This was originally published on January 21, 2015.
Man, I’m starting to have trouble keeping up with all this. The folks at the Palm Beach Letter are so enamored of their “outside the stock market” investment idea that they change the name of it every few months. Whether they’re just testing out which term most appeals to potential subscribers, or because they’re ardently trying to keep their “secret” I don’t know.
But we can, at least, keep telling you what it is they’re actually talking about — whether it’s the “Babylonian Money Code” or the “President’s Private Account” or the “Invisible Retirement Fund” or the “770 Account.”
Yes, those are all the same thing. This is how the latest ad from Palm Beach describes the “Babylonian Money Code”:
“Outlawed by Caesar before the birth of Christ…
“Banned in France in 1681…
“Stolen by Hitler during World War II
“What you are about to discover is the tale of an asset so controversial… so coveted… that it is still cloaked in mystery today.
“Modern pundits scorn it… the rich love it… government all but censors it….”
Sound familiar? It’s a great story — Mark Ford hasn’t lost his ability to teach the next generation of copywriters how to pitch an idea and make it sound fantastic. Here’s a bit more, just to give you a taste:
“The individuals who possess it-even those who have stumbled onto it-see their wealth and their fortunes flourish.
“But it’s not a tale of gold, silver, stocks, bonds, or real estate…
“And its roots go much deeper than bitcoin or any of the latest financial inventions.
“No… The secret we’re going to uncover today traces its roots all the way back to the dawn of recorded history. To an ancient code written more than 3,800 years ago…
“And even though this asset appears 500 years before the Ten Commandments, it’s been scorned throughout much of history….
“In the 19th century, the Church called it ‘a speculation repugnant to the law of God and man’…
“But despite these obstacles, many of the world’s elite have long sworn by its power.”
So there’s plenty of intrigue — and the implication that this asset class has its roots in the Code of Hammurabi and the “first Wall Street” of ancient Babylon. More…
“In fact, scholars today believe this code unlocks a secret that’s made people wealthy for nearly 4,000 years…
“It’s the source of an investment formula rooted in the twin pillars of safety and prosperity-which made the Babylonians so wealthy.
“Some researchers refer to this method as the Babylonian Money Code-in honor of Hammurabi’s own text.
“For the past four millennia, it has quietly protected and grown personal fortunes.”
And yes, “some researchers” likely means “the people at Palm Beach Letter.” Though yes, it is true that scholars credit either the ancient Babylonians or Chinese traders with the invention of what we would call insurance (depending on who you ask)… and this is a kind of insurance that Tom Dyson and the Palm Beach folks are talking about. Though it’s not the kind of insurance Hammurabi would have been interested in — which was mostly insuring trade and shipborne goods — it’s life insurance.
Have we lost you yet?
Yes, the “Babylonian Money Code” is Tom Dyson and the Palm Beach Letter‘s most recent made-up phrase to describe the “Bank on Yourself” or “Infinite Banking” system — which is essentially a system that has individuals buy up participating whole life insurance through mutual insurance companies, maximizing the cash value through “paid up additions” or other means and maximizing the potential dividends from the insurance company, and borrowing against that cash value for life’s needs in the future while finally, in the end, passing the assets along to their beneficiaries in the form of the tax-free death benefit.
We’ve had many discussions of this system over the last year or two that Dyson has been touting it, so I won’t rehash the chatter for you — here’s my quick take on the many back-and-forth discussions that readers have had:
The arguments in favor are that (once the cash value has built up) you can create your own “bank” and borrow from your insurance policy to buy a car or start a business or send a kid through college; that mutual insurance companies have historically paid nice dividends to participating policyholders that can build up the cash value substantially over decades; and that the gains in the end are tax-free and eventually create a steady mid-single-digit “safe” return on savings that compounds the ultimate value of the policy.
The arguments against are that it takes ten years or so (that’s an average number I’ve heard, not a promise) before the cash value of whole life insurance starts to work for you (and not for the insurance agent), since commissions are front-loaded; that it requires discipline because you can lose the asset or the tax benefits if you don’t keep up your payments or repay your loans; and that the whole system is complex and opaque and non-standardized, so it can be very hard for consumers to set it up properly or to compare whole life plans across companies or providers, let alone the more complex riders that maximize the value of “bank on yourself” (or “770 account” or “Babylonian Money Code”) plans.
So if you’d like to chat about all of this again, feel free — or you can revisit our past articles on the subject, you can find our look at the 770 Account / President’s Account here from about 18 months ago, and our more recent piece about the Invisible Retirement Fund here.