Profting from turmoil in Thailand

He has ruled through 12 US Presidents, a string of military dictatorships, several coups, and a historic transition to democracy. At 81 years of age, King Bhumibol of Thailand has really seen it all.

Despite his essentially ceremonial position, King Bhumibol is revered, almost worshiped, by his people-- not like other constitutional monarchies where the royal family is merely a rubber stamp soap opera.

He has used his extreme influence on several[...] Click here to continue reading

How a Chinese stock and property bubble will affect gold prices

I have the temporary misfortune today of feeling a bit under the weather. I've always wondered how such an expression came to pass, but if it is meant to be any sort of metaphor, my 'weather' is something like a category five hurricane.

As a consequence, I was unable to attend this week's Asia gold conference which took place in Hong Kong; fortunately, though, my friend and colleague Christine Verone was in attendance, and[...] Click here to continue reading

Network Infiltration

As promised, I published my "Network Infiltration Black Paper" late Friday afternoon; I had spent all week working on this free report designed to teach anyone how to build contacts, gain influence, and infiltrate any exclusive network.

Unfortunately, I found out on Monday that, after I released the paper, the volume of people simultaneously trying to download it temporarily crashed my Ireland-based web server over the weekend.

Problem solved. If you didn't get[...] Click here to continue reading

Five things you need to know about Uruguay

I love Uruguay... it is, without a doubt, one of my top five choices in Latin America-- the country is clean, beautiful, and cheap, full of great wine and friendly people. But if you're considering the country as a place to live, work, or do business, there are definitely a few things you need to know:

First, Uruguay is NOT a financial center. It achieved a reputation over the years as a tax haven[...] Click here to continue reading

A silver lining for taxpayers

The US Internal Revenue Service was feeling rather proud of itself yesterday; IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman held a press conference to release the final results of 2009 amnesty program.

Over 7500 taxpayers came forward this year to confess hiding income in overseas bank accounts; this number is substantially greater than the several hundred which usually step forward.

Obviously, the unity of insolvent western governments against overseas 'tax havens' coupled with the UBS/Swiss banking[...] Click here to continue reading

Set up your kids for life

If you're presently expecting a child or are planning on having one soon, you should really consider having your baby overseas.

There are many countries, particularly in the western hemisphere, which grant citizenship to all children born within its borders, regardless of the nationality or immigration status of the parents. The legal term is called jus soli, which differs from jus sanguinis, or citizenship by blood/ancestry.

The United States and Canada are two[...] Click here to continue reading

A day at the knock-off market

Thanks to an unexpected computer crash, I've spent the majority of my day trolling around one of Shanghai's infamous technology marketplaces, where just about everything you see is a knock-off.From my condo in Shanghai's Pudong district, it's about a 15 minute metro ride to "Pacific Digital Plaza," which ironically is just a stone's throw from Best Buy.  The building is five floors of wall-to-wall electronics-- if it has an on/off switch, you can buy it[...] Click here to continue reading

How to have an anonymous phone conversation

Do you think your government doesn't have the means to listen to your phone calls?

Think again.

Governments from around the world, not just exclusive to North America, have technologically advanced eavesdropping programs which can capture mobile phone conversations without anyone ever knowing.  And just in case the government isn't so technologically advanced, they coerce wireless carriers into coughing up encryption schemes (cough, cough, Russia)...

Unless you have your own two-way encryption[...] Click here to continue reading

Shape our free report

Last week during a short visit to the United States, I wrote a letter with some important updates that had been provided to me by my Panamanian lawyer.

In the letter, I discussed briefly how great connections and a solid network can make all the difference in the world, and I mentioned that I was thinking about writing a free e-book on the subject.

To put it mildly, the response was strong. The[...] Click here to continue reading

Guns and Fortune Cookies

The sight of nuclear missiles being paraded down the street in a perfectly crisp formation is simultaneously revolting and awe-inspiring.  Yet the Chinese government knew exactly what it was doing when it orchestrated its most prominent display of military hardware in the middle kingdom's history.

This week is China's biggest holiday week of the year, celebrating 'National-day,' when Mao's communist revolutionaries took control of the country.  The government  kicked off festivities earlier this week[...] Click here to continue reading

The window is closing

I need to start off today's missive with an important update. Last month I wrote a few articles about something that I believe is an absolute no-brainer if you have retirement savings-- setting up a self-directed IRA.

Most retirement savings plans are locked in to a handful of investment options-- employees are forced to make a selection among four or five choices, most of which are poorly managed funds run by the same institutions[...] Click here to continue reading

Gold, China, and the dollar

While I was en route to China, somewhere over the Sea of Japan, gold hit a record high on 'concerns' about the long-term value of the dollar.

Frankly, 1974 was probably the time to be 'concerned' about the long-term value of the dollar.  The remaining institutional investors who are only now finding reasons to be concerned about the dollar are probably the same ones that thought Ford and Fannie Mae were bargains last year.
[...] Click here to continue reading

Could it BE any more obvious?

Stunned.

That was the word used to describe the aghast crowds gathered in Chicago this past Friday upon hearing the news that their beloved city had been passed over for the 2016 games by the International Olympic Committee.

Based on the poll numbers, most Chicagoans (and Americans for that matter) were confident that they would be selected over the other finalist candidate cities-- Rio, Tokyo, and Madrid.

Why? Because they were convinced[...] Click here to continue reading

It’s all about who you know…

Network
Apparently I've been traveling too much, because I was recently caught out of the loop.

On Wednesday I published an article about Panama's Resolution 52; the law effectively makes it illegal for landlords to rent property in Panama for less than 1-year.

I predicted in the letter that, based on the past track record of Panama's National Assembly, the law would be repealed shortly due to significant pressure from the real estate industry[...] Click here to continue reading

Why US real estate is still heading south

Years ago, in my early 20s, I had my first taste of investment success.  I wish I could dazzle you with a great story about a goldmine in the jungle or negotiating land rights with warlords... Unfortunately, no. All that would come later.

Rather, my first deal was a set of very plain brick apartments on the wrong side of the railroad tracks.  They weren't very sexy, but I was able to pick them[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama: Don’t let this law affect your decision

I've received a few questions recently about a piece of legislation recently passed in Panama known as Resolution 52.

A bit of background-- the construction boom and ensuing real estate bubble for Panama City condominiums lasted from 2003 until approximately 2007.  Tens of thousands of units were designed and sold off-plan to speculators, usually months before the developers broke ground.

Speculators were buying up pre-construction units so quickly that developers were encouraged to[...] Click here to continue reading

Why you need an offshore email account

Last month, a Wyoming bank employee was routinely emailing some loan documents to a customer's personal Gmail account. It sounds like a simple enough task, yet somehow the employee made an enormous error.

Not only did he erroneously attach a file to the email that included the names, addresses, tax IDs, and loan information for 1,325 customers, but he sent it to the wrong Gmail address!

We've all been there... victims of our[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama and the OECD

"We are very concerned with what's happening in Panama, or to put it another way, what's not happening."

-- Jeffrey Owens, director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

Earlier this month, a group of tax commissioners, finance ministers, and NGO representatives descended upon Los Cabos, Mexico for the 5th annual "Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information" sponsored by our friends at the OECD.

You will[...] Click here to continue reading

“X”

First of all I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments this week; I would definitely encourage you to spend a few minutes reading the comments on 'Give me Liberty or Give me Boarding Pass' posted on Tuesday.

One question in particular that I would like to address came from Amanda:

"Simon aren’t foreign governments even more likely to seize foreigner’s assets since they have no votes to lose?"



[...] Click here to continue reading

What capital controls in the United States will look like

Roughly $100 billion.

Even in today's world where politicians throw out the word 'trillion' as if it were a casual dinner garnish, $100 billion is still a lot of money... especially when you're desperate to sustain glimmers of economic growth and trying to plug a budget shortfall that amounts to 13% of GDP.

And yet, roughly $100 billion is exactly what got sucked out of the United States in July by foreigners: "Net[...] Click here to continue reading

Give me liberty or give me boarding pass

I'm in the United States through the end of next week out of necessity... I need to tie up some loose ends (read: taxes!).  Once I get my confession mailed out to Uncle Sam, I'll be out the door once again.

Whenever I am in the United States, I always think deep thoughts about liberty. This place has changed so much since I was a child that it is hardly recognizable.

When people[...] Click here to continue reading

Three ways to diversify out of the dollar

Updated 9/23/2009 (thanks JES)

People ask me this question a lot-- what's the best way to diversify US dollar holdings into other currencies?

Well, 'best' is certainly relative... I prefer commodities and precious metals as a way to protect my savings, but I can't exactly pay my American Express bill with the bullion that I have locked away in South America.

Living in the 21st century among our modern conveniences nearly requires[...] Click here to continue reading

A loophole at the border

He was brown.

A few inches shy of 6 feet tall and well-dressed in a tailored suit, my guess was that he was of Lebanese origin given his easy command of French, English, and Arabic... but regardless, he was standing in the US citizen line at the airport immigration checkpoint.

I don't know exactly what was said between the man and the border patrol agent, but the encounter was brief; within 30-seconds he[...] Click here to continue reading

Confused about China?

"Dear Simon- Jeff Clark from Growth Stock Wire recently wrote that 'China is a fraud' and that 'If Americans aren’t buying big-screen TVs or $100 sneakers, Chinese stocks are ultimately headed for trouble.'  I would like your opinion on his view."
Great question. I like Jeff Clark and generally agree with his analysis... but like I said in Monday's essay, I am puzzled that a few notable figures in the financial community are bearish on[...] Click here to continue reading

Asia has decoupled

I'm flipping through channels at 1am here in Seoul, and do you know what I see? Math problems-- nutty professors, Korean-style, working out complex partial differential equations and geometric progressions with the intensity and flair of a concert pianist.

In fact, it's not just one channel... it's five, roughly 20% of the entire late night channel line-up.

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. South Korea, once dismissed as an Asian[...] Click here to continue reading

Gold mania in China

Gold is quickly reaching the mania phase in China, and there are clear signs of it on the ground.

About a month ago, we reported that for the first time ever, the Chinese government is promoting gold and silver as investments.  And by "promoting," we meant cramming it down people's throats.

We knew this was ground-breaking news at the time-- a clear indication of long-term demand growth, as well as a sign that[...] Click here to continue reading

Where to make a fortune in China

If you're an entrepreneur and want to make an absolute fortune, you need to head to Asia.

The last several weeks on the ground here have only reinforced my long-held premise that Asia's economies represent vast, wide open potential.  These economies are growing, and shall continue to grow thanks to solid macroeconomic fundamentals like a large pool of savings, lack of reliance on credit, and dual trade/budget surpluses.

Nowhere is this more clear[...] Click here to continue reading

China’s growth is real

There are a lot of people in the financial community, including a few notable figures, that are highly bearish if not outright suspect of China's growth.

I'm always puzzled by this opinion. I've been to the country several times before and keep regular tabs with influential players and insiders, and my own assessment has always been quite positive on the country.

This trip, though, was specifically designed to check my premise and make[...] Click here to continue reading

Work with me 1 on 1

"Simon - Are you ever available for a consult? I have several business related questions I would like to review."

Each day, without fail, people ask if they can hire me to help them with their problems... these are usually unique in nature ranging from "I want to liquidate and move somewhere" to "can you help raise money for my business" to "do you know anyone in the woodchip industry in Burma..."

I[...] Click here to continue reading

Asia’s best kept secret

Today I found out first hand how much Chinese are looking to avoid taxes.

I attended a conference today sponsored by the government of Labuan, Malaysia at the Grand Hyatt here in Shanghai.  Labuan is Asia's newest financial center, and the government there is heavily courting wealthy Chinese investors and businesses to migrate their capital.
There are a lot of rich Chinese businessmen who are looking for a way to reduce their tax burden,[...] Click here to continue reading

Hong Kong Gold

In full disclosure, I am heavily biased.  Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world.

Remember those '7 expat categories?' well, I am definitely a mix of several... maybe all. But Hong Kong ticks all the boxes for me, and always has-- I've been coming here for years and love it more every time.

To give you an example, I like having access to modern conveniences and the availability of[...] Click here to continue reading

Singapore financial overview

I've explored Singapore in the past, but on this particular trip I really wanted to broaden my understanding of the country's legal framework and financial infrastructure. With only 72-hours on the ground, I would have to work fast... so the trip was a whirlwind tour of bankers, lawyers, gold dealers, corporate secretaries, and international tax planners.

Here's the good news: Mission Accomplished. I learned far more than I expected, caught up with old connections,[...] Click here to continue reading

Why Jim Rogers is right about Singapore

Two years ago, Jim Rogers sold his New York home, packed his bags, and left for Singapore.  If you spend no more than three minutes on the ground here, you will see why.

For the internationalist, Singapore is as close to 'perfect' as could possibly be imagined:



1) It's clean. And I mean eat-off-the-streets clean.  Most big cities (Buenos Aires, New York, even Paris) feel like they need a good pressure[...] Click here to continue reading

Gold report: A free gift

I'm writing today from an extraordinarily beautiful place...

The infinity pool where I sit is perched atop an emerald-azul lagoon encased by rocky cliffs and pristine wildlife. It's dusk. and it's quiet.

The word "paradise" would come to mind if I could stop absorbing the beauty long enough to form a complete thought.



I'll give you a few hints... my undisclosed location is in the south Pacific. It's a small island[...] Click here to continue reading

Manila may be for you

Remember the 7 expat categories from last week?

Well I have to say that Manila is paradise for a few of them...

I come through here from time to time on business and it definitely ranks as one of my favorite places in Asia-- cheap, modern, relatively clean, but still with a hint of seedy underbelly to it.

I discussed the financial infrastructure yesterday; until recently, the Philippines had one of the[...] Click here to continue reading