Reprinted with permission from Bob Adams of Retirement Wave
Report from Panama - June 2013
[Note to readers: you may wonder why, whenever I mention the word "billion" as a statistic, that I immediately follow that with the same number, expressed differently. For example, I will write "$2 billion ($2,000 million)". The simple fact is that there are two different definitions of "billion", each used by many nations. By presenting "billions" in this manner, I am simply clarifying exactly what I mean to both groups. For similar reasons, I try to avoid English contractions like "don't", "isn't", "it's" and so forth. These can be annoying to some readers for whom English is a second language.]
[Posted 23 June 2013] This report has been slow to come, but it has finally been finished! I hope you will find it useful.
The global context, whether we like it or not
"Innumerable confusions and a feeling of despair invariably emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transition."-- Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) - Canadian sociologist and philosopher
As many of you know, I spent almost all of my adult life working in the so-called "Third World". They were called that because so many became independent during a relatively short period during the Cold War (what I call, "World War Three in slow motion" a war that went on for nearly fifty years). These nations appeared so rapidly that maps had to be constantly reprinted. Every few months, it seemed, National Geographic would send out a new World Map folded inside its magazine. From 1956 through 1966, the following nations gained their independence - Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Ghana, Malaya (now Malaysia), Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cyprus, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Togo, Kuwait, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Algeria, Burundi, Jamaica, Rwanda, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, North Borneo, Sarawak, Malawi, Malta, Zambia, Gambia, The Maldives, Singapore, Barbados, Botswana, Guyana, and Lesotho. Those in italic type all became independent in a single year, 1960. Since no one was really sure how these new nations would fit into the two Cold War alliances headed by the US and the Soviet Union (the First and Second Worlds), the term "Third World" was used for the new kids on the block.
I would sit across the table as an advisor, consultant, program director or any of a number of titles from folks from many of those nations and others. I was there to help them understand how to survive and eventually prosper in a system designed in Europe and North America from a very different cultural and historical perspective. I had to be very sensitive. On the one hand, they were very proud of their nations and grateful that people like me were willing to help. On the other hand, they were embarrassed by the problems that face any nation in its early decades and frustrated that they had to depend on a foreigner for help. Understanding both was critical.
Once in a great while, the embarrassment and frustration would boil over into anger. I understood. I could handle it without responding in kind. I sympathized. I always reminded myself that my home nation was young once too and was equally sensitive to the opinions of foreigners. And we already "knew the rules of the game", most of our citizens having their family roots in the dominant global empire of that day. In so many ways, these folks across the table from me faced a far greater challenge than my people had faced when they got their independence.
If you think that I was the "adult" and they were the "children", think again. They were most certainly adult humans, just like me. But when the meeting was over, I went back to my hotel room that cost more for a single day than most of them were paid for a month. And that assumed their government had paid them for that month. Sometimes in the past, they waited for as long as six months to get paid. If I had a lot of work to do, I would sit quietly at my hotel room desk with piles of paper and order dinner from room service. They went home to families with all the challenges that families face, with hardly a quiet moment to think, and ate whatever they could afford to eat. Trust me on this. They were not children. They were adults and I had nothing but admiration for the many of them who, somehow or another, managed to pull themselves together and keep up the good work. So many of them were to pass away before they could taste the fruits of their labor, but I am happy that so many of their children have been able to taste that for them...and because of them.
They needed more than advice from me though. They needed a shot of inspiration. They needed to believe that I believed in them, and I did. I hope I inspired a few of them. I know they inspire me today.
Do not misunderstand me. I was (I had to be) a very practical person. I knew some of them were useless, others corrupt, still others uncaring. All the more reason to appreciate those who carried their burden well. Whether they lived in Ghana or Singapore, they had burdens to carry that I did not and, truth be said, that I might not have carried half as well, if at all, had I sat on their side of the table. I say all this as a reminder to myself and to you that we are all human beings, nothing more, and we are all capable of choosing to do the right thing, or choosing to do the wrong thing. Some of us may have been lucky enough to be born into well-established, successful societies, tasting the fruits of our ancestor's labor, but none of us, wherever we live, have reason to consider ourselves "superior". We are simply human.
Things have changed at the "table". America's CIA provides a useful Factbook, a public listing of many statistics for every nation. They do a good job of keeping their statistics up-to-date, although sometimes they get behind. For example, they still list Panama's "Amerindians" (our indigenous people) as 6% of the population, a statistic from an old census. The 2010 census which provided much improved coverage of the most distant rural areas found that roughly 12.3% of Panamanians are indigenous people. But the stats considered most important to decision-making are up-to-date.
Take a moment to look at the list of the 220 nations and semi-independent territories listed by their economic (GDP) growth rate for 2012. I will provide the link below. Notice which are the leaders. Many are categorized by international agencies as "low income" nations, thus their growth rates can be higher since they are starting from a lower base. But Panama is part of the "upper middle income" category which makes its performance that much more impressive. Look for your own home nation. It may take you a moment to find it, but it is there. Keep in mind that what you find there has been the case for several years now. Over time, the differences in economic growth add up. Note - there is an "est" (estimated) after almost all the stats. This is normal. Final figures are not announced until well into the next year, but most of these, including Panama's, are already revised and any changes will be tiny, if there are any at all.
Now you might think this is bad news. Well, it is for some nations, but not for many others. I often remind people that for every one of us from the North Atlantic region, both sides, who think the world is "going to hell in a hand basket", as we say in English, there are two, three or more in other nations who see the future not with fear, but with hope, with positive expectations, and with good cheer. Our attitude toward our future has a huge impact on what actually happens in our future. This is a simple lesson all of us already should have learned in our lives, probably on many occasions. I will say this without hesitation. It is much nicer to be living with people who have a positive attitude toward their future than with people who have a negative attitude. When I see what is going on up north, if I had not relocated already, I would certainly be packing my bags now.
But I will also add this, again without hesitation. I believe this is the most exciting period ever in human history and I am blessed to have lived long enough to experience it. That may surprise some of you. But the old "system", if you could call it that, of the 20th century simply is not relevant to the reality of the 21st century. It has already changed, it is changing now, and it will continue to change.
I cannot see you from my desk in Panama City, but I know you are seeing my words right now. Let me "look you in the eye" and share a thought. You know what I mean above. That is one reason you are reading these words at a website on relocation. The critical factor for all of us is to have the right attitude. We are like drivers on the road, everywhere in the world. When we see an accident, we slow down to take a look, even when the scene is unpleasant. But we also know that it is important to take our eyes off the accident and get on with our trip. The sooner we do that, the sooner we get where we want to go.
Seven or eight years ago, I was with a group of expats in Panama. I talked about the expats I had met over the years in nations all over the planet. One of the expats looked at me with disappointment on his face. He asked me, "You mean we are not pioneers?" I laughed and said, no, we are not. We follow in the footsteps of others. There are simply far more of us.
I look back on that and realize I was wrong. Yes, we are pioneers, all of us, including our Panamanian friends and neighbors. We are pioneering a new century and a new world. That is the wonderful thing about human beings, one of the factors that separate us from other species. We can take what we have that is old and make it new again, if we want to. We can reinvent our lives, if we want to. We can have more than one "beginning", if we want to. Do you want to? If you do, the opportunities are all around you and, if you do relocate, you should definitely do it as a pioneer.
My birth nation is known for its pioneers of the past. When they got in that "covered wagon" and started out on their long, long journey west, they learned one lesson quickly enough. If they were to be successful, they had to focus on the trail in front of them, not on the trail behind them.
A good thing to remember for today's pioneers.
Meanwhile, here in Panama...
"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable."--
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) - American economist
Typically in these reports, I list a series of individual statistics or facts regarding Panama’s economy. I have another list today, but I am going to make it very brief so I can concentrate on broader topics.
Companies like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, JC Penney and others are interested in opening operations in Panama. We are told that Wal-Mart is furthest along that path and most the likely the first we will see.
Once again, Panama received more Foreign Direct Investment (this is large-scale investment) than its neighbors, over $3 billion ($3,000 million) in 2012, $265 million more than 2011.
Car sales continue to rise rapidly, up 16% in 2013’s first quarter compared to the same period in 2012. This kind of growth has been going on for years and residents of Panama City will groan, but it is one indicator of economic growth.
The government announced that the Development Bank of Latin America and the Inter-American Development Bank will provide funding for the construction of the second line of our new Metro system in Panama City. The first line will be completed and the construction of the second line will begin over the course of the next 12 months.
Panama continues to be seen as a safe haven for people in other nations, but contrary to popular opinion, the US and Canada only represent 6% of the money held here. 59% is Panamanian money, simply domestic deposits. 26% of the remaining 35% is from elsewhere in Latin America with 9% from everywhere else. Remember, it is not always to avoid taxes that people keep their money here. It is because our banking system is known to be well-run and the government does not interfere with legal transactions, much less confiscate foreign deposits.
One interesting note. Ecuador has a variety of social, economic, and political problems which has led to Ecuadorians moving their money (and sometimes themselves) to other nations. Traditionally, that would be the US, but the Ecuadorian government reports that 47% of that money went to Panama. Another example of why North Americans should not consider themselves to be the major foreign factor in the local economy.
If a nation has a good credit rating, the global market will accept lower interest rates and longer durations. So it was pleasing to note that a bond issue of $750 million was over-subscribed by buyers who accepted 40-year bonds at an interest rate of 4.30%. This compares to another issue of a few years ago before our credit rating rose sharply and we had to pay 6.70%. Or you can compare this bond issue with another done at the same time by Costa Rica who had to pay 5.625% for 30-year bonds, and Costa Rica is better off than many of our neighbors. This is the lowest rate ever paid by the Republic of Panama. Interest was strong and there were bids for $4.5 billion ($4,500 million) worth of bonds, 5.8 times as many as were available. This is real money, folks, managed by people who are very conservative in a crazy global economy. We consider these results to be a genuine compliment, far more important in the long run than articles with pretty pictures in the travel sections of foreign newspapers.
In the last three years, the government has placed a great deal of emphasis on providing computers to school children and free Wi-Fi service in public places all over the country. As a result, the percentage of Panamanians able to access the Internet has risen from 25% to 48% and continues to rise. In the 2013 Global Report on Information Technology published by the World Economic Forum, Panama rose 11 places in the rankings, first in relation to the Central American nations to our west and north, third among all nations in Latin America, behind only tiny French Guiana, still part of France, and Chile.
A few years ago, it took a Panamanian five days to establish a corporation, much slower than the US, but faster than most nations. Today, he or she can do it on-line at a special site for that purpose in an average of 45 minutes, but as little as 15 minutes. The result has been a great increase in entrepreneurial activity in recent years and the first quarter of this year saw a 21.2% increase from 2012. Tens of thousands of businesses have been set up in this manner, more than 28,000 in 2012. We could set a new record this year as the first quarter of 2013 saw an additional 8,359 businesses incorporated. Businesses can also "cancel" their incorporation, if they fail, as is always the case in a free market. However, it is interesting to note that new businesses last year reported hiring 95,443 employees, while "canceled" businesses released only 11,689 employees.
If there is one thing that gets a great deal of attention everywhere in the world, but especially in North America and Europe at the moment, it is a job. Panama’s unemployment rate remains very low at 4%. But if we were to use the statistic used in the US and many other nations and dropped those people who had given up looking for work out of frustration (“discouraged workers”), it would be 3%. That is as close to zero unemployment as any free society is likely to enjoy. Of course, some of the jobs are simple or “informal”, but they provide income and a sense of personal worth, as well as provide a foundation for a move up later. And what is the outlook in Panama in that regard. The Manpower Group recently completed its global survey of expected hiring and here are some of the results.
We are in good shape.
There are any number of other details. Two of interest to some of you may be the new COPA direct daily flight from Boston beginning in July and the new Air France-KLM direct flight from Paris three days a week beginning in November to compliment its current daily flights from Amsterdam. I have probably missed a couple others!
I know many readers love these bits and pieces of differing significance as they do provide one view of the overall economy. But let us now focus on the broad indicators. The preliminary GDP growth estimate for the first three months of 2013 is at a 7% rate. This stands in contrast to 10.7% for 2012 as a whole, or a drop of about a third. Is this a disaster based on a collapsing global economy? No. Let me share three thoughts.
Two major factors in this "slow-down" are our neighbors to the east and south - Colombia and Venezuela. Without going into the mountain of detail necessary to explain, Colombia has been charging a special tax against those using our Free Trade Zone for shipping. It is clearly unfair and we have complained to the World Trade Organization, of which both nations are part, and we will likely win that argument, but that is no guarantee that Colombia will do the right thing. It is a big pain in the neck and it has hurt our trade with Colombia, a major trading partner, but it is not likely to be "forever".
As for Venezuela, its economy is a disaster and one of the first things Mr. Maduro, the man who replaced Hugo Chavez, did was to devalue their grossly over-valued local currency. This has made imports to Venezuela much more expensive and that has hit at our exports and re-exports through the Zone to Venezuela. Heaven alone knows what is going to happen in Venezuela in coming months and years, but this also is a pain in the neck. So the drop is not as associated with China, the US, or Europe as some might imagine.
Let me share with you how I look at GDP growth rates in simple terms. I start with the nation's population growth rate. In Panama, that is 1.4%. I like the GDP (total national wealth created in a year) growth rate to be at least three times the population growth rate. No matter what the ideology or economic approach of the nation may be officially, I have never been in one where economic growth is equally distributed. Tripling the population rate means, outside of genuine dictatorships, that the majority of the people are likely to be better off now than the year before.
In Panama, that means 4.2%. Although it is not common, I prefer that the GDP grow four times faster as that all but guarantees that the great majority benefit, directly and indirectly. In Panama, that means 5.6%. Delightful though it may be, there is no need for Panama's GDP to grow six, seven, or eight times faster, as it often has in recent years. 7% is five times faster and this is great, far higher than most nations and probably all or nearly all our birth nations. It is nothing to lose sleep over. Most of our nations would be very, very happy to come close to that figure. Some would be happy just to get rid of the ”minus” sign in front of their rate. And let us also not forget that this is only one quarter of a year.
Now, we should take a look at the trend. That is where the real action is over time. For this, it is easier to use the IMAE statistics. IMAE is the Spanish acronym for Monthly Index of Economic Activity. It is very similar to GDP, but does not include all the detail, thus it is published on a monthly basis. It typically understates economic growth as it does not include all the many items in GDP, but it follows the same path. In case anyone wonders, it has also been lower than average in recent months, so we already knew the quarterly GDP rate was going to be slower. Here is a graph of the IMAE from January of 2008 through the first three months of 2013, the first quarter that we are talking about. The red line shows the month-to-month movement which tends to be "choppy". The black line shows the statistical trend, so it uses averages to smooth out the monthly bounces. Yes, the figures are corrected for inflation.
Okay, now look at the two "spikes" that are far above the trend line on the right. Ignore the first one and begin with the next one which is below the trend line and the others to its right. That covers 12 months, one year. You will see that three of the monthly stats were above the trend line, three were on or very nearly on the trend line, and six were below the trend line. That is the foundation for the "slow-down". It is nice to note that the final month pops up rather impressively, but that is only one month and not the focus of attention. However, overall, you may see something to get upset about, but I do not.
Finally, let me finish by quickly pointing out three things that will have substantial impact in the next two or three years or earlier. First, the Panama Canal expansion will be completed in early 2015 and will immediately be put to use. This will have a huge impact on revenue for the Canal and for the nation. Second, the Minera Panama copper mine will come on-line and that will add a great deal more to our wealth. Third, the natural gas and oil reserves in eastern Panama when I am focused in terms of investment will begin to be developed as bids for "blocks" come in later this year. This not only will increase national income, but whatever the final results, it is going to bring a great deal of attention to a beautiful region of Panama that has gone ignored for far too many years. So there are three new sources of income that very few people seem to take in to account when "predicting" Panama's economic future. Big mistake.
I will now turn to two subjects that I would be perfectly happy to ignore, but are appropriate for this report
Elections come to Panama
"My brother Bob doesn't want to be in government - he promised Dad he'd go straight."--John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) - American President
Well, it turned out that Bob did want to be in government later on, but JFK's comment is still enjoyable today. Panama has elections every five years for all elected positions from the most basic up to the Presidency. Our next election is scheduled for May 4 of 2014. All the primaries are not yet finished, but we do know our Presidential candidates and some of the others, but it will be the end of September before the political primaries are completely finished. The President cannot run for re-election, although other office-holders can. Here is a quick summary of what will happen at a high probability level.
The primaries will finish and all candidates will be known. The various party campaigns, already beginning, will go into hyper-drive. Candidate A will insist that the future will be glorious if he is elected and disastrous if he is not. Candidates B and C (we will have at least three) will say exactly the same thing. There will be much finger-waving and finger-pointing, hooting, hollering, accusations, angry responses, and so forth. However, Panamanians are very used to all this and will not panic. Debates between Presidential candidates will be held and a high percentage of the nation's voters will be listening. The debates are taken very seriously here. Polls will be constantly reported and the results published to the joy or dismay of one party or another. As we near Election Day, the rhetoric will reach new heights and a visitor from another planet will think the Fate of the Universe depends on the outcome. Election Day will dawn, Panamanians will quietly line up to vote, chat cheerfully with each other, complain about how long the line is, and vote peacefully. Results will be announced that evening as they come in and a Presidential winner will be announced. His supporters will drive all over town, blowing their horns and celebrating, while the losers sit at home and sulk. The next morning will dawn and we will all get up and go back to work. Despite earlier comments by the candidates, the Universe will survive without difficulty.
In other words, it will be like elections in every other democracy I have visited or in which I have lived or worked. Recently, I have been asked by some Members if I am concerned about who is elected President. No, I am not. First, none of the major party candidates would be considered "extremist", either right or left, in North America or Europe. They are all dedicated to maintaining the economic growth of the last decade and have no desire to be the "President who sank the economy". Second, this is a small nation with only slightly more than one percent of the population of the US, for example. Voters typically know their candidates well and if they want to hear every candidate for major office in person, shake his or her hand, and ask a question, they will have plenty of opportunities to do that. If a candidate says or does something really foolish, everyone will know about it by the next day. If you ever have any worries about freedom of speech and press here in Panama, you will not if you follow the elections. Third, I have honestly been very impressed, despite all the inevitable craziness that can occur in democracies, by the seriousness with which Panamanians take their elections. They lost their democracy for a time in the past. They do not want to lose it again and they will not. The worst thing I expect to happen is that I (and I suspect, most Panamanians) will have to put up with all the noise and will be delighted when it is all over and we can be left in peace again for at least a few years!
A Canal in Nicaragua?
I do not have an appropriate quotation for this section, but it will be short anyhow. If you have not heard, President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua has announced an agreement with a firm in Hong Kong to prepare a feasibility study for a canal (two years, $400 million), then another ten years ($40 billion or $40,000 million) to build it. This has caused a great deal of comment. There is a long list of reasons why this effort can fall apart and I am not going to waste my time with them. Although I must admit, I am impressed with President Ortega's ability to what would have been once considered impossible - unite the right of center in Nicaragua with the environmentalists.
Nicaragua is a very poor country compared to Panama. Their per capita GDP (PPP) is $4,500 for 2012, Panama's is $15,900. Panama is rapidly diversifying its economy beyond our canal and has no intentions of stopping. In 12 years, if the feasibility study and the canal construction all happen on schedule, we will have been running the expanded Panama Canal for a decade. I have worked with shippers for years. Nicaragua's canal is going to have to do two things as an absolute minimum, 1) be cheaper than our canal and 2) be as efficiently and competently operated as our canal has been for 99 years already, 111 years when their canal is supposed to be ready.
There are all sorts of problems they will encounter, including opposition from the indigenous people and the environmentalists, constitutional challenges, etc. If they can pass all these tests and more, and successfully open and operate a canal, we will compete. I am not holding my breath. I will probably be dead by then anyhow. I will use the same polite adjective that the Panama Canal Authority chose in its statement. This project is "ambitious".
There are so many practical problems associated with this that it is not worth my time or yours going through them all. I wish Nicaragua good luck and will get on with my life. However, in answer to the question, "Is Panama shaking in its boots, sweat pouring down its fevered brow, fearing a canal in Nicaragua?", the answer is...no. We will leave that for a time when it is truly justified. And I will leave the subject at that for now.
So, what about me, Bob? Is Panama still a good place to live?
"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision."--Helen Keller (1880-1968) - American author who happened to be blind
In one respect, this is the most "boring" portion of my reports in recent years. Basically, the Panamanian economy continues to grow faster than most others. Real estate prices are relatively stable in most parts of the nation. They rise in some areas, stagnate in others, and fall in others, very much like "normal" real estate markets throughout history. There is something here in just about everyone's price range, but you have to look for it, as you would anywhere. This is not a market like the crazy one in the US and many European nations in the past decade. This market is not based on mountains of debt resulting from ridiculous mortgage contracts and poor lending practices in general. Downpayments are high here and the banking system is conservative. They did not take part in the northern "bubble" that collapsed so terribly and we are very thankful for that.
I cannot tell you how many "investment groups" of small investors with a couple million dollars or so that I met in past years who came down with stars in their eyes, money in their pockets, expecting to "flip" properties in a year and double their money, or who set up small real estate developments in areas that were not ready for them. In other words, I saw too many arrive, on fire with dreams, only to see them flame out later. They simply could not accept their own ignorance when they most needed to...at the beginning. I hope never to have to go through that again.
But there is some indication that some people in North America are beginning to do well financially again, even suggestions of a real estate “mini-bubble”, heaven forbid, as some of the old practices are still present. So to those Members who may be thinking in terms of the small investor group approach, do yourselves and all of us a big favor. Do not come here for a couple weeks or so, rush around looking at various properties, than go home to combine that short trip with “research” done on English-language websites, including this one, and think you know what you are doing with your million or two million or whatever dollars. You do not. You are in the hands of Lady Luck and she has been known to drop people frequently.
Come, by all means, but settle down and stay as long as you can, get up every morning six days a week, and hit the road. See as many properties as you can, but above all, speak to as many people as you can. If you do not speak Spanish, hire someone to go with you and interpret. If you have a car with a truly bi-lingual driver, that can help. If you have no professional experience dealing with Latin American real estate, find someone who does and hire them. If you want to be treated as professional investors and seek the rewards of professional investors, act like professional investors.
You might think this is necessary for everyone coming down, but that is neither practical nor as critical. Why? 99% of RW members come looking for their home and/or their little business they want to set up. Sure, a few buy quickly and with little thought, but they are a tiny minority and smaller than ever. The troubles up north have had their effect. I find Members to be far more demanding and conservative than was true six or seven or eight years ago. Basically, you do the same here that you would do if moving to a completely new area of your home nation. It is your household’s money and no one else’s, and you know it. But taking as much time as you can, even two trips to Panama if that is financially possible, finding and making use of a good lawyer, and using common sense can help keep you from doing something foolish. And if you are wise, you will ignore the “investment” potential of what you buy and just focus on where you want to live.
Otherwise, as in the past, Americans and Canadians are a small portion of the expatriates arriving to relocate. In my experience, Europeans have increased in number over the last year or two. I have met more than a few Members from Italy, France, Spain and so forth, especially Italy, but I am sure other European nations are well-represented too. However, although those I meet frequently come with more money than North Americans, they are still small in number.
The majority of buyers, especially at the high end, are either from Panama or from other Latin American nations. We have plenty of Venezuelans and Colombians already here, but they are being joined, again in my experience and from what I hear from others, by increasing numbers from Ecuador, Argentina and other nations with socio-economic and political "problems". These expats tend to bring more money to the table than many North Americans and Europeans as they are often moving their families too, along with as much of their assets as possible. This is especially challenging for Members from Venezuela and Argentina whose governments are not happy about this. Ecuador is not too happy with this either. The more recent Latin American arrivals tend to end up in Panama City where the jobs are, the business possibilities are best for them, and our primary international airport is nearby. They are welcome. Panama has a long history of living and working with foreigners.
As far as you, the person reading this right now, are concerned, this is ultimately a personal decision, whether of an individual, a couple, or a family. As I have said many times before, I do not care if you relocate to Panama or even set foot in Panama. You need to go where you need to go and nobody can tell you where that is. I think Panama is an excellent choice, flawed like every one of the nations I have visited (remember, no Martians here, just humans), but a good place to live and grow.
You cannot sit in front of a computer monitor 500, 5000, or 15000 miles/kilometers from here and make a final decision. The best you can hope to do is to choose a nation you think fits you best from what you have read and heard. Whatever you decide, there is one critical element that is absolutely essential. You have to sit down at that monitor and make arrangements for transport. Then the day will come when you walk out the door on your way to see everything for yourself. There is no website on Planet Earth that can do a better job for you than your eyes, your ears, and your brain.
And wherever you go, take note of Helen Keller’s words that began this section, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision.” That vision is inside you, not outside. You know yourself (or yourselves) better than anyone else, anywhere. Do not be afraid to use that self-knowledge to build a vision of your future. A new home really does give you a new chance to grow. Bob Adams cannot do that for you and neither can anyone else. It is nothing to fear. You can do it.
That ends this report. And every one of you who has ever read one of these reports knows exactly what comes next and how important it is to read it, so let us do that together.
No one knows the future. Free markets go up and free markets go down. The future is not a simple extrapolation of the present. Anything can happen. Everyone has an opinion and those words above are just opinions.