Ask Lee Now: Answering Readers’ Questions

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Yes, I Still Like Water

Michele B. writes: I appreciate all you’ve taught me about over the years. Remember your take on investing in global water. Now I can’t find the ones you recommended. Can you refresh my memory? Thanks for all you all do. It has helped more people than you know!

Lee responds: Thank you for being a loyal long-time subscriber! We couldn’t keep doing what we do at Independent Living without you, and people like you, who support our efforts. From our founding, we’ve made it our mission to provide the practical, actionable intelligence the big establishment media outlets can’t or won’t.

The August 2014 issue contained a story on water-related preparations and investments you can make (“Water Delivery Disruptions Worth Preparing For…And Potentially Profiting From”). We suggested that the most straightforward way to gain exposure to the global water infrastructure sector is through the Guggenheim S&P Global Water ETF (CGW). It remains a viable play on this most vital commodity.

How Are Metals Going to Fare in 2015?

Don S. writes: I am confused. On one hand I am guaranteed hyperinflation; on the other hand I am told deflation is just around the corner. Some time ago I converted a sizable portion of assets into silver and gold coins. In either case, inflation or deflation, what are the upsides or downsides of this type of investment?

Lee responds: I certainly empathize with your confusion, Don. After the Federal Reserve announced “QE3” in September of 2012, it seemed likely that consumer price inflation would accelerate and lift precious metals. Instead, inflation as officially measured, has languished around 1% and the metals markets have been relentlessly hammered down.

As Seth Van Brocklin discussed in last month’s issue, the recent crash in crude oil prices has emboldened deflation forecasters. My take is that the oil market is flashing a warning for the economy and stock market. Recall that oil prices started tanking in mid 2008, ahead of the financial crisis and stock market crash later that year. Yes, there are different dynamics in play this time around – huge supply influx from shale, sanctions on Russia, oil prices not reaching the high mark seen in 2008. But the relief Americans are enjoying at the gas pump may in part be a symptom of weakening economic demand.

If the economy turns down this year and heads toward recession, I would expect precious metals to hold up better than stocks. Gold and silver have already taken their hit, while stocks haven’t. Gold and silver have been beaten down for basically three years straight. In the case of silver, it’s been one of the most severe pullbacks on record – driving prices below all-in mining costs. The best environment for precious metals is stagflation – a stagnating economy coupled with rising inflation. That could come about when the Fed acts to try to prevent a recession or bring the economy out of one using the only real tool at its disposal, which is currency creation.

Water Purification With Silver Validated Yet Again

Mark C. writes: Some years ago there was an outbreak of Legionella in Pittsburgh’s VA hospital that killed several patients. Since then there has been debate over copper-silver disinfectant systems and chlorine systems. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a story today, 11/23/2014, on this and here are a few key excerpts from it:

“Copper-silver – which uses electrical charges to spur copper and silver ions into water, killing Legionella – is considered by experts as the most effective of the water disinfectant technologies because it is less corrosive to pipes than other systems such as those using chlorine, and has the ability to get into the biofilm, or sludge, in pipes where Legionella can hide.”

The Pennsylvania DEP declared in the last year that it would not issue permits for installation of copper-silver until it met the state’s own still-undecided-level of efficacy. So, Lee, it does seem that both chlorine and metal ions systems can be effective at water purification — you just have to maintain them properly. This confirms your long-time assertion about silver. Sadly, the other assertion that this confirms is that too many regulations and government bureaucracy sometime contribute to the very things they try to prevent.

Lee responds: Thank you for sharing this interesting story out of Pittsburgh. Regulators are typically concerned less with safety and efficacy and more with protecting their own rear ends. The path of least resistance for bureaucrats is to follow established procedure. They prefer to do things the way they’ve always been done, regardless of whether sound science or just plain common sense suggests doing something different.

Silver’s antiseptic properties have been known for longer than most regulators have been alive. Recently, new “nano-silver” applications have been developed for use in hospitals. An upshot of using silver where possible instead of chlorine bleach or other disinfectants is that silver won’t promote the development of resistant strains of bacteria. Overuse of disinfectants and antibiotics is causing germs to become more virulent, making infections harder to get rid of.

I would much rather ingest silver or copper ions than chlorine or antibiotic drugs. Copper is a vital nutrient, believe it or not, and many people suffer from a copper deficiency. Copper assists in cellular metabolism and energizes immune cells. Additionally, some crucial enzymes require copper. Without adequate levels of copper, your body is unable to properly utilize iron.

Decades ago, people tended to get plenty of copper in their diets from drinking water that was transported in copper pipes. Today, however, it is more difficult for most people to obtain adequate amounts of copper without supplementation.

Fortune Telling on Crashes and Other Catastrophes

Julie and Dan W. write: My husband and I have our retirement plan set up with an annuity representing the Southern Baptist Convention as my husband is a worship pastor. He will be 58 years old at the end of this month and if we pull out our retirement before the age of 65, we lose around 30% of it. I am wondering if there are any other options to not lose the 30%.

We have called before about investing in gold with them and that is not available either. So we are concerned as we realize we are headed for a major crash again very soon. If the information by Jonathan Cahn from his books the Harbinger and the Mystery of the Shemittah are correct, then it appears we are headed for a crash on September 13th, which is Elul 29 on the Hebrew calendar. Any advice for us would be greatly appreciated.

Lee responds: I’m not familiar with the specific predictions made in the books you referenced. However, over the years I’ve seen virtually all calendar-specific predictions that cross my desk fail to come to pass. I don’t believe anybody can know what will transpire in the future to the exact day or even month.

I didn’t buy into the Y2K crash-scare back in 1999, when other newsletter writers were hyping that story. Nor did I give any credence to the 2012 Mayan calendar apocalypse. I mostly ignore the astrological forecasters, the Biblical prophecy peddlers, the Hindenburg Omens, and other such crash warnings based on some formula or coincidence that will supposedly foretell the future. Of course, if you find some calendar date prediction to be credible, you may wish to take it into account as one possible scenario among many.

My motto is, be “Ready for Anything.” That means, be ready for a crash. Be ready for it to come sooner than expected. Be ready for it to be delayed much longer than you or I or any of the forecasters you might follow would ever expect. Be Ready for Anything.

Now I should address your retirement planning question. Although I don’t know the particulars of how your retirement annuity is structured and can’t give you specific financial planning advice, I’d be hesitant to bail out of it if it meant taking a 30% hit. Maybe if I found myself in a situation where I had an immediate need for the cash, it would be an option. Even then, I’d first consider borrowing against other accounts or assets I held, especially given the low interest rates that are available. Accumulating physical gold outside of your annuity would help you get Ready for Anything in your personal finances.

Get My Free Report for Coping with Power Grid Instability

F. Benson writes: We recently made a large expensive purchase of 4KW worth of Solar panels, 10KW generator, and total battery backup for the system, in order to “get off the grid”. What we found was that we CANNOT get off; it is illegal in California, although we could opt out of the Smart meter, at least for now.

PG&E MUST remain connected in a “hybrid” type situation. They keep track of power used and power produced. At years end they tally the difference and “settle accounts”. Someone owes someone money. I’ve not had my first year yet, but some stories I’ve heard could have me concerned. Last month a gentleman came to change out my smart meter because it wasn’t communicating. Without GREAT record keeping on my part the potential for PGE abuse is obvious. And, in case of EMP I have pretty well lost everything anyway. It is ONLY my faith in God that gives me any hope at all.

Lee responds: There’s always hope for a better tomorrow! Especially for those of us who take proactive steps now to become more self-reliant. There may even be hope for our country if a few million more of us would band together and become an unstoppable political force for taking back our government from power-hungry bureaucrats and crony capitalists.

There are places in the U.S. where you can go totally off grid and become 100% self-reliant with regard to your electricity generation. However, that may not be a viable option for you or most people, who will have to connect to the grid. In that case, you will need backup emergency power generation that isn’t connected to your power company’s line. Gas-powered generators and portable solar panels can provide power for your essentials – though probably not your whole home – in the event of a blackout.

I publish a Special Report on this subject called The Rolling Blackout Survival Guide. One of the recommendations is to obtain a standby generator:

“Whole home standby generators are usually powered by natural gas. They can also be used with propane. Whole home generators, also called standby generators, will run between 10,000 and 12,000 hours (which is over a year), as long as they have natural gas/propane to power them. They are not meant to be run continuously, however. While they are in power-generating mode, they need their oil changed every few weeks and may have other maintenance needs depending on where you live. Once installed, standby generators can last for over 20 years and while in standby mode they only need minor yearly maintenance.”

If you don’t yet have a copy of The Rolling Blackout Survival Guide, please email us at [email protected] to get yours.

The Smart Meter Conspiracy

Bob H. writes: Lee, smart meters cannot register anything going on in your house. They only register demand and energy at the meter, and time of day. Smart meters do not spy on your life style. If you want to measure something or control something in your house, you have to install electronic devices in your house to transmit to the smart meter. Simply do not allow the utility to put anything inside your house. If they offer a programmable thermostat for instance, they will shut down you’re A/C periodically during peak times. Tell them no, stay out of my house.

Lee responds: It’s true that the smart meter in itself can’t track when and how you use a particular appliance. But appliances are increasingly being equipped with the ability to communicate wirelessly with home computers, smart phones, and, yes, smart meters. So I view the potential for smart meters to be turned into spy meters by power companies as a very real privacy threat going forward. I’d be especially concerned about newly constructed homes with high-end appliances and “smart” heating/cooling systems.

When utility companies want to equip your home with smart meters, smart thermostats, or other “smart” devices, your best defense is to tell them no. In most places, it’s still possible to resist smart metering. You may have to put up a fight, though, and you may have to pay extra costs to exercise your right to opt out.

About those Get-Rich-Quick People

Roy D. writes: Hey Lee, what’s your view on these companies saying you will be a millionaire in three to six months and they are just in USA? If this was true I’d have been rich in September. What do you think?

Lee responds: Get-rich-quick promoters of various stripes all operate from the same playbook and have for decades. They aim to find the most effective ways of enticing you to suspend your disbelief. You know the saying: If it sounds too good to be true…