100 episodes

James Hickman is a West Point graduate and former intelligence officer who has had an extensive business and investment career spanning more than 25 years.



James has traveled to 120+ countries on all 7 continents, and he has started, invested in, and acquired businesses all over the world, in sectors ranging from technology to agriculture to banking.



Since he originally began writing under the pen name “Simon Black” back in 2007, James has accurately predicted many of the major trends and events of our time, including the West’s enormous debt bubble, inflation, bank failures, social unrest, and more.

Read more at www.schiffsovereign.com

Schiff Sovereign Podcast James Hickman

    • Business
    • 4.6 • 197 Ratings

James Hickman is a West Point graduate and former intelligence officer who has had an extensive business and investment career spanning more than 25 years.



James has traveled to 120+ countries on all 7 continents, and he has started, invested in, and acquired businesses all over the world, in sectors ranging from technology to agriculture to banking.



Since he originally began writing under the pen name “Simon Black” back in 2007, James has accurately predicted many of the major trends and events of our time, including the West’s enormous debt bubble, inflation, bank failures, social unrest, and more.

Read more at www.schiffsovereign.com

    Why a desperate America may soon annex its 51st state

    Why a desperate America may soon annex its 51st state

    At the center of Sovereign Man’s core ethos is the indisputable view that the United States is in decline.

    I take absolutely zero pleasure in writing that statement. But it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to objectively appraise the bountiful evidence at hand and not reach the same conclusion.

    Consider the following:

    US government finances are appallingly bad. The national debt exceeds 100% of GDP, annual deficits run into the trillions of dollars with no end in sight, and major trust funds for Social Security and Medicare will soon run out of money.

    Political incompetence is mind-blowing; politicians fail to be able to even identify problems, let alone understand them, let alone reach compromises to solve them.

    Ditto for central bank incompetence. These people simply cannot understand how, by keeping interest rates at zero for nearly a decade and conjuring trillions of dollars out of thin air, they engineered record high inflation. And they also fail to understand how their actions to ‘fix’ inflation are causing widespread havoc in the economy and financial system.

    Social divisions across the country are extreme. Censorship and cancel culture prevail, and corporations now wag their fingers at their own customers to “be better”.

    The education system is in pitiful shape, with many politicians and school board officials turning classrooms into activist training camps.

    The population is terribly unhealthy. Obesity and drug addiction are epidemics. Plus there’s an obvious mental health crisis that drives far too many people to commit horrific acts of violence on innocent people, including children.

    National security is in decline. Military readiness is down, yet top officials seem more concerned about diversity and inclusion rather than the ability to prevail in war.

    The rule of law has been perverted, including for political purposes and self-aggrandizement. We just saw another example of this yesterday.

    Even the national fertility rate continues plummeting-- an indication of the rising cost of living and social apathy.

    The Wall Street Journal recently published a series of polls indicating that most Americans doubt their children will have a better future; pessimism is strong.

    They also found that certain values which once defined American culture, including a sense of community, hard work, and civility, are no longer important to the majority of people.

    This is all happening at a time when adversaries are circling. And that includes China.

    Now, usually whenever I bring up China, there are always people who are quick to assert that China cannot possibly replace the US as the dominant superpower because they have just as many problems.

    And it’s true that China has a ton of problems. They have their own debt issues, financial system chaos, and economic problems. They have social challenges, a major demographic crisis, and even a serious issue with childhood obesity.

    But no civilization or empire throughout history has ever been problem-free.

    Ancient Rome, even during its early republic days, had enormous problems. They had to deal with constant revolts, civil war, the genocidal dictatorship of Sulla, famine, war, plague, and more.

    Yet there’s an enormous difference between taking on challenges while you’re on the rise… versus succumbing to them while on the way down.

    Rome was able to deal with its challenges and continue its rise to become the dominant superpower. China may be able to do the same.

    The US finds itself in a precarious position where they have a mountain of compounding problems… and no ability to even slow them down, let alone solve them.

    I’ve written before about what I call the “Four Forces of Decline”, which I define as

    1) Forces of History-- the inevitable, cyclical nature in the rise and fall of Empire. No empire,

    • 59 min
    What else are the “Experts” ignoring?

    What else are the “Experts” ignoring?

    In 1898, a Polish author named Jan Bloch published a 3,000+ page volume on modern warfare entitled Future War and its Economic Consequences.



    Bloch had studied military technology and saw the rapid pace with which destructive new weapons and munitions were being developed. And he came to the conclusion that the next war would be absolutely devastating.



    Bloch predicted, in fact, that the days of classical warfare-- cavalry charges and large troop movements on an open battlefield-- were over. And that the next war would entail long, bloody, pointless trench warfare that would be unimaginable in its destruction.



    In short, he predicted World War I.



    Bloch was even invited to speak at a diplomatic conference in the Hague in the following year in 1899, and he urgently warned the attendees to do everything they could to prevent war.



    The experts listened politely… and then completely ignored him. 15 years later Bloch’s prediction came true when the Great War broke out. Millions died. Europe was destroyed.



    And yet in retrospect it was all so obvious. The warning signs were there all along. But somehow the people in charge not only managed to NOT avoid war, they managed to steer directly into the path of destruction.



    This is often the case with major world events, including wars and major economic catastrophes. They’re seldom accidents, nor do they sneak up without announcing themselves years in advance.



    And after the crisis is over, it all seems so obvious in retrospect. Yet the people in charge failed to see it coming, and often contributed to the cause.



    Another great example is the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, where banks and financial institutions engaged in high-risk behavior that nearly brought down the entire global economy.



    Once again, the people in charge not only failed to notice, but they played a key role in engineering the crisis to begin with.



    The Federal Reserve slashed rates to just 1% after 9/11 in the early 2000s, which led to a massive asset bubble. The Fed didn’t seem to notice.



    Then when they started aggressively raising interest rates in 2005 (to help fight inflation), asset prices fell dramatically. The Fed failed to predict this too.



    Banks lost billions of dollars as a result, and many banks failed entirely. This triggered a chain reaction in the financial system and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And the Fed not only missed the warning signs, they steered directly into the disaster.



    We’ve just seen a similar crisis unfold with this month’s bank runs.



    The Fed slashed rates to zero, sparking yet another major asset bubble. The Fed failed to notice.



    Banks paid record high prices to buy US government bonds using their depositors’ funds. The Fed failed to notice.



    Then when the Fed aggressively raised rates, they failed to predict that asset prices (including bonds) would plummet in value, causing widespread solvency problems at banks.



    Banks have even reported $600+ billion in unrealized bond losses to the Federal Reserve-- one of the banks’ primary supervisors. And yet the Fed still failed to notice.



    In fact just three days before Silicon Valley Bank went bust, the Fed insisted to Congress that everything was fine in the financial system.



    These experts are consistently wrong. And it reminds me of World War I: the warning signs were obvious, yet the people in charge failed to notice… and steered directly into the path of disaster.



    So in today’s podcast, I spend some time exploring an important question: what other key risks are lurking out there which the people in charge have failed to notice?



    At this point, frankly, it would be stupid to assume that the government ...

    • 54 min
    Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse proves the US is in obvious decline

    Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse proves the US is in obvious decline

    Throughout history, whenever there has been a major shift in the world, it has usually been accompanied by a single iconic event that is associated with that change.



    For example, historians often point to 476 AD as the year that the Western Roman Empire fell, when Odoacer and his barbarians forced the abdication of the Emperor Romulus Augustus— even though it was obvious that Rome was in decline way before 476.



    People also often associate the start of the Great Depression with the stock market crash of 1929 (even though there were many signs of economic distress well in advance of that).



    But these clean, precise dates are only chosen in retrospect. People experiencing the events at the time rarely understand their significance.



    I think it’s possible that future historians may look back at Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse as one of those iconic events that signals a major shift... potentially the end of American geopolitical and economic dominance.



    I’m not making this assertion to be dramatic; rather I think that anyone who takes an objective look at the facts—



    * the appalling $31+ trillion national debt

    * the government’s addiction to spending and multi-trillion dollar deficits

    * social dysfunction and “mostly peaceful” protests

    * the decline in military strength

    * rampant inflation and central bank folly

    * extreme government incompetence

    * insolvency in major programs like Social Security



    — will reach the same conclusion that the United States is past its peak and in decline.



    Now on top of everything else we can add a loss of confidence in the US banking system.



    Obviously I take no pleasure in acknowledging the US is in decline. But that doesn’t make it any less true. And this has been Sovereign Man’s core ethos since inception back in 2009.



    Back when I started this company it was considered extremely controversial when I said the US was in decline, or that there would be larger problems in the banking system, or that the breakdown of social cohesion would only get worse.



    But today these challenges are so obvious that they’re impossible to deny.



    You can never solve a problem until you first admit you have one.



    And most of the corrupt sycophants masquerading as political leadership are incapable of admitting problems, nor discussing them rationally, let alone solving them.



    But you and I do not have that disability. We are free to exercise the full range of human ingenuity and creativity with which we have been fortunately endowed.



    So while the people in charge continue to never miss an opportunity to demonstrate their uselessness, we have a whole world of freedom and opportunity at our disposal.



    This is the topic of today’s podcast.



    First I review the huge issues with the Silicon Valley Bank collapse. Honestly when you look at it from a big picture perspective, it’s littered with mind-numbing incompetence.



    The politicians who received donations from SVB’s Political Action Committee missed it. The Wall Street hot shots missed it. The credit ratings agencies missed it. The regulators missed it. The Federal Reserve missed it.



    But now the Federal Reserve has launched a new program that exposes the US dollar— and everyone who uses it— to significant risk.



    Think about this from the perspective of foreign governments and central banks.



    Foreigners bought boatloads of US government debt over the past few years, especially in the early days of the pandemic.



    In fact foreign ownership of US government debt has increased by $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic, and now amounts to more than $7.6 trillion.



    But thanks to Fed policy,

    • 57 min
    Yikes. The Fed has still learned nothing about inflation

    Yikes. The Fed has still learned nothing about inflation

    Last June, during the European Central Bank forum, the host asked the chairman of the Federal Reserve about inflation.



    The Fed Chairman responded, “I think we now understand better how little we understand about inflation.”



    “Uh, that’s not very reassuring,” the host chuckled.



    Talk about an understatement. It’s downright terrifying.



    This is the Fed Chairman— the High Priest of finance— who has the power to control virtually everything in the economy.



    He can conjure trillions of dollars out of thin air practically at will, raise and lower interest rates, push businesses and banks into bankruptcy, and cause people to lose their jobs.



    And here he is acknowledging that they didn’t have a clue about inflation.



    Thank goodness that was 8 months ago! Certainly by now they've really learned everything they need to know.



    Wrong. They still don’t have a clue.



    This week Fed officials have been busy giving speeches in advance of their interest rate policy meeting later this month.



    And they keep complaining that the unemployment rate is too low. Too many people have jobs!!



    The Fed is trying to put more people out of work... under the assumption that if more people are unemployed, there will be less spending in the economy, and therefore inflation will fall.



    But this is such idiotic thinking.



    They may very well be successful in pushing millions of people into the unemployment line.



    But everybody knows that as soon as this happens, the government will step in and bail those people out with generous unemployment benefits.



    Think about it— the government did this in the 2008 recession, doling out luxurious unemployment benefits that lasted for YEARS.



    And during COVID they paid people to NOT work and stay home.



    So it’s practically a given that the government will dish out fresh new benefits to newly unemployed workers.



    And where will the government get all that money from to pay unemployment benefits? From the FED! Duh. How do these Fed officials not understand this?!?!?



    Another thing the Fed has totally missed is the ‘quality’ of the employment numbers. They fret that there’s too much job growth in the US— because they’re just looking at the QUANTITY.



    But if you take even a casual look beyond the headline numbers, you’ll see that most of the job growth is for waiters and bartenders. The US labor market doesn’t have red hot job growth for software engineers, biomedical researchers, or senior investment analysts.



    America is essentially becoming a bartender economy now.



    This is going on in front of their very eyes, but the Fed can’t see it.



    If you look at the official minutes and records from the Fed’s policy meetings, you can see what they actually discuss... and it becomes even more obvious they still don't understand inflation.



    They STILL blame inflation on Putin and the evil virus.



    There is ZERO discussion about how the government destroyed the economy and labor market with lockdowns, or how oil companies are being chased out of town (leading to higher energy prices), or all the idiotic new rules penned by the woke capitalism mob.



    And of course there’s zero discussion about the Fed’s own role in slashing interest rates to zero (and keeping them there for the better part of a decade), or printing more than $8 trillion since the 2008 recession.



    There’s no discussion of the $31+ trillion government debt, or last year’s $4 trillion deficit, or the impact of idiotic legislation like the poorly named “Inflation Reduction Act”.



    Ultimately they consistently prove that the people in charge of managing the US dollar have still learned absol...

    • 43 min
    Lessons from One of History’s Biggest Scumbags

    Lessons from One of History’s Biggest Scumbags

    Two weeks ago, I told you that the US government had just published its annual financial report.



    The government by its own admission lost $4.1 TRILLION in FY 2022. And this is 34% worse than the the previous year’s $3.1 trillion loss.



    And the rest of the financial report only gets worse from there...



    They describe Social Security’s extreme insolvency, projecting total unfunded liabilities of the program to be $76 trillion.



    And they forecast that US government debt will one day reach 566% of GDP.



    I’ve written about this extensively over the years, because history tells us that the consequences of this type of financial mismanagement are severe.



    This is not the first time that a country has had a lot of debt, nor the first time incompetent leadership has consistently failed to recognize and solve big problems.



    So in today’s podcast episode we go back in time thousands of years to heed the lessons of one of history’s biggest scumbag rulers.



    Unsurprisingly, he raised taxes, debased the currency, violated the rule of law, confiscated property, eliminated dissent, vastly expanded the government, and created all sorts of idiotic and destructive laws.



    BUT, this is fixable.



    And today we actually discuss some common sense ideas to demonstrate how easy it should be, at least conceptually, to take giant leaps in the right direction once again.



    Unfortunately, the people in charge seem to have zero interest in doing any of that.



    So I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for politicians and bureaucrats to ride to the rescue.



    But at the same time, as I often point out, this is not a bad news story.



    The world is not coming to an end.



    In fact, I believe the world is still full of abundant and incredible opportunities, despite the trajectory of its largest superpower.



    And we close this episode with the core central message of this organization: we have control over our own lives.



    Regardless of what they do or how badly they screw up, you do not have to go down with a sinking ship. You have the power to solve these problems for yourself.



    You can listen to today’s podcast here.



    Download Transcription as PDF

    Open Podcast Transcription









    [00:00:00.810]

    Today we're going to go back in time to the 26 September in the year 480 BC to a very critical island in the Mediterranean. Now, if you know your history, you might be thinking, I know what he's going to talk about, because 480 is a very famous year. 40 BC is a year where Greece, which I'm going to do Greece and air quotes for right now. I'll explain why in a moment. Greece and Persia, they're at war with each other in a in a war that historians is often described as this epic battle between eastern civilization and western civilization.



     

    [00:00:28.900]

    If Greece loses against Persia, there is no Socrates, there is no Plato, there is no Western civilization. So it's a really important year. 480 BC was the famous battle of thermopole 300 Spartans fending off the Persian. There are other people there as well. There's 700 Thespians and some others as well.



     

    [00:00:44.910]

    But this very small number of people in this, like the battle of the Alamo, fighting off the whole army so that everybody else can live and regroup and defeat the Persians, this is followed by the Battle of Salamis, this famous naval battle. Salamis was a very important island in the Med...

    • 43 min
    Imagine if Elon wanted Tesla stock to lose 2% every year…

    Imagine if Elon wanted Tesla stock to lose 2% every year…

    Imagine if Elon Musk stood up one day and told the world, “My #1 goal is for Tesla stock to lose 2% of its value every year.”

    First of all, people would probably rightfully conclude that Elon had finally lost his mind.

    And second, everyone would dump the stock. Who would possibly want to own an asset where the management is TRYING to lose 2% every year?

    Yet that’s precisely the stated goal of the people who manage our currencies. They tell us flat out that they WANT 2% inflation, i.e. they WANT the dollar, euro, etc. to lose 2% every year.

    Obviously these ‘experts’ have completely failed to achieve their goal lately… but the larger point is that incentives are clearly not aligned.

    In the case of businesses, managers generally have the same incentives as their shareholders. Elon’s wealth only increases if his stockholders’ wealth increases.

    But the people who manage currencies (politicians and central bankers) do not share the same incentives as the people who own the currency (i.e. responsible individuals who save money).

    Savers want the currency to be stable. Politicians want it to lose value. It’s a totally perverse incentive structure… but it may get a lot worse-- at least for the United States.

    And it has a lot to do with the war in Ukraine.

    History is full of examples of former superpowers who lose their dominance. Egypt. Greece. Rome. France. The Ottoman Empire. Mongolia.

    And quite often there’s a ‘changing of the guard’, a reshuffling of the world order, when a rising power and declining power are involved in a war.

    Carthage was once the dominant power in the western Mediterranean. But after losing the Punic Wars, Rome asserted its dominance over the region.

    Spain was once the dominant power in Europe. But after the Thirty Years War, it became clear that France was the new superpower on the continent.

    The two powers don’t even need to be fighting each other; after World War II, for example, it was clear that the US had surpassed Britain as the dominant superpower, even though both nations were on the same side during the war.

    Today we see the same ingredients that may result in another reshuffling of the world order: a declining power (US), rising power (China), and a war.

    Today is the first and hopefully only anniversary of the war in Ukraine. And I spend some time in today’s podcast episode exploring the larger implications, specifically focusing on the US dollar.

    I think it’s very probable that, whenever this war finally ends, China will emerge as a clear superpower.

    That doesn’t mean America will vanish. But it would mark the start of a new era in which the US can no longer do whatever it wants… and quite possibly share the dollar’s ‘reserve status’ with China.

    For decades now, the US has enjoyed the exorbitant privilege of being the primary issuer of the world’s reserve currency.

    This gives the US the luxury of having endless demand from foreign investors who have to own US dollar assets, and specifically US government debt.

    Because of this endless demand from foreigners, the US government has been able to get away with the fiscal equivalent of double-homicide: multi-trillion dollar deficits, a $31.5 trillion national debt, etc.

    Yet despite such irresponsible spending, foreigners STILL buy US government bonds… simply because the US dollar is the world’s reserve currency.

    Anyone who wants to participate in global trade, buy oil from Saudi Arabia, etc. HAS to own US dollars… and hence hold their noses every time Nancy Pelosi said “it costs nothing”.

    But imagine a world where the US dollar is no longer king. Sure, the dollar would still be relevant. But not king. Maybe a duke or viscount.

    Without its status as the undisputed king of currencies, suddenly the US government wouldn’t be able to get away with outrageous deficits anymore.

    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
197 Ratings

197 Ratings

radiotmm ,

Let me take you back...

These have been phenomenal sessions providing great insight into human behavior (and its consistency throughout history) and government's never ending quest for control. As society continues to free itself, those in control seek only to empower themselves more and more. James provides great insight into our repeated blunders and how we can protect ourselves as individuals and families. Wonderful listen and learning.

Dray34 ,

Where have the podcasts gone?

I’ve been listening for a while and wonder what happened to the podcasts? Great show when they put out an episode but disappointed in the overall quantity produced. Bring back the episodes please!

Sonnycoates ,

Not great…

They just put out an episode a couple days ago and it was subpar when compared to most crypto/de-fi libertarian content. This show was compelling a few years ago when the sovereign citizen concept was more fringe and unknown. You’re not missing anything now.

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