Poker Face

Christian DeHaemer

Written By Christian DeHaemer

Posted May 3, 2024

About once a month I play poker with a select bunch of guys.  They are all business owners.  The rule to be dealt-in is that you have had to have gone bankrupt, been sued, or lost a company.

One of the guys was in the fish-buying business in Alaska.  He noticed that all of these FedEx planes were stopping for fuel halfway between China and New York.  And a lot of these planes were flying back empty.

So he went to New York and talked a bunch of restaurants into serving fresh Alaskan salmon and then he went to FedEx and got a discount on shipping.  Then he borrowed a bunch of money to cover the cost, worked his butt off, and grew his business exponentially.   If you ever had fresh salmon in New York City it was because of this guy.

He told me that the secret to success lies in debt and that if he didn’t have so much debt he wouldn’t have worked so hard.  He went on to tell me that all those stories you read about avoiding debt or paying it off early are crap.  

His life advice was to go into debt and hustle.

English Debt Created an Empire

And this notion extends beyond personal success to a national scale. We can thank the English for introducing us to the concept of national debt.

In the late 1690s, England weathered wars, revolutions, incompetent monarchs, and harrowing clashes with the Dutch.

In 1690, the British Navy suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the French in the Battle of Beachy Head. With naval supremacy lost, British trade floundered, and the economy teetered on the brink.

England needed 1.2 million pounds to revitalize its fleet, yet its treasury was empty. So, it devised a brilliant scheme: Rather than burdening its citizens with hefty taxes, the country opted to borrow the funds, generously offering an 8% interest rate.

In 1694, the Bank of England was established, granted exclusive access to government finances and the sole authority to issue banknotes. Bullion was exchanged for these banknotes, and the required funds were swiftly procured within a mere 12 days.

This was helped along by a man named William Phips who showed up in a timely manner with a treasure from a sunken Spanish galleon which in turn popularized the notion of joint stock companies.  Sir Phips is also credited with establishing the court for the Salem witch trials.

A revitalized Royal Navy emerged, paving the way for the early industrialization of transportation systems and metalworking. This formidable naval force safeguarded and expanded trade routes, thereby bolstering the nation’s treasury.

In the next few decades, the British empire extended around the world and real GDP per capita nearly doubled.  Most of the world’s national banks are based on the Bank of England.


So the next time you’re complaining about the 140% GDP to debt ratio here in the United States you can blame it on Sir Phips and his Spanish treasure.


All the best,

Christian DeHaemer

Outsider Club


Here are some interesting links:


Why France failed at banking: