Imaginative Investing

by | Sep 8, 2003 | Archives

Having completed our speaking engagement at Jyske Bank's investment seminar in Denmark, our flight back was prefect. We make smooth connections except at the red carpet laid out for us at customs.

No matter how good one becomes at being inconspicuous, every once in awhile one's number gets drawn. After hundreds of border crossings, we have learned how to blend in yet the law of averages dictates that once in a blue moon we have a thoroughly obnoxious agent spend quite some time raffling through our dirty underwear asking questions that are none of his business. To make matters worse this one was showing off for a trainee. Call it nastiness school if you like. We were polite. Since this hasn't happened to us for years I cannot complain, and we did make our connection and make it back to the farm before dark. But what a waste of time and how unfriendly! We don't mind the security checks, but the customs were pointed mostly at every young person and us. We always make it a point never to be the first into the customs arena and out of desire to catch that flight we ran through the halls and arrived only to find a customs agent…with a red pen.

Is this what we want people to think of the United State? Sure terrorism is terrible but Europe has had terrorism to deal with for decades and they do not make you feel like a criminal every time you cross into their countries.

There is a deep economic problem with the U.S. attitude as well. We saw in yesterday's message that U.S. Federal spending and debt is unsustainable. We also know that the travel industry is in a deep mess. So at a time when we should be trying to attract tourists, we do our best to send them away. This is so bad that it has turned Beirut into one of the hottest tourist spots.

We are so bad that Arab tourists would rather go to a war zone than deal with U.S. customs and immigrations. Here is what a recent article in The Economist says:

“War in Iraq was expected to wreck tourism in the Middle East. Instead hotels are bursting. Occupancy rates in Beirut are near 100%. In July Egypt welcomed more tourists than in any month in history. Property prices in Lebanon's chic hill stations are soaring. Why? The region's biggest spending travelers have abandoned jaunts to Europe and America for closer and cooler climes; while Europe bakes the Eastern Mediterranean is enjoying one of its mildest summers in memory. America meanwhile is shunned out of political pique and because no one likes to be strip searched.”

America had better gets its act together or investing abroad will really become important as our tourist attractions die for lack of tourists. The evolution of mankind is towards a more global economy. Customs, security and immigrations unfriendly attitude first pits man against man. No one minds security, but to be yelled at (a foreign tourist next to us) is over the edge. This is inhumane and unreasonable. Secondly this is bad business that flies in the face of global economic evolution.

As investors we must accept that the U.S. and the U.S. dollar could be on a downwards slope for awhile. If so, keep diversifying aboard.

This is one reason I keep harping on investing in the outside the U.S.

One good example of this is the sustainable teak plantations in Ecuador. If there is going to be a demand for wood then let's at least plant it in easy to reach places away far from the rain forests and leave the ancient natural woods alone. Two former Ecuadorian bankers I have known for years, Robert Montgomery and Paul Palacios, are doing just that. You can see details of their latest teak plantations in Spanish and English at http://www.teakecuadorian.comYou can learn more about investing in teak at our upcoming International Business Made EZ course in Ecuador this February 13-15. For details go to is Ecuador a safe place to invest? Who knows, but who would have guessed that Lebanese tourism would be booming while Disney World and Orlando suffer the doldrums.

The changing world leads us to diversify around the world and Ecuador is a friendly, stable democracy. I hope to see you there. Merri and I have spent eight or nine delightful years down there.

Until next message, may your world always be safe.