charleshughsmith.blogspot.com / By Charles Hugh Smith / March 1, 2013
A wide-ranging conversation on capital controls, gold and self-directed retirement accounts.
Recent news stories about Federal plans to “help” manage private retirement accounts renewed my interest in the topic of capital controls. One example of capital control is to limit the amount of money that can be transferred out of the country. Another is limiting the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from accounts.
The article linked above suggested a third example, in which the government mandates private capital must be invested in government bonds. The way this might work is this: an agency of the Federal government might announce that to “protect” households’ $19 trillion in retirement funds from the vagaries of the market, 50% of all retirement accounts must be invested in “safe” Treasury bonds.
Though presented as “helping” households, the real purpose of the power grab would be to enable the Federal government to borrow the nation’s retirement accounts at near-zero rates of return.
As things fall apart, Central States pursue all sorts of politically expedient measures to protect the State’s power and the wealth of the political and financial Elites. Precedent won’t matter; survival of the State and its Elites will trump every other consideration.
To explore alternatives to conventional retirement accounts (IRAs and employer-funded 401Ks), I asked Michael Reps to join me in an email conversation on capital controls, gold and self-directed retirement accounts. Michael and I have a long history of correspondence, and his great respect for the oftwominds.com audience led him to advertise his Expat Your Wallet service here.
I personally have what is known as a solo or self-directed 401k trust, an individually managed retirement account designed for sole proprietors. I am no tax expert, but self-directed 401ks have larger tax-deferred contribution limits than IRAs and at least some of them allow the owners to invest in real estate and other tangible assets, in stark contrast to IRAs and employer-managed 401Ks.
Very few people seem to have heard of self-directed retirement options, and so this conversation is an attempt to explore some of the issues related to capital controls and self-directed retirement accounts.
Please note that these accounts may not be for everyone, and not everyone may qualify to establish such an account. The following is not advice or a recommendation, it is an informal, broad-ranging discussion on a variety of topics. Please read the HUGE GIANT BIG FAT DISCLAIMER before reading on.
Here are Michael’s Introductory comments:
Many if not most gold analysts will discuss at length and great detail the catalysts or conditions that could lead to gold’s further bull run. These reasons are too detailed and varied to go over here. The purpose of this Q&A is not to refute their claims but rather to acknowledge them and to ask one question: What would America look like with gold at $5000 an ounce?
Does it mean that the gold bugs win and the rest of the population loses? Can you walk into an appliance store an buy a refrigerator, dishwasher and washer/dryer with a few ounces of the ancient barbaric relic? Does it represent the onset of hyperinflation where buying power is diminishing? Or does it mean that speculators have caught wind of the next best momentum investment? In other words, is the rise in the price of gold “Value Driven”, “Event Driven” or “Price Action Driven”?
Instead of attempting to forecast how gold “should” rise in value and price, would it not be better to consider the world we live in based on “Why” gold has risen?