Podcast

The Global Economic Trends: Surviving The Crisis, Part 1 With Richard Duncan

TWS 40 | Global Economic Trends

 

 

The current crisis involving the COVID-19 pandemic has got a lot of people wondering what’s going on with the global economy and what is likely to come in the subsequent months, years, and so forth. It is no secret that things are happening around the world from a monetary and fiscal standpoint that most people aren’t aware of. However, studying them is ultimately going to position you to take the most advantage of not just this environment, but future environments as well. On today’s show, Patrick Donohoe is joined by a professional economist and the publisher of the video-newsletter called Macro WatchRichard Duncan. Richard talks about what’s going on in the economy and the importance of knowing what the future looks like and what things to pay attention to so that you can adapt and ultimately know what’s coming.

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The Global Economic Trends: Surviving The Crisis, Part 1 With Richard Duncan

This is going to be part one of a two-part series. There is much to talk about with Richard Duncan and extract from him his perspective on the economy. What is going on from the Federal Reserve’s and the Central Bank’s standpoint? Ultimately, what is to come? Before I get to the introduction for Richard as well as setting the stage for both parts of the interview, I wanted to tell you about a couple of things. First, a good friend of mine, Mike Dillard, many of you may know who he is. He has a popular podcast and he’s one of the best online business people I know, an incredible marketer. Mike has put together an opportunity. Mike has worked tirelessly to put together a community for the purpose of helping the business and the entrepreneur world, to understand what’s going on and to take advantage of the opportunity because the professional world is changing. The business world is changing.

TWS 40 | Global Economic Trends

The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Cures

He’s put together this community of experts when it comes to consulting, online business, digital business. This opportunity is essentially a community, where you can learn from some incredible minds about what to do. What are some of the opportunities? What are the first steps? What are the second steps? It’s an incredible opportunity. It’s in line with a lot of what was spoken about in the last seasons of The Wealth Standard Podcast. Go check that out at TheWealthStandard.com. Every episode has a video associated with it. Head over to YouTube and subscribe. That would mean a lot to me and you can watch the videos as opposed to listening to them. All the interviews are being videoed and all past interviews are on there as well. Finally, the editors I have are incredible and we have lots of written content that we’re going to be distributing. Make sure you’re a part of our newsletter. Most of it will be announcements associated, whether it’s the Mike Dillard opportunity or other things that I’m paying attention to, as well as new episodes of the show. Make sure you head over to TheWealthStandard.com and check that out.

Let me introduce Richard. He’s the author of three books, The Corruption of CapitalismThe New Depression and The Dollar Crisis. All these books were written around 2010 to 2012 mark. Richard is a Professional Economist. He lives in Thailand. He’s gracious enough to give us this time. Richard, full-time he does what’s called Macro Watch. Go ahead over to RichardDuncanEconomics.com and you can subscribe to that. Readers of the blog get 50% off. It’s $500 for a yearly membership, so it’s $250. What he puts on there are these snippets and video analysis of what’s going on in the economy. They’re fascinating and he does it within 10 to 15 minutes, which is even more indicative of how brilliant he is by being able to chunk deep information into that short of a piece. Richard understands the economy from not a philosophical perspective. There are lots of different schools of economics. Richard looks at things as how they are.

Our monetary system operates a certain way. Although there are many that wish it was a different way and put faults on how it is based on how it should be, the fact is, it isn’t. Our monetary system is a certain way. What is occurring with the influence of the Central Bank, specifically the Federal Reserve in the United States, will most likely always have a primary role when it comes to influencing whether it’s trade, government, the global nature of the economy. It’s always going to have a role. Understanding what it is and then subsequently what signals and things to pay attention to so that you can position yourself, whether it’s from an investment standpoint or a personal standpoint with regards to business. How can you position yourself to take advantage of the situation based on what it is, not based on what it should be?

Let me give you a little bit of his background. He started in Asia in the late ’80s as the Global Head of Investment Strategy at ABN AMRO Asset Management. He worked in the financial sector specifically as a specialist at the World Bank. He headed equity research for Solomon Brothers in Bangkok. He’s also worked as a consultant to the IMF, International Monetary Fund, in Thailand during the Asia crisis. He does full-time Macro Watch, which is a video-based newsletter. This is Robert Kiyosaki’s favorite economist. He has been one of the Keynote people on The Cash Flow Wealth Summit that we’ve put on over a couple of years. It has some insights that you’re going to want to pay attention as to as to how things are leading up to the crisis and then what’s going on amidst the crisis? What is likely to come in the subsequent months, this 2020, 2021 and so forth?

If the government uses all of its firepower as it would in any other war, we can come out of the other side winning this crisis. Click To Tweet

For me, I believe that there has been a significant impact to the psychology of people, to the economy, to markets. What’s going on is that the world, the economy, the society is never going to be the same as it was. Looking at what is happening will help you to know what the future looks like and what signals and things to pay attention to so that you can adapt and ultimately know what’s coming. In the end, we can’t control monetary policy. We can’t control what this body does or what this person does or what philosophy they should subscribe to. The fact is, things are happening around the world from a monetary and fiscal standpoint that most people aren’t aware of. Becoming familiar, studying them is ultimately going to position you to take the most advantage of not just this environment, but future environments as well. Without further delay, let’s cut to the first part of my interview with economist, Richard Duncan.

I have Richard Duncan on with me and he is in Thailand. We made this work and I’m excited about this conversation. Richard, thank you for taking the time.

Patrick, it’s my pleasure. Thank you.

I thought the best way to start is to form a context, so that the readers can know where you’re coming from. As we start to talk about what’s going on and what is potentially going to occur in the future and what to look for, it’s important to know where your perspective is. We’ve been talking about your qualifications. Also, describe what has been the evolution of monetary policy from maybe the Federal Reserve and where we’re at.

I was born and grew up in Kentucky. I went to Vanderbilt. I ended up backpacking around the world after college. I was lucky I got to see Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore in early 1984 and it was booming economically. I realized, “Go East, young man.” I went back to business school for a couple of years at Babson College, and then I flew to Hong Kong and found a job in 1986 as a Securities Analyst working for a local Hong Kong Chinese stockbroking company. I’ve spent almost all of my career working in Asia first as an equities analyst and economist and strategist, managed large research departments for what’s now HSBC Securities and Solomon Brothers in Thailand. I worked for a couple of years at the World Bank in Washington during the Asia crisis as a Financial Sector Specialist.

In 2005 and 2006, I was in London as the Global Head of Investment Strategy or ABN AMRO Asset Management, looking at all the asset classes globally. I’ve written three books along the way. The first was The Dollar Crisis, which I believe did forecasts the crisis of 2008 accurately. I’ve been lucky to live in Asia most of this time and because for many reasons, Asia has had such extraordinary economic growth most of this period. One of the first things I realized when I started working in Asia and saw all of the factories around Southern China full of young women working for less than $5 a day, that these global imbalances were going to completely destabilize the world. They industrialized the US. They were extremely deflationary at least in the direction of disinflation deflation. The rise of China and the global implications of that geopolitically, but also economically the consequences of the enormous trade imbalances and how they are financed. That’s my background.

I produce a video newsletter called Macro Watch. The way it’s useful to understand the world from the macro perspective is this. You can think of the global economy and all of the assets, classes, stocks, bonds, property, all of that is floating on an ocean of credit and credit growth drives economic growth. It’s been that way for many decades. In the US since 1950, there were nine times between 1950 and 2009 when total credit grew by less than 2% adjusted for inflation. Every time credit grew by less than 2%, the US went into a recession and the recession didn’t end until there was another big surge of credit expansion. What do I mean by total credit? The total credit is equal to total debt. You can think about this as all the debt, government debt, household sector debt, corporate debt, financial sector debt. Debt growth drives economic growth. The same thing as credit growth drives economic growth.

In 2008, the private sector couldn’t continue servicing the interest on all of the debt and total credit started to contract when we started going into a depression. The government responded with massive budget deficits, more than a trillion dollars a year for four years in a row. The Fed monetized a third of those budget deficits with three rounds of quantitative easing. Since 2008 credit growth has been barely above the 2% recession threshold as I call it. It hasn’t been enough to drive the economy. The Fed has had to step in and push up asset prices with low-interest rates and what was four rounds of quantitative easing before this crisis started, the fourth having started with the repo problems. They pushed up the stock market and that created a drove up American household sector net worth to extraordinarily high levels and that wealth effect supplemented the credit growth and was sufficient in combination to make the economy keep growing. Although it wasn’t growing rapidly, it was growing.

TWS 40 | Global Economic Trends

Global Economic Trends: If the US would go into depression, that alone would be enough to grow the global economy into a depression.

 

Credit growth drives economic growth and when it’s not high enough, the Fed tries to intervene to push up asset prices and supplement the credit growth with asset price inflation. In other words, the government is managing the economy at the macro level. This has been going on at least since 1941 when World War II started. At that time during World War II, government spending increased by five times in four years. The Fed’s holdings of government securities increased by eleven times reflecting how much money the Fed created to help finance the war. That increased in government debt and paper money creation during such a short period of time. That investment that occurred by the government created new technologies and set off a two-decade-long economic boom in the US that circle much of the world.

The government has been managing the economy at the macro level one way or the other, sometimes better and sometimes worse since then. In order to understand what’s likely to happen with the markets, it’s important as a starting point to understand that the government is trying to manage this and to try to anticipate what they’re going to do next and make a lot of speeches. They tell you what they’re going to try to do next. If you listen to what they’re saying, that provides a lot of help in terms of understanding what’s likely to occur next. Once this virus started impacting the United States and the stock market started dropping, I’ve done five Macro Watch videos on this subject and one was called Recession or Depression?.

That was before people started calling this a depression and before the Fed launched Quantitative Easing Infinity before these $1 trillion government bills to support the economy. By that point, it was clear to me that if the stock market started falling 20%, 25%, the Fed would take radical action to try to drive the stock prices back up. They understand that the asset price inflation is the thing that’s keeping the US out of a severe recession. They weren’t going to sit back and let the stock market crash by 50%, which it would have without government intervention. More than 50% I’m sure, it was expensive to start with. By understanding this framework that how the government manages the economy, it does provide a lot of insight and what’s likely to happen next in terms of movements in the markets.

When all this occurred, it didn’t surprise you when markets started to be disruptive, especially early on when the Fed came to the rescue and you saw these stimulus bills being proposed, whether it was the early ones with regard to funding healthcare and those different organizations and to small businesses. That didn’t surprise you?

No. I’m glad that they did. It wasn’t certain that the government would do that because Congress is quite messy. You don’t know for sure what the government is going to do at the congressional level. It’s easier to predict what the Fed is going to do because it’s controlled by far fewer people. You understand the situation much more clearly than all of the Congressman and Senators. You can never be entirely certain what Congress is going to do. In that video I called Recession or Depression, my point was this. Whether or not we have a recession or depression, it’s going to depend entirely on the speed and the size of the government’s policy response in terms of the size of the fiscal stimulus and the size of the monetary stimulus. Luckily, the government did respond quite quickly on both fronts. Not too much later than that, the Fed announced QE Infinity.

It’s what people are calling it. Buying limitless amounts of government bonds or as much as it required. Congress passed the $2.2 trillion Rescue Bill, which they are popping up with another $500 billion. That was a good step in the right direction. That was a down payment. They did it quickly and that’s the reason that we’re not in a great depression. Have they not have done that, all of the US banks would be in the process of failing and the majority probably of the small and medium-size businesses as well as the majority of the US corporations would also be in the process of failing. Unemployment would be surging up to 30% if not 50%. This government response has kept us out of a great depression so far. Hopefully, they’re going to continue doing more of this because in this crisis, there is no sensible alternative.

If they were to step back and do nothing, then the government debt would explode anyway because the economy would collapse. All the government tax revenues would disappear and the mandatory payments through things like Social Security and Medicare and unemployment insurance would explode. The budget deficit would become enormously large anyway and we wouldn’t have an economy. That doesn’t make any sense. It’s far better for them to do what they’re doing and keep government spending, sending out checks to individuals and propping up small and medium-sized businesses. Also, propping up corporations in the banks because the alternative is complete open-ended depression with no end in sight. Who knows what social geopolitical consequences are?

The government's debt effectively tripled between 2008 and now. That was necessary to keep the economy growing. Click To Tweet

That was the other point too, which accelerates it and magnifies the severity is that everything’s global. If something’s done here and in order to create the balance as it relates to the global economy, it’s going to be done worldwide. Let’s say the government did use Laissez-faire policy and didn’t do anything, it wouldn’t impact the United States. It would impact the world. 

The US would go into depression and that alone would be enough to throw the global economy into a depression, even if they tried to respond aggressively with their own fiscal and monetary policies as they are doing to the best of their abilities.

Looking at the scope of this, we’re already probably approaching $3 trillion, almost $4 trillion in the stimulus. That’s in 1.5 months, almost two months. How much larger it is than what occurred during 2008, 2009? In your estimation, how much can the government stimulate? There hasn’t been much productivity at all in many different sectors, which tells me that the ripple effect it’s going to last for a long time. Does the government have enough firepower to be able to support this massive shock to the system? 

We’re fortunate that the United States is a wealthy country. It does have the firepower. If the government uses all of its firepower as it would in any other war, we can win this war and come out the other side being quite similar to a country we were when we went into this crisis. If we don’t, we will lose the war and who knows what the country would look like or the world in that case. For example, the US economy in 2019, the GDP was about $21 trillion in size and the government’s debt to GDP was somewhere around let’s call it 110%. For an extreme example, if the government had to spend $21 trillion propping up the economy over the next couple of years, then that would cause the government debt to GDP to double to 220% GDP. That’s below where Japan’s government debt to GDP is. Japan has more than 250% government debt to GDP and they don’t have double-digit interest rates. Their interest rates are zero. They don’t have hyperinflation. They have very mild inflation and sometimes deflation.

The government at the fiscal level has enormous firepower and they need to use it. It’s going to be expensive. It’s certainly going to cost $5 trillion. It looks like at least, maybe $10 trillion. If it does, then so be it. That’s the price we’re going to have to pay and luckily, we can afford it. The Fed can help finance this by what it’s doing now. The Fed has created $2.1 trillion that has increased the size of their assets, which reflects how much money they create. That has increased the size of their total assets by 48%. They’re going to have to continue creating much more money to finance the large government budget deficits ahead. During the crisis of 2008, between 2008 and 2014 when the third round of quantitative easing ended, the Fed’s total assets increased by five times from $900 billion at the end of 2007 to $4.5 trillion. It’s a fivefold increase. In the Fed’s first 90 years or so, it created $900 billion. They increase that by fivefold over the next seven years.

If the Fed were to increase this balance sheet fivefold this time from where it was when this crisis started, that would give them an additional of almost $17 trillion of firepower to buy government bonds and to support the economy in various other ways through making loans as it’s doing through its Alphabet Soup lending facilities. This launched inject credit into every corner of the economy. We have enormous firepower. The question is though, will all of this eventually lead to high rates of inflation? The government’s debt effectively tripled between 2008 and now. That was necessary to keep the economy growing. As I said, the Fed’s balance sheet increased by five times. That didn’t cause any significant inflation at the consumer price level in the United States.

There were assets that were inflated. That’s where it affected, but not from a consumer price standpoint.

The created asset price inflation but that was part of the objective to push up asset prices to create a wealth effect. That helped drive the economy and generate the economic growth that we’ve had. Although, it did increase income inequality. Certainly, it wasn’t ideal in that respect, but it was necessary. It’s hard to see what other alternatives there were other than collapse. This time, are we going to have inflation? Of course, it depends on how long the virus lasts and how much the government does increase debt and how much new money the Fed does create. The answer to this question is going to depend on whether globalization persists or not. One of the most important things that have occurred more or less during my lifetime is that we’ve moved from a gold-backed monetary system, which prevented the Central Bank from creating large amounts of new money. Up until 1968 or the Fed was required to own gold to back the Federal Reserve Notes, the dollars that it created.

TWS 40 | Global Economic Trends

Global Economic Trends: We need to be careful before we accuse people without knowing the facts. We need to maintain relations with all the countries.

 

That only ended in 1968 and then the old regime ended up entirely in 1971 with the breakdown of Bretton Woods. Afterward, there were no limits on how much money the Fed could create except the fear that it would cause inflation as large increases in money printing has always done in the past. Starting in the 1980s, the US started running large budget trade deficits with the rest of the world. It started rather than only buying things in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, in New York State, having everything made in the United States with US Labor as we had done up until then, we started buying things from other countries and started running large trade deficits. Before long we started buying lots and lots of things from countries with low wages and this was extremely deflationary.

These deflationary pressures from our enormous trade deficits and globalization, they offset the inflationary pressures that would normally result from large budget deficits and lots of paper money creation. This combination of no longer having to back the money with gold and globalization combined have created a completely new paradigm in which it has been possible for instance over the years with the government to triple its debt and for the Fed to expand his balance sheet what was five times in seven years without creating any inflation at all at the consumer price level. Globalization is the key. If globalization breaks down, this paradigm will collapse and we will move back into the world of the 1960s and ’70s where budget deficits and paper money creation lead down double-digit inflation and high interest rate.

If globalization persists, and it’s possible that the Fed could expand its asset size by another five times creating another $17 trillion or so of new money without creating significant rates of inflation. The trillion-dollar question is, “Will globalization survive or will it not survive?” This is not at all certain, even before the virus broke out. We were more or less in a Cold War with China. I would say relations have deteriorated sharply since then. Also, we had trade tariffs on China before this started. They were supported by both parties, by the Republicans and the Democrats. There was a visible change in our attitude toward our relation with China, whether or not we wanted to continue it on along the same lines that we had pursued for a number of decades.

Where do you stand now? It’s become much more political and I would even say social because there is a lot of finger-pointing happening. When China shut down, that shuts down the supply chain and they’ve been targeted and called hoarders. They wouldn’t release the stuff that continued to be manufactured through the world supply chain. Do you think that the chance of maintaining globalization is up or do you think it was strong enough where it could survive something like this, including the societal blowback? 

Regarding China, it’s important that we keep a balanced view. On the one hand, Americans have realized that we were not able to produce enough surgical masks and ventilators or even medicine that we need and had to import it. Hopefully, surely this is going to result in some significant reindustrialization of the United States and some onshoring of many products that we had previously imported. That is a necessary thing and a good thing. On the other hand, we have to be careful not to go too far in this blame game with China, heating up the political rhetoric, turning China into an enemy and trying to blame them for all of our problems. There have been lots of rumors going around about where the virus came from and was it created in a lab. I don’t know what happened, but I was in Hong Kong during SARS and no one has said that came out of a lab.

There have been plagues sweeping this humanity for thousands of years. They didn’t come out of military labs. We’ve needed to be careful before we accuse people without knowing the facts. Even if it did escape from some lab, that doesn’t mean they did it on purpose. We need to maintain relations with all the countries in the world and China is a large competitor and partner in some senses. We don’t want to have another all-out World War as we did with the Soviet Union and move back into a stage where the world fragments in two competing blocks. I like living in Asia. Asia would likely, at least land-based Asia from Eastern China to somewhere not too far away from Europe, would come under Chinese control if push comes to shove.

The history of the world teaches that countries with superior technology don't treat inferiors timely most of the time. Click To Tweet

That’s not what we want to happen and that doesn’t have to happen. We can maintain our relations with China, but we have to be smart about it. The United States wants this virus, the crisis passes. The United States needs to understand that China is going to overtake the United States economically, technologically and militarily within the next 1 to 2 decades if trends continue. China invests so much more than the United States does. China overtook the United States in research and development for the first time. If trends continue by the end of this decade, they will be investing 40% more a year than the United States is. China’s already won the 5G race. If they win the AI race, the way they have won to 5G race, then it would be the 21st’s artificial intelligence. It would be the 21st century equivalent of China having a nuclear monopoly.

The quantum computing or computing race. Richard, you should go into this a little bit more and could you distinguish between how the Central Bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve as stimulated business through low-interest rates? I would say also, as businesses have the ability to issue bonds, issue credit and buyback stock. For me, how I look at it is there hasn’t been a push as to what businesses should do in the United States with the stimulus, low-interest rates and so forth. In China, it’s more intentional where they create a stimulus, but they direct the stimulus in certain areas, mainly toward the end of innovation. That’s what you’re referring to. Am I getting that right? Could you maybe explain your take on what stimulus means to US-based companies versus what stimulus means to Chinese companies?

Public opinion in the United States and probably all countries swings back and forth over the decades. They tend to swing too far in one direction and then a few decades later it’s swung too far in the other direction. During World War II, the United States Government took over complete control of the economy, took over production, manufacturing, distribution prices and labor. They drafted people and sent them off to war to die. It was complete government control over the economy. We don’t want that. In 1957, the Soviet Union sent out Sputnik and this sent off the United States into a panic. The first satellite and the US government responded by investing much more money in research and development and science. The level of government investment than in the ‘60s was high and in the United States, and as a result, we won the space race. We sent a man to the moon.

Even under President Reagan had the government invest so much in the US military that the Soviet Union couldn’t keep up. Between all of this investment in rockets during NASA, which helped us develop Intercontinental ballistic missiles that Russia couldn’t afford, we bankrupted the Soviet Union through government investment. Since that time, the sentiment has swung in part because of President Reagan’s rhetoric that the government is the problem. Everyone bought into that and thought government, it was the problem. The government-level of investment has been rolled back to such a small level that we are lagging behind. This 5G should be recognized as our new Sputnik moment because if China gets artificial intelligence before we do artificial general intelligence where their AI can do anything that humans can do, from there it increases exponentially. They will have the rest of the world, including us at their mercy.

I’m not an anti-Chinese, but I want us to be there first. The history of the world teaches that countries with superior technology don’t treat inferiors kindly most of the time. We don’t want to be in a position where we will be a vulnerable second-rate power twenty years from now, which we will be if we do not radically change our approach toward government investment in new industries and technologies. There’s no reason that we can’t afford to do this. I’ve been working on my new fourth book for quite a long time and it’s about ready to go. One of the main themes of this book was that over the next ten years, the United States government must invest trillions of dollars in the industries of the future such as artificial intelligence, neural sciences, genetic engineering, biotech, nanotech and robotics. The Fed could finance a good part of that. I argued both cases. I didn’t put a specific total amount on it, but I used an example of $10 trillion.

The interest rates are the cost of renting money. It depends on supply and demand. Click To Tweet

If the US invested $10 trillion more than they plan to at the moment, over the next ten years, then we could easily afford that. That would only have taken US government debt up to less than 100% in 50% of GDP. If every last cent to that $10 trillion was totally wasted, we contributed nothing whatsoever. In the worst-case scenario, we would’ve had a debt level that Japan had many years ago. The other case is the Fed could have financed the whole thing by creating money and buying all the government debt and then it would have been free. That was my theme. That would have been over $10 trillion over ten years. Suddenly the world has changed, which is going to require another chapter to my book. Instead of $10 trillion over ten years, we’re going to have $3 trillion if not $5 trillion in 2020 over the next twelve months. That’s going to be an extraordinary unprecedented economic experiment.

If we come out of this with an extra, let’s say $5 trillion of government debt with the Fed having printed an extra $500 trillion and we don’t have high rates of inflation, what’s the lesson we need to learn from this? The lesson is if we can do $5 trillion over a couple of years, we can certainly do $10 trillion over ten years. For instance, the National Cancer Institute, its annual budget is $6 billion a year. That is the main agency for the US government to invest a cure in cancer. Cancer kills 600,000 Americans every year. How about trying $60 billion a year or $600 billion a year? My point is $1 trillion is a whole lot of money. If we have an investment program of that size and we can cure all the diseases, we can expand life expectancy by decades. We can improve human happiness and wellbeing enormously, as well as economic prosperity not only within the US but it would spill over around the world.

Not in consequently, we could also maintain our global preeminence and our National Security and not be overtaken by China, which has a plan to beat us in all these areas which they’re doing. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when we come out of the other side of this virus, how much debt we have? How large is the Fed’s balance sheet and how high is the inflation rate? There’s never been an experiment like this in economics before other than World War II, which we won with massive government debt and massive paper money creation. All of that investment during World War II led to a twenty-year economic boom in the United States. We’ve maintained our preeminence for 75 years as a result of that victory, which was government-directed and finance.

TWS 40 | Global Economic Trends

Global Economic Trends: If we want to have higher interest rates, then the government can orchestrate that by borrowing more money and hopefully investing it.

 

I’m not sure how to articulate this, but going this direction, what are the unintended consequences of our monetary policy? Clearly, there are benefits. I still believe that low-interest rates create the idea of innovation. Businesses can use money and credit to expand. I know that there’s been lax in the standards of raising capital in the US mainly because a lot of the Silicon Valley and other areas in the US that have a high concentration of startups, innovation and technology going on in all of the different sectors that you’ve mentioned. That’s one way to do it. If we go even further where you have more capital and more investment, more capital credit available for people, what are the unintended consequences of that? In Japan, they have, I believe negative interest rates or close to negative interest rates. At what point did the US get to that point and do negative interest rates or low-interest rates negatively impact certain things that would be collateral damage of this type of initiative?

Before coming to the possibility of negative interest rates, talking of negative consequences in general, people are influenced by the brilliant economists of the past. In the past, creating a lot of money and having large budget deficits led to inflation and high-interest rates. That was undesirable. That was the main negative consequence that everyone fears and is in everyone’s mind, not far in the back of their mind, pretty much in the front of their mind. This is going to lead to inflation, but it hasn’t. Things have changed because of globalization as I was saying. That was the main reason we never did this before and the main reason that we haven’t tried it yet because everyone is afraid of the inflationary consequences. That’s the main word. If the globalization breaks down, then that will reassert itself that will reoccur if we return to having a closed domestic economy without trade deficits. In terms of negative interest rates, it’s unlikely the US won’t have negative interest rates.

Even at these high levels of debt? 

The interest rates are the cost of renting money. It depends on supply and demand. In the past, it only used to depend on the demand for borrowing money because the supply was gold and it was roughly fixed, simplifying matters a bit. If the government demand for money increased a lot and it pushed up the cost of renting money, it pushed up interest rates. We also can control the supply of money to do the paper money creation. If the government borrows $10 trillion and the Fed prints $10 trillion, then there should be no change in the cost of renting money. If the government wants interest rates to go higher, they can borrow $15 trillion and have the Fed print $10 trillion. The demand will be higher than the supply and interest rates will go up. Those are extreme examples. I’m not suggesting that do $10 trillion or $15 trillion. To illustrate demand and supply factors, the government should be able to control the level of interest depending on the amount it borrows relatively to the amount of money the Fed creates.

Not necessarily in this context, but this is yield curve control where the government or the Central Bank controls the level of interest rates all along the yield curve depending on how much money they create and which type of government bonds they buy. In Japan, the Bank of Japan used to have a fixed amount of money that it announced it would create every year. It’s quantitative easing program. They realized that they didn’t have to create that much money to hold interest rates, that put us back to 0. That’s ten basis points. They create as much money as necessary to hold the ten-year Japanese government bond, that ten basis points, whatever amount of money that is. The governments can hold the interest rates at any level they choose depending on the balance between government borrowing and central bank money creation, buying those bonds.

All of the investment during World War ll led to a twenty-year economic boom in the United States. Click To Tweet

There are regulated institutions, even Social Security that buy zero non-marketable government bonds and treasuries. If it’s at a 0% interest rate, there’s no income coming off of that. There’s no income coming off of it unless it’s this massive amount of money. How do you have certain sectors, whether it’s pensions or insurance companies or other interest-sensitive type of setups? Is there a negative impact to them? 

What we saw as this virus started heating up in the US was interest rates crashed long before the Fed cut interest rates. Market drove up interest rates lower, not the Fed because everyone sold their stocks and bought bonds and pushed bond prices up, which drives bond yields down. The collapse in interest rates was a market-driven process. The Fed followed the market and eventually raised to zero. They were not the ten-year bond yield, a low of 38 basis points? That was market-driven. If we want to have higher interest rates, then the government can orchestrate that by borrowing more money and hopefully investing it.

Right now, they’re borrowing it and giving people money so they won’t go hungry. They would continue to pay their rents and their mortgages, which is the right thing to do. In future years, if interest rates are too low, the government can borrow more and push interest rates higher and use that borrowed money to invest in the industries of the future and induce a new technological revolution that will massively enhance US productivity and enable us to maintain our leading role in the world and maintaining National Security.

I like where your stance is there. We’re at a point where we’re in a debt-based society. It comes down to how it’s directed and how you use it to influence. In looking at what’s going on in the response, it’s the only way for the government to respond.

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About Richard Duncan

TWS 40 | Global Economic TrendsRichard Duncan is the author of three books on the global economic crisis, including the international bestseller “The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Cures,” which forecast the global economic crisis of 2008 with extraordinary accuracy.

Since beginning his career as an equities analyst in Hong Kong in 1986, Richard has served as global head of investment strategy at ABN AMRO Asset Management in London, worked as a financial sector specialist for the World Bank in Washington D.C., and headed equity research departments for James Capel Securities and Salomon Brothers in Bangkok. He also worked as a consultant for the IMF in Thailand during the Asia Crisis.

He is now the publisher of the video-newsletter Macro Watch.

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What You Need To Know About The Paycheck Protection Program Loan With Tom Wheelwright

TWS 39 | Paycheck Protection Program Loan

 

 

If you are an employee stuck at home right now because of the Coronavirus pandemic, chances are you might have received your paycheck, which was acquired through the Paycheck Protection Program. What is it, and how can employers repay the PPP loan? In this episode, Patrick Donohoe interviews CPA Tom Wheelwright, the creative genius behind WealthAbility, a revolutionary platform of educational tools and a global network of CPAs. Today, Tom joins Patrick Donohoe to tackle the ins and outs of the PPP loan, including what you need to know as an employer about the payback period interest rates. Emphasizing on the need to sit with a CPA, Tom notes how one can help you understand the loan count computation better than the banks. He also touches on the EIDL program, its three parts, and its restrictions. Tune in to learn how you can save yourself from unnecessary loan charges and make use of more investment opportunities even amid the pandemic.

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What You Need To Know About The Paycheck Protection Program Loan With Tom Wheelwright

I know we’re going through some crazy times. I hope you are doing awesome. Before I cut to Tom Wheelwright, who’s my guest, one of the foremost expert strategists around wealth and tax strategy, he is going to speak about the stimulus package. You definitely want to follow Tom because he’s not only speaking about this initial package, there’s most likely going to be more. Tune in to his YouTube channel, as well as his podcast and email list. Everything’s free. Also, we have a new YouTube channel, let’s get the word out. We wanted to boost that, if you would go on and subscribe and watch some of the videos. All the episodes that I’m doing are in video format.

There’s something that I’ve been trying to focus on as it relates to capitalizing on this opportunity. These days are super challenging and I found myself challenged because I come to an empty office by myself. There’s nobody on the streets. I go home with my family and it’s been amazing. One of the highlights of all this is the amount of time I get to spend with my children, my wife and my family, but there’s an emptiness of sorts because of what I’m used to doing and what my routine is. It doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve had to reinvent my routine and the certainty associated with how I show up daily. I’ve had to do that because it became challenging and frustrating for me. I’m hoping that you are handling this better than I have been, but I wanted to share with you what I’m doing.

First, there’s a process and a sequence that I’ve been using. I learned it. I understood the information, but it wasn’t a part of me. It wasn’t part of my life in a sense because everything before was going pretty good. I focus first on my state of being. State for me is a function of your physiology, what you’re focused on, glass half-empty or glass half-full. Strategy then comes after that. Second is story and then it’s strategy. State is important because we’re facing hard and challenging times. I think everybody’s affected by this. It’s more important to recognize who you should be showing up as because, as human beings, we have faced challenging times in the past. We know what it’s like. We face it and we’ve most likely overcome things. I’m sure you have overcome everything.

As you start to identify what the state you are in when you overcame the adversity of the past, how were you breathing? How is your posture? Where were your shoulders and eyes? What did you feel like internally? That’s physiology. That’s that state. You want to identify it with how you showed up during difficult and challenging times. The second is the focus you have. What’s your perspective on things? Is it the time to hunker down and be afraid? There’s a tremendous disruption, which is going to flush out a lot of inefficiency. Those other individuals that may not have the emotional wherewithal will sell and do irrational things. That is the time right now. If you have that perspective, that’s where your focus is where things are disrupting, inefficiencies are being cleared out, presenting massive opportunities for me and my business and investment and so forth.

Next is strategy. The first is your state and your perspective. What you’re focused on? The words that you’re using to describe it. Opportunity and inefficiency is being disrupted and flushed out, not panic, not afraid, not anxiety. Be careful with the words that you use. That creates her state and story about what’s going on and how you are showing up to it. Finally, the strategy comes after that. Most people are going to that. It’s the actions. It’s not the specific state first, story second, strategy third. I’ve been focusing purely on state and story. When I show up for my team, it’s a different conversation. I showed up, I felt it and they felt it. As a leader, as someone who gets paid to make hard decisions and to show up, I wasn’t that. I fell short of my responsibilities and I caught myself. I’ve redone my routine. I’ve redone how I establish myself and what I do when I’m in that funk zone.

I encourage you to do that. These are a lot of the things I’ve learned from some of the Tony Robbins trainings that I’ve done. Check him out. There are others as well. This is a great opportunity for humanity to rise up to the challenge, to face adversity and grow from it. That is going to be the end result. That is the end result of humanity. It’s the yin and the yang. I believe that the deeper we go with the extreme, whether its emotions or physical circumstances, the more we expand ourselves to be able to experience the other side of the spectrum. There’s some deep principle and psychology associated with it. I’m excited about all this. It’s going to be amazing. Even though I can look outside and see nothing, probably easily justify how bad things are, that’s the opportunity where you can go out and look at how amazing things are.

It’s the yin and the yang. We’ve always heard the greatest fortunes are made during times of extreme adversity. Now are those times. Hopefully, that helps. You are going to love Tom. He’s amazing. He’s been a friend of mine and has been a tremendous support for our clients at Paradigm Life as an incredible company called WealthAbility, which is a network of different CPA firms around the country. What he’s sharing is insanely valuable. It’s detailed and complicated because he’s been trained and influenced to the extreme by Robert Kiyosaki. Simplicity is his middle name. He makes this bill and the provisions of the bill easy. You are going to learn a ton.

If you had on your team a good banker, a good CPA, and a good lawyer, you'd already be funded. Click To Tweet

Tom, it’s awesome to have you on. There’s so much happening these days and what I wanted you to speak to is the CARES Act. There’s so much to it. It’s $2.2 trillion and it’s probably going to go up from there, but there’s confusion. There are huge bottlenecks at banks. Let’s talk about the loan programs that people are trying to get. It would make a big difference, especially as things are still shut down.

Let’s start with the big one, which is the PPP loan or the Paycheck Protection Program. It is referred to everywhere as the PPP loan. It’s the one where it’s 2.5 times your average monthly payroll. You take last year’s payroll, the average monthly payroll. There are some interesting things about this computation. What does that include? Every bank is being different. Here’s what’s going on. The loan is guaranteed by the federal government, but it’s coming from the bank. It’s not money coming straight from the Treasury. Because of that, the banks are scared. They’re taking conservative positions. Remember, they don’t have that much capital on hand, so it’s going to be replenished, but they have to be careful about parsing out those loans.

That’s why you see somebody goes, “I’ve got my loan. I already funded.” That’s true because it’s probably a smaller bank you had a relationship with and they had enough capital for their few customers. When you go to Bank of America or Wells Fargo and you hear them saying, “We’re only looking at these types of people and we’re doing this kind of loan,” they’re going to have strict requirements. They’re going to minimize the amount. This is one of those things where you go, “It’s 2.5 times average monthly payroll.” Let me give you an example of where this is an issue. First of all, it includes health insurance.

The contributions that the employer was making that to health insurance.

It includes health insurance. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that’s a lot of money. We have ten employees and that’s a lot of money because we pay for every employee’s health insurance. If they’re not including that, they’re taking the payroll, you’re losing that. Let me tell you a big one. The law says that includes commissions and not only commissions to employees. If you had commissions to employees, no big deal. It’s going to be included in your payroll report, but it also includes commissions, the independent contractors. The law was clear on that. However, if you go to the Treasury website, it’s not included. If you go to Bank of America, they won’t include it. For us, that’s almost as big a number, so 2.5x is our commission because we don’t put ourselves, people, on the payroll. They are independent contractors, that’s what they want to be because they drank our Kool-Aid. They understand that it’s better to be an independent contractor.

You already have these two things that your bank may not include in your loan count computation. Remember, this is the loan computation, but then you have the forgiveness computation. Remember that this loan at least in part gets forgiven. This is 2.5x months this, but the forgiveness includes eight weeks from when the loan is originated. It’s the date on your loan document that you’re looking at. It’s eight weeks of payroll plus insurance plus commissions. This not only can be funded, it can be forgiven. This is free money. Chances are your bank did not include this. This is why what I’m telling people is don’t go to a bank. You need to sit down with your CPA. You need a CPA who understands how to calculate this because only CPAs are reading this bill.

The bankers aren’t reading the bill. The bankers have their set of rules. They’re all about rules. They’re all about risk. They see this as a huge risk. They see that if they do the computation wrong, if they don’t take a conservative approach, they may not get reimbursed. That’s a big deal. Even if they get reimbursed, they don’t want to carry these loans on the books. These are going to be a myriad of $10,000 or $15,000 loans. Once the forgiveness is done, you’re going to have little penny loans for two years that you’re going to have to track and manage at 0.5% interests. From a banker standpoint, this is a terrible deal. They’re doing it because their customers and Treasury demand it.

They’ve been forced to do it in a sense.

TWS 39 | Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Paycheck Protection Program Loan: Don’t go to a bank. You need to sit down with a CPA who understands how to calculate PPP loan because only CPAs are reading this bill.

 

On top of that, you also get plus utilities, rent or mortgage interest, whichever you have. This is all forgiven. It’s not included. The utilities, rent and the mortgage interest, that’s not included up here, but if you use it for this, you could end up spending more on the utilities and rent in eight weeks. If you’ve got a class A space, you’re going to spend some money on rent and utilities. The idea was it should approximately equal this. The idea was, “Let’s put it in there so that it pretty much used up.” The reality though is that a lot of it depends on your bank. We’ve been using a lot of SBA loan consultants because they know the banks better for people who don’t have an existing relationship. If you have an existing relationship with a small community bank, a small regional bank, you have loans with them and you have deposits with them and you do all your banking with them, you need to go to them.

You need to explain this computation and I would suggest you go to them with your CPA. “You explain this because I don’t understand it.” You will get your loan faster through there than if you go through a consultant. That’s my experience so far. We were talking about it that it’s new every day. You’re seeing all these bottlenecks and they tend to be bottlenecks with the big banks. A relationship with a smaller bank is going to get you your money a lot faster and you’re going to have a little more flexibility than with a big bank. This is a big loan. There are a couple of other things that you ought to be applying for.

Looking at the actual loan documents, is it important to go through those to understand what provisions in there that you’re signing since you are signing a contract? It’s your obligation.

You want to make sure you go through those loan documents thoroughly. If you have anybody to have a look at it, maybe a lawyer, but certainly your CPA should be looking at it to see if the money works out or if the computation is right because a lot of this is math. This is pointed out to me. I spent a lot of time with Robert Kiyosaki on the road. A lot of what we’ve been talking about in the last few years is it’s been present for this, because we’ve been talking a lot about having a team. The Rich adviser wrote a book on more important than money is about building the team. If you had on your team a good banker, a good CPA and a good lawyer, you had already been funded at the maximum amount.

This is a good example of why the team is important. You can’t have one of these. You need a bookkeeper too. Bookkeepers are the ones calculating all this. You should have a payroll company. They produce these reports. That’s why I never like a bookkeeper doing payroll. That’s a terrible idea. Have the payroll company do payroll. Let the specialists handle it. Have the specialist on your team and they’re producing those reports. The problem is most of the big banks are taking that report and that’s all they’re giving you. They’re ignoring this. You want to make sure that you’ve got that team together when you do this.

Can you speak one more thing about this loan? There are some requirements for the eight weeks to be forgiven. It has to do with retaining employees. This isn’t something where you can take the money and then let people go because there’s a penalty.

It’s a Paycheck Protection Program. You have to remember that. This P is for Paycheck and another P is Protection. This is all about employers keeping employees. I’ll get back to the reductions and everything, but there’s an interesting quandary that employers and employees have and that is, “Do I let people go so they can get the enhanced unemployment insurance? Do I keep them and they get paid for eight weeks?” It’s only eight weeks. What if the pandemic lasts two years? You’re not going to keep getting this every week. It’s not going to happen. I believe this is a one-time shot. This is not going to happen again. They are talking about adding money to it. I think they will add that $250 billion. That $350 billion was never going to be even close to enough. What’s good is they’re recognizing that a lot of people were getting shut out because the big boys have all the money. They gave it to McDonald’s and Taco Bell.

There are more business opportunities when you try to pivot during this pandemic. Click To Tweet

The franchise owners.

The best lobbying in this bill was by Boeing, the airlines and the franchises. They’re the ones who lobbied the best. Boeing got a $17 billion bailout. Their max issue has nothing to do with the virus. The airlines got bailed out. That was inevitable. You don’t want them failing. The franchises got bailed out. There is no qualification for this except that you’re under 500 employees. That’s it. If you’re a franchise, you don’t even have to be under 500 points. All franchises qualify. You can be at 10,000 employees and you’d qualify as a franchise. On top of that, if you’re in the foodservice, then even if you’re not a franchise, it’s 500 employees per location. For example, Harrah’s Casino. They’re included in this category.

If they had less than 500 employees per casino, they already have their money. That’s when you see, “$100 billion was gone.” That’s how it went too. It didn’t go to the little guys. It went to the big guys and that was always going to happen. It’s good news that they’re adding that there. They’re adding that $250 billion, which they need to do. They may need to add more than that. The independent contractors can’t even apply for this loan. My prediction was $350 billion is going to be gone by then. They have to add money if they’re going to get to the infinite contractors at all or even the routine small business that is having a tough time finding a bank to give him the loan.

Let’s talk about the reduction. It’s not as onerous as you think. There are two reductions. There’s one reduction based on reducing payroll and there’s another reduction based on reducing the number of employees. A lot of people have given May payroll reductions. They said, “We’re going to reduce your pay by 20% until this is over because otherwise, we can’t survive. That’s the only way we can keep you employed.” It’s okay to do that. Once you go over 25%, the excess reduction over 25% directly offsets what is forgiven. If you go over my $10,000, you lose $10,000 of forgiven over the 25%. That one is not onerous. I don’t see a lot of companies doing more than 25%.

Plus, the interest rate on the payback period.

It’s a two-year payback period and it’s a 0.5% of interest. It’s like a free loan anyway. If you reduce Full-Time Equivalent or FTEs from what you had a year ago at this time, you’re looking at 2019 between February and June compared to 2020, compared to your eight weeks. If you reduced, you’re a number of them, your overall payroll and your number of employees, then you get a percentage reduction of the entire amount of forgiveness. You’re reducing everything. Let’s say you’re 90% of where you were a year ago, 10% will not be forgiven. That’s a much bigger deal for people who are thinking.

I was on a call with a big mastermind group and business owner. Some of them are restaurant owners. “I’ve carried them, but do I let them go? Do I keep them and keep them on this?” It’s a tough decision. The answer is to sit down with your CPA and run the numbers. Once you have data, everything’s less scary. One of the reasons this whole virus is scary is because we don’t have data. The more data we get, the less scary it becomes. The same is true with your numbers. The more data you have, the less scary it becomes. This is a time in the world to know your data. That’s why the bookkeeper’s important. You know you have an accurate data.

I want to make a point that your network of WealthAbility accountants are doing consultations.

TWS 39 | Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Paycheck Protection Program Loan: A smaller bank can loan you money faster than big banks.

 

We are. We haven’t mandated it, it’s not a franchise, but a lot of our members are doing consultations on this and not charging. For our firm, we did no tax returns. We spent all week on the phones with clients. We’re not billing anything for it. We feel like that’s our civic duty to our clients to take care of them. It’s adding insult to injury when you bill for something like that.

It is the time to give.

Even the loan consultants are billing on the backend. They’re not billing anything upfront. They’re taking a percentage of what is funded. If you don’t get the money, you don’t pay. For the most part, people are being generous. Even California is sending ventilators to New York. That’s extraordinarily generous. Let’s look at two other things I want to talk about. They both relate to the same category. This is the EIDL Program. There are three parts to this program. This changes daily. This is an Emergency Injury Disaster Loans and originally, it was up to $2 million but this is a regular loan. This is an SBA loan.

Do you have to qualify for it?

Yes, there are some restrictions on it. You have to have been damaged. The PPP loan, you don’t have to show any damage. I’m telling all my clients, you need to apply for it. Even if you have done better during this time period because the reality is you’re going to pay for it anyway through your taxes. Seriously, don’t say, “No, I’m not going to take this because I don’t need it.” Reality is you don’t need it, but you’re going to need it to pay the taxes on this bill. We don’t know what’s going to happen. People that don’t need it yet may need it in a month or two. This is a $2 million SBA loan. Not as restrictive as some of the other loans as far as a regular SBA loan.

They collateralize everything, including your first year born son or daughter. They take an arm and a leg and they even take your house and a personal guarantee. This does not have all those requirements. It is a good loan. I think it’s the best loan that’s a true loan in this package. There’s also an SBA Express loan that is even less onerous than this one. Everybody can get that as long as you qualify. These are bank loans so the bank has to agree to this. All of this is going to happen after the PPP loans are done. After they’re done, the banks are replenished. Everything after that, you’ll start seeing this money.

You can have both.

The innovators are the ones who are going to come out of this crisis winning. Click To Tweet

You’re not going to see this money for quite a while. There’s also a $200,000 loan under the EIDL. This is the same loan, but it has much looser requirements on it. If you need a $200,000 infusion, and you can show that you’ve been damaged. This is probably a good option for you. Here’s the option everybody should be doing and that is, there is a $10,000 grant. This is in addition to the PPP. If you get the grant, the grant reduces the amount of forgiveness on the PPP. What it means is that your PPP, $10,000 of it is going to be a loan unless you have extra. It reduces the amount of forgiveness on the PPP.

That’s the loan that’s going to be 0.5% payback over two years.

This is a $10,000 emergency grant and this. I haven’t seen people getting it yet because it comes directly from the SBA and they have been overwhelmed. This is supposed to be done within three days. I know for a fact it hasn’t because I filed for one and it has not come yet. This is something that people had to pay attention to, especially taken independent contractor, $10,000 can tide you over. That can be enough. You may not need to go through the PPP process. This may be sufficient for you. This may be exactly what you need if you’re an independent contractor or a small business. The whole focus has been on the PPP.

That doesn’t mean it’s the only thing available. That’s the key, sit down with your CPA. I look at that CPA’s as the financial positions of the crisis. We’re the ones who’ve read the law. We understand the law. We have a network of CPAs, 35 firms across the country and we’re dying to help. We have offer for April because we see all of these opportunities, but we also see another opportunity and that is people seem to have a little more time because they’re not commuting. They’re not going to dinner at night. They’re not going to movies. We’re going to have some financial opportunities that are going to be at least as good as 2008, 2009 and 2010.

It will be a lot better.

If you’re not prepared for that, you are going to miss out. A lot of us missed out on 2008, 2009 and 2010. I’m one of those. I had all of these single-family homes and I was trying to get out from under that. I swore I was not going to let that happen again. We have to be financially prepared for this and it’s not only about money, there’s this opportunity to borrow $100,000 from your IRA penalty-free, interest-free and tax-free for three years. You can borrow it and put it back and not pay tax on it. There are going to be all these opportunities. What we’ve decided is, we know that it’s a window. It’s a short window to get focused and put a plan of action together. That’s what we do for a living is wealth and tax strategies. We’re going to give away your first personal income tax return if you sign up for wealth and tax strategy.

We’re doing that because we see this window. Your taxes aren’t due until July 2020. You’ve got this window until July to do something. You’ve got this window probably 3rd and 4th quarters when we’re going to start seeing these deals come up. You need financial education. We want to encourage you to take some action. Our members have agreed that they’re going to give up their fees for your personal tax return because what happens is when you do a tax strategy and a wealth strategy and you have the same person do the tax return, it makes the implementation and the effectiveness of that so much greater. We decided, “We’re going to yes this out because this was when we need to be giving.” Our members are all saying, “I’ll give away a free tax return so that I can encourage people to get in this process because this is a huge opportunity.” If you miss out, you’re going to be kicking yourself for the rest of your life.

We’re in the beginning stages. The economic impacts have yet be seen. That’s globally, it’s not just in the United States. Who knows what’s going to come down the line with the other stimulus packages, other incentives? In the end, the majority of people are employed by small business owners. They’re the ones that are trying to figure out what to do. Things are going to change. People are going to innovate. There are going to be new ways of doing business at the same time. In 2020, it’s going to be somewhat painful. I believe that there’s going to be continued opportunities that have to do both wealth strategy and your tax strategy. Having something and having a team member in place to help out with that is more important than ever. It is complicated. This thing’s like a thousand pages long and you have read it.

TWS 39 | Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Paycheck Protection Program Loan: Starting a business has huge tax advantages to it.

 

It is 854 pages and yes, I read them multiple times and I’m still learning new things about it. Here’s the other thing. This hit me first when my first industry job was with a company, this is back in the savings and loan crisis, paid $2 billion for a savings and loan that went to zero within two years. They put a hiring freeze on. I was the only hire in six months and a Fortune 500 company. My first job was to let people go. I had to let half my staff go. It was similar to this. Only in this case, people are getting let go and they’re not getting big severance packages because there’s no money to give you. I remember thinking about and I’m going, “These people did nothing wrong.” You can be the best employee in your entire shop and you have no job right now. You’re on unemployment. It’s no-fault of yours except for one thing. You only had one client. You only have one customer. You had an employer that was your one customer.

I know you deal with banks all the time, Patrick. If you had a business owner, if a business owner had a single client and they went to a bank for a loan, will the bank ever give them a loan? Never. It is too much risk. Every single person who’s an employee has one customer. This points this out. I’m thinking, “You’re online right now.” More people are online than ever. You realize that video is easy. I’m learning that YouTube is easy. Even elderly people are discovering YouTube and know other things. If that’s the case, think about how easy it would be to start a business with thousands of customers. I know you have thousands of clients or customers, Patrick. You have the risk if one customer will not leave. You have the risks that they’re going to die in the life insurance industry. If you lose a customer, that’s okay because there are other customers and there are more customers. Whereas if you lose a job, what do you do? It is the time to be thinking about, “Maybe I’d be starting a business.” It has huge tax advantages to it, as we all know. You’ll get deduct stuff. You get deduct part of your home, you get deduct the car, you get the deduct some of your meals, your travel. You get to deduct all sorts of stuff.

Your taxes go way down as a business owner. On top of that, you have that much less risk. It is the time. One of the big things I’m encouraging people to do is we’ve got these investment opportunities coming. We are also having an enormous business opportunity and the big word is pivot. People who are shifting how they think and changing as you would use in your business, changing their paradigm, that’s a big deal. The innovators are the ones who are going to come out of this winning. It’s going to be the people who did the same old thing, same thing I did last year, that you’re going to come out the big losers. Rahm Emanuel said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” I don’t like the saying, at the same time, there’s a point there that maybe we ought to be looking at.

We want to protect ourselves. We want to protect our loved ones. I’m particularly vulnerable for this because of my immune system and the same with my wife. We want to take care of health. At the same time, we want to take care of our finances for now and for the future for the next time it does happen. There will be a next time, 1990, 2000, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2020. There is a pattern here and it’s going to happen again in 2030. Don’t believe, it won’t. This time it was pandemic, last time it was real estate. The time before that was stock. Who knows what it’s going to be? As long as the economy is the way it is, we’re going to keep doing these things. It is time to get prepared. If I had any words of wisdom, that would be it. It is time to get prepared.

You had mentioned something, Tom, which I think is vital, which is mindset. There are all the reasons to be incredibly afraid. That’s all we see on TV. That’s all we see in the news and headlines. That’s all we see on social media. At the same time, many others have a perspective that this is a wonderful time. Reinvent yourself, take advantage of the opportunity. It’s a time where the inefficiencies and waste are flushed down the toilet. That’s where people start to grow. You don’t grow when things are all when they’re easy. These are the times where you can grow the most, but it’s a choice you make and it starts with your perspective. I believe that employment, education, investing, real estate is going to change, but it’s going to change for the better.

It’s all good. I hope everybody’s taking care and protecting themselves and their neighbors, especially protecting us, elderly people. We appreciate those of you who are wearing masks and gloves and washing your hands and all that kind of stuff. It doesn’t only affect you. It affects my wife and I. When we have landscapers come, we need them to take care of themselves because they put us at risk. I encourage people, it is the time to give. We’re out there giving whatever we can. I know you are too, Patrick. All I can give is the explanation of the law, a way to build your wealth and reduce your taxes. Anything we can do for you or your readers, they can go to WealthAbility.com and schedule a call. All you have to do is click on the button and schedule a call. It’s a free call. If they need a CPA, if they need help or anything, we don’t charge for any of that. We charge CPAs for that, but we don’t charge the public for that. We’re happy to help any way we can.

Thank you for your generosity. Tom, thanks again.

Thank you.

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About Tom Wheelwright

TWS 39 | Paycheck Protection Program LoanTom Wheelwright, CPA is the visionary and best selling author behind multiple companys that specializing in wealth and tax strategy. Tom is also a leading expert and published author on partnerships and corporation tax strategies, a well-known platform speaker and a wealth education innovator.

Tom is a regular commentator in the field of taxes and contributes regularly in major professional journals and online resources. Tom’s work has been featured in hundreds of media, including Forbes, The Huffington Post, Accounting Today, CFO Magazine, ABC News Radio and AZTV Morning News, along with writing columns for Entrepreneur Magazine and Inman News.

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Financial Structures: A New Gold Standard With Anthem Blanchard

 

TWS 38 | Financial Structures

 

It’s no surprise that financial structures drive so much of the world: how people interact, how people do business, and how people consume. However, with the changing times, financial structures are also adapting, which means that it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep up with what’s going on and continue to be informed. Patrick Donohoe is joined by Anthem Blanchard, the Co-Founder of both AnthemGold and AnthemVault. Anthem and Patrick hit on the many ways that financial structures, as they are, play into our daily lives. They also dive into what could be coming next and how people can put themselves in a position where they can adapt.

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Financial Structures: A New Gold Standard With Anthem Blanchard

My guest is Anthem Blanchard. He is the CEO of AnthemVault.com, as well as AnthemGold.com. Anthem has a long family history of being in the financial services space, specifically around the asset that has proven itself worthy throughout history which is gold. His father, Jim Blanchard, was the primary influence and lobbyist to legalize the ownership of physical gold, which those of you who understand and know history was made illegal during the Great Depression in 1933. In 1974, Anthem’s father put lots of pressure and he did on previous presidencies as well, but they finally legalized the gold. Anthem has continued the legacy of his father and Anthem Gold is a traditional golden silver broker with vaults around the world.

They have lots of inventory where most don’t have any inventory. He has also taken it a step further. AnthemGold.com incorporates the idea of blockchain and cryptocurrency. It is the first cryptocurrency that is backed with a hard asset, which is gold. You’re going to get a kick out of this episode. He’s a genuine guy and intelligent when it comes to money and carrying on that family legacy and doing some amazing things. We talk about a lot of books and other things. We reference a few different areas where Anthem has been inspired and where he goes to find opportunities.

We have a new YouTube channel. It’s YouTube.com/thewealthstandard. We switched over from another YouTube channel. I hope you’re doing well. I hope you’re taking advantage of this very tumultuous time where it may seem like opportunities aren’t there. I realize how difficult it is looking around and trying to find the good in what’s going on but there’s a lot of it. I hope you are capitalizing on opportunities and seeing how things are going to evolve and improve and how we’re all going to grow from this set of difficult circumstances. Thanks for reading. Thanks for the support. I hope you learned something from this episode.

Anthem, it’s awesome to have you on. Thanks for being here. Thank you for what you do. I’m excited to get your perspective about what’s going on. We’re in interesting times and you have such an incredible background and bring a perspective that most don’t have. First, as you sit back and paying attention to what’s going on, how do you characterize what’s going on in society and in markets? How do you describe it?

What we’re seeing is a great shift in value, understanding value and how we value services, goods, people and other things like health. It’s causing a big inflection because when you don’t have things, all of a sudden it causes you to think like, “Do I miss these things? Do I want these things? What was I doing these things?” It’s perverse in a way. I hate to even talk like that because it’s such a crazy, hysterical time for a number of reasons. I think that there are a lot of good positives that are coming out of this. You have to stay positive. Otherwise, you’ll fall into the doom trap and that’s a death spiral.

My kids are home and they were asking me questions about the music we used to listen to when we were kids. I remembered my brothers and I, my mom likes the band Chicago. It’s their song about you don’t know the value of something until it’s gone, until you can’t do something. You’re right. It’s being healthy or not being able to travel and having to be confined to close quarters. You start to value friendships, freedom, commerce and employment. As you get into the markets, that’s added a layer because you had the hysteria of the Coronavirus. Now you have the hysteria of the markets. You have those two things happening and here in Utah, you have the hysteria of earthquakes. It’s like three waves. As you specifically look at markets, are you surprised by how they’re acting like what’s going on in markets? Maybe speak to the bailout that is about to be passed and what you feel that’s going to do.

Anyone that would say they weren’t surprised by what happened, there wasn’t an emergency federal rate cut for many years and then two happened in three days. That was definitely a shocker. The unemployment numbers. It looks like there’s a chart error because the charts are so high with the number that they put out. All those things being said, you and I being in the United States, we should feel extremely grateful because of all of the 100-plus jurisdiction countries that we could be living in, probably the US will be the best off because it has the world’s reserve currency. Whether anyone else in the world likes it or not, the system is what it is and it’s a dollar system. I think it will fade into the sunset. I don’t expect it to pull a Titanic. We need it and we’ll need it until we don’t need it.

How would you explain to someone that doesn’t necessarily understand why markets would need rates to go down or why the fed stepped in and did this mass disruption to create liquidity? Why did that have to happen?

It relates a lot to the genius that you teach and that you help provide people with infinite banking and different products that provide leverage. That’s a microcosm of how the entire system works. That’s why it’s such an effective strategy. We probably are sitting on 4 or 5-plus quadrillion of US dollar-denominated, they call it interest rate swaps. These are very sophisticated credit instruments that the very largest banks and central banks deal in. When you look at these numbers, $100,000 per person in the US would increase the debt at $33 trillion, which is gargantuan by GDP. It eclipses GDP. In essence, that still would only be less than a hundred. That looks like a total US dollar derivative. There’s a massive deleveraging that’s happening. At the same time, there’s also a releveraging happening by the Federal Reserve because they agreed that US Treasury and part of the bailout to bail out the fed at least $500 billion for whatever.

In an attempt on the government side, that’s why you’re seeing this fiscal policy pushed by both Trump and Bernie Sanders and everyone in between of having to put dollars out there. An old friend of mine, Mike Maloney, told me many years ago that he expected one day to see lifetime tax refunds. I thought that was curious but in a way, I was like, “You might be right.” I think now it’s more evident than ever of his theory probably being proven true there. I think that’s the path because the system needs it for its existence. It needs to be reinflated with a value from the base level as possible.

What happens if it doesn’t get it?

We’re going to see massive credit contraction. In this day and age, because of what happened several years ago, the Federal Reserve spent so much time. We had experienced the longest bull run in security market history. The Fed, Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, the whole regime spent so much time putting in all of these backstop mechanisms to be able to show signs of strain with a push of a button. Kashkari came out and said it, one of the big fed heads. They’re going to push the button and they can print more. They can buy whatever they want. It’s what discrepancy of what they’re willing to buy. That’s what it comes down to and how much.

I know why that’s a good thing. If you have so much debt out there and you have businesses using debt to grow. People are using debt to go to college, buy a house and buy cars. I can see why it’s a good thing, where you have the fed stepping in and ensuring that that continues to happen. Why is it bad that that continues to happen? We always hear the positive. What’s the downside? How are we ultimately going to be even more negatively affected?

The downside is that the reality is 95% of the value will probably go to less than 5% of the people. The reality is most of us will get hurt more because our goods and services like what we buy and sell every day relative to what we make every day will become harder. It will become more costly, more expensive for most of us to live. You read about billionaire, art collections of CEOs and public companies that were bailed out. You can start seeing where a lot of this value goes like Art Basel, people buying bananas that are rotting to take the simple deduction because then you get the appraiser to appraise the banana that you bought for $200,000, whatever. There was a great meme about this.

We're evolving away from money to barter. Click To Tweet

You take that appraisal thing and you donate it, then you get the deduction. You get the huge write-off from all the stock that you sold that you pumped up with all the buybacks. You decide from the zero interest rate policy or even before we went zero, still the rates were ridiculously low. If you were a big company, you could access them. If you or anyone else, you couldn’t unless you’re smart. They’re trying to find retail investors. The best way to get yield and leverage is a big part of the game.

What do you feel is the end game? A lot of these activities and what’s going on can’t happen forever. Plus you have a very globally connected world where when we do something in the United States, because of how we exchange globally, there’s an impact across the board as we’re putting $2 trillion into the economy. What’s amazing is I feel like the wall is being pulled over people’s eyes because there are these guys who are like, “You’re going to get $1,000. You’re going to get $500 per child. You’re going to get this money.” That’s a small portion of the bailout. It’s more than double that as far as other money that’s going to be created and go to certain places. As you’re talking about corporations that had their hand out for stimulus, whether it’s Boeing. It’s every industry. Everyone has their hand out. Why is it a bad thing that companies have to get to that point in order to continue their operations?

It’s a scalability story. That’s what you’re alluding to. What this whole problem is showing and exposing is that we’ve reached the limits of the scalability of the current economic system that we’ve had for thousands of years. That’s been a hierarchical, centralized, money-based, bank-based system, lending and fractional reserves ultimately to make up for the fact that none of us can trust any of us 100% because it’s impossible for any of us to prove 100% anything that we’ve done in the past. Because there’s always doubt, it causes fear and collusion to be necessitated. Who do we study in history? The people that get the wealthiest and the people that killed the most people. Are these things coincidences? No, they’re all a fact of what I call force commerce or forced marketplace. We’ve had to necessitate rules of force, reprisal and punishment in order to try to enable trade in the world that we lacked trust. I think what’s happening is that people are starting to appreciate this point because for every $100 of debt that the government, the fed, central bank around the world or government might add, at this point, they might only be getting $0.50 or $0.10 of new economic growth.

It’s diminishing returns. We’ve never had negative interest rates for this long of a period for this many debt instruments ever for thousands of years of recording in history. I was a finance accounting major and EBA. It defies the whole concept of risk-free rate. Once the treasury goes negative, which I expect it will happen eventually, probably in the next several months. That defies all finance axiom. That is the axiom of finance. You’re taught in every first finance class, the treasury is the risk-free rate. That’s one of the basis is that you apply everything else in finance on. I look at it like we’re moving to barter. That sounds crazy, but it’s moving away from this idea of a violent currency that has to be defined by people, governments, central banks, some third party conduit of value.

You want a good, here’s a key for it. You want a service, here’s a key for it. You want to get that key for good or service, you get that key and you trade. All the headaches of all your accounting, your bookkeeper, your auditor, your reconciler or your inputter messing up. All of these traditional business headaches that you and I deal with every day. This is going to be eliminated with the commercialization of Bitcoin. Bitcoin being the first trusted historical record that man has ever created and being the strongest historical record that men has ever created has led the path to create all these other communities.

What these blockchains are, they’re communities. They’re protocols technically, but they’re communities of people that believe in the value of the service or good that provided so much that they’re willing to contribute to the proliferation of this better service. This is the era we’re going to see. It’s going to be cooperation, voluntary-based instead of this idea of you’re forced to inscript in the government’s draft or this or that. It’s forced. Volunteerism isn’t really volunteerism. We’re going to be in a much better place. I hope we get through this time quickly and peacefully as possible. That’s my greatest hope.

What has to happen in order for a new system to take place? Because I look at what the fed has to lose, what corporations have to lose by the system that we’re in. Also when there is disruption among people, the emotions spread quickly. Look at the toilet paper idea. I get it. I know why a person would respond the way that they responded. It’s very irrational but we all do that. We’re all human beings and are susceptible to that. When somebody is in that fear and uncertainty mode, is that the time when somebody looks to a different system or are they looking to the same system for help and guidance, which is happening? What do you feel has to happen in order for us to go to maybe a new monetary system?

I think it’s both depending on the personality type. You can look at it by the numbers. Even the doom website like Zero Hedge were showing that the US savings rate is about 8.5%. I remember reading articles years ago, it was zero or negative. That to me is a great deal of this new devastated nuclear looking landscape that we’re looking at with stocks and monetary policy. Something that’s encouraging to me is that people are thinking about savings. That shows that people are thinking in that behavior. The fear part of it is starting to make people think about, “The way that I do things, how secure is it?” One of the areas that we specialize in is ransomware. I would argue the biggest under recorded story of 2019 and 2020 is a number of infections of ransomware.

It tripled in 2019 and year over year, 2/3 of those were government debts. The vast majority of them went unreported. I know of one case in Los Angeles in particular. You’ve never heard of this story. The City of Torrance got it. Another city that’s arguably the most important to a certain industry, that’s arguably the most important to the country, got hit twice in 2019 and didn’t report it. $7.5 billion of reported losses in 2019, 2/3 of those were government. Bitcoin ends up solving this issue because of the way that it’s distributing the data, rather than centralizing the data, which is what we have. Everything is centralized, whether it’s Google or Amazon or any of these services. There’s a central company and they might have decentralized depots of servers but at the end of the day, you still have to rest your information on one instance and then you’re on there one gigantic stride.

TWS 38 | Financial Structures

Financial Structures: Whether it’s Wall Street or big business, what they got away with was placing the blame on people’s irresponsibility with their mortgage, but that’s not what collapsed the market.

 

What they call public protocols is the techie term that blockchain was. There’s information all over the place. It’s like having an Easter egg hunt. They’re hiding a bunch of value all over your property instead of in one place with the additional benefit that they have to get every little piece of the code and put them together to have the whole thing be a value to them. This type of architecture is a hundred-plus times more secure than what exists now. There’s been a lack of recognition because even a city of under 100,000 probably has over $100 million budget if it’s somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people in this country. We’re used to throwing money at things, more municipal bonds, more bonds, more money into the same location, areas and things.

It takes times of stress to point out where the breaks are. We’re used to doing this in business all the time long, especially in software. They call it stress testing of the software where you do all kinds of crazy things to it in preparation of what happens in these what-if scenarios. I think we’re experiencing one of these macro what-if scenarios of the society. It’s causing us that I have a lot of inflection whether we like it or not, whether we think it’s a conspiracy or not, whether we think who’s behind it or it’s nature or not. Whatever it is, irrespective, it doesn’t matter.

To me, disruption is good. You’re hitting on something that I hadn’t thought about. I’m going to try to articulate it so that the audience can understand it. For those that don’t know what ransomware is. We got hit some time ago and thankfully we caught it within a day. We had cybersecurity insurance and we were able to shut everything down and do new authentication. It would have cost us $300,000, $400,000, but we were able to do it for our deductible, which is $7,500. I think our premium went pretty high at this last insurance. Our systems are amazing. My brother is second to the chief legal counsel for a big hospital network in Colorado and they got hit.

They had their information taken. They weren’t able to catch it and they had to pay $2 million or $3 million in Bitcoin. My brother is like, “No one even knew how to get Bitcoin.” It’s one of those amazing things where it’s happening everywhere. What it’s doing is it’s causing people to realize like, “Our systems are vulnerable. We need a new system,” but it hasn’t gone to the money thing yet. That’s what you’re more referring to. It’s gone to compromised systems. Being able to create stability to create security there, but when it comes to how you do transactions with other people, that’s what you’re referring to. It’s that second level.

It’s a little of both. For example, we’re talking with different officials in different states like Louisiana or Texas. Louisiana has been under a state of digital emergencies since August of 2019. They opened up a cyber-security fund like convention centers, state DMVs, the property assessors in cities getting hit. New Orleans is already over $20 million of losses and counting. Baltimore is over $30 million because they refuse to pay. The only way that you can get this data is to pay. They’ve been hitting their heads against their titanium walls.

We were in the gold business. We’re originally online gold dealer. We’ve started building a gold Bitcoin effectively years ago. Part of the obstacle that we stumbled on was how do we secure this stuff in the vault? How do people know it’s real? We ended up building inventory software called Hercules that we then realized you can apply this to anything. We anchor the information into Bitcoin effectively. By doing that, it provides any of that data with 100% assurance that no one tampers with it. That date timestamp, that information got saved that nobody could have gone back and changed anything. That’s part of what these viruses take advantage of because all it takes is one email, one bad attachment, one bad link and that’s it. Someone’s downloading Ariana Grande, bootleg, RAR file on a Win that hasn’t been updated and all of a sudden, the whole Windows environment and that whole organization is corrupted and it’s under ransom.

I want to make sure we hit the ransom piece because they’ll get into your systems. They’ll take your data, people’s names, phone numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers, medical records, whatever they have. They’ll take it and they may even lock you out of it. They’ve done that in some instances. Even if they take the data then they’ll say, “I have all this data, here’s proof. It’s going to go on the internet, the dark web unless you pay this.” I want to make sure that people realize that.

Sometimes with states, they even paralyze the actual mechanism. It was massive. NPR and Wall Street Journal did cover this one, but it was more like how Lubbock staved off the infection because they were like, “We ended up catching it early and unplugged it,” and someone didn’t click anything probably to have a code with the network, so that’s good. Lubbock did that but probably the other 21 cities didn’t. They probably got hit with a $3.5 million bounty that they probably paid because the story died after that. That’s what happened. Imagine if you could provide someone with an application like a Dropbox on the data side that’s ransomware resistant from these email spam attack. That’s what we’re doing. All of a sudden people are paying attention, not because they were paying attention before with the ransomware so much, but because of the Coronavirus. It’s a psychological thing. It’s causing people to stop and think more deeply a little bit about things.

We’re creatures of habit. The majority of what we do is unconscious and we’ve been used to doing it. You don’t adopt new behaviors unless there’s some disruption that causes you to realize, “I keep doing that. That’s not good for me. I need to figure out something else to do.” Let me gravitate towards what I’m being coming aware of talking to you because as I look at the question I asked, is it going to take a collapse or more disruption for people to adopt a new system? I’ve thought about it. What has been inspiring to me with this whole pandemic is how much humanity is raised to the occasion. We’re looking at the government for all the solutions. At the same time, I look at all the amazing technology, whether it’s the 3D printing of masks or whether it’s factories figuring out how to do ventilators. The guy that invented a ventilator that you could 3D print but is getting sued because of intellectual property stuff. It’s one of those things. Peter Diamandis, I’m not sure if you know who Peter Diamandis is. He’s in your neck of the woods.

It takes times of stress to point out where the breaks in the structures are. Click To Tweet

I got to meet Peter luckily at a dinner.

I’ve met and heard him speak a couple of times. He has such an amazing perspective of the world and he helped me back in 2009 or 2010 when he came out with his book Abundance. Looking at what the XPrize does. Simply being able to say, “Here’s a $10 million XPrize. If you guys figure out how to solve this problem, the prize is yours.” They had $100 million XPrize to solve hunger or to sustainably feed a billion people. Sustainably is defined by less than a couple of bucks a day. It’s one of those things where you have humanity that is intelligent and connected but yet the government is still there because we’re used to having them there. I like your theory, which is you potentially have ways in which people get used to using blockchain for different protection measures and transaction measures. You have humanity coming up with solutions, whether it’s computing or industrial. The global supply chain is totally jacked and people don’t even know it yet. It’s the solution to replace what we used to rely on China for. I think humanity is going to be able to solve those problems and ultimately create a system of exchange, some of your barter comments, that will replace the necessity of a medium exchange being the currency.

That’s well said and we’re seeing it happen. We can have over three ounces of “hand sanitizer” in an airplane. That got abolished. There are all these petty crimes and things that are getting abolished. Why were we even doing these things in the first place? All of a sudden they’re lifting limits on FDA. The latest thing I’ve heard, which would be like XPrize Infinity is to up the crowdfunding limits and there will be no requirement. There are talks about maybe upping it to $5 million to eliminate the income requirements. Everybody creates an XPrize to $5 million if that’s where they cap it. Things are pushing in the right direction. It’s where you’re looking if you want to look behind you or in front of you.

This is a question I wanted to reserve to the end, but I’m going to ask it now. The place where people get their news and information. There are companies that are very tight, whether it’s with the corporate world and needing to have markets to operate as well as contracts with the government. Where do you go to get information that is as pure as possible? Pure, meaning we’re all humans. We’re all susceptible to error. You’re never going to have 100%. Where do you go to get the information that you usually do not get from standard media?

I would say the best place is communities that you already have. Social media communities, chat group communities, WhatsApp, Telegram, whatever you use, whatever you like. Those are great places because you’re going to get all these new stories in there and you’re going to get dialogue from people that you respect in some way. If you’re a loner and you don’t have any friends, then start Googling in points of interest. Go to a website and start commenting on comment groups and see where that leads. Find the community there. Those are the places. Interactive forums of information are critical in this day and age because it’s the one-way channels of communication that have done a lot of devastation and manipulation. That’s what we’re receiving from and that’s what this era represents of hyper peer-to-peer social interaction like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

How do you disseminate what is an opinion and emotionally driven information that’s valid? That might be valid but it may not be. I was talking to my wife and she’s still freaked out because of these earthquakes. We talk a couple of times a day. She’s like, “Did you hear that Putin put 800 lions on the street in Moscow?” I’m like, “No way in hell did he do that.” It’s a fake news but it’s one of those examples. How do you disseminate what is true and what’s not?

Find an intimate group that you respect like that. Maybe it’s your spouse. Maybe it’s your brother, sister, your parents, grandparents, friends, uncle, aunts, cousin, blood brother, blood sister, whoever it is. It doesn’t matter. The most unintimidating way I think is meet up or Google something you’re interested in. Even like a decent-sized city, there’s probably a group. If there isn’t, create one. If no one comes to that first one, make it a little more general. Change topic and see. The best suggestion ever is stay curious because if you stay curious, you’re going to keep poking. Who benefits? How is someone benefiting from collusion, oligopoly and corruption? These are the ways that people become wealthy.

Our system that’s existed for thousands of years and we live in now were migrating to this new way, but no one uses Bitcoin, Ethereum, IPFS, Tardigrade, Hercules or any of these blockchain softwares yet in their businesses or in their governments. We’re out there to change that. The ideas, better, faster, more efficient, a hundred times more secure to bring about better accountability, better commerce, more peaceful world. There are less arguments about discrepancies to things like numbers that are critical in anything business. All of a sudden, all the conflict resolves down.

This crazy Tiger King Netflix thing, I think everyone should watch it because it’s an incredible entertainment. There’s an incredible amount of life lessons in this too. One of the big life lessons is how something that was two people feuding over baby cats. They went to someone getting threatened for the other person murdering them. All of these lives being disrupted. All these animals being killed, facilities being burnt. Plot spoiler but it’s way more interesting than that because it’s the human personalities that drive the show. To see ego, money, fame, sex, drugs and all these things that we’re all susceptible to and we’ve all done. This is an interesting time for all of us. Some things that maybe we have different access to or not the same access to that causes us to pause a little bit. It’s a hiccup in the schedule on everything.

You hit on something. This is something that I feel these days, it is easier to find what that something is more objectively and that’s incentive. Everybody has an incentive to behave and act. Whether it’s a $2 trillion bailout, a business or somebody writing a book. Everybody has an incentive there. It’s not a bad thing. We’re all driven to do that. We’re married because we have self-interests of wanting something for ourselves. What’s interesting is you have to be the opposite in order to get that. The idea is that knowing what a person is driven and incentivized by is vital. It’s knowing the intention. You go behind the scenes of why does Boeing need the money and where is it going? Why does this paper company, this railway or the NPR need all of this money? What’s the incentive there? Follow the money. You’re going to be able to determine the true story or at least closer to it. When it comes to literature, movies or people that have inspired you, what would you say are your top 3 or 4 that you have learned principles, you have learned truth, you’ve learned things that enable you to discern information and weigh them against what you’ve learned?

TWS 38 | Financial Structures

Financial Structures: It takes only one email, one bad attachment, or one bad link in order for viruses to take over your system and destroy or steal important data.

 

I’m named after a book Anthem. I have to say that’s an influential one by Ayn Rand. I’m named after an author, my middle name Hayek, a famous economist that my dad interviewed 35 years ago. It’s on YouTube. It predicts Bitcoin in the interview because he says, “The only way for nationalization of money is through some SLI mechanism.” They also started talking about using metal tokens effectively, which is what we’re doing. It’s freaky and you’ll see the comments on YouTube about Bitcoin and Hayek. It’s on Libertarianism.org’s YouTube channel. That’s a good one because it got some good comments on there. Ed Griffin’s book The Creature from Jekyll Island, that’s a great one. Bastiat’s The Law is a classic. It’s a very short book like Anthem but powerful messaging.

In terms of movies, Matrix trilogy, Star Wars trilogy. Any kind of episodic, even Marvel. Anywhere where you can see a storyline transition. It’s such a long storyline that it transitions between eras. You can juxtapose what’s happening with the change in the film’s narrative with what’s happening in the narratives of society. Sometimes it helps you to look at things differently. It’s like travel is nice. You go to a different place. You still eat, sleep, drink and do all the same things, but we do it in a different place and in a different way. Different things bond on us. That’s why I think film and music, you can call trigger. A lot of these document series on Netflix or an Amazon are great because it opens up some light and some darkness that we all have. We see it in extremes and sometimes gross extremes.

You need extremes. You need both sides.

That’s freedom. That’s their freedom to choose and the freedom to figure out because we’ve all seen people that are given everything. Harry is the best example of the Royals. That’s the best example of somebody who’s been given everything by their DNA. He doesn’t want it. He wants freedom. He wants his own identity. That is more important than money. That’s when you started thinking about what is money? It is a violent currency because it’s like, “Why do we have this weird relationship with it?”

Let’s end with you talking a little bit about your business, which is fascinating. The story of your father during the Great Depression. Gold was made illegal to own personally. You had to give whatever you had. Your dad in mid or early ‘70s influences the powers that be to legalize the ownership again and you’ve continued that. Talk about Anthem Vault, Anthem Gold, and the mission you have. I remember hearing it when we talked years ago about your Anthem Gold. I was fascinated by it and it’s awesome that you have figured out derivative businesses. Why don’t you give the audience an idea of what your business mission is, what you’re doing and how they can learn more.

One last book recommendation is my dad’s autobiography, Confessions of a Gold Bug. That’s a fun read too. The transcript is on Cato Institute‘s website because he’s a board member there for fifteen years. We started as an online metal dealer. We still maintain all the brands. Anthem Vault is a way that you can own gold and silver bullion for open. We have availability. We have access to availability. It’s Lloyd’s insured. You can buy and sell from your bank account in the US. We also have a gold token product that’s interesting named Anthem Gold. It’s available to residents in Texas, Wyoming, Montana and in 170-plus other countries. That shows you how many regulatory tapes there are in the US. You have to get licensing in the rest of the states.

For those looking for a drop-ship metal, because I know a lot of people were having a hard time. We have our Oklahoma based drop-ship dealer of Amagi and AGI metals. It’s famous in the Bitcoin world because it was the oldest precious metal dealer to accept Bitcoin. The founder of Ethereum, which has been the second most popular blockchain after Bitcoin wrote an article about this shop that we bought several years ago and interviewed the founder at the time. We’ve got Valcambi, Eagles and Perth. We can get gold, silver and metal too. If you’re interested, please contact us. We’ve got great support. We’re there to help people.

We migrated to an enterprise business. We have Hercules, which is the enterprise software that we built. We have a development company named Hera Software Development. It’s like our Red Hat IBM and Hercules is a little bit like our Linux Doc. What that is, is like an open-source software to enterprises. All of that’s the same. What makes us a little bit different is that we use this blockchain software and that makes us resistant to ransomware, which is something like the real plague that’s no cure like chloroquine, Z-Pack, vaccine or anything has been created yet.

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Anthem, it’s awesome to have you on. This has been fascinating. We should do another one this season talking about Anthem Gold and Anthem Vault. Let’s wait to see how some of this stuff plays out because I believe that there’s something about gold that is understood by those that have been around a long time. I think the younger generation will start to understand it better and gravitate toward it. It always happens, generation after generation. The way in which you’ve been able to modernize ownership is pretty fascinating. Let’s do another one. Are you down for that?

I’m down for that. It’s an honor. I have great admiration for what you built and what you do. It’s impressive because it takes a lot of math understanding to be able to simplify what you have and productize. Kudos to you. Anytime you want me on, let me know.

Thank you so much for reading. Anthem, you’re amazing. Thank you. I’m inspired.

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About Anthem Blanchard

TWS 38 | Financial StructuresAnthem Vault was co-founded in February 2011 by CEO Anthem Hayek Blanchard and President Cynthia Blanchard. Anthem brings extensive knowledge of the gold and silver industry to the company. He was raised by legendary goldbug and precious metals pioneer, James U. Blanchard III, who helped restore Americans’ right to own gold and also founded rare coin and bullion company, Blanchard & Company – once, the world’s largest.

A co-founder of cryptocurrency blockchain company AnthemGold Inc. (AnthemGold.com) and co-founder of precious metals dealer Anthem Vault Inc. (brands: AnthemVault.com, AmagiMetals.com), Anthem Hayek Blanchard also serves as both companies’ Chief Executive Officer as well as a member of both Board of Directors. He was raised by legendary goldbug and precious metals pioneer, James U. Blanchard III, who helped restore Americans’ right to own gold and also founded rare coin and bullion company, Blanchard & Company – once, the world’s largest. As Director of Strategic Development and Marketing with European-based GoldMoney, Anthem helped develop and implement their current business model, overseeing marketing and product development efforts which resulted in an increase of total value held by the company from $1 million in 2002 to $368 million by 2008; today, the company holds over $2 billion in client assets. He also assisted thousands of clients personally over the years, answering their questions regarding buying and selling gold and silver. From 2010-2014 Anthem served as an independent director and member of the audit committee, compensation committee and nominating committee at Pernix Therapeutics Holdings Inc. (ticker symbol: PTX, traded on NASDAQ), a pharmaceutical company based in The Woodlands, Texas. Anthem holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Goizueta Business School at Emory University, with concentrations in Professional Accounting and Finance.

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Royalty Exchange As A Unique Investment Class With Matthew Smith

 

TWS 37 | Royalty Exchange

 

In these times of volatility, it always helps to find other investment opportunities to diversify. Sharing in this episode a unique class of investment that does not really exist anywhere is Matthew Smith. Here, Matthew talks about his company, Royalty Exchange, and how he stumbled upon the royalties niche and created an online marketplace and auction platform where investors and artists can buy and sell royalties. He gives us a view of what goes on in this type of non-correlated asset investment and explains how it goes about intellectual property laws as well as the global demand and consumption for these different types of media. Bringing to light the current situation we are all facing, Matthew then gives his thoughts about the economic reality of the world and why it could open an opportunity for your business to restructure.

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Royalty Exchange As A Unique Investment Class With Matthew Smith

I have a special guest. His name is Matt Smith. He’s the CEO of Royalty Exchange. Matt has been a mentor of mine for years. He was my formal business coach for the better part of three years and one of the smartest in business that I know. He has a cool business. Talk about a non-correlated asset investment and a unique class of investment in and of itself which doesn’t exist anywhere. Matt’s background goes into a lot of entrepreneurial ventures including publishing companies. He’s bought and sold many, as a partner in many, has a brilliant marketing mind. He’s also a passionate, free-market advocate. His venture is dedicated to one of those demands in the marketplace when it comes to an income stream that comes from royalties.

He is facilitating a company in a way to monetize that where it makes sense for an investor and the intellectual property owner. You are going to enjoy it. He’s really smart. Follow him on social media and sign up for a Royalty Exchange account. You can see how cool the platform is and this investment class. I hope you are doing good in relation to everything that’s going on. I know it’s crazy out there. I hope you’re safe, healthy, and happy. It’s one of those times where we realize the value in things that we take for granted and I’m grateful for this time. It’s challenged me from a business standpoint and from a personal standpoint. I hope you are looking at this as being a great opportunity to grow. Hang in there, enjoy the show and we have a lot of cool episodes coming up as well. Stay tuned for those. Here’s my interview with Matt Smith.

Matt, it’s awesome to have you in. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. 

It’s my pleasure.

I have tremendous respect for you and what you’ve done in business, what you’ve taught me personally. I’m excited to interview you because we’re in the times that we haven’t experienced before because of the global nature of things and how interconnected we are. There’s news all over the place and we’re hearing tons of information, good and bad. I’d love to get your take on that first and then get into what I feel is an amazing company from what you’ve built and it is super niche. It’s one of those investments and businesses that people know about the idea at the same time, being able to turn it into some an investment opportunity is quite something else. First, you’re plugged in and you’re an intuitive person, a deep thinker. How do you view markets as they stand? What’s going on in society? The huge volatility swings with what’s going on, what’s your view on that? 

The major issue that’s going on has to do with the Coronavirus, but my view is that is not the cause of all the market volatility. It’s adding to the concerns that the market is trying to deal with but there was deeper toxicity within the system already that’s been there for a while. It’s a credit bubble we’ve been building for a long time. The pin has pricked it and all the wild swings are the market trying to find some sense of value.

It’s been amazing how quickly it’s gone. It’s surprising to me, it’s like these huge corporations but then it’s like, “We need a bailout. We need money.” It’s just ill-prepared from a number of different perspectives. 

That is one of the most shocking things. Is anyone in America ready to go a month? Nothing has happened yet at this stage in America, not serious at all yet. Everyone is screaming for bailouts and it shows how ill-prepared everyone was. There’s no resilience whatsoever. In the most families balance sheet certainly but definitely in none of these huge corporate balance sheets at all is unbelievably awful the way they’ve been managed.

It’s interesting to see how well-prepared the government was to figure out a way to spend $2 trillion. I would challenge anyone. You have a day to figure out how to spend $2 trillion, go. 

It’s going to take 1,100 pages.

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They were prepared to do that but they weren’t very prepared to do anything else. 

The markets are a place that you prefer not to be involved with if you can help it because their situations may not have a choice. The volatility is going to continue as the market tries to digest everything that’s going on in the world of what the economic reality will look like. All the big companies have moved guidance. You can’t value a company on P/E ratio. No one has any idea what the E will be at all. A lot of things are out the window and it’s a very uncertain time if you’re a stock market investor, that’s for sure.

One thing that we haven’t discussed in the show and you’re versed enough to maybe talk about it before we get to Royalty Exchange. The word, buyback, is a big part of this stimulus bill and preventing buybacks. People understand dividends. They understand big bonuses to CEOs. Why is buyback in there? What does it have to do with the credit bubble that you mentioned?

Stock buybacks in and of themselves, there’s nothing wrong with. In fact, it can be very good for the investors in those companies but like most tools, if it’s abused, it can cause a lot of damage. Because of the way that the taxation works in these corporations, if you’re looking at, “We can do a dividend distribution to our shareholders or we can buy back stocks in which case increase the per-share dividend that everyone’s getting.” They choose most often to do these stock buybacks because it’s more tax-efficient and investors usually celebrate that idea because it’s fundamentally good for investors. However, it’s executive pay packages that these supposedly the leaders of these big companies have had are usually connected to stock price. One way to make sure that your price goes up is to take a lot of the stock out of circulation.

The stock price goes up because there are fewer shares but no improvement to the corporation has been made. Meanwhile, if you’re doing that especially at the expense of preparing for a rainy day, it’s absurd that Boeing is going to shut down and then that CEO comes on and says, “If there are any restrictions on any benefit from you, we’re not having anything to do with it.” I was like, “Great deal. Sell your stock to the public market. It’s a raised capital like any other company you’d have to do.” Stock buybacks aren’t bad but they were abused and they were given preference over, they were making investments in the long-term or preparing for a rainy day.

That’s coming back to bite companies in a serious way. The one thing that reveals what we’re talking about though about the underlying toxicity in the market relating to stock buybacks is that all of the improvement, the increase in share price over about the last eleven years and the S&P comes from stock buybacks. If those companies weren’t buying back their shares over that time period, the S&P would be the same level it was 10 or 11 years ago. It makes you wonder what was even happening in the market if it was the corporations using all the cash that they were generating to buy their own stock, it was a giant financial exercise. It didn’t serve anyone very well.

It’s the unintended consequence of low-interest rates. The theory behind low-interest rates is that people will borrow and be more productive. With corporations, they would take on big corporate debt at low-interest rates that pension companies would buy or other big institutional investors or sovereign funds would buy then they would use it not to increase the value of the company by innovating R&D infrastructure, they would buy back their stock with it.

Even Apple who has something $250 billion in cash. A big part of it is because a lot of that cash is overseas and then if they brought it back then they’d have to pay taxes on it instead, they sell bonds and then they use that debt to buyback their own stock. This financialization of the world has not been good for the world.

There are those that have incentives to do it. You had mentioned that before, keeping shareholders happy, maintaining a dividend level, maintaining a consistent growth and their specific benefit and incentive packages. At the same time, it’s put them in a pickle because they have big debt payments. If they start to go down in value, that’s ultimately not going to be good. That’s interesting to see how this all shakes out. 

It will be very interesting to watch.

TWS 37 | Royalty Exchange

Royalty Exchange: There is nothing wrong with stock buybacks in and of themselves, but like most tools, if it’s abused, it can cause a lot of damage.

 

At the same time, sometimes failure and even bankruptcy, most people think bankruptcy is the company goes under and they’re no longer around. The bankruptcy is simply restructuring and settling with predators. It’s healthy for a company sometimes. 

Bankruptcy laws are designed to preserve the assets and to preserve the capability to be productive but basically wipe out the capital structure in the organization. I was talking to someone else about this and they hear these threats about the airlines going bankrupt. I said, “Did you fly in 2012? All the airlines went bankrupt during that time period but they didn’t cancel flights.” They didn’t fire the employees. The planes kept flying but they went through a bankruptcy where they restructured all their debt, they restructured the equity. That’s what they should be doing again. They’re putting fear into people that bankruptcy means it’s the end. It’s trying to protect this investor class. It’s a big mistake.

The definition of that word needs to be understood. It’s equated to failure and obsolescence than it is to a good thing to restructure. You hit the nail on the head, the capital structure. The capital structure of most companies, they want to stay relevant. It has to include a lot of debt. 

They can’t survive on it. I was talking to this person about this, I said the same thing with personal bankruptcy. It is seen as a black mark and a failure. If you get to that point, things have gone bad but we’re a society that believes in the opportunity for renewal. It’s the opportunity to do it over that you aren’t condemned forever by something. There are consequences for filing for bankruptcy but when you come out of it, you come out with a chance where there’s hope that you can be productive and contribute again. They’re there for a reason.

The quicker you can start the process over, the lesson’s done if you keep prolonging the inevitability of failure. You’re not going to be able to start the cycle over again or to learn the lesson and apply it to have an even better business. 

The bottom line is it’s supposed to be a good application of capital. You deploy capital in productive uses, then you’re rewarded for that use. Bankruptcy is supposed to breakdown the misallocation of capital. We make it so that the new people can come on and use those productive assets and do something with it. It’s an important part of a capitalist system. It’s not that we’ve had exactly a capitalist system for a while but it proves it again that it’s less existent than ever. Our first instinct is to bail everyone out right away.

The best thing would be for some of them to fail because it would replace leadership, it would put better people in there, and more innovative people in there. That’s healthy because that’s one of the worst things. It’s the whole moral hazard idea where morally, we learn when we fail. That’s a good thing because we’re better and we’re stronger when you prevent that. People don’t learn the lesson they should have and that means that they’re going to have to learn at some point in the future. It’s going to be bigger.

In many ways, if you’re a parent and you don’t allow your child ever experience any negative consequences for anything that happens in their life. Are you helping them or are you hurting them? Negative feedback is a gift and it helps us adjust to course-correct and make better decisions in life and be more successful. It’s critical and moral hazard is everywhere.

One of the guys that formed an affinity toward is Ray Dalio and he’s a successful guy, big hedge fund guy. He wrote a good book called Principles. Principles relate to business and they relate to your personal life so I respect him. One of the things he says from a financial standpoint is when you’re making an investment, you want uncorrelated investments as many as possible. I would say even though you have different sectors, classes of investment on a trading floor or an index, you still have these shifts that regardless of the sector or the industry will fluctuate with the tide. He talks a lot about the idea of uncorrelated assets.

He also has an amazing video. It’s called How the Economic Cycle Works. It’s not the philosophy of it, which is interesting. Most people have a philosophical approach to how things should work but he talks about how it works which is fascinating. Going to the uncorrelated investments because of how cycles work, there are opportunities when things go down and opportunities when things go up but they may not be in the same class of investment. That’s why I wanted to bring you on, and maybe you can comment about Ray Dalio and about economic cycles. I want you to talk about the niche that you discovered, which I would say is an uncorrelated investment that I don’t know if there’s any other platform or other opportunities to own it but through Royalty Exchange.

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Ray Dalio is brilliant. He has had the longest untarnished record of investment of anyone. It’s quite impressive and his book is very good. I also think that he has a children’s version of that. There are some good points for people and my kids have read it. He’s got a lot to teach us, that’s for sure. The market’s activity is shown how correlated everything is especially if you haven’t been in the markets for a while. We’re surprised that the gold got crushed at the same time as everything else. In 2008 that happened too for a while at least. When there’s a demand for dollars, everything goes down. Everyone needs liquidity. The point about correlation and where Royalty Exchange fits into that is what our business does is we work with one-side artists. It’s almost all in music although we’ve done a couple of things outside of that.

These are typically songwriters often for major acts for major artists who know and love. It’s the music you listen to on the radio, but behind that artist are often several songwriters who craft the work. They earn royalties on the use of that music in the same way that the performing artists would. In some cases, in a better way than the artists would. Any song, every time it’s played on Spotify, radio or whatever, there are royalties earned for these different rights holders and it generates substantial income for those artists. If you look at Spotify for instance. If you want to go look at a publicly-traded company that is focused on the music business, you’ll see that something around $0.70 in revenue they bring in, they have to pay out to the rights holders. That would be the labels of performing artists, the songwriters, the publishers that own the IP.

Their cost of goods sold is incredibly high for that business especially because of the boom in streaming over the last several years, it’s been good for rights holders. It’s used to be in the music business that music almost all of the revenue is generating music business was from new work, from music that had come out and out for less than eighteen months. This changed because of streaming and more than half of the revenue that’s created comes from what the music industry calls Deep Catalog. Deep catalog and music businesses are only music that’s been out for more than three years. That’s how short-term thinking they typically are. For instance, Dire Straits, if you remember who Dire Straits is, they haven’t disbanded in the mid-‘90s. It’s a long time ago and yet I own personally some royalties on their music and my portion of the royalty income grew 12% in 2019.

Even though the band hasn’t been performing forever that the music is old because of exposure on these streaming vehicles, it’s generating more and more income. It’s the rising tide with the music industry essentially. In any case, what we do is we work with artists who own these rights on one side but have a need or desire for a lump sum payment for it instead, then we work with investors who are looking for yield and match them up in our marketplace. That’s what Royalty Exchange is all about. We were talking before about market correlation. Most of the royalties that we sell on our platform are what’s considered songwriter public performance royalties. That’s a whole specific class of music royalties. I could go into more degree than anyone is interested in about the different slices of royalties that are there. We looked at that specific slice in particular and we looked at the income that’s produced from that or paid out to artists for that during the last major market downturn we had during the financial crisis.

We compared the growth and distributions to rights holders, compare that with the growth in dividends within the S&P 500. There is no correlation there at all. Dividends from S&P companies during the financial crisis shrank because they had to cut dividends to save capital and all that. They continued to grow throughout that entire period from music royalties. There are a couple of reasons for that. Part of it is that the consumption of music isn’t fundamentally altered by that activity. That wasn’t related to the financial markets. The second thing is that there are long-term contracts, the licensing agreements that exist.

The radio stations and all of that have these long-term licensing agreements with these public performance companies. There’s a multiyear delay. If their ad revenue is shrinking, they can’t justify as big of a licensing deal with these performing writers organizations that represent all the artists. What happens a few years after the downturn has happened, they renegotiate a new deal that’s under slightly better terms but it often works perfectly in terms of the market correlation. Once the market catches up with that downturn, the contract is already there and it continued to be paid out among those old terms which were created during the good times.

I would look at a potential inverse correlation because you’d think that when things are going down where there’s a correction recession, people would want to be lifted up by listening to music or increasing their entertainment. Was there any inverse correlation based on that?

It’s hard to know if the consumption increased during that time period. The general business was in a decline. The music business was in a big decline after the introduction of Napster in the year 2000. That major crosscurrent happening. You also had the rise and there were digital downloads through Apple Music or iTunes at that time. Streaming was starting to come in the very early stages. There are those major crosscurrents, it’s hard to see there. I will say I did see some information showing that streaming consumption went down. This is the first period where what’s the turmoil that’s happening in the United States. That doesn’t substantially affect most of the deals that happen on our platform because of the specific rights that we sell on our platform. That’s because people are staying home and they’re don’t have a commuting time, maybe it’s cut there. It wasn’t a huge decrease but there was a little bit. Maybe a rose is watching the news to figure out what was going on in the world. It had been that but we do see from 2008 that the distribution starters continued to grow while distributions to investors and S&P shrank.

Are you paying attention to how intellectual property and royalties will work globally? Is there any traction there or is that a throw out given the complexity of every country’s intellectual property laws? 

It is deeply complex but there are organizations that are set up in every country around the world that manage the use of intellectual property within that country and the agreements for use by people in other countries. If you think about Spotify, for instance, how they waited for a long time before they finally did pull it in the US. It was because of these unique territorial licensing agreements that had to be worked out with the music labels at that time. International is a strong component of royalties that are earned. One of America’s great exports is our culture film, TV and music. A big portion of the royalties that are created are generated overseas.

TWS 37 | Royalty Exchange

Royalty Exchange: One of America’s great exports is its culture—film, TV, and music.

 

There was a presentation I saw and it was Peter Diamandis who was giving it. He was talking about the growth of people coming online and it’s going to double in the next couple of years because of the satellite infrastructure that’s going in place. You’re right, it’s one of those things where whether it’s TV shows, movies or pop culture music, the more people that are online, the more people are going to have access to it because more underdeveloped countries don’t have the structure in place to create the songs, not necessarily have the ability to come together as multiple artists with that organization to you get the same quality. I think you have some protection there. It’s also interesting how the global demand will increase and improve royalties as well. 

The other thing I would say is that you might be familiar with Techstars, which is a technology incubator. They have franchises all over the world for different sectors and there’s one for music. We’re one of the sponsoring members of it meaning we contribute capital to fund the different startups that are going through the incubator. Alongside of some of Warner music, Sony Music, Sony Corp Innovation Fund is in there and lots of other people in the music business. The music industry has a bad reputation. It probably well-earned in part for not being innovative when Napster came along for missing that and then not adjusting well to it and got dragged kicking and screaming into the streaming world.

It doesn’t seem that’s what’s happening anymore. It seems like they learned. I’m working with the different companies that are coming through the Techstars incubator. You can see that they’re constantly looking for new ways to license the music, license the IP anywhere they can whether it’s new consumer apps like TikTok. Your kids or grandkids and the people reading this know what that is. It’s been huge and driven a lot of new royalty income for rights holders that didn’t exist a year ago but it’s a big source of revenue. In gaming licenses for within video games, all of that’s happening. The music industry is finding new ways to bundle in licensing opportunities with music into other experiences. It is also proven to be a significant driver for ongoing royalty revenue.

My mom was a music professor and I grew up around music. My brother is a professional artist in Vegas. Music is one of those things that I’ve come to believe is a part of life. It’s part of what motivates us and what gets us through things. It’s cool to see how businesses are innovating ways to bring those opportunities, bring music to more people and finding innovative ways of doing it. If you look at all the different technologies that are coming soon, AR, Augmented Reality. Maybe VR gets a second wind. Anything new like if it’s just it without music, it’s not the same regardless of what the technology is. 

I’ve said to people, “If you ever do a video of yourself, you’re filming yourself doing anything and you feel like you looked silly, slowed it down and add a soundtrack, you could make anybody look a hero.”

If you put like 30 settings to the 23.98 frame rate and then you put some music to it, you look like you’re a movie star. 

The music invokes things in us, we don’t realize even so it’s huge. There’s a lot of innovation happening around it maybe it was late to the party but they’re doing a good job and that’s going to create ongoing sources of earnings for rights holders.

Going to the Royalty Exchange platform, it’s not the primary artists. It’s the one that’s on the title of the song. 

A lot of times, it’s not the performing artist.

It’s the songwriter or one of the musicians that’s playing an instrument. They have these streams of income coming in. They sell that stream of income on your platform for a lump sum. They need money for whatever purpose. 

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A lot of people go, “Why would they sell?” You have to understand. These are the original gig workers. You’re talking about Uber drivers and people like that that are unbankable, meaning if they want to go get a mortgage for their home, it’s difficult. Musicians looked like unemployed people. Songwriters look completely unemployed. Their access to capital than out of the capital markets doesn’t exist. With all of us, a little bit of injection of cash at the right time in your life can have outsize gains in productivity and what’s possible in our careers and futures, the same is true to these artists. This is the platform that creates a competitive marketplace where they can get fair market value for their assets.

What’s unique about Royalty Exchange is on the platform first, anybody can go on there and register. Is that still available? You can go on and see what’s up for bid but that brings up that point of auction. Can you talk briefly about the auction component of how somebody goes about buying a royalty stream?

There are two ways now that people can buy assets in our marketplace. The primary way and what we’re known for is auctions. What happens is we work with an artist, we validate the income from the catalog, and we validate that they, in fact, own and have the ability to transfer it and then we set it up for an auction. Something like eBay and Sotheby’s mix. Some of the assets can be expensive. We’ve had assets that are in the seven figures that have been auctioned on the platform but the average bundle of rights that gets auctioned off on the platform is about $60,000. It’s what the ending price that is on it. There’s a big range of different assets to get auctioned. If there’s an investor, if you’re interested, we have every auction we’ve ever done, they’re all there.

You can look at the bidding history, what music was, what its earnings were, and how much it sold for. You can get a lot of information by looking at what’s there. Like on eBay, you can watch an auction so you can see how people are bidding on it in real-time. I would encourage, if you’re interested in this at all, do that. Go look and watch auctions but don’t bid on anything right away. Watch some stuff, see how the market works, see how other investors who’ve been bidding on things for a long time. Interact with it and you’ll get a much better sense if it’s right for you at all and if so, at what level? The other part we have, and this is relatively new is a secondary market. Any assets in the past transacted on the platform get automatically listed in the secondary market. Once they’re listed in the secondary market, you can see the assets and what their income is.

If the owner of that asset, this would be the investor, are interested in selling it, they can list the list price. They can say, “If you’re interested in this, I’m willing to sell it for this price.” That’s listed there. Alternatively, you can make an unsolicited bid on any asset that is there. There’s a much wider variety than you would see up for auction at any one time. There are 150 assets in the secondary market. You can compare by age, how old the catalog is, by its earnings of the catalog and you get lost probably because there’s so much information on each one. Auctions can make people nervous. I’ve been known in charity auctions to make very rational decisions, get competitive in them so you’ve got to be careful with auctions. In the secondary market, you can peruse at your own interests and you can place unsolicited offers for people. If they accept it, we’ll facilitate the transaction in the background.

Let’s say I invest in an album or invest in a product and now the income starts, does that come through your platform? Is there an escrow account? How does all that work? 

Here’s the most important thing. When you buy one of these, it’s not as though you need to rely on the artists sending you a check every quarter. What happens is title is transferred at the organizations that collect and distribute the royalties level and they assign the royalty to the new owner. We would handle those all individually. We would individually title them all and people would receive. If you own ten of them, you will get ten different payments from these PROs, Performance Rights Organizations. It’s difficult to keep track of which one is which, but we would have them send all the checks to you. Since then, we started offering a free service for people, we collect and then immediately send out the payment to people. The reason we do that is one, we can see if there’s an issue.

If you have a question about something that’s going on, we can help facilitate and answer for that versus hundreds of other people calling these organizations that aren’t used to it all dealing with investors, they’re used to dealing with artists. If it comes a time where you want to sell the asset, we can facilitate that much more quickly because we have an ongoing record of the performance of the assets. We facilitate the transaction or the ongoing payments for our investors. The payments in most cases, they occur every quarter. When I say most cases, sometimes if it’s with the label, the label might only payout to the rights holder twice a year, for instance, some pay every single month. The typical arrangement is every single quarter, it pays out of check. On average, those checks amount into a little over 12% return for the investors.

Talk about the taxes. Are royalties taxed differently than other assets?

It depends at what point in their life cycle you’re looking at. From an investor perspective, if I acquire somebody’s royalties from them, I’m paying them and then they’re going to pay a capital gain on it. Instead of paying, they would normally be paying royalty income on it but they’re going to pay a capital gain. I encourage everyone to consult their own tax authority or tax accountant. I’m not a tax person but it’s a lot like real estate. In that, you can amateurize the cost of the asset over time. Depreciate it. That offsets a substantial portion of the income unlike real estate, which might have a schedule of twenty years or something in most cases, typically ten. If it’s generating a 10% yield for you, your tax base on this can be low. You’re going to be in a good position. The poorly understood things about this asset class is that from a tax standpoint, it has special treatment in the Tax Code and it’s good for investors.

TWS 37 | Royalty Exchange

Royalty Exchange: A little injection of cash at the right time in your life can have outsize gains in productivity and what’s possible in our careers and futures.

 

Do you communicate or have ways like accountants have somebody who had been invested in something in this direction that they can use and understand the income stream better?

We have a letter from a tax attorney that describes the way and points to the parts of the Tax Code. We facilitate the general guidance from this tax accountant but we don’t set people up with bookkeepers or anything like that around it. That’s something they have to handle on their own. We haven’t heard of that being a major problem for anybody yet.

It’s fascinating and it’s one of those assets that people are familiar with what royalties are. The artists, movie stars and actors get it. At the same time, how that has been turned into investment opportunities? There are not any opportunities. You had mentioned once that these types of investments exist at a high level like Goldman Sachs or a BlackRock level but not necessarily at the retail level. 

That’s been bad for both sides because it used to be the big featured artists that had a deal that was big enough and could go and get liquidity through somebody like Goldman. Before the hundreds of thousands of songwriters who contributed substantially to these works, the size of their catalogs were not big enough. The income, while it’s generated $25,000 a year for them in passive income, it’s great. From an investor, I’d go, “I would love doing that passive income if I can buy it at a six multiple or an eight multiple, I buy it all day long.” For them, there was no market for this. They had no access to liquidity and investors had no access to the yield. Our goal is trying to make it so that it’s not just the superstars and not the Goldman Sachs of the world that the transact. We’ve done well with that. I want to say one thing about how long the royalties last. That’s one of the common questions we have.

In US Copyright Law, anything after 1978, it looked like this. The IP is owned by the rights holder for life of the last living author plus 70 years. You might have three writers on one song and it stays for all three of those rights holders or their heirs until all of them are deceased and then the 70-year mark starts counting. They last for a long time. On our platform, we sell primarily the royalties in one of two ways. One way is life of rights, which is for life of the last living author plus 70 years. The other way is a ten-year term. You’re buying the right that income stream over the next decade. You get 100% of the income that comes from it. After that ten-year period, it goes back to the original rights holders. Both of those are available on the platform. Which one is better? It all depends on the price. Most of the earnings of these things, if you’re doing it for forecasting out, the biggest value of those earning is going to be over the next decade. As assets that generate income that are uncorrelated, it’s unique whether it’s for 10 years or for 70.

Is that choice done by the holder of the IP or is it done by the investor? 

It’s done by the holder of the IP. They’re told from early in their career, “Don’t ever sell your royalties. Don’t ever sell your rights.” The reason for that is because you always hear these stories about artists getting these awful deals with labels and things like that. That knowledge has been passed down. Try and keep them from getting in those bad deals. Some of them will live that way until they die, they’re never going to sell their rights. By having the ten-year option, it opens up the possibilities.

Matt, this has been fascinating. Thank you for sharing all of this. I love your platform too. Can you give the readers some ways that they can connect with you or connect with Royalty Exchange, get on the platform and look at what’s going on there? 

The best thing you do is go to RoyaltyExchange.com. You can see all of the things we’ve ever done on there, all of the assets that have transacted. One of the other things is that this space has always been prone to secrecy. When deals happen, they’re behind closed doors. No one talks about the multiple they went for anything that. We’ve done hundreds and hundreds of transactions and all the information on them is in the public domain. You can get a good sense of how the market functions and it makes it so that you can participate in an intelligent way if it’s right for you.

Matt, it’s awesome to connect with you. Any last words? 

Thank you for your time and all that you do, Patrick. I appreciate it.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed. Make sure you go on to iTunes, give us a good review. We also have a new YouTube channel, that’s up and running. YouTube.com/TheWealthStandard. We’ll see you next time.

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About Matt Smith

TWS 37 | Royalty ExchangeMatt Smith is an experienced entrepreneur, investor, and advisor who has founded and led multiple successful businesses. He is a passionate free market advocate dedicated to providing rightsholders and creative professionals with fair financial options, and has extensive experience with alternative investment strategies.

 

 

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Exploring Alternative Investment Opportunities With Dave Zook

TWS 36 | Alternative Investments

There is no question that in some areas, there’s been a tremendous loss in the typical investments, especially with the tax law changes. Unknown to many, there are great opportunities that exist in the form of alternative investments. Joining Patrick Donohoe on the show today is Dave Zook, the Founder, and CEO of The Real Asset Investor. Dave is a successful business owner and an experienced real estate investor active in multifamily apartments, self-storage, and ATM space. Together, they explore Dave’s investment philosophy as well as his strategies for making investments and structuring deals especially with the current state of the market.

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Exploring Alternative Investment Opportunities With Dave Zook

I hope you are doing well. I’m going to stay on topic and the course of our theme this season about alternative investments. First, I’ve had a lot of you reach out to me about the earthquake that happened in Salt Lake City. I was in my office sitting right in that chair over my shoulder. It was a 5.7 earthquake. I’ve never been in an earthquake before. What a rush of adrenaline. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like the whole building was going to come down on me. My wife called, I answered and I could hardly talk. I was wired with adrenaline and energy. Thanks for reaching out. I appreciate that. Everything’s good. The building is old but she survived. There’s no noticeable damage, the same thing with the house. I live in about 3 or 4 miles east of here. Everything is good as if the change in the chaos wasn’t enough with the Coronavirus and how the world changed and the earthquake on top of it.

We’ve had a bunch of aftershocks but all good. I hope that you are taking advantage of this opportunity. I don’t mean capitalizing on business or investment opportunity but I would say capitalizing on being a different standard than how the status quo responds to times like this. Shutting down, being afraid, hiding in a corner and sitting on the sidelines. Getting into the game when you’re winning or you’re playing a team weaker than you, I don’t think that’s winning and success. These are the times when it puts you in the position of very simple choices and it’s a choice of mindset. It’s not a one-time decision, it’s a decision that has to be made daily. It’s to choose to rise to the occasion, choosing to be the leader and the voice setting a new standard. A standard that doesn’t succumb to the status quo of what everybody else is doing and saying but it’s being a solution. It’s taking the lessons from the last five seasons of the show into an environment that you can thrive in. It’s almost perfectly designed for what we’ve been speaking to the last several years. I realize it’s hard.

Any successful entrepreneur has got to have the grit and got to hustle and go out and add value to the community and the world. Click To Tweet

When you look at the instinctual unconscious reaction to certain things, it doesn’t always serve you. I believe nowadays, it doesn’t serve you at all. Being cautious is important. Beyond that, I would look at this as a tremendous opportunity to serve, to add value, to use what’s inside you to make a difference in somebody else’s life. It may be a good conversation. That’s what I’ve been encouraging my team to do. There are only so many things that we can control. You can control how you show up to a conversation and being the best conversation of a person’s day, and adding value wherever possible. There’s a tremendous opportunity for that. We’re seeing corporations all around the world rally to be the solution. Everybody looks to the government to be a solution. I think that’s a terrible solution. I’m not going to get into that but I believe that you look at the entrepreneurial companies that are finding ways in which they can make a hand sanitizer and ventilators. Figuring out ways to provide medicine, make the vaccine process accelerated.

There are many examples of this. You don’t have to be an example in that regard. You can be an example in a simple way whether it’s helping your boss or company to go virtual. Being able to provide value through Zoom, podcast, webinar, sending an email or using social media. There are many different opportunities to do good and I get it, it’s hard. I don’t think the challenges are going to stop just the virus. It’s going to be even more challenging business-wise. Those are things we can’t control. We can’t control our reaction to these circumstances. I believe that if you are a longtime reader, there’s so much opportunity to do good because there is so little of it. Be that voice, be that change. I know you can do it. We transitioned our YouTube channel. If you want to subscribe, that would be amazing. If you were subscribed to the Paradigm Life channel, this is a different channel. We’re trying to create some separation there to boost our audience as well as marketing efforts for the show and Paradigm.

TWS 36 | Alternative Investments

Alternative Investments: Figure out where the need is in the marketplace.

 

If you can also get on social media, I’m trying to be way more active there. We’re going to be able to rally on this. A big thing about what I believe is that the asset that survives most crises is the community. It’s your community online, your business and your network. That is where strength is when it comes to being able to withstand difficult situations like this. I hope you are thriving. I hope you are out there with the mindset of serving that adding value. It’s going to pay dividends, I guarantee it. Be that voice, I love to hear from you, Hello@TheWealthStandard.com or on social media. Let’s keep this going. Let’s keep the optimism as high as possible and during these difficult circumstances being an asset to the community and the world. I know it’s in you. I’m trying to do my part as well and now let’s do it together. 

My guest is a longtime friend of mine and a client. We met each other right after the 2008, 2009 market crash. Everybody was dealing with some difficult circumstances. His name is Dave Zook. He rallied and has built an amazing investment business. He also has some manufacturing businesses as well. He was born an entrepreneur. He’s in diapers trying to figure stuff out but you’ll learn a little bit about his story. He grew up in an Amish country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He’s an incredible example of everything that we’ve been talking about the last several years about how to capitalize on opportunities to do things differently. Dave has a couple of investments that he’s done in the past and is still doing that are our alternative.

There’s been a tremendous loss in the typical investments that are out there. This is a great example of the opportunities that exist. They provide a good service but also a return on those that put forth the effort and the capital to make that service available. You can check him out at TheRealAssetInvestor.com. Welcome my good friend, Dave Zook. He’s an entrepreneur, a syndicator, financier. He’s raised more than $170 million in less than ten years. He is an amazing person. You are going to enjoy this episode.

I’m with my good friend, Dave. It’s hard to believe that we were ten years younger when we met each other. You haven’t aged a bit. I lost some hair. That’s pretty much the extent of it, plus I can grow some facial hair. Before, I wasn’t able to grow facial hair. How are you doing? How’s life?

I’m doing great. We’re going through some interesting times but we’re blessed. We’ve got a lot of good things going and I’m happy to be alive. This challenging time will pass. On the other side of challenges, there are always opportunities. I’m excited about what’s ahead.

We met each other during a very interesting time and it’s coincidental to what’s going on at the moment because we’re doing this the week of the big earthquake that happened in Salt Lake as well as the Coronavirus and the world being shut down. We met during a time when there was a lot of uncertainty. It was right in the wake of the financial crisis. It’s been inspiring to me to see you from a distance based on all the amazing business opportunities you’ve capitalized on. You’re already doing well with Horizon Structures and some of the stuff you were doing back home but how you’ve grown has been impressive. I’m stoked for the audience to learn from you because you have an amazing background, incredible philosophy and you walked the walk. You’ve done it. You don’t talk about it but you did it. Thanks for being a great role model for a lot of people. First, these are the questions I ask every guest that helps to have the audience gain perspective of your background, your life and what’s meaningful to you. Before you started working, and I think you’ve worked for a long time even before you’re legally able to work, who was a role model for you? Who did you look up to? Who most inspired you?

Before I started working, I’d have to say it was my dad. My dad was a very successful businessman, he still is. You talk about me working before it was legal to work, I started in our manufacturing business when I was six years old. I would paint hinges, put the little set screw in the door latches for our doors and those kinds of things. My dad allowed me in our family modular building business to spread my wings, take the helm early and make some mistakes. When I saw him investing in real estate, I decided early on that I was never going to be a real estate investor. I saw him self-manage with some single-family homes. I was like, “There’s got to be a better way to make money than that.” I started investing and working in, partnering and founding some businesses. When I got going down that road, I met my mentor, Bill Poole, who’s on my advisory team. His career is in banking, he’s founded and then sold a couple of banks. This is a Lancaster County success story. I would say in my late teens and from here forward, it’s been Bill Poole who’s been an inspiration to me.

It’s amazing how a business owner can be so successful in running his business but knows so little about tax. Click To Tweet

What superhero or icon in history do you personally most resonate with?

I would say, King David. I love reading stories. We came back from Israel and one of the reasons we went over is I got connected with this author who wrote the Lion of a War series books. It talked about King David, his mighty men, the struggles that they fought through and finally came to rule the land. You can’t read that series of books and then go back and read in the Bible first and second Samuel without being able to live it. You can imagine what it might’ve been like. Being able to go to Israel and see what those and being inside Jerusalem, the City Walls and tour the whole country.

What charitable causes do you support?

There are a couple. One is our local Christian private school where my children go to. We purchased an eleven-acre piece of property with $4.3 million value. There are buildings on it. We were able to purchase that from a family who believed in what we were doing for $1.2 million. That’s a great real estate story. A replacement cost on that building is $7-something million. That was exciting. Have you ever heard of Alliance Defending Freedom? What they do is they will defend your right of free speech and Christian values in this country. If you’re holding a prayer meeting in a college and you’re getting penalized for that, ADF will step in and defend you with their pro-life group.

We got to go down to DC with this group. My wife and I went down and there were six couples. We stayed at the Trump Plaza right down in DC right next to the White House. We had dinner with the attorneys for ADF. They were very influential in this upcoming case. We got to sit in front of the Supreme Court and watch them go through the whole session. You’ve got the nine justices that you see in the paper or on the news all the time. We got to experience sitting right in the courtroom. That was a high-profile case. People were standing in line from Monday morning until Wednesday morning. We had paid some college kids to stand in line for us and hold our spots. Wednesday morning we’d go in and get in front to get into the courtroom. We did a whole tour of the Supreme Court and the White House got private towards backend stuff. It was cool. I love that group.

I have a trust fund of my own. I know some people aren’t, there’s nothing that matters with it. It’s a personal preference. Some people will support causes and feed kids in Africa and Haiti. I was never as in those kinds of things because I am here locally. I liked to do stuff a little bit more local. I set up a fund that cares for widows. Every year, I buy assets. I put those assets in the fund and the cash flow from those assets support then I can cut a check out of the fund and support local widows. What I do is I have those widows set up on a monthly where they can get a check. It’s not like, “Your husband died, you get one check and pretty soon somebody forgets.” This is a monthly ongoing check until they either have some liquidity event or they get remarried. I’d love to do that. Hopefully, that’s a fund that my kids will be able to administer 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now.

Last question, gaining a perspective of the life of Dave. If there was one attribute that you could impress on your kids, your grandkids or the world, what would that attribute be?

I don’t care if my kids aren’t involved in a family business. I would like them to be but at the end of the day, what I care about is go out and make a difference, impact the world around you, hustle and build something to add value to people. Whether you’re doing that on your own, totally separate from what I’m doing or the family business, as any successful entrepreneur, you’ve got to have grit, you’ve got to hustle, you’ve got to go out and add value to the community and the world. I’m hopeful that I can instill that and pass that on to my kids. One thing that we’ll discuss an entrepreneur is when you have somebody that’s a drag on society and it doesn’t add value to society. I hope that I’m able to pass that on to my kids.

That’s the influence that we love most in life growing up is who we tend to emulate in our adult life. It seems like you’ve had an incredible experience with your family, but guaranteed that all your kids will hopefully share that attribute even though they have a uniqueness to them. Let’s get into an investment. You and I have had many discussions over the years and I gave you a ton of kudos with regards to what you’ve done. What I thought would be appropriate is for the audience to know about your investment philosophy. How would you briefly describe your philosophy about investment in general?

I’m an investment and tax strategist. It’s my official self-proclaimed title. We talked about 2008, we talked about when you learn the most is when you go through some pain. What happened to me was, almost a decade ago, I got in a position where I had several good businesses. I got in a position where I had to pay $500,000 in tax. I was out there hustling, doing my thing and having so much fun. It didn’t even feel like work because it was so much fun, I loved it. I remember where I was standing when I got the call saying, “In two days, you’ve got to cut a check for almost $400,000.” That year, when you consider the quarterly payments that I had already made, I spent $500,000 in tax. That was the turning point for me. It was like, “I was in pain and I went down this rabbit hole.” That’s why I ended up on the Summit at Sea that you and I first met. I showed up because Robert Kiyosaki was there. He’s was talking about, “You can make millions of dollars a year and not pay a tax legally.” I was like, “I’ve got to hunt this guy down.”

All my life I’ve been taught if you make a lot of money, you’ve got to pay a lot of tax. I’ve got my mind around tax and I went from paying a $500,000 a year to paying zero federal tax. My income tripled and quadrupled and more, and I’m paying a fraction of the amount of tax. My federal tax is somewhere between 0% and 3% every year since then. This has to do with figuring out where the need is in the marketplace. I realize that a lot of people have that same need. I’m always amazed at how successfully run a business can be and a business owner can be successful in running his business but he knows so little about tax. One of my strengths as a syndicator has been putting deals together, not only telling someone, “If you invest $100,000, you get $180,000 or $200,000 back in five years and you double your money in whatever amount of years.” It has been being very strategic, helping investors to navigate through the tax walls and trying to figure out how to be most tax-efficient in what they’re doing.

I was part of a tax team that came together where a dentist sold his practice for almost $11 million. He ended up coming out of that transaction with all but zero bases. He owned the practice for a long time. He would’ve owed $4.3 million in tax. His tax bill was $700. It was a combination of a couple of different strategies. One was a 453(a) and then I helped him invested money into some assets that had a bonus depreciation component. It was a multifaceted approach to not only putting them in a good position from an asset appreciation and a cashflow position. A lot of times your biggest return of investment in your first year when you deploy capital is tax savings. If you take somebody that’s paying 37% tax and you wait, that’s a 37% return the first year. That’s not even considering what that asset produced or the cash-on-cash return from that asset. It’s my thing. I love integrating tax strategy into an investment philosophy.

TWS 36 | Alternative Investments

Alternative Investments: A lot of times, your biggest return on investment in your first year when you deploy capital is tax savings.

 

I’m looking at what the future entails given the situation with government liabilities, there are only a couple of ways they can pay that. The big one is taxes. Relatively speaking, tax rates are low like what they’ve been in the past. I look at a very interesting dynamic that is going to be how tax law changes. At the same time, that thing is a monstrosity. It’s big and there are many different ways in which you can deploy money so you don’t have to pay tax. Their accountants don’t ever end up reading it or thinking that there’s anything beyond the status quo tax deduction that’s possible.

Our mutual friend, Tom Wheelwright, taught me that if you want to change your tax, you’ve got to change your facts. That was a slap in the face. That was the jolt like, “What are you talking about? It’s up to me?” I thought this is tax law and legislation. If you make a lot of money, you’ve got to pay a lot of tax. When I discovered that it was up to me and that I was in control of my destiny, that’s when everything changed. The thing to remember too is it’s not being super smart, trying to outwit the government and trying to evade taxes and all that. It’s figuring out what the government wants you to do and then going and doing it. There’s a whole bunch of ways that the government comes to you and says, “Here’s a list of things you can do. Here’s what we want you to do.”

If you invest in those things and do business in the way they want you to do business, they’ll pay you to do it. They’ll give you those tax rates. That’s important to remember. You’re doing what the government wants you to do. If you’re going out there and adding a ton of value to people and you’re giving people jobs, you’re building stuff and creating stuff, they’ll pay big dollars to go out there and do it. If you’re out there with a W-2 job, working for the man, putting your time in and you’re not creating those things that the government wants you to do, all they’re doing is giving you a fine for not taking their suggestions on what they want you to do. You’re not listening to them. That’s your penalty. Your tax bill is a penalty for not doing what the government wants you to do.

That’s a very blunt way of saying it but true. Hopefully, people realize especially the newer investors that in the end, it’s not about the return you get. It’s about getting your money back first off but then also getting your money back after tax. There are tons of ways in which you can make investments and structure deals in which the tax is low if anything. One thing I wanted to get into and this is what you’re doing as a big part of your businesses, which is syndicating. Syndicating means you go out and you have investors all get their money together and make a big investment. What I was curious about is you have some very unique types of investments. Before we get into those, what’s your philosophy about when you decide to move forward on one of these investments that you syndicate? What are the necessary components or criteria that have to be in place for you to move forward? Would you speak to that? 

I’ll back up that I never started as an investor thinking that I was going to be a syndicator. I was out there doing what I wanted to do for myself. When I saw how it was working and realized that, “What I’m doing for myself, there’s a lot of need out there for other people.” It came in the opportunity when I started running out of my cash, I bought a couple of hundred units of my own, and a couple of hundred apartment units of my own and I ran out of cash. At that point, I had a great team, we had a lot of opportunities back then in the apartment space. I put a deal together and raised $850,000, went out, raised and funded an apartment building. That’s the start of my syndication career. I wasn’t even meant to go out and syndicate. For me, it’s not as much about the deal on the front side as it is about the team.

If I see a team out there, I have some rules around mind busting. Number one, it’s got to cashflow. Number two, it’s got to have some tax. The strategy to it or tax incentive. When we got late into the apartment, what I felt was getting late into the multifamily apartment investing arena. We started getting closer to what I felt was closer to the top than the bottom or even midway. I started looking for an asset class that does well in a downturn or a recession. I specifically wanted self-storage but I didn’t have a team at that time. It’s when you start thinking about things then they appear. I kept hearing about this group. A number of my investors in my network had invested in this group over the last decade. I couldn’t say enough good things about this group and that’s when my ears perk up and I start thinking, “I like this thing.” If they don’t pass that test, they don’t even make it in the door.

It’s about the team first and then if it fits my rules for cashflow and some tax advantage and those three things combined, I start going down the path about, “Let’s do due diligence. I liked the asset class and the timing that we’re in. Let’s look at the team.” I went down this path down this team, I brought him up to my neighborhood. I’ve got a good friend who was the chairman of the board of the National Self Storage Association. I brought them up to his office and he interrogated them and put his stamp of approval. They went through this whole process. I like to do a whole bunch of deals with that team. I shared with you how we wrapped up a $44 million fund. There is eleven self-storage of assets in the fund. Once I have the team nailed down, then we’d go out and do a bunch of stuff together.

Most people can get their minds around what self-storage means and put together why it’s an asset that does well during a recessionary time. To my knowledge, I haven’t come across anybody else that’s done it as big as you have. It’s ATMs. Talk to a very interesting asset class and what most would assume is a dying industry. Talk about the ATM investments that you’ve made over the last several years.

One thing to remember or think about when you were thinking of ATM operators, there are two kinds of operators. It’s a mom and pop operator and there are the institutional operators. Mom and pop operators run around. They can serve us between 150 to 200 ATMs themselves in a 50-mile radius. You can make a lot of money in that situation. There are institutional players. There’s the Cardtronics of the world, publicly traded companies, $1.5 billion revenue companies. To my knowledge, there has never been anybody in between. Let’s say you have an investor who wants to get into this space passively, but you can’t do it on the mom and pop operator side. If you have a relationship with an operator and you want to loan him $50,000 or $100,000. I’m not going to say there’s not an opportunity like that but you’ve got to know somebody and it’s not widely available. The other option is to go trade a publicly-traded stock.

What we do is we play in the institutional space. We take down large portfolios of institutional-grade locations, $5 million, $10 million, and $15 million portfolios at a time. To give you an example of what an institutional-grade location. We own all of the McDonalds in all five boroughs of New York City. That’s considered an institutional-grade location. We’ve been able to take those portfolios. We’ll put a big $5 million, $10 million, $15 million portfolios under contract, and then we’ll bring it back to Main Street and we’ll break it up in bite-size pieces. $104,000 chunks and investors come in and make $104,000 investment. They get seven ATMs which then get rolled over into our fund and we manage it for them. That’s the business model. We’ve systemized it and figured out ways that we, as a fund, can bear the brunt to the volatility. We have a committed return like you, as the investor, have seven machines, we’re going to commit to you that you’re going to make 3,373 transactions per month. Your portion of the surcharge revenue is $0.63. Surcharge revenue can be anywhere between $2 and $3. You, as an investor, you get $0.63. That’s a 24.5% cash-on-cash return, 18.6% IRR.

If you invest in the things and do business in the way the government wants you to do, they'll give you those tax breaks. Click To Tweet

It’s a good way for an investor to get into an ATM play passively while getting into some of the best institutional-grade locations you can find anywhere. It’s been a good business model. We’re one of the top five operators in the country and we’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s my most repeat investor asset class that I have. More people come back for more ATM. They love this space and I love this space. I invest in ATM four years before I brought it to my investor group.

Given the circumstances, during a crisis when people value cash than ever before, they would rather have cash than eat.

This is one of the things that brings me great joy when I think about what Wall Street investors went through. I think how much money we moved out of Wall Street into a safe, solid asset. This is for guys that think that ATMs are going by the wayside and people aren’t using them, year-over-year and the fund was up to 2% but in the past few weeks, we’ve also seen nice spike inactivity. While Wall Street investors are losing their shirts, we’re like, “The ATM demand and ATM use is way up.” Here’s what I would like to remind people that think that ATM use and cash use are going away. Most people who can afford to invest in an ATM, that’s exactly right. You and I converted to plastic a long time ago. There was a whole subset of the demographic in this country who have not.

The people in this country who are regular users of ATMs, they’re the fastest-growing demographic in the country. It’s the lower-income people. These people use ATM for their banks. Years ago, at the end of the workweek, you used to get a check. You don’t get a check anymore, you get an ACH and it gets taken right to your account. They walk out of their C-Class apartment building, go down to the corner deli and get their $20, $100, $50 out of the machine. Times change but it’s been an asset class that has done well. There’s more cash in circulation than ever before. That demographic of people who use ATMs are growing at a faster pace than any other demographic in the country.

David, this has been awesome. Thank you for taking the time. How can readers connect, learn more about your philosophy, opportunities and follow and learn from you?

Our website is TheRealAssetInvestor.com. To send us an email, send it to Info@TheRealAssetInvestor.com or ATM@TheRealAssetInvestor.com. Patrick for your audience, there’s an easy to read which is an eight or nine-page report on ATM investing and gives you the whole rundown of what that’s all about.

Thank you for sharing that. One last thing before we sign off. I look at how crazy this set of circumstances we’re living in and there are many different reasons to be pessimistic. What are the top couple of reasons why you’re optimistic? There are always reasons to be pessimistic. It’s easier for us to find those because we’re creatures that are designed to survive. We’re always looking out for something wanting to attack us. What are you optimistic about during a time when 99% of people are running for the hills or hiding in their basement?

The big opportunities come in times like this like 2008, 2009 and they don’t come around real often. I feel there may be some pressure coming in the multifamily space. If people don’t have jobs, people aren’t getting paid, how are they going to pay their rent? That could be a challenge. What’s on the flip side of the challenge? It doesn’t matter. If there’s a challenge, there’s an opportunity. What happened to interest rates? What if it’s sitting on a $5 million mortgage and you’re paying 5.5% interest? Now you can refinance into a 3% mortgage. There you have it. One big challenge and opportunity. These kinds of times are going to create once in a decade of opportunities. I’m always looking to exploit even in our manufacturing business, we were looking for times of weakness and ways we can take advantage of what’s going on in the marketplace.

TWS 36 | Alternative Investments

Alternative Investments: Regular users of ATMs are the fastest-growing demographic in the country.

 

In the commodity space, there are ups and downs and there are times where you’ll get an opportunity to buy something less than the cost to produce that commodity. Every ten years or so, we get an opportunity to buy roof sheeting at below cost to produce it. We built a warehouse to store OSB roof sheeting. We’ve got 50 tractor-trailer loads of the stuff and below the cost to produce your stuff. It’s almost double already a year later, not quite double what we paid for this stuff. The price had to go up from $550 to $675 a sheet to pay for the whole building that we built. We’ve got that building for the next 50 years. Those opportunities come along when there’s stuff like this going on in the marketplace. If you’re ready, you’re not scared, and you’re confident, you got cash, you can jump on opportunities like that.

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The saying I keep repeating over and over to my kids, my wife and the team is, “When there is a challenge, there is an opportunity and solution.” You can complain about the challenge or you can be the solution. That’s where I look at. A lot of stuff is unwinding but it’s one of the greatest times in history for human beings to step up, use their ingenuity, make a difference and make some money too. Dave, thanks again. I appreciate it. Thank you for sharing that. For those reading, head over to TheWealthStandard.com to connect with Dave as well as download that free report. We’ll see you next time.

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About Dave Zook

TWS 36 | Alternative Investments

Dave Zook is Founder & CEO of The Real Asset Investor. He is a successful business owner and an experienced real estate investor active in multifamily apartments, self-storage, and ATM space.

Dave has acquired more than $100 million worth of real estate since 2010. At the time of this writing, he and his investors own approximately 3000 Multi-family Apartment units.

Together with his business partner, Dave is a renowned and trusted professional resource in the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) investment market where they have deployed more than $90 million of investor capital and they are heavily invested personally in the ATM space.

As a #1 Best Selling Author and popular guest speaker Dave has shared his knowledge at the International Business conference, The Jason Hartman Real Estate Mastermind, The Wealth Formula Podcast and the Real Estate Guys Radio show, the #1 most downloaded podcast on Real Estate Investing on iTunes.

 

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