In This Episode
There’s little doubt that one topic dominated financial headlines in the first half of 2018…and it took most investors by complete surprise. Trump’s trade wars are only being eclipsed (temporarily) by the drama swirling around the soon-to-be vacant Supreme Court seat, and what a solidified conservative majority on the highest Court will mean for America.
In fact, our friends hosting Stansberry’s sister podcast, MarketCast, Scott Garliss, Greg Diamond, and John Gillin are even going so far as to say that they “can’t recall a time when politics has been more important for markets.”
This week, our very own co-host Buck Sexton joined the team at MarketCast to share his insights on how, exactly, America’s political equilibrium is shaping markets.
Listen here to hear Buck make sense of China’s game plan for a trade war. As a former intelligence officer at the CIA, he has some insights as to just how much punishment Beijing is willing to take.
Also – you won’t want to miss the proof he’s uncovered in equity markets’ behavior that reflects the surprisingly strong hand Trump is holding in his just-launched trade war.
And with politics ruling the day for now, we’ve pulled together a “Stansberry July Fourth Special” for listeners to check in on a political exile we haven’t heard from in a while – none other than the second person the Stansberry Investor Hour team interviewed, Wikileaks’ besieged founder Julian Assange.
His once-prolific Twitter handle has been silenced since Ecuador cut off his Internet access in the embassy he’s been holed up in since 2010. For obvious reasons, he can’t make public statements.
But anyone who followed our interview with Assange last summer could have seen this coming. You’ll recall, he was never even charged with a crime before having to flee.
And with “Russia-gate” still raging, you’ll want a refresher on why Democrats seem so determined to link him with Vladimir Putin, and why Putin himself isn’t doing much to dispel the notion of their supposed partnership. Hint: It has to do with Putin’s very real weakness on the world stage, as he leads an economy the size of South Korea’s.
Announcer: Broadcasting from Baltimore, Maryland, and New York City, you're listening to the Stansberry Investor Hour.
Tune in each Thursday on iTunes for the latest episode of the Stansberry Investor Hour. Sign up for the free show archive at InvestorHour.com. Here are the hosts of your show, Buck Sexton and Porter Stansberry.
Buck Sexton: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Stansberry Investor Hour, a special Fourth of July week bonanza we have planned for you. Some of the very best interviews we have done on the Investor Hour brought to you in one delicious audible package, which we will be sharing with you shortly. Please don't forget to subscribe to the Stansberry Investor Hour. Go to InvestorHour.com. That's InvestorHour.com. You can get transcripts of the show. You can also make sure that you're up on all the latest that we're doing. We are planning big guests coming up in the rest of the month of July as well as, well, all time going forward. That's the plan at least.
It's been quite a week. No doubt you've seen there's a lot of infighting already among various media factions over who's going to be the next Supreme Court justice now that Kennedy's retiring. That might be a topic we tackle next week. Also got the trade problems posed by tariffs on China to tackle. We've got a lot of things to be thinking about for the weeks ahead, so we're going to be making sure we book some guests who can bring all kinds of insight and also help everybody understand what to do with their investments, make sure we all are figuring out how to protect and make some money.
Big P is out this week. He's probably, right now, either at a tremendous pleasure yacht reeling in thousand-pound marlin, or perhaps at the top of K2. I don't even know. Big P has gone MIA. But Mr. Porter Stansberry himself will be back with us on the Investor Hour podcast next week. Coming up here today on the podcast for your listening enjoyment we have pulled together our epic Julian Assange interview. Some of you remember that one from a while back. Also, the one and only Glenn Beck from when he joined us for a fascinating conversation talking about all kinds of stuff, and Doug Casey. So there you have it. We will get into all that and more coming up here in just a few moments. Please do subscribe: InvestorHour.com.
And we will see you same time, same place next week, Buck Sexton and Big P, aka Mr. Porter Stansberry, chairman emeritus of Stansberry Research, or chairman and big boss of Stansberry Research. He will be with us next week as well. So, with that, I bring to you a best-of Fourth of July Stansberry special.
Julian Assange: What has been dropped now is the Swedish investigation in which there never was charges, which has been one of the technical excuses used to keep me here for the last seven years. That's fallen away. But, of course, now we're dealing directly with the U.S. DOJ case, and the U.K. says they have their arrest warrant for me as well.
Porter Stansberry: And do you mind if I ask: What would they arrest you for? I don't understand what crime they allege you've committed.
Julian Assange: Well, the U.S. DOJ, if you listen to their anonymous sources speaking to CNN and to The New York Times, Washington Post, say that it's in relation to the publication of the Iraq War Logs, embassy cables, and so on. That's dating back to 2010. Potentially also in relation to our recent publications about the CIA. But the First Amendment means you don't prosecute publishers; maybe you prosecute their sources, but you don't prosecute publishers, so that would be something new. But of course the government would like very much, both under Obama and now under Trump, to set that precedent. In the UK –
Buck Sexton: How does the fact that you're not a US citizen affect that, Julian? It would seem strange that – in uncharted territory, I should say.
Julian Assange: Whether I'm a citizen or not I think is not particularly important. It's where one is doing the publishing, which is not within the United States. So there is a bit of a jurisdictional issue, which is: should a country apply its laws – sorry. Should a country apply its claimed laws or a government apply its claimed laws to every other country in the world and interfere in how they proceed in terms of freedom of expression. The locus that the US government tries to grab in on, which is: it says that if it's something involving the US government itself as opposed to US private industry or an individual's property or something like that, then they claim worldwide jurisdiction – so because WikiLeaks published information that was from the US government, that's how they claim jurisdiction in this case.
Porter Stansberry: That is –
Buck Sexton: Now the New York Times, Washington Post published stuff and they obviously don't get prosecuted. So what's the legal differentiation – what do your lawyers say about that – between –?
Julian Assange: I mean, there's no legal differentiation. There's basically a political differentiation, which is _____ _____ _____ _____ _____.
Porter Stansberry: Yeah. There's a who-the-law-will-be-applied-to difference.
Julian Assange: Yeah. Exactly. New York Times, Washington Post – they have giant slander cannons is the way to think about it. They're like really beefed up destroyers with slander cannons all over the deck. And when someone irritates them or threatens them, they can point those slander cannons and blast. And so that causes the government to keep its distance. On the other hand, they also are involved in ingratiating themselves constantly. So also they have giant flattery cannons. And they deploy this combination of slander and flattery and occasionally even telling the truth to maximize their institutional power and, at a social level, the power interests of the journalists who work there, and then of course to tie in with the interests of the proprietary.
Washington Post now of course is owned by Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon.
Porter Stansberry: Julian, I want to ask a question about the media. This is the first time I've seen a president that didn't have either side of the political divide working on his behalf. In some capacity. So it's very odd to see both the New York Times and the Washington Post, which are typically left-leaning publications, as well as the Wall Street Journal, which is typically a right-leaning publication, all hammering Trump's administration day after day after day. And I wondered if there's more to it than I, as an outsider, understand. What I see is that Trump threatens the political establishment as a whole, both sides of the aisle. And the newspapers are fighting back on behalf of their friends and contacts in the political establishment. Am I reading that the right way? Or is there something deeper going on with Murdock and Trump that I don't understand?
Julian Assange: No. I think it's a lot along the lines that you say. But it's shifting as time's gone by. So, very interesting experiment: What happens when you got a populist candidate – in this case, populist-right candidate – imagine the same thing would've happened to Sanders if he had been chosen by Democratic Party. You've got a populist candidate not connected to existing establishments in a substantive way. Trump, during the election – the only establishment that he had was the evangelicals via Pence. That's it. He had no one else. He didn't have the military. He didn't have the security services, didn't have the banks. Etc., etc. I guess he had the coal industries. But they're so small as to just not factor in.
Okay. So he gets into government. And then, of course, there's been a kind of push and shove where the President, through his ability to hire and fire, has been showing his power, and also the bully pulpit. But the intelligence agencies and Saudi Arabia and the other serious players in the United States and out have also been demonstrating their power. And so you see a given and take – more give by Trump than take – between the White House and those other players.
And so, if you look at, for example, his shift in, say, some security policy – how long did that take? Well, I mean, they kept beating him up. And it took about 70 days. So you have a kind of unframed, undisciplined president – it takes about 70 days for the security sector to whip them into position.
Porter Stansberry: The revenge of the deep state.
Julian Assange: Yeah. I mean, it's not completely there. It's not just Trump. There's people like Bannon and others around him. And I think Trump is kind of hard to keep in a box even if you get him in a box for a while. So, speaking as a journalist, it's a fascinating thing to see play out. With Obama and other presidencies, usually that's already played out in the Senate. In their career before they become a president, they've gotten into position. And, yeah, they're not straying too much from what the correct, if you like, position is. Whereas Trump is all over the place as soon as he got into office, and now he's being shoved and pushed into line.
Porter Stansberry: Right. Julian, can I ask another question about the –
Buck Sexton: Can I ask about – go ahead.
Porter Stansberry: Sorry, Buck. A specific question about the Kushner and the FBI investigation into the senior people in Trump's group. What I can't figure out – and I figure this is probably something that just simply hasn't been reported yet and you may know: Where is the smoking gun behind all of these Russian allegations? Because the only thing that I have read so far from unnamed sources is that there were attempts from people in Trump's administration to talk to Russian officials and to set up private lines of communication.
And, again, I'm not the world's greatest constitutional scholar, but it seems like the purview of the executive branch is to manage foreign policy [laughing]. So isn't that what they're supposed to be doing in terms of talking to one of our major global adversaries? And if they're just talking to them, then what has the FBI so exercised? What hasn't been said yet to the public? Do you know?
Julian Assange: I'm not aware of anything. I think that there's probably nothing. The reason I – I mean, there's a whole host of reasons to believe that. For example, if you look at what the claim reportage in the Washington Post, it's claimed that there was an intercept of communications from the Russian ambassador, Kislyak, back to Moscow. Interesting that that's coming out in the press at all. It would normally be very sensitive. But anyway.
They claim that Kislyak said that Jared Kushner wants to set up a back-channel, during December I think, with Moscow, to discuss – it's not revealed publicly, but presumably to discuss what the U.S./Russian relationship would look like once they got into government. And that Kislyak was a bit worried by this and unhappy with it. So that's not what you say if there's already an existing conspiracy.
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs].
Julian Assange: But Kislyak's concern actually perfectly mirrors concern from Kruschev's lot back in the early '60s; that basically Kislyak is a bureaucrat within the foreign service of Russia. And what bureaucrats hate more than anything else is leadership not going through them. Because they're cut out of the equation. They basically get their power, or at least a substantial part of their power, by arbitratingthe interaction between leaders. So they'll always try and glom on and intersperse themselves between the leaders of countries or leaders of organizations.
Porter Stansberry: So, in other words, this is all just a bunch of accusations. And doesn't it seem like this is the modern playbook? That the government opposition – whether it's led by Democrats or led by Republicans, or in this case, perhaps both elements. But the government opposition attacks the president with a special prosecutor and with allegations of wrongdoing that then just dog that presidency until he leaves office. Or even after. So, I'm sure you remember all the special investigations of Clinton, and before that, Ronald Reagan. Is this just the new political playbook in America? Is this the new dynamic? Is this something we're going to see continually as wars are fought in Washington, D.C.?
Julian Assange: From the Democratic perspective, yeah, they're trying a standard playbook of trying to harass the administration any way they can that they think will lead to its downfall, and, very importantly, distract from an epic loss by the existing Democratic leadership, which really shouldn't have happened, given how experienced Clinton was and how unexperienced Trump was. So that was kind of a terrible failure that would normally result in a post-election purge of all those people involved in it.
But I think none of that is that surprising or that interesting. What is interesting is how the security state has joined the fight. I think that's very interesting. And how people who would call themselves liberals or neoliberals are now joining into bed and celebrating the FBI and CIA. And even a fair chunk of U.S. mainstream media are palling up to that project. And I think that is quite worrying.
Porter Stansberry: I agree. Julian, I've got one more question for you and then I know Buck has a couple things he wanted to ask you as well. My question, my last one, is: outside the United States, who has the best secret security forces around the world? Who's out there that scares you? And I say that as a journalist and as someone who's a proponent of liberal freedoms. Who are the other bad guys out there besides our spooks?
Julian Assange: I mean, it depends on how you measure them. About four years ago when I looked at our budgetary figures, the United States spent 60% of all the world's intelligence resources. So, to some degree, it's not that the rest of the world is irrelevant, but it's a huge sector. So then you need to look at things like how skilled and careful a particular intelligence organization is versus how numerous or how aggressive. So it varies. China of course, to some degree, is the only other game in town. Even though they're not that good yet, the economy is growing at over six% per year, and its intelligence and defense expenditure is growing slightly faster than that. So I think all these other players are, to a degree, irrelevant.
If you look at Russia, for example, its GDP is between Argentina and South Korea. So it's – sorry: smaller than South Korea, just larger than Argentina. So the Russians are basically – in the kind of diplomatic maybe intelligence sphere, they're trolls. They're certainly something for Eastern European states that border them, like Ukraine, to be concerned about. But for the rest of the world, I don't think that they're of serious strategic significance.
Porter Stansberry: Very interesting answer. Thank you very much.
Julian Assange: Except they have nukes. I mean, that's still something to be concerned about.
Buck Sexton: Julian, I wanted to ask what your response was – I'm sure you've been asked this a bunch, but what was your response to the CIA director saying that you, or rather WikiLeaks, operates as a non-state hostile intelligence service?
Julian Assange: Well, you know, just about two weeks after that, James Comey, maybe four days before he was fired, said that WikiLeaks is intelligence porn. As an institution, we're a little bit delighted with these statements. Because what is a non-state intelligence service? It's obviously completely ridiculous. We like it because people connected to Democrats go around falsely claiming that we're a state intelligence service, namely the Russian intelligence service, even though the official position of the FBI and the CIA and the ODNI is that we're not. So, I mean, we kind of like those statements.
But let's put it in context. Mike Pompeo, the new Trump director of the CIA, in his first speech, the topic that took up the most time was WikiLeaks. And me. And it went for over an hour. So that's a bit concerning, just in relation to the type of signal that it sends out to CIA employees and to allied intelligence agencies like MI-6. That signal about what the head of the CIA wants – he said, for example, that "this ends now," meaning WikiLeaks. That can be problematic, because people can choose to interpret that signal in different ways and try and curry favor with the new director by engaging in projects that wouldn't necessarily be signed off on.
Buck Sexton: And what do you say to those who claim that you are too close or too favorable to Russia specifically? I mean, obviously in this country right now, the conversations about Trump and Russia dominate the news cycle every day. Russia didn't realize how much attention it would be getting until this year. But people have also claimed that about you. What do you say to them?
Julian Assange: Well, I'm quite annoyed about Russia stealing the credit for our publications. Because if you look at – yeah, there's this Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks that had nothing to do with us that published emails about the Democrats – not emails, sorry. Published PDFs, in the case of Guccifer 2.0, and emails in the case of DC Leaks and several – Politico, The Hill, etc. – also says that they published material from those guys. All that, everyone accepts, had no political impact. The only publication that had any political impact during the U.S. election in relation to leaks, other than the Trump sex tape, was WikiLeaks. But the Kremlin rather likes, I think, to be seen of as a player in world affairs. And that is normal, if you think about funzoo: that if you're not strong, you have to project that you are strong. And they're not that strong because they have a GDP less than that of South Korea.
In terms of WikiLeaks' publications, we've published over 650,000 documents, most of them critical, on Russia, on Putin, over 2.3 million from the Syrian government, Russia's close ally. So we publish a lot of critical stuff on Russia.
Buck Sexton: I wanted to know what you think about, just as a general proposition, Julian – and this is more of an ethical question, and I know that what you're dealing with right now is being in a place where – I don't know if this has ever happened before: where somebody has done what you've done, and the charges that're allegedly – what I've read in the press – being leveled against you. I think it would be a first for the government, although I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure. But I think it's interesting that there's, in America for sure, and understanding that – or a belief that – the one who publishes the leaks is a good guy, but the one who leaks the information to the publisher is not just somebody who should be punished but is a bad guy.
And I think that's a more complicated ethical question than people allow it to be, because they believe that there should be information that's out there that the government doesn't want them to know. But they also realize that if it just became a free-for-all and anyone could say anything to anyone they wanted, then the government would not have any ability to keep secrets, which it does need. But I always do think it interesting that we're never told: "Well, not only should you believe that there is such a thing as a good leak, but there is such a thing in this country as a good leaker, even if the leaker violates the law."
Julian Assange: Yeah. I just look at the endpoints, really. In my view, what allows us as individuals and as a civilization to not do stupid things and to do the humane thing or the intelligent thing is that we know something about the world. We're not kind of drifting through it blind. And therefore, processes which result in human beings knowing more about the world, I support. It doesn't mean that, in every single instance, that I necessarily agree. But I think that principle is very, very important. It's so important, I think it is probably the most important thing that human beings do. Because if human beings aren't communicating with each other, teaching each other about how the world really works, we're basically – we're like rabbits or stones or something, and everything fails.
So, insofar as an individual, for whatever their motivation, helps contribute to the advancement of human civilization by providing it information that allows all of us to understand what's really going on, then I think we should encourage that. And we should encourage it by applauding those people for helping us. We should encourage it by offering them financial rewards in some cases. We should encourage it by defending them from prosecution. We should encourage it by changing the law to make it easier for them.
Porter Stansberry: Here, here. Julian, when you are allowed to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, do you have any idea where you will end up? Is there a place in the world today that is strong enough to serve as a refuge and a bastion for people like yourself who are working actively to suborn the power of governments and secret agencies?
Julian Assange: It just varies from publication to publication, from year to year. You know, we annoy one group but then another group – we have annoyed Ecuador, who's very generously given me asylum and stuck up for me. It's only a small country. We even annoyed them when we basically accidentally broke something like the Watergate of Ecuador, where the domestic intelligence service looks like – it's a bit hard and there's various arguments, but looks like it was spying on people that it shouldn't've been domestically. So, yeah, it's tough to have principles. Because the principle that you will publish information of diplomatic, political, ethical, or historical significance if people bring it to you and it hasn't been published before, of course, kind of randomly offends different groups. So it just varies from year to year.
Porter Stansberry: So there's no one particular place that you think is the logical home for WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange: It would have to be a place that we didn't publish anything about. But if you have a universalist principle, then that doesn't hold. Now, you could say, "Okay, what about a small state? The chances are that you publish something about that are low." For example, Ecuador. We hadn't published anything about Ecuador before I took asylum. But the world is very global. And when you're publishing at scale, because everything is connected, then these big databases tend to have information on every state.
Porter Stansberry: And then one follow-up question, Julian. You've been so gracious with your time with us today. I really appreciate it. You mentioned almost in passing something about a sex tape had impacted the news coverage of the election. I'm sorry. That's news to me. I don't know anything about a –
Julian Assange: I just mean Trump's "Grab them by the [beep]" –
Porter Stansberry: Oh. Not a sex tape, but –
Julian Assange: A talking-about-sex tape.
Porter Stansberry: Yes. Trump's unfortunate locker room talk.
Buck Sexton: Oh, I thought he was talking about the dossier. See, there's all kinds of things.
Julian Assange: It's still kind of – conceptually, it's a sex tape, right? It's a kind of scandalous tape about sex.
Porter Stansberry: It's certainly in very poor taste. And there was a rumor – Buck, you were just referencing it – about the idea that maybe Putin had filmed Trump in a delicate position and was using that to blackmail him. But I never saw anything about that reported in the press.
Julian Assange: Yeah. I mean, it's an interesting question. I mean, I suppose, in theory, such things are possible. But looking at all the – before the election, what was it? A dozen women claimed to have been molested by Trump? And he managed to survive all that. And those are people that were willing to at least put their name to something. So I find it – I don't think that actually even such a tape could take Trump down. I mean, it'd cause him some problems. But I don't think it could take him down.
Porter Stansberry: I agree. I think you're right. I think Slick Willy has somehow –
Julian Assange: I think it could take someone like Sanders down. Because he has a clean –
Buck Sexton: His image is clean. I think this is an important point.
Buck Sexton: Because people keep saying the Russians have something on Trump. What could they possibly have on Trump of a moral nature that would make him –?
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs].
Julian Assange: If your shirt is already covered in mud, another mud pie doesn't really surprise that much.
Porter Stansberry: And, Julian, when I was visiting with you in London six months ago or thereabouts – it was last fall – you said the same thing. I said, "Why hasn't WikiLeaks gone more after the Trump campaign?" And you said, "What is it about Trump that we could tell the public that they don't already know?" And I thought that was a very telling comment.
Julian Assange: Yeah. I mean, it's mostly to do with what people provide us. But of course we're able to – we try and encourage sources as well. So, yeah, if people give us material that's of a particular nature, we promise to publish it. But, yeah, we can encourage through various means, through talking about it or awards, etc. In the Hillary case, we had kind of become domain experts by already publishing so much of her stuff and analyzing it: her cables from her time in office, her emails, and so on. So I think that's kind of attracted sources to us, because they knew that we understood Hillary Clinton's role, in government and out, in relatively recent times.
Buck Sexton: Julian, can I ask you a question, again, at the macro level about something? I'm an American who loves this country very much and understands it has a lot of flaws. In fact, probably understands it better than most Americans do in different ways, having worked for the government and understanding how government functions. The line that you will hear from most people about you and about WikiLeaks is that, irrespective of your mission of transparency and holding governments accountable, as you say, you were involved in what is a massive violation of U.S. federal law in one way or another, and therefore undermined U.S. national security.
And so, if someone believes that America is a force for good in the world, hamstringing it in that way, making it more difficult for America to do what it does around the world, is on net a bad thing. Essentially by hurting America, which is the best and still greatest hope for this country – if one believes that – I'm not saying you do. But for someone who believes that, how do you respond to: Why would you want to hurt the country that does more good in the world than any other country? Why would you want to undermine its national security? Or do you reject that you even undermined its national security?
Julian Assange: I think America probably does do more good in the world than any other country. I think that's probably true. I think it's also probably true that it does more bad in the world than any other country. It's such a big economy with more military expenditure than the next 12 countries combined. It does a lot. It does a lot of good things and it does a lot of bad things. And what you find is that those people who profit from the military/security sector, either personally or because of investments, what they try and do is they try and conflate the notion of America and America's interests with the interests of the industrial sector.
So of course when WikiLeaks reveals really quite immoral slayings happening in Iraq, cavalier slayings of people and journalists as a result of the Iraq War or similar things, does it make it a bit harder to do that in future? Yeah, it does. Does that means it becomes a little more expensive to invade and occupy a country? Yeah. It probably does. Is that a good or a bad thing? I think that's probably a good thing.
Buck Sexton: But is it possible to weaken the U.S. posture in the world without – this is also a common discussion that happens with people along foreign policy lines. The fallacy is that if America wasn't there then it would just be that country operating in this blissful state of self-determination, when in reality, every country has military – I'm sorry: Every major country has military interests, intelligence interests all over the world, and whether we're talking on a regional or a global basis, there are many different players involved. Iran, Russia, China. Name a country. There's a lot of different regional and global players. And so, is it possible to hurt America without empowering other countries that are worse on human rights, do make the world a more dangerous place?
At some point, isn't it necessary on an ethical level to distinguish between transparency in the case of America and transparency in the case of North Korea?
Julian Assange: Yeah, I don't think you can censor whistleblowers. I think it would be terribly immoral for us and our place in the world that if some U.S. Military whistleblower comes to us to say, "You know what? We're not going to defend your right to present what you've found to the public." I don't think we could do that. I don't think we could do that for any country. If you want to talk about – as I said, this hurting America: It just gets instrumentalized to defend the interests of particular sectors and their power. If we're talking about a shift from committing fewer human rights abuses during invasions or occupations, or perhaps thinking a little more before invading a country, that seems like a good thing.
I do accept that there is an argument about Pax Americana and that if you look at, for example, what's happening to the Middle East now, is that happening because the U.S. installed and propped up a bunch of these dictators and dictatorships because they were allied to the U.S.? Or is the current tensions with Iran, which arise from the CIA overthrowing Mosaddeq in 1953 – is it because of that? Is it because of the enormous quantities of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc., that caused them to feel like they can attack Yemen and destabilize Syria, etc.? Or is what we are seeing now partly as a result of the relative decline of the dominance of the United States in the Middle East?
I think it's both. I think that as the UAE and Saudi and Qatar and Turkey have become more powerful relatively to the United States – all groups have advanced economically and become more powerful, but relatively –
Buck Sexton: It is interesting. Would you concede, as well, Julian, that all those different countries are also showing their own little signs of imperialism and interventionism and [laughs] –?
Julian Assange: Exactly. And I think –
Buck Sexton: The more the U.S. maybe steps back, the more you see: oh, the Saudis will bomb people. The Iranians will run factions.
Julian Assange: I think the U.S. used to be so dominant that there weren't room to do that without U.S. permission. And now that they have increased their relative ability to act, they're acting according to what they perceive as: they're creating internal unity by creating external conflict, or they're trying to get hold of new land and so on. So I think there's a mixture of things going on. And it's not purely the U.S. that is at fault. But, yeah, Iraq was a complete disaster. The U.S. is almost completely to blame.
The destruction of the Libyan state, which was Hillary Clinton's pet project – she was the No. 1 pusher of that in the U.S. government, trying to create a kind of tough-woman history for her run for the presidency. That's my analysis. But was the U.S. the only player in Libya? No. France was also involved. Qatar was also involved. There's other – UAE was also involved. Muslim Brotherhood. So, yeah, it's –
Buck Sexton: Everybody meddles. I mean, I think that's often overlooked. And maybe U.S. meddles in a more profound way than others because it can in different places. But everyone's meddling in everybody else's stuff. But I want to ask you about whistleblowers. Because you keep using the term. And I get the sense, Julian, that your definition of whistleblower is perhaps a bit broader than what would be in common parlance. Some of the incidents that WikiLeaks has been involved in, it would seem that it was just information that the public might be interested in, but also might have a damaging effect on the security interests of either the United States or, depending on some of the other revelations, of those other countries.
What makes someone a whistleblower versus just: "Hey, I know this secret interesting stuff?" I mean, for example, what happened just now in Manchester: you had the stories coming out about information about a counterterrorism investigation. The public's interest to know that within 24 hours should be outweighed by the need to find somebody or their network before they can engage in another suicide bombing and blow up a bunch of young girls at a concert, right? So that was a leak without any – and that's just people, from what we know, showing off information. That's not a transparency issue. That's just stupidity. Where do you draw the line with who's a whistleblower and who's just somebody who's sharing secret information that could be very harmful?
Julian Assange: Well, let's sort of take stock. WikiLeaks has an 11-year publishing history. We've published more than 10 million documents during that time. There is no official allegation that the publications of WikiLeaks have led to the death of even a single person. And that's pretty remarkable. Because WikiLeaks publishes at scale. And nearly any process that is at scale – like, let's say, manufacturing of motorcars or installation of 10,000 bathtubs, etc. – does actually lead to people accidentally getting killed. There's no official allegation in relation to WikiLeaks.
If you want to talk about the Manchester case, well, I think that different organizations have different responsibilities to society. Intelligence services, counterterrorism police, for the moment that they're actively involved in an investigation, they do have responsibility to be competent and to preserve their investigative secrecy when it is necessary to do so for the purpose of the investigation. But publishers, on the other hand, have another responsibility. Their responsibility is to convey information that they discover to the public and not try and act as some kind of stopgap to conceal the incompetence of intelligence agencies.
And in relation to the particular documents that were released, who knows? Maybe Theresa May planted them in U.S. papers because she wanted to talk up terrorism during the middle of an election. I'm not saying that's true. But there can be many different possibilities as to why something ends up in the public.
Buck Sexton: Though it does seem like right now D.C. is a war of leaks. I mean, the main stories in the New York Times, the Washington Post –
Julian Assange: I mean, I think that's great. I mean, I understand that there's kind of some bad motivations behind some of it, which is the CIA and so on – it's kind of rattling its chains. It's showing its power, and the FBI, like it always has. It has the power of information to reduce someone's reputation and therefore their political power. And it's engaged in a kind of negotiation with the White House which has given it concessions, presumably will give it more concessions in order to stay afloat. That said, I think that we as the public largely benefit from this clash of interests airing their respective dirty laundry.
Buck Sexton: But what do you think of the calls for prosecutions, and in some cases, people even calling these different acts treason? I think it's interesting: So many people throw out the term "treason" and have never even read the – this is particularly true of media talking heads – have never even read what would classify and what the statute is. But this is often being said. It seems that that leads to a place of polarization that's dangerous. Where now it's: "I don't just want to have information out there so the public can decide," but: "I want to go and hunt down enemies and find means to lock them up because they disagree with me politically and they may or may not have been involved with a discussion that, depending on which leak we're talking about, could be in a gray area."
People refer to this as leaks. Well, is it classified? Is it not classified? If it's not, well, then it's just somebody talking to somebody. And maybe they can get fired but it's certainly not treason just because it hurts the president.
Julian Assange: Yeah. It's interesting question. I have to wrap up with this last question. Look, the word "treason" is thrown around all the time. It has a legal meaning, which is adherence to enemies during a time of war. There's no time of war. No one's really suggesting that the leakers involved, regardless of the side of politics, are adhering to an enemy. So it's not in-law treason. Is it something that is harming the capacities of U.S. intelligence in different ways? Maybe a little bit. Does that benefit the public in other ways? Yes. It largely does.
Is it tremendously hypocritical when the CIA and FBI and intelligence officials, who pontificate all the time that the public has no right to know anything because it could be so damaging, themselves are very happy to spray out officially-classified information in order to gain an advantage? Yes, of course. It is tremendously hypocritical.
Porter Stansberry: There you have it, folks. That's the latest: people in Washington are two-faced and hypocritical.
Julian Assange: [Laughs]. I'm afraid I haven't told you anything new.
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs]. Julian, you told us a lot new. And it was great to speak with you. And we're certainly rooting for you to regain your full civil rights and to travel the world freely. So, all the best, and I'm sure we'll be in touch.
Julian Assange: Okay. Thanks, guys. Bye-bye.
Porter Stansberry: Bye-bye.
Buck Sexton: All right, Stansberry folks. We are joined now by our special guest, Glenn Beck. He is a television and radio host, a conservative political commentator, author, network producer, filmmaker, entrepreneur, media mogul, and, formerly, my boss. Great to have you, Glenn. Really appreciate you calling in to us.
Glenn Beck: Listening to that list, it's like I can't keep down a job.
I've tried everything. One of these'll work [laughs].
Porter Stansberry: Glenn, Porter Stansberry here. Thanks so much for joining us.
Glenn Beck: You bet.
Porter Stansberry: I'm an enormous fan of your media empire. What you have done –
Glenn Beck: Thank you.
Porter Stansberry: – is right at the cusp of the breaking wave of the media explosion over the last 15 years and how everything is changing. And you've been completely in the vanguard of showing what's possible for people that are creative and brilliant and have talent to build their own worlds. And I just wondered if you – I know your business is private and you probably don't want to share any details, but what can you tell us about how things are going at TheBlaze? As a fellow publisher, I'm very interested in what you've done. And I'm just curious to see how it's going.
Glenn Beck: Well, it means a lot coming from you, Porter. Thank you. First, let me say that I think we were on the cutting edge and we were a vanguard – I mean, when we first started, the Tribeca Film Festival gave us a Disruptor of the Year award, which – that had to hurt [laughs].
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs].
Glenn Beck: And the reason why is because, at the time, I think it was Netflix and Major League Baseball were the only ones doing it. HBO was just starting to get into it. I don't even think they had announced yet. The only people that could provide the service for us was Major League Baseball. And so we were the first to walk out on the edge and just jump and hope that everything was going to work out right. And it's been very good. But I will tell you that I was out in Los Angeles meeting with some people from Silicon Valley, etc., as I look at a whole new era of what we're about to launch here this fall. And things change so rapidly that we are behind the pack now.
And when you can go from an industry innovator and leader and in five years have a lot of people pass you with new innovations, that's saying something about the times we live in. Every entrepreneur needs to know that there is no rest for the weary, ever. If you're not disrupting yourselves, you will be disrupted.
Porter Stansberry: Very interesting. Can you tell me anything about your subscriber base? How many people have you got paying you to watch the show on the internet?
Glenn Beck: We don't talk about that at all. We've never released those numbers. But I will tell you: enough to be able to own the historic movie studios of Las Colinas and to employ 250 people and to be launching some pretty exciting new initiatives this fall.
Porter Stansberry: Well, I understand –
Buck Sexton: And to have trained and launched Buck Sexton, by the way, if I may say so. A finished product over here.
Glenn Beck: I have to tell you, Buck: one of the things we are going to do is, at MercuryRadioArts.com – which is really only used, except for people who want to work for us trying to find out something about the company – one of the things that I want to do right away is take all the crap down about me and just start putting almost like a yearbook: "The graduating class of..." Because the people who have come through our doors like Buck have gone on to giant careers. And Buck is a shining star in that one. I mean, I really think he is the next generation of talk radio.
Porter Stansberry: I'm betting on that.
Buck Sexton: Thank you, Glenn. Thank you. I've got two gentlemen right now who both placed bets on me early on in my career, so I appreciate that.
Porter Stansberry: Glenn, I've got another question for you. It's in a whole different vein. And let me just say: I understand – I have a private company myself, and I understand it doesn't do you any good to talk about your subscription numbers. So I appreciate your need for privacy. But my second question relates to the kind of content that I have watched you provide for many, many years. And you do a great job of it. You do it with integrity. And I applaud all that. But I have a question about it because I really don't understand it and I wonder how you think about it.
So I'll give you an example. I was on your website today just preparing for this interview and you were talking about wanting to reach out to the forgotten man in Maryland. I think his name was Allen.
Glenn Beck: Allen, yeah.
Porter Stansberry: And it was a guy who called in and said, "Hey, I'm unemployed and my girlfriend can't get me a job, and blah blah blah. I have all these troubles that some people have." And I saw how you responded to it. You responded with a lot of sympathy and empathy and you wanted to talk to him and you wanted to use him as an example about how America has left some people behind. And the way you did it and the content you created I'm sure was very – reached your audience and people responded to it. I could see that in what you had done.
Another example of the way you bring emotion to the questions of politics and economics. And things like constitutional rights, which most people wouldn't think that they're reading about, but you really do bring that up. The latest one: the British baby who was very sick and they're now being treated by a neurosurgeon in America. I'm sorry: I forget their names.
Buck Sexton: Charlie Gard.
Glenn Beck: Yeah. Charlie Gard is the baby.
Porter Stansberry: Right. And so you're talking very sincerely about these issues and what the rights of this child should be. And these are complex issues. And the people are very heartfelt about it. And I'm just curious – this sounds like such a naïve question, but I'm being very sincere: What is it about that kind of political content that you think charges your audience so powerfully?
Glenn Beck: I think, honestly, it is where conservatives go wrong every single time. And it's very interesting. I don't know if you've read the book by Jonathan Haidt called The Righteous Mind. But everyone should read it. He started – he's a self-described – before he wrote the book, self-described New York NYU liberal professor from New York. So you can't get any more progressive than that. He started to write a book about why the Democrats are losing to people like Donald Trump and what language they need to understand. And he really didn't understand it. So he went out and he did a research project and he ended up finding a couple of people that changed his life. I found out much later that I was one of them. He studied all of the talk radio shows, but mine in particular, and he heard me talk about things differently.
Cut to the chase here: he now has an American flag sticker on his car. He does say that he also has a UN sticker, just to be fair. He says, "I'm not a professor. I'm still kind of liberal, but I'm not who I thought I was because conservatives are not who I thought I was." And we always lose because we connect with the head and never the heart. And we're always confused because we feel liberals connect with the heart and never the head. What we have to do is understand that there is an emotional language. And, in fact, there's two different languages. One he outlines in his book, The Righteous Mind. And there's another one that is actually from a business book that I read called Tribal Leadership. And we have broken up into tribes. And there are different stages of those tribes, of where they are emotionally, and so what they can hear and what they can't hear.
And I know that – I was in Hollywood last week and I was meeting with some big people in Hollywood. And I had dinner with all these guys from either Hollywood or Silicon Valley. And some of the biggest names in the entertainment and information world. And we were sitting there and it was closed meeting. You could only come if – my only request was: "You can come. I don't care what you believe. But you can't be wearing a jersey. You can't say, 'The Democrats are always right' or 'The Republicans are always right.'"
So it was me and about 30 liberals. And very deeply progressive liberals. And we started talking about things. And I started using their language. And I started by first talking about the mistakes that I have made and the viewpoints that I have come to over the years. But I was using their language. And I started talking about the events of the day using their kind of buzzwords.
About halfway through, a guy who is massively progressive – one of the people on his staff was a liberal whose father was one of the first to go to jail for the blacklist and still considers the family Communist. She and he, they both said at one point – we were talking about something – I can't remember – and he said to the group, not looking to me – he said, "You know what? We have all looked at the 10th Amendment and always said that it was racist." He said, "I think we all need to admit right now: We were wrong. I always thought it was because of racism. But now I see that maybe it's not. Maybe there's something to that 10th Amendment and states' rights." And the room agreed.
When you can take people and speak their language and speak the language of the heart and be good at telling a story, you can at least break through enough to have people say, "You know, I don't agree with that guy, but he's really smart. He's fair. He's decent. And I like him. I just don't agree with him." And that's where we need to get back to.
Buck Sexton: Glenn, I wanted to ask you about – well, it's quite a time for politics considering that it's revolutionary now that the Republicans would actually do what they've been saying they're going to do for years, right? We're in the midst, I think, of a crisis within the party, and the whole country's watching very closely, on the health care issue and whether they will repeal. But lost in all of this is an issue that I think is even harder to tackle in a serious way. It's one that I heard about many times from you even before I came to work for you. And that's the issue of the debt.
I come on the show with Porter and he talks about credit cycles and how there's a lot of debt that can't be paid in the auto-loan industry and in different sectors of the economy, and this is going to have ramifications. We're $20 trillion in debt. What ever happened to the Tea Party? What ever happened to political will to do something about that?
Glenn Beck: So that goes right back to what Porter asked me about this listener, Allen, who called in, who said, "Look, I'm struggling. I'm working hard. I'm getting up at 4:00 in the morning and I can't afford my insurance. I've just canceled my cable bill. I barely have enough money to put food on the table. And nobody's listening to me." Here's the scary thing: because everybody is screaming at each other and everybody is just – "I'm the Eagles, you're the Redskins, and I don't care. You're evil." Because we're playing that game, we're missing some really important things. I'm watching, as I know, Porter, you are, watching the default on auto loans. That is the canary in the coal mine I think. When we start to see these auto loans begin to default, we're in real trouble.
Trying to get the audience that was paying attention to this – they're not paying attention to it now, and trying to figure this out – you know, I'm looking at that Tribal Leadership book and seeing that there's people who are in a stage-two tribe. And what that means is: a tribe that says – and if I put it in the workplace, because that's what this was written for – but I look at this as our country – a stage-two company with a stage-two tribe says: "You know what? Nothing's ever going to change here." Somebody comes in with a new idea and they say, "Yeah, well, we've tried that before. That doesn't work. You know what? Just don't work so hard because nothing's going to change and my life sucks because" – fill in the blank. That's a stage-two tribe.
A stage-one tribe is into theft, into violence, lies, cheats, high suicide rate, just basically: burn the place down. That is where we're headed. And some people are already there. You heard from Trump supporters – some – that were saying things – and they didn't mean the actual violence, but they meant this literally: that Trump would go in and just tear the place apart. Because they no longer believed anything would work. They're stage-two. Some on the left and fewer on the right, but some on the right, are in stage one. Because they've given up hope on everything.
And Donald Trump – I understand him in a completely different way and how he won. He spoke the language – he basically said, "Yeah, you're right. Things suck, right?" And the way he spoke, the way he talked, he convinced them that he's not a billionaire; he's just like them. And so, because he's one of them, they now have stopped looking at the problems and they've put their faith, as Ann Coulter said, "In Donald we trust," or "In Trump we trust." And so, it's a really disturbing thing that the ones who are the real guardians of the debt are in so much trouble and have lost so much hope because of the perceived failures of the Tea Party that they're no longer watching that.
And I think this is going to come as a massive shock. And if we don't play our cards right and start coming back together, you're going to see the two parties demonize each other until a strong man can step up and stop the madness.
Porter Stansberry: Glenn, I've got one more question for you. And when I heard you say "stage two," all I could think about was Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers complaining that he had a stage-five clinger. So thanks for the stage references for us.
Glenn Beck: [Laughs]. You're welcome.
Porter Stansberry: But I've got a serious question about politics. And I know almost nothing about politics. But here's what occurs to me –
Glenn Beck: Oh, man. Wait, wait, wait. Just breathe for a minute. Take a moment to appreciate what you just said. That's refreshing to hear. But go ahead.
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs]. I don't. Politics has always been a complete mystery to me.
Glenn Beck: Me too.
Porter Stansberry: But what I do see is – when I look back over the last seven years or so in our economy, I see some really interesting things that've happened that are sort of groundbreaking. And I don't think people have as much appreciation for what's gone on. We haven't had any real increase to wages. We haven't had any significant increases to productivity. What we've had is $250 billion in subprime auto loans since 2012. What we have had is about $800 billion in student loans, which really should be classified as subprime loans as well. In fact, they're probably riskier than any other loan that's every been made [laughing]. "Hey, you're 18 years old? Let me give you $30,000. What could possibly go wrong?"
Glenn Beck: Yeah, right.
Porter Stansberry: What I do see is: I do see that one private company – I mean, it's publicly traded, but one private entity, John Deere, has lent farmers about $30 billion in the last five years. That's a lot of tractors, man.
Glenn Beck: Have you been to a farm lately? I have a farm. The tractors these guys have – I literally – I looked at my neighbor who just bought this $250,000tractor and thought to myself, "I don't know how you're ever going to pay for that. I don't know how you make ends meet with that."
Porter Stansberry: Well, I have a farm too, and I can tell you how my farmer paid for his tractor [laughs]. I wrote him a check [laughs].
Buck Sexton: Glenn, we thank you so much for giving us your time today on the Stansberry Investor Hour. And I obviously want to thank you again for finding me and preventing me from taking on a lot of debt and going to business school and starting my media career. So thank you very much for that.
Glenn Beck: You're welcome.
Buck Sexton: And, everyone listening, if you're not familiar already, you should go – well, Glenn has a nationally syndicated radio show. He also has his own TV channel, his own media company. TheBlaze.com is the news and media website. Also GlennBeck.com for the radio show. Anything else, Glenn, that I'm leaving out that you want to throw in there?
Glenn Beck: No. Not at all.
Buck Sexton: All right.
Glenn Beck: Thank you guys. And, Buck, I'm thrilled for your success. And, Porter, I'd love to have you on the air sometime. Because you are really, truly a guy who gets what's coming. And it's not pretty. And we have to find ways to help people.
Porter Stansberry: I'd be happy to, Glenn. And congratulations on your massive success. Thank you very much for being here.
Glenn Beck: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Buck Sexton: Today, we are happy to have a very special guest and friend of Stansberry Research on the show. Legendary speculator and bestselling author Doug Casey has been searching the globe for investment opportunities for decades. He's visited over 175 nations, established residency in nearly a dozen different countries, and has been a major investor in businesses around the world. Doug has participated in televised debates with presidential candidates and served as an economic adviser to the leaders of six countries. When people want to know what's going on in the global financial markets, they call Doug Casey.
Doug's latest boots-on-the-ground research ideas can be found by going to www.BigSpeculation.com or by visiting the Casey Research website. Please welcome to the show, all the way from Buenos Aires, the international man, Doug Casey.
Porter Stansberry: Hey, Doug. Welcome to the podcast. For everyone who might be new, Doug Casey is one of my oldest friends and has been an incredible mentor to me. Actually was the first person who explained objectivist philosophy to me, a story maybe we'll get to. Doug, can you tell us where you are and what's new in your life?
Doug Casey: Well, I'm in Buenos Aires at the moment. I spend probably eight months of the year in South America. Mostly in Argentina and Uruguay. And you've got to be somewhere, Porter, and this is a nice place to be.
Porter Stansberry: Yeah. You know, Doug, I get a lot of feedback about that. You're a famous libertarian author and philosopher. You're a very famous speculator. You've made a tremendous amount of money in the markets, especially in real estate over the years. One of my favorite quotes, Buck, is – Sean Goldsmith asked Doug one day, we were hanging out – "Hey, Doug, how much property do you have in Aspen?" And Doug says, "Oh, I don't know. About 300 acres. That's a lot for Aspen" [laughs]. Doug, do you still have that Aspen ranch, by the way?
Doug Casey: I do. But I tried to hit the bid on that property in 2007. And we at that time – my wife thought we could get $30 million for it. Not unreasonable, but very aggressive. I figured, "The real estate bubble's about to break." And since then, ranch land is a drug throughout the West. Prices are falling. People want to live in the city. So while the prices of houses in Aspen itself have gone up 50 or 100 percent, the price of ranch land has fallen. People want to be around other people. They don't want to be out in the country for some reason. It's cyclical. It was just the opposite before the crash in 2007.
Porter Stansberry: Well, what I was going to say, Doug, is: I get a lot of people who – I don't know whether they don't understand your peripatetic lifestyle or whether they really are just jealous of it so they're criticizing, but they always ask, "Why does a guy like Doug Casey live in a place like Buenos Aires that has such a dysfunctional government?" And I know there's a little bit more to it. I know there's big advantages about sort of being a guest everywhere you go. Could you just talk for a minute about why you are perpetually in motion, why you have this peripatetic life? What drives you from place to place? And why have you lived – and you have to tell me the exact number – but dozens and dozens of countries in your lifetime? What's behind all the travel?
Doug Casey: Well, I've been to about 155 countries, most of them numerous times. And I've lived – defining "lived" as stayed in that place long enough that I've had to lease a place or buy a place to live – why do I do this? Well, look, first of all, the U.S. is a very easy place to live, but the U.S. has been going downhill for many years. And the direction that the U.S. is moving, from the point of view of personal freedom, is very, very negative. So, yes, the government here in Argentina is dysfunctional. But that's a good thing. It means that they leave you alone. They really do. They're not an element in my life. When I go to the airport I don't have to deal with these horrible people at TSA. Yes, you've got to go through a machine and all that, but it's not nearly as invasive and nasty as it often is in the U.S.
Look, it's a big world and you owe it to yourself to not act like a potted plant and stay in one place just because you happen to have been born there. So that's the philosophical underpinnings of why I've moved around a lot. Also, you meet many more people. I mean, I can go to any African country, for instance, and within two weeks I can be sitting down with the president of the country. Can't do that in a place like the U.S. It opens up a lot of opportunities. I don't like to be on a level playing field. I like to be on an unlevel playing field where things are sloped in my direction. So this is an advantage of being a rich foreigner in a relatively backward country. Among other things.
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs]. I'm not sure even if I was given a first-class ticket and an invitation to a nice dinner if would want to go to Africa and meet with the president of one of those little tiny countries. What do you get out of doing that?
Doug Casey: Well, it's a hobby of mine, for one thing. For instance, in February, I'm going to the Solomon Islands. Now, you may not like Africa, and it's a weird and backward place – although I will point out, Porter, that by the end of this century, roughly 45 percent of all the people on the planet are going to be Africans. So you want to get ahead of the curve from that point of view. But the Solomons is like a standard deviation below anything in Africa. And I'll be there talking to the new prime minister about my hobby, which is pitching them on an idea that could turn their backward, nothing, nowhere little country into a new Singapore in a generation. So this amuses me. I've never met with success, but I've done that in 10 different countries. Always great for cocktail parties, I can tell you that – the stories I can tell.
Porter Stansberry: Pretend that you have a normal view on life [laughs] and give us the world's worst airport, the world's worst roads, the world's worst public safety –
Buck Sexton: Yes.
Porter Stansberry: – the world's worst corruption, the world's worst climate, the world's worst pollution. Where is that place?
Doug Casey: Well, you know, these things always change. Because –
Porter Stansberry: Okay. But when was the worst place at the worst time that you personally experienced?
Doug Casey: I almost always have a good time –
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs]. Doug is the most optimistic permabear ever.
Doug Casey: Come on.
Porter Stansberry: He can't say anything negative about anything.
Doug Casey: I'm serious about that.
Buck Sexton: I'm picturing Doug drinking tea with warlords in Somalia like: "No problem."
Porter Stansberry: Yeah. He loves it though. And, by the way, warlords get a bad rap. He's about to tell us why.
Doug Casey: Well, look. When I fly various places, I always fly business class with lay-down seats and this type of thing. But if I was going to take an enjoyable trip, would I rather fly business class or hop a freight train? I'd much rather hop a freight train. I'll see something new and different and interesting and weird. And dangers are overrated in these places. I mean, it's a medieval concept that beyond that next hill there may be dragons, so we'd better stay here in our primitive little village where we think it's safe. No, people are pretty much the same all over the world. And you're really – yes, sure, you go to the ghetto in Detroit, yeah, you're putting yourself in a danger zone.
Porter Stansberry: All right, Doug. Let's move on. You're not going to give us what we're looking for in our travelogue. So let's talk about books for a second. And, by the way, I want everyone to know: we're going to get to crypto and we're going to get to investing. But I think the most remarkable thing that Doug has done in his career is not the speculation and it's not the travel. It's not even the newsletter empire he built, which I was always very envious of and now I get to be a partner with him in. I think the most incredible thing Doug has done is write novels, which is exceptionally difficult to do well. Everyone can write a bad novel.
But Doug has written two great novels. And it's not just me that says this. I've introduced his books to probably thousands of people. I've gotten nothing but positive feedback. The reviews on Amazon are almost all five stars. And it's not just a great story, although it is a fantastic story. It's really a whole lifelong lesson in philosophy. And these are lessons that Doug has been teaching me in person for more than 20 years.
So, Doug, here's what I want to know. Can you tell us about how you got to the point where you were ready to write those novels and what that process is like for you?
Doug Casey: First of all, there are advantages to writing novels as opposed to nonfiction. The big one I would say is that there are many things that you can say in the form of fiction that you'd best not say or even dare not say in the form of nonfiction. So it's an excellent platform, No. 1. No. 2, if you're trying to put across a view of reality, you have a much bigger potential audience when you're telling a story in a novel than you do when you're being didactic and writing nonfiction. Ayn Rand certainly found that to be the case. Her nonfiction is fantastic. It's better than her fiction. But her fiction sells much more than her nonfiction. So those were two reasons.
Porter Stansberry: By the way, just for the record, I find Ayn Rand's fiction to be almost unreadable. The only thing I could get through was Atlas Shrugged and I could only read it once. I couldn't get through any other books.
Doug, your fiction is spectacular. How did you take yourself from being a nonfiction writer to being a fiction writer? And I'm asking as a writer myself. How did you make that mental shift?
Doug Casey: Well, I wanted to do this for years. And, you know, Porter, they say that everybody's first novel is autobiographical, at least to some degree. So when I wrote Speculator – incidentally, what I'm doing in this series of seven novels is I'm attempting to reform the unjustly besmirched reputations of six highly politically incorrect occupations. So, on your advice actually – the first one I was going to write was going to be Terrorist, and then make a prequel and sequel after Terrorist, which is in the middle. But you said, "No, start at the beginning." And you were right.
So I started with Speculator, where we take our 23-year-old hero, normal, middle-class boy, and he gets lucky on a gold mining stock, decides to go to Africa to investigate it, see what the mine actually looks like. Uncovers a gigantic mining fraud, gets involved in a bush war with child soldiers, and makes a couple hundred million dollars, has it stolen from him. So it's a hell of a good tale with mercenaries and all this type of thing.
And I am a fan of Africa, as I said, for the reasons that I said. It's kind of like the last frontier on earth. South America, where I've been absolutely everywhere many times, and where I'm speaking to you right now – South America is very mellow compared to Africa. If I was 30 today I would get on a plane to someplace in Africa. And if you have listeners, which you probably do, that are about that age, I'd advise them to do that as opposed to – so, whatever. That's Speculator. And it talks about economics and buying and selling stocks and all that.
And this next book, Drug Lord, Charles comes back – our hero, Charles, comes back after seven years traveling around the world and decides to become a drug lord, both the legal drugs that are regulated by the FDA and the illegal drugs, regulated by the DEA. So we explore the drug business of all types: how you make them, how you sell them, everything. And he makes another couple hundred million dollars and they steal that from him too. So now he's a little bit pissed off, having lost two fortunes at the hand of the government. And this is leading us to our third novel, which we're writing now. I have a co-author, John Hunt, who's a medical doctor. He doesn't want to be a doctor anymore, like a lot of doctors. It's impossible to be a doctor today.
But anyway, our next book, which we're writing now, is Assassin, which is going to explore the techniques and the history, revisionist history, if you would, and the morality – very important – of political assassinations. There are some people that just need killing, incidentally. I'm of that opinion. Now you see why I can't say these things in nonfiction.
Porter Stansberry: [Laughs]. Yes I do. So a couple quick questions about the books. Brief answers, if it's possible, because I want to get onto some other topics. But I am really fascinated with these books. Can you tell us how many copies you have sold so far in the series?
Doug Casey: Well, we generally sell about 30 a day on Amazon, and people come to our website if they want a hardback book. It's interesting when it comes to publishing books. You are, Porter, one of the most successful people in history in publishing, certainly in newsletters. But the thing is that when I wrote my first book, The International Man, back in 1978, there were only about 50,000 books published a year. A lot. I thought it was a huge number. But today I understand there're about 1.5 million new books published every year. And they're all saying, "Me, me, me, me." Especially with fiction, because there's so many people that are writing and publishing novels, it's very hard to hit bestseller status, which I did several times on The New York Times list with my nonfiction books.
Porter Stansberry: Okay. And will the Scandinavian princess ever make a return appearance in this series? Because she was one of my favorite characters.
Doug Casey: Yeah. Charles is not promiscuous, our hero. But he does have a way with women. I can't tell you at the moment because our hero is going to have many other adventures as he gets older and progresses into more and more radical occupations. He's going to meet more and more radical and outrageous women.
Porter Stansberry: All right. I don't want to ruin the story. I'm a big fan of the Scandinavian princess. And one last thing before we move on: Doug, I just want to tell you again how much I admire the fact that you've written really good books, even if they weren't about important topics. You've written really great, fun-to-read books. And I encourage everybody to read one, especially over the Christmas holidays. It'll be a great break from your family [laughs]. And much more fun.
But you've done something really remarkable in addition to writing a great book, which is you've taken an impossible idea, which is to turn speculators, drug lords, and now assassins into sympathetic characters that the audience roots for. It's really amazing. And I really congratulate you. And I gotta tell you, folks, I read a lot of books. I read at least one or two books a week, and I have for my whole life. And these are the most fun and interesting novels I've ever read. So if you don't pick up a copy, you're really missing out. It's a heartfelt endorsement, and they're great books.
Doug, anything else you need to say about the series before we move on?
Doug Casey: No. Just that Drug Lord is a gateway drug to Assassin. We're going to get much more wild and woolly in Assassin. We're pretty wild and woolly in Drug Lord. And in Speculator too.
Porter Stansberry: You've already gotten pretty wild and woolly [laughs]. I can't imagine how you're going to turn a terrorist into a sympathetic character, but I'm looking forward to it.
Let's get to the current rage. A very simple question: do you think there's any connection between the enormous growth and global outstanding debt, particularly in the major Western economies, and the soaring price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?
Doug Casey: Yeah, I do. All of these central banks, not just the Federal Reserve in the U.S., but all these central banks all around the world – the Chinese, the Europeans, the Japanese – they're creating currency units by the scores of trillions, and they're backed into a corner. They actually have no alternative to doing that. So all this new paper money – or digital money, if you would – that's being created now, on a weekly basis almost, has got to go someplace. And that explains the bubbly stock market. It explains the hyper-bubble in the bond market, because governments are the biggest borrowers. And it's flowed into these cryptocurrencies as well.
So I always look at the bright side of things. It's going to destroy the entire world monetary system, what's going on. But I always look at the bright side, and the good news is it's creating bubbles everywhere. And right now the bubble is in cryptocurrencies and bitcoin. So I'm all for it.
Porter Stansberry: And how do you reconcile your own appreciation for the technology and the software and the elegance of bitcoin as a enterprise computing revolution, a network effect revolution, a revolution in cryptography and networking and communication, and your admiration for that with the fact that the price has now, in your opinion, become a bubble? Are there any cryptocurrencies that you would buy? Would you be an investor in an ICO at the right price? Or is the whole space in your mind now unsafe for investing?
Doug Casey: You know, Porter, I was given my first bitcoin in Cafayate, Argentina, in 2013. I bought a very smart Belgian guy lunch, and he said, "Here, I want to give you this." And he gave me a physical bitcoin. They exist, incidentally. I still have it. It was worth about $13at the time. And over the lunch he explained to me why he was big in bitcoin. He's got to be worth a hundred million or more at this point. I have no idea how many of these things he bought. But it didn't click in my mind why it was going to get big. It's a transfer mechanism.
Now, I am not a computer jock. I have an iPhone 7, but it's not even charged. I don't even use the damn thing. I don't like it. I'm a technophile, but I don't like to clutter my mind up with these things. I consider the cryptocurrencies at this point – they're way too expensive to play with. I mean, it's not like they're $10or even $100or even $1,000anymore for bitcoin. So I don't want to play that game. I like to bottom-fish. Yeah, the trend is your friend. And I bought a bunch of cryptos early last summer, and I've about quadrupled my money.
Actually, it was our mutual friend Teeka Tiwari that actually said something that made this all twig in my mind, and made me understand, "Oh, damn" – in the past I said, "Yeah, cryptocurrencies can be a money, but where's the value, the use value of the things?" I didn't really – yes, they have tremendous use value as a transfer device where you don't have to use the banking system. And the fact that three quarters of the people on the planet don't have bank accounts and have to deal in worthless currencies – well, not totally worthless – like kwachas and pulas and dirhams, that are of little value within their countries and of zero value outside. And that's why these people all over the world are going to bitcoin.
But I don't want to – so, yeah, it can go higher. The trend is your friend. But I'm very leery at this point.
Porter Stansberry: Well, Doug, that then brings the question: If you're leery about bitcoin and you think the stock market's a bubble and the bond market's a hyper-bubble, where do you put assets for safety first and for – is there any possibility of getting a decent return?
Doug Casey: Well, we're living in a financial twilight zone as far as I'm concerned, where something that I thought was metaphysically impossible has happened: Everything is overpriced in the world. Which should be impossible. How can everything be overpriced? Well, not quite everything is overpriced. And there's one area that is cheap today. And that's commodities. And I say that a little bit – look, the longest bear market in human history is the commodities market. They've been going down for about the last 10,000 years in price relative to the world at large or human labor. And they'll continue going down in price. That's the long-term trend. But right now as we speak, commodities are down generally, about 50 percent, some are down more, from their last peak, which was roughly 2010, 2011.
And with the governments printing up all this money, there's going to be a bubble, I think, in commodities. We're talking grains, metals, cattle, things of that nature. And I think there's going to be – I hope there's going to be – a hyper-bubble in mining stocks. Why? Because it's always been one of my specialties: mining exploration stocks, which is a ridiculous area to be in. It's a 19th century choo-choo train business that I have to explain how I ever got involved in it to real financial people. But I think that's going to happen, Porter.
Porter Stansberry: All right, Doug. I've got one last parting shot for you. I know you've got better things to do in Buenos Aires than talk on the phone. The thing that occurs to me about giant inflations is they're not just financial events. They're also social events. And during great inflations – and this is, I would argue, the greatest inflation that Western civilization has ever seen, even greater than the inflation engineered by John Law and the South Sea bubble, even greater than the inflation that surrounded the Civil War or the First World War or the Second World War. I mean, this is a truly massive, massive inflation where the scale of the underlying banking reserves has been increased by – I hazard a guess – 500%, 600%, in a period of 10 years. A massive inflation.
And we've seen some of the other phenomena that accompany big inflations. We've seen a decline in social morality. Look at the enormous expansion of government lotteries, of legalized gambling, of legalized vice, marijuana most particularly, and the changing norms and the behavior. Look at the ongoing crisis that we're having in – I don't know how to explain it other than to say social sexual assaults: people who have come to believe that they can treat women in ways that are truly abhorrent without violating any social norm, people who thought that was acceptable. Look at the terrific rise in violence in America's inner cities. I mean, just incredible, the crime and the violence you see in places like Baltimore and New Orleans and Houston and things like that.
And these are also global phenomena. You can look around the world and find the same sorts of things going on in the Middle East and Russia and Eastern Europe and Western Europe. And then of course there's the big one that inflations usually cause, which is the global nation-scale violence.
And the question I have for you is: do you agree with that political theory: that inflations cause change in public morality as well as debasing the financial organization of society? And, secondly, if that's true, do you think it's more likely than not that we will have a large nation-scale conflict erupt before the end of this inflationary cycle?
Doug Casey: That is an excellent question. And I would love to talk with you about this for several hours, which it merits. "Yes" is the answer to the question. And let me put a bunch of exclamation points in back of that "yes." Look, Western civilization itself has been peaked and has been heading downhill since the start of the First World War. And the U.S. has been going downhill. And the problem, from an economic point of view, is that a decent human being tries to produce more than he consumes. And, like a squirrel, we're genetically programmed to understand: you've got to save the difference for the future, when you are no longer able to produce. But what do people save when they produce more than they consume? They save dollars or they save pounds or euros or yuan.
And if those currency units are destroyed, it destroys the capital that people have saved. And especially now, where the world is very urban, it becomes a time bomb. If people lose what they have and if systems break down because you can no longer trade and produce because the money's no good, I mean, this could be massive chaos. And I often make the joke that: "Hey, what do I care? I'm going to be watching all of this on my widescreen from the middle of a thousand-acre estancia in South America. What do I care what happens to all these stupid people? I'll be watching it on my widescreen instead of out my front window like most people will."
But it is going to be very unpleasant and very inconvenient. And it could start happening tomorrow morning. So hold onto your hat. This is going to be one for the record books.
Porter Stansberry: Doug, in terms of your expectation of a boom in commodities and the way that the inflation could end up in those things, I think it's very interesting to note that that bull market is well underway and has almost been completely ignored. If you look at the major commodity-trading companies and the largest commodity producers – I'm talking about stocks like Glencore and Freeport-McMoRan – you see enormous moves. In fact, over the last two years, those stocks have all outperformed all of the FANG stocks. So, for example, Freeport-McMoRan has gone from about $4in the beginning of 2016 all the way to $17today. You've seen similar moves in Glencore and the other big commodity producers.
I think people have completely discounted the likelihood that the bubble won't just be in bitcoin, but will probably sooner or later end up in real hard commodities like gold, silver, copper, things like that. So if you're behind on the bitcoin bubble, maybe the next bubble is gold, and maybe that's the real final bubble. And, as you know, Doug, those things can go really bananas when they go. So maybe there's still plenty of opportunity for speculators.
Doug Casey: Oh, I think there is. Because you're right that a lot of these major commodity producers such as you named have moved. But I'm in the hyper-speculative area of the market, these junior companies. And they really haven't moved. And when they do move, they don't just double or triple. The whole market moves up 10 for one, and individual issues will move up 100 for one. And some of these oddball issues will move up 1,000 to one. Yes, 1,000 to one. Because that's happened to me a couple times. And not over the course of a lifetime; over the course of a cycle – two or three or four years. So, yeah, I think it seems, from some points of view, the riskiest place to be, because these are crazy little companies, but actually it's the lowest-risk place to be, I think, and the highest potential. So that's what I'm betting on right now.
It's not going to cause any of the cosmic problems of life: making a bunch of money. But like Mae West said – you know what she said about this, don't you, Porter?
Porter Stansberry: I don't. I'm not familiar with the Mae West quote.
Doug Casey: She said, "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better."
Porter Stansberry: Yeah. I have heard that [laughs].
Doug Casey: Yeah. Especially when you've got billions of unhappy people running around like angry chimpanzees, which is likely to happen in the years to come, it's better to have more money than less. Although I've got to say, at the same time, the tenor of the times is that it's also time to eat the rich. Well, like I said, we're not going to solve any of these cosmic problems right now.
Porter Stansberry: Folks, if you want to learn more about Doug Casey's speculations and perhaps making a 1,000% gain or more, he has a promo page up. It's www.BigSpeculation.com. And perhaps you too can be suddenly burdened by large amounts of wealth.
Doug, I'll tell you: I think Mae West is wrong. I have been very poor, and lately I've been very rich. And I had way more fun when I was poor. If I could trade in every ducat I've got to go back to being 22 years old and living at Lake Wauburg, which is the University of Florida's outdoor rec facility, and teaching water skiing and sailing and making no money – actually living in a trailer with a waterbed and a freshwater fish tank, which is pretty much the definition of "poor redneck" – I would do it in a heartbeat. That was a way better life than I've ever had, even after all of the work and all of the risk and all of the savings and speculation and trials and tribulations.
But, you know what, the thing is: everyone ages. So I guess money is the next best thing to youth.
Doug Casey: You're right about that, Porter. And, like I said, I'm not going to do it anymore. Because a man's gotta know his limitations. But, like I said, I like to hop a freight train more than get on a first-class airplane. But, no, you're quite correct. It's a question of the stage of life that you're at, among other things.
Porter Stansberry: Well, listen, folks, again, if you want some help piling up your burdens, go to BigSpeculation.com and you can learn more about Doug's newest speculations. Doug, thanks for joining us on the call today. We had a great time talking. And I don't know when I'll be down in Buenos Aires again. I've got a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old that take up a lot of my time lately. But I know we'll see each other soon, and I look forward to it.
Doug Casey: Thanks, Porter.
Buck Sexton: Thanks, Doug.
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