This article was originally published on November 2, 2020, but the ad we’re covering has been updated with a new headline and some “Biden’s New Plan” lead-ins so we’re re-posting it here to help answer some reader questions — the meat of the ad, the “what you should do” part, seems largely unchanged, and what follows has not been updated since it was first posted on November 2.
Porter Stansberry is a very compelling storyteller. He’s also a thoughtful and smart guy, in my experience, and what I’ve seen of his analytical work is often rational and compelling… but he has built his (now huge) business mostly, I think, by being a great marketer, playing off of both greed and fear with strong narratives that suck you in.
And the ad we’re looking at today is another of those, the “Will You Be Left Behind?” pitch that is being used to recruit new subscribers to Stansberry Innovations Report ($49 first year, renews at $199/yr). The promo piece is a little less menacing than, but otherwise not so terribly different from, his widely-circulated “End of America” pitches that we saw over and over from 2011 to 2016 or so, and along a similar vein. The basic idea has usually been that terrible things are coming, and you need to act like the smart rich people and have a survival plan… which is a really, really appealing marketing pitch for a lot of people, particularly those who are also primed to believe that “something is wrong” (and as this nightmarish election season finally comes to a close, of course, that’s almost everyone).
The “End of America” survival plan, as I recall, was mostly about the collapse of the dollar and the collapse of urban society… get some gold, buy some farmland, buy only the safest “capital efficient” stocks. That evolved into the “American Jubilee” pitch a couple years ago, about another coming currency nightmare that might wash away asset values and crash the US Dollar as massive debt forgiveness programs take hold, and a pitch to keep your money safe and buy high-quality companies, “trophy assets” and silver.
Those and similar ads from other publishers over the years, particularly coming out of the last crisis eight or nine years ago, often strike me as “dystopian nightmare” fear-based marketing pitches… but the basic investment ideas Porter touted in “End of America” and “American Jubilee” were generally pretty rational and reasonable (they didn’t all work out, of course, but they weren’t high-risk or silly ideas). The risk was not necessarily in following Porter’s actual ideas, or those of others who sold the “doom” story well during times of uncertainty, the risk was in getting so scared by the stories of imminent collapse that you overreacted, hid your money or your gold coins under the mattress over the past decade, and missed an extraordinary bull market.
Nobody, of course, foresaw exactly what our real nightmare would be, a global pandemic that hits during an election year, creates a never-before-seen unemployment crisis, and politicizes the disaster response, but Porter’s basic spiel these days is about the inevitable crises that will come from the wild increases in “income inequality.” And that strikes home, to some degree…
“In regular places all over America, the ‘lights’ are going out.
“No, I don’t mean the street lights or any other kind of electrical gizmo.
“I’m talking about a vastly more important kind of light… the kind that comes from within. I’m talking about how, all over the country, Americans are losing hope in our most basic social agreement….
“There’s a reason so many Americans are losing hope — losing their sense of independence and their dignity. There’s a reason so many people are turning to the failed plans of socialism.
“It’s because most Americans are being left behind… in a way we’ve never, ever seen before.
“The gap between the rich and the poor has always existed. But never, ever, on this level. And never with this speed.
“Every day, thousands and thousands of Americans are ascending into an entire new level of wealth — something even beyond what millionaires could afford a decade ago. And, instead of plateauing, these changes are continuing to power this new class higher… turning millionaires into billionaires.”
That may be the reason for the appeal of things like student loan forgiveness and single-payer health care, rallying cries for young protesters, but that’s also, I’d say, the reason Donald Trump was elected — political sentiments and reasons for the anger differ, but a huge number of people on both sides of the political spectrum feel ignored and left behind, and both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, strange as that sounds, are beacons of hope as they promise to fight for that left-behind cohort.
The balance of power has shifted so far to asset-owners over the past 50 years, and become ever more concentrated in the hands of the super-wealthy as businesses become larger and often less entwined with community, that it’s easy for those who have not been able to build any wealth to lose hope — and to rally around blaming someone for that loss.
So I agree with P