Brian: So, for people reading this, I just want them to understand why they need to understand what a cryptocurrency and the blockchain is. How this is going to affect their lives today and maybe in the next 10 years to where they can understand, because some people will say, well, I don’t speculate in Bitcoin, so this doesn’t have anything to do with me but it actually does. Because I think you can give people a really good framework of their own money. I’m an American citizen, I’m here in the UK and I have to file US taxes, if I want to open up a bank account in this country when I’m American nobody wants to know who I am, literally they go running for the hills. Because there’s an American citizen they have to report all this stuff into the IRS, the IRS can come and mess with them and they actually don’t want anything to do with me.
Andreas: I’m British and now that I’m American I can’t open a bank account with any of the banks here.
Brian: Yeah, go figure. So, I’m penalized from that, I have a business in London but I collect most of my revenues in dollars, we do accept crypto for our Academy as well and that’s why I had a second position about a year ago. But I actually can’t open up a bank account in the US because the US doesn’t want anything to do with me over here because then I’ll have to open a dollar account, then they want an entity there and I gotta file taxes there. We think we live in this world where ‘oh my banking is normal and free’ but it’s not, not to mention the transaction cost, the lack of privacy.
Andreas: That’s for people who are incredibly privileged.
Brian: Privileged and also totally aboveboard and I can’t run a business that’s helping change the lives in a positive way I’d like to think of millions of people and yet I am restricted by this banking system. So, this does apply to me and God forbid I say something political on this show and then who knows what might happen to say my money or my banking privileges or whatever or my travel. So, that’s why I love talking to you Andreas and that’s why I think people should really pay attention now, because actually your money, your privacy is paramount to your existence and our existence as a society.
Andreas: But also to the freedoms we take for granted. Τhe funny thing is I don’t have to have that conversation in the countries where they don’t take those freedoms for granted or they don’t have them. So, in countries I visit where the government has caused problems in the past, they’ve had dictatorships or they’ve had financial collapses and hyperinflation this is all obvious and makes immediate sense.
The problem is that in countries where we’ve had the privilege of stable long term institutions and democratic freedoms but we’re gradually seeing many threats to these long-term institutions and freedoms, we take these so much for granted that we don’t realize how quickly those can be lost, how quickly we can go to a situation where the combination of surveillance and surveillance capitalism, kind of corporate surveillance and state surveillance coming together and one wrong election and all of the things you thought were true are not true anymore.
We’ve seen that happen in country, after country, after country where the Prime Minister passes a seemingly innocuous law that changes term limits and then they win the next election and then they become president because they run out of term limits as Prime Minister and then they pass a law that transfers all of the powers to the President and then they abolish term limits to the President and then they’re president for life.
Brian: Right, to be talking about Russia, Venezuela.
Andreas: You could make a list, easily and much closer to home, Turkey for example. So, going from a secular democracy even when the culture is very much steeped in democratic ideals and freedoms to losing all of that really really fast, it can happen here, it did happen in Europe not that long ago.
Brian: And you had personal experience of that in Greece. What were some of the realizations and implications that played out?
Andreas: Well, I mean, Greece was basically assets stripped by the German banks in order to make sure they were capitalized enough to pretend they’re solvent and so they made loans, those loans were bad and one of the reasons the loans come with interest rates is because they carry risk, so, what happens with a bad loan? You write it off the customer defaults and you take the loss but that was impossible because if they actually wrote off the bad loans they gave to Greece a whole bunch of French and German banks would be effectively insolvent and they couldn’t allow that to happen it would be a domino effect, so, instead they asset strip the middle class in Greece (Brian: there were riots) to pay back the banks. The economy has now lost 40 percent.
Brian: And how do you assets trip the middle class? What does that look like from a government policy standpoint?
Andreas: Um, half your pensions come even though you’ve been paying it, even private pensions, so, you have a private pension they force the private pensions by government bonds that they then default on and then they nationalize the pension and 40% of your pension’s gone, 50% of your pensions gone, if you have a state pension even more. In the meantime all of the taxes and all of the costs go up. So, in Greece up to last year the VAT was 25 percent on everything including food, heating fuel, things like that and even as the salaries and pensions had dropped 50 percent the prices of everything imported was up 50 percent at least.
The government taxes the middle class at outrageous rates like the average effective tax is more than 40 percent on the middle-class, turns out now Greeks are paying more taxes in the middle class than anybody else in Europe, which is ironic. And all of this is to make sure that Greece can continue to make payments on loans that should have gone bad, so that those payments can go back to Deutsche Bank, all of the other banks and in Europe that bay these bad loans so that they can keep those loans on the asset side of their balance sheet to pretend that they’re solvent.
Brian: Right and this could potentially happen to any country.
Andreas: I mean this is what’s happened four or five times to Argentina, it’s what was called the Shock Doctrine, if you know the book, in which the IMF comes in, they do a bailout with loans, they impose austerity, they demand repayments, they force the country to privatize all the assets, sell it to private companies, strip the pensions and then the economy crashes and then they have to take on more loans to pay the previous loans and the cycle repeats every 20 or 30 years, it’s a modern form of colonialism and it’s been very effective.
Brian: Right and we’ve seen that happen in Russia as well and other places. Venezuela we talked about last time, it’s getting bad in Venezuela.
Andreas: And keep in mind this is not absent fault on the side of the borrowers, quite the opposite. The governments that are borrowing enormous amounts of money on behalf of their people and then putting it to very bad use or straight-up corruption and funnel it into private investors, you know, they walk away from this and then all of the repayment burden falls on to the next generation. So, the mismanagement and the cronyism and the corruption that exists in Greece but also in Venezuela and Argentina and other places is out of control. But in the end no matter what a government does it’s always the people who pay for it and and not the people who were tax evading, they’ve got a nice little nest egg.
Remember the Panama papers? That was when we had a revelation that all of the world’s rich politicians and corporate executives were hiding trillions of dollars in offshore bank accounts and the only thing that happened was that the journalists who broke the story was murdered. Not a single thing happened other than that. That was like two three years ago and among them were also many of the Greek politicians who were corrupt and nothing happened, they have the lists, nothing happened.
Brian: So, the individual listening to this based on what you just said should do what? Should they be careful of their savings and their local currency in their local country? Should they be aware of crypto?
Andreas: Well, at a very basic level they should diversify.
Founded by Brian Rose in 2011. London Real is the curator of people worth watching. Their mission is to promote personal transformation through inspiration, self-discovery and empowerment. They feature interesting guests with fascinating stories and unique perspectives on life. They aim to take viewers on a journey through the lives of others and ultimately inspire them to embark on one of their own.