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

Banking in the Philippines

With tax rates ranging from 5% to 35%, the Philippines can hardly be called a tax haven.

And yet, in a very public "guilty until proven innocent" attack several months ago, the OECD black listed the Philippines along with Uruguay, Malaysia, and Costa Rica.

The OECD is an aged, irrelevant organization comprised of mostly insolvent western nations; the organization has a penchant for bullying smaller countries into changing both their laws and local[...] Click here to continue reading

Your IRA: What to do right now

Maximizing the flexibility of your retirement account is an enormous untapped area of Low Hanging Fruit for US investors.

In fact, this might be the single easiest thing you can do right now to grow your retirement assets while shielding them from the lost decade yet to come.

With a properly structured, self directed IRA, you can gain complete control over your retirement funds, and, according to IRS rules, invest in anything other[...] Click here to continue reading

A Chinese Mega-trend

It normally takes me less than five minutes to pack, even for a three week trip.  In this case, though, I'm having a tough time-- too many climate zones in Asia, too many events. I need to cram SCUBA gear, beach clothes, professional attire, and formal wear all into one little suitcase...

... plus leave plenty of room for all the custom suits I'm going to have tailored.

I haven't been watching the[...] Click here to continue reading

Help me prepare for Asia

Sometimes I wake up and don't know what continent I'm on.

I'm serious.  It last happened a week ago when I woke up in the very elegant Cosmo 100 hotel in downtown Bogota... I had to look around the room for clues and within 60 seconds finally realized that I was in Colombia.

Most of the time this happens because of my travel frequency... it can be hectic sometimes-- 2 days here, 3[...] Click here to continue reading

Saving your savings overseas

I can barely type today... I'm actually one-handing it this morning. Why? Because my other hand is thrust victoriously in the air celebrating the renomination of Comrade Bernanke to his post at the Federal Reserve.

Yes, the man who has overseen the most unprecedented expansion of the central bank's balance sheet in history is going to get a few more years in the saddle.

As you know, I normally don't comment too much[...] Click here to continue reading

Black Paper Launch— Plus, Answering your Questions..

I received quite a few interesting comments this week (many of which I kept private at the request of the sender).  Remember, posting a comment to the site is the best way to reach me: I read all of them personally. Email goes to support staff.

- SOLDIERS IN THE STREETS-

Kelly asked a great question on Tuesday-- is there any country in the world that has the total package?

Naturally, this[...] Click here to continue reading

This sector is in serious trouble

She works the graveyard shift at a Florida motel off Interstate 75... but she doesn't seem to mind much.  A rather buxom blond with more curves than hard angles, Stephanie would definitely be considered a "people's person" and enjoys meeting so many out-of-towners.

Friendly and outgoing, she's also incredibly smart... which is probably why she was such a great commercial real estate (CRE) agent.

Stephanie's story is typical of the industry. She quit[...] Click here to continue reading

This country can make you rich

I'll admit, even I was surprised.

When I think about Asia growth and investment opportunities, places like Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and even the Philippines come to mind.  But lately, in my regular discussions with key Asia contacts-- brokers, sovereign wealth fund analysts, etc., one place keeps coming up again and again.

Mongolia.

Mongolia is one of the largest, most resource rich countries in the world with a population smaller than Panama-- that's[...] Click here to continue reading

To Bail, or Bail out… that is the question.

I'm really disturbed by what's happening in Alabama.

You've probably heard-- Jefferson County/Birmingham's board of knucklehead politicians has managed to drive local finances into the ground over the last few years. Faced with unserviceable debt and a string of large losses from complex derivative instruments, the county is effectively bankrupt.

The good news is that the government is being forced to make deep, deep budget cuts, including 'essential services.'  Personally, I have no[...] Click here to continue reading

You are safe in Colombia

I know what you're thinking.

"Why the hell would he be in Colombia?"

I get that a lot.  The vast majority of the world only knows two things about Colombia-- drugs and terrorism (though in all fairness, 'one man's freedom fighter...')

People recall hearing about kidnappings, lawlessness, and of course that scene from Clear and Present Danger... that must be the reality in Colombia, right?

Wrong. To think that cartels and[...] Click here to continue reading

Weekly updates

Greetings! I'm going to dive right into the questions from this week:

== TRANSPORTING GOLD OUT OF THE COUNTRY ==

I appreciate all the comments and anecdotes in response to Tuesday's letter about my run-in with TSA. . Based on the questions I received, there are a couple of things that should be clarified:

1) In most cases (see below), you don't have to tell the US government that you're leaving the[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama’s real estate market

It was a nice enough place... about 1500 square feet, 3 bedrooms, nicely furnished, and even had a sliver of an ocean view. Best of all, it wasn't in gringo-ville.

"How much rent are they asking?" I posed to the real estate agent who was fawning closely on my heels. He reeked of tobacco and his alligator skin shoes still seemed to breathing.

Pausing for a moment to review his mental inventory, he[...] Click here to continue reading

The Chinese Gold Market

I've been spending a lot of time this week talking to my sources in China, one of whom is inside one of the country's sovereign wealth funds (SWF).

He could not discuss the details of the Rio Tinto bribery scandal, but indicated that it was far more about saving face and establishing position than anything else.

He also indicated that the SWF analysts were working around the clock trying to put deals together...[...] Click here to continue reading

The Capital of Latin America

For Latin Americans, Miami has been a lot of things-- the major financial center, the cultural Mecca, prime tourist destination, the business capital, and a symbol of international success.

The city made its riches and opportunities available to all nationalities, reaching the point during the most recent real estate boom where one could become financially successful and never speak a word of English.

Truly, Miami was a frontier island between North and South,[...] Click here to continue reading

Weekly update

I'm taking a quick break in Miami to see friends and family before heading down south again to dive head first into a large, complicated, and very exciting business dealing... so next week I will be writing to you from Panama once again.

While I am in Panama I plan on putting the finishing touches on the Black Paper that I have mentioned before-- this will be a "who's who" list of banks, brokers,[...] Click here to continue reading

“Theirs”

Did you ever notice that when you put the words "The" and "IRS" together it spells "Theirs" ? How appropriate.

One of "Theirs" initiatives that I pay attention to is its voluntary disclosure program. This program provides steps for people who have not reported overseas income (and bank accounts) to come clean without criminal penalty.

Recently I found out that more people have come forward to confess their sins under the program guidelines[...] Click here to continue reading

My China insider

It's no secret that China is already starting to dominate the world economy.

Understanding the country, its culture, and its economic infrastructure, however, is a daunting task, particularly for outsiders.  Official reports and media accounts are hardly worth basing an investment opinion on-- it's critical to have boots on the ground.

I have spent a fair amount of time in the country and built up a list of valuable contacts who live and[...] Click here to continue reading

Cost effective first class travel

I'm going to let you in on a few secrets.

I've learned through a great deal of experience over the last several years about travel.  People often ask me about my travel habits because I do so much of it... and one of the common questions I get is "How much do you spend each year on travel???"

Honestly... quite a bit. But I recognize that my travel breadth and frequency is abnormal. [...] Click here to continue reading

Dispatch notes from Poland

Travel mishaps occur from time to time... though the airline completely losing my reservation is a new one for me.

I was all set to leave Europe a few days ago when a rather unfortunate 'booking oversight' derailed my plans for spending the weekend in New York City.  In this case, I was 'stuck' in Poland.

Not to worry-- I realized at the airport that, despite having spent over a week here in[...] Click here to continue reading

Weekly update

LATVIA / SWEDISH BANKS


The link between the fate of Latvia and the stock price of Sweden's major banks became even more apparent this week.  On Monday, Latvia's government announced that it had rejected a bailout deal with the IMF, spurring new concerns of devaluation.

In response, investors sold off shares of Sweden's Swedbank to the tune of a 5% decline.  The market sees these two parties as inextricably linked: as Latvia[...] Click here to continue reading

Banking in Austria

Yesterday I was on a mission in Vienna to buy and store gold; today I was on another mission that is honestly quite sensitive, but I'm going to share it with you anyways.

Banking.

For years, Austria has been one of Europe's best destinations for 'private banking'-- professional wealth and asset management by conservative, responsible stewards who ensure that return on savings will beat the rate of inflation.

While Switzerland has closed[...] Click here to continue reading

Storing gold in Austria

As much as I love the city, I'm here in Vienna today on a mission-- gold storage.  After yesterday's missive about Panamanian safety deposit boxes, I thought it appropriate to follow-up with a couple of strong solutions for offshore gold storage, and Austria certainly fits the bill.

First of all, if you love mountains, you definitely need to check out Austria. The Austrian Alps command some of the most breathtaking views in the world,[...] Click here to continue reading

Important Panama banking update

Something is afoot in Panama that I want to tell you about.

Several banks, including Banvivienda and HSBC, have recently announced that they will discontinue renting safety deposit boxes.  Customers who currently rent boxes will have until the end of the year to vacate their belongings.

Furthermore, some banks that formerly used to work with US customers, including Banco General, Credicorp, and Global Bank, will no longer open accounts for Americans unless they[...] Click here to continue reading