Latest Articles

Property and security in Medellin

April 14, 2010
Medellin, Colombia

In yesterday's letter, I told you why Medellin, Colombia might just be the greatest city in the world for some people. Well, today I had to send my assistant flowers because she got bombarded with so many subscriber emails questioning my sanity--

"You must be kidding! Medellin is the heart of the Columbian [SB: yes I know it's a misspelling] drug dealing racket!"

"Isn't Colombia the[...] Click here to continue reading

This place may be your Shangri-La

April 13, 2010
Medellin, Colombia

Just about anyone who has been to Medellin, Colombia in the past 5 years will tell you that the city is about as perfect as it gets. I'm one of them.

Travel there yourself and you'll find that it's no understatement.

Medellin is one of Colombia's largest cities, set in a picturesque Andean valley that could probably pass for Austria on a warm summer day. Because[...] Click here to continue reading

If you’re squeamish, stop watching after 7 minutes

April 12, 2010
Medellin, Colombia

As tectonic plates slowly drift over millions of years, an occasional fissure opens up in the earth's surface.  We call them volcanoes, and they provide a means for the earth to release some of the intense pressure that builds up over time.

Volcanic eruptions are typically harmless... the earth blows off some steam and everything settles quickly. In rare instances, though, when significant pressure builds up near highly[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Being a target, Panama and the IRS, Taking your money

April 9, 2010
Panama City, Panama

My time is winding up here in Panama and I'm trying to sort out my travel for the next few weeks. I need to be in the US for two conferences by April 26th, so that gives me about 2-weeks to kill.

I'm thinking about heading to Medellin, Cuenca, Lima, Santiago, Asuncion, Buenos Aires, Florianopolis... but let's face it, that may be a little ambitious for two[...] Click here to continue reading

What emerging markets have in common with puberty

April 8, 2010
Panama City, Panama

Do you remember that really awkward phase we all went through as adolescents?

Growth spurts, voice changes, menstruation, and yes, pimples-- in the end, while we all came out of it more mature and grown up, there was a difficult and sometimes painful transition period in which we had to learn how to deal with new realities.

Developing countries go through the same sort of transition,[...] Click here to continue reading

The genius in the jungle

April 7, 2010
Darien, Panama

My Panamanian boat captain looked at me like I was crazy.

"Amigo, you shouldn't jump in over here... the waves are very dangerous." I agreed. But we had been trolling for sailfish for a couple of hours with absolutely no success, and I really felt like livening up my day a bit.

At the time, our fishing boat was passing an area where particularly violent waves were[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: H.I.R.E. Hoopla, Panama without the Canal, cheap retirement, more

April 2, 2010
Panama City, Panama

It's been a great week so far in Panama. Each time I come back to this country I become even more sure in my conviction that Panama has a bright future.

For the next few days, though, I am going to set aside market forecasts and expatriation strategies... you see, my friends from the Atlas 400 club are starting to arrive, and I'm looking forward to a[...] Click here to continue reading

7 hard truths about New Zealand

April 1, 2010
Panama City, Panama

No place is perfect. There's not a single country on the planet that is a total paradise, so prospective expats need to be willing to make compromises and trade-offs.

Naturally, it's much better to be well-informed in advance about the challenges and limitations about a particular country... it's easy to tout the positives, but finding objective information about a country's negative aspects can be difficult to find.
[...] Click here to continue reading

The strongest Latin economies for buying property

March 31, 2010
Panama City, Panama

It appears that not all is amiss with sovereign debt: Panama may be one of the only bright spots, at least in the western hemisphere... the country recently had its debt rating upgraded by Fitch to 'investment grade' with a positive outlook.

Now, I have been quite vocal about my disdain for the ratings agencies... these organizations completely missed the boat before the financial crisis, slapping AAA[...] Click here to continue reading

Exchange controls in the United States?

March 30, 2009
Panama City, Panama

I've been flooded with emails over the last few days about new law in the United States that many people believe to be government imposed exchange controls. Here's the deal, in case you haven't heard:

On March 18th, President Obama signed into law the innocuous sounding "Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act." Buried in the bill are several provisions that impose new taxes, penalties, and requirements regarding[...] Click here to continue reading