of the past our currency system was made up of coins, which were minted from real commodities. Additionally, the coin that was issued by the kingdom had the assurance from the king that the coin would be accepted as legal tender to take part in trade in that kingdom. Then, the invention from Asia was brought to the West, paper money, which proved much easier to carry around, and therefore a lighter coinpurse. However, that paper only had value because it must have been backed by something that held value in such a kingdom, this was gold. For a fixed amount of paper you could buy a specified amount of gold, or other commidity.

Therefore, as long as we had trust that for the paper money we used there was gold for which it could be exchanged, a simpler currency system could be used in daily circulation.

Entry, the chapters to the book.

Prior to the First World War, different countries had set a fixed exchange rate. One was allowed to exchange currency for a certain amount of gold. Every nation had fixed a different rate to gold, and thereby indirectly created an exchange rate between different currencies. Then, the war broke out and countries took out loans to finance the war from their side.

After the wars ended via an armistice, the winners wanted the losing countries to paid for all their debts which they had incurred to run the war. England and France were eyeing the erves of the losing country, whilst America wanted them to be afforded the chance to repay reparation costs through future economic output returns. Thereby, the losers would be able to build up their economy again, and also be able to repay reparation costs, rather than losing their ability to generate any economic output at all, and be in ruin.

Germany then underwent a currency devaluation (ie. making the purchasing power of other countries in Germany stroonger) to become an attractive country to manufacture goods. France followed soon after, since they wanted to regain the competitive advantage that Germany had gained, and afterwards countries like England and America experienced their Great Depression. The purchasing power of the currencies dropped significantly, and many people lost savings and were financially ruined.

Throughout all this Germany became stronger again, and a strong economic player in the world trade. Sadly, the country engaged in war again in 1939, and led to World War 2.

After the end of the second war, the different countries came together and decided that all the different currencies of the different countries should be pegged to one currency, the strongest currency, which had value for the other currencies since that currency was backed by gold reserves. This was settled in the Bretton Woods conference, where the US Dollar was then set as the pegged currency.

Since that day, the US Dollar was backed by gold, and other countries that traded with the US Dollar in their transactions had the assurance that for every Dollar in circulation there is a certain amount of gold stored somewhere. Some countries, however, became stronger than after the war had ended, and decided to build up their gold reserves. It became so bad that in 1971 the then President of America decided to take the US Dollar off the gold standard, and no one was allowed to exchange their dollars for physical gold. This was done in order to preseve the gold levels in the country. Further, America wanted to devalue their currency against other countries, because it felt the Dollar was overvalued, which would make other suppliers in other countries cheaper to buy from, and result in loss of jobs to America. By devaluing the US Dollar, the purchasing power was dropped in relation to other countries, in order to improve its competitiveness against other trading countries.

Another way the purchasing power of the US Dollar was dropped was when during the Financial Crash (2007-2009) the Federal Reserve printed money from thin air, which should be injected into the economy to get trade going again (called Quantitative Easing – QE). Since more paper money was in supply the demand for it wasn’t as strong as when there were fewer, so the price to acquire a Dollar dropped.

Now, you may want to ask me, when am i will come around to write the review on the book. Well, what I have recounted above is what the book is about. It elaborates the hsitory of the US Dollar in the 20th century, and how volatile paper currency is as money. Our paper money can have one value associated with it one day, and the next lose it, which means saving all our money in the bank is not necessarily equivalent to becoming rich, or ensuring ones financial future. Our modern day currency is so susceptible to lose its value that we actually need to consider more than one way to maintain wealth, and not through saving money in the bank only.

Summary:

The book gave me really more perspective on the matter of currency, and how important it is not to rely on something like paper to sustain our future retirement. We need to become financially educated and never rely on another person to take care of us, but work and build our asset columns. Book takes my rating of 4.3/5

I hope that when you decide to read this book one day you will also get a shock, and wake up to realize just how volatile our modern-day currencies are, and that more than savings in the bank will do the job of securing a financially securer future.

Happy future reading!

003-2020 Fake

Title: Fake (The truth of Fake-Money, Fake-Teachers and Fake-Assets)

Author: Robert Koyosaki

This was the second book that I took to read from the author Robert Kiyosaki. The first book he published, and which has sold world-wide is ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ of which I have also previously written a review.

When I stood in the book store to look at a new book to read, my thoughts were with investing and whether there was a book that could explain how we can distinguish useful and true information/news in the media from the fake news, and thus use the true news to assist with making proper and informed investment decisions. That’s where I came across this book, which I believed to have just that.

However, it may not have held the information I was looking for at the time, it did give me valuable insight in another respect, which I am glad to have obtained from this accidental selection.

In the beginning he makes it clear that he wishes to teach the reader about three big lessons: 1) Fake Money, 2) Fake Teachers and 3) Fake Assets. The book breaks those lessons into the different chapters, but reference is made to those lessons continuously, that all three should be taken together to assist in the attainment of financial wealth.

1..Fake Money – He introduces you to the three forms of money that we currently have in the world today : Gold (God’s money), Currency (Government money) and Cryptocurrency (People’s money). The lesson he holds is that the government’s money is only worth so much as much the people have faith in the government. That the government is able to print more and more money (which could have severe economic consequences). If people (or the world economy) loses faith in the government, the demand for the currency drops, and the abundant supply in circulation makes it less valuable. This is all in the hands of the government, whereas God’s Money (Gold, Silver) is in your hands, and cannot be printed in more quantities by the government if it is in a difficult situation (as with paper money for Quantitative Easing or Troubled Asset Relief Programs).

2. Fake Teachers – He criticizes that the education that is taught in schools is only to produce people to become active members of the working society. This is definitely essential, of course, for a modern economy to function. However, it doesn’t teach anyone about financial education, which is also essential in any economy, which is mostly a driving force into a better age. Also, he distinguishes between true teachers and fake teachers, those who teach what they have experienced from the real world, and those that teach the theoretical aspect without having applied it themselves in the real world.

3. Fake Assets – Here he makes a clear distinction between what is an Asset and what is a Liability to your pocket. Not just that, but also what constitutes real Assets (tangible), and fake Assets (paper investments).

I have given the briefest of explanations of what was covered in the book for the three lessons, but there are many more in the book. Therefore, I would say that should you wish to get the true benefit of the lessons that he wishes to teach his readers, buy yourself a copy of the book instead of reading my short review. It has more, and explains it much better.

Three other things I wish to share with you, which I didn’t mention above, but thought truly fascinating to share were:

  • 1971 when Nixon took the Dollar off the Gold Standard (ie. a currency’s strength is not determined by the volume of gold reserves that are held in the country), and the government money was no longer backed by tangible Gold reserves. Government money was now only debt.
  • That one should use debt (with Government Money) only to buy real Assets, which generate recurring income
  • Tax should not just be seen from the perspective of the government taking money away to fund its activities, but also from the perspective that it provides incentives to individuals that take on projects for society, which benefits the people, thereby the incentive is tax deductible

Therefore, I definitely gained much more insight in many topics, and will be on the look-out for more of his books and teachings in the future.

Summary:

Terrific reading material, well-written, easily understandable and the knowledge gives every reader something to think about. As he closed off his first book (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) he said “every decision you make with every Dollar you hold today, will influence your future life” – not those precise words, but the message is clear. Rating I afford is 4.75/5 🙂

002-2020 Moneyland

Title: Moneyland (Why thieves &crooks now rule the World & how to take it back)

Author: Oliver Bullough

Whilst I was on my December holidays in Belgium I had opted to buy a day ticket to Brugge. It was here that, whilst I walked through the small town (still decorated in an old-style fashion) during the festive season, that I enjoyed a beer, home-made waffle, and located a small book store.

At first I thought I wouldn’t find anything since most of the books were in Belgian (obviously since i was in Begium). However, in the small English section I did find this book, which turned out to be an intriguing book.

If you look at the picture of the cover, it is of a US Dollar with another piece of currency that covers the lower part of the face (as the cowboys used to do in a bank heist). Basically, the picture suited the content of the story, namely thieving.

It starts off the first chapter in the Ukraine, with one of the prior high ranking government officials who was living a rich lifestyle that he should not have been able to afford with his government earnings. Yet, when it was investigated he didn’t own it, but the properties were owned by a company, which in turn was also owned by another company in another country. All around it goes and ends up back at him, after one had dug deep enough.

The book then delves into the time after the second world war decades, where off-shore banking was introduced into the modern world. As was well illustrated in the story, before offshore was introduced, wealthy individuals could not hide their wealth as easily since they had it with them in their home countries. But with offshoring, individuals took the opportunity to store their wealth in other jurisdictions, and amass more, all safely away from their home jurisdictions. Thus, wealthy individuals took the new concept to hide their wealth and amass even more, all in secret and hidden away from their local tax man.

Nowadays, a good term to describe countries that accommodated these wealthy individuals are called ‘tax havens’.

The book also explains other means which wealthy individuals, and government officials, used to improve their lifestyles, and within the protection of some legislation = diplomatic passports.

Every chapter gives terrific material, and is very insightful. Some of the concepts were already familiar to me, but the idea of how some of these proposals were utilized to hide away wealth, and the economic consequences of these actions were very new and definitely gave me food-for-thought. As they would say, I formed new connections within the nodes of my brain on how these means were used, other than the legal means meant to promote economic growth.

Summary:

To the layman who wishes for a good book to read, this should be on your list. For any academic and individuals interested in law and finance, this would be an interesting read not to miss. For every other individual that just wishes to fill their book rack with another great read, have this in your collection (like mine 🙂 ). Terrific book, well written, very insightful and well explained. The author did a great job in researching the topics he published in this work. I gladly give the book a rating of 4.8/5 (mainly because i wish he could tell me a bit more of this dark network, and stories from within).

Don’t pass this one up.