Maybe you saw the alarming headline in the middle of the other stories on Yahoo! News, which told you that the U.S. dollar was about to collapse, as a result of H.R. 2847—or, sometimes, simply “the new currency law.” Write down this date, the frightening article said: July 1, 2014.
More recently, you might have see/heard TV and radio advertisements or ubiquitous Internet warnings where Dr. Ron Paul urgently reveals “a real currency crisis” that will usher in the greatest economic meltdown this country has seen in 50 years—including civil unrest, pension fund collapses, the erosion of personal liberties, bank and brokerage closings and mass rejection of the U.S. dollar in favor of “nonpaper alternatives.”
In case you were wondering, the U.S. dollar did not collapse in July of last year, nor did it collapse in 2009, which is when Ron Paul began predicting doomsday. But if you watch the 54-minute Ron Paul infomercial, you will eventually be offered a “survival blueprint” published by Stansberry & Associates Investment Research—interestingly, the same company that told us that the U.S. currency would melt down last year. To avoid financial armageddon, you simply need to pay $49.50.
Who is Stansberry & Associates? The owner and publisher is Frank Porter Stansberry, who, among his credentials, has been prosecuted by the Securities & Exchange Commission for investment fraud, and fined $1.5 million for selling $1,000 reports with information that a panel of judges determined that he knew not to be true. Using the pseudonym “Jay McDaniel,” Stansberry offered a “Super Insider Tip” telling gullible investors that on May 14, 2002, there would be a major announcement which would instantly double their money. As it turned out, the uranium processing company that was being touted in the $1,000 report made no significant announcement on the date in question, and in fact investors testified that they lost 20-25% of their investment portfolio after purchasing the stock and options.
In the judge’s opinion, “The gravity of the harm in this case is not limited to the amount of money each purchaser spent for the Special Report. Approximately 1,217 investors bought the Special Report with the expectations, as promised, by the Super Insider Solicitation.” Stansberry and his publisher were enjoyed from conducting any additional “deliberate fraud.” An investigative website also notes that he predicted the demise of AT&T, General Motors, the FNMA quasi-governmental guarantor of mortgages, Continental Airlines and… General Electric. One thing these predictions have in common with the prediction of the collapse of the dollar: they never happened. In 2011, Stansberry’s online infomercial predicted “The End of America,” and also that Germany would leave the European Union. To our knowledge, those things haven’t happened yet either.
In case you were wondering, H.R. 2847 is a provision that requires Americans living abroad to comply with tighter reporting requirements on their offshore income—and has very little to do with anything related to the dollar.
Predicting disaster is a reliable way to make money, because the human mind is wired to pay more attention to threats than to the more benign elements in our environment. In the future, you’ll probably see Stansberry predicting all sorts of other scary things, and probably a few more “can’t miss” investment opportunities. What you won’t see is any clear accounting of his track record.
Write down this date about the collapse of America, the extinction of the dollar, the demise of senior members of the Fortune 500, the total breakup of the European Union and a great chance to double your money in a day: Not on Porter Stansberry’s timetable.
About the Author: Bob Veres has been a commentator, author and consultant in the financial services industry for more than 20 years. Over his 20-year career in the financial services world, Mr. Veres has worked as editor of Financial Planning magazine; as a contributing editor to the Journal of Financial Planning; as a columnist and editor-at-large of Dow Jones Investment Advisor magazine; and as editor of Morningstar’s advisor web site: MorningstarAdvisor.com.
Mr. Veres has been named one of the most influential people in the financial planning profession by Investment Advisor magazine and Financial Planning magazine, was granted the NAPFA Special Achievement Award by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and most recently the Heart of Financial Planning Distinguished Service Award from the Denver-based Financial Planning Association.