Tag Archive | "energy prices"

Ecuador Beats Inflation


Living in Ecuador is one way to beat inflation.

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Ecuadorians now how to live well on less.  They even farm steep land like this.

See two other ways to beat inflation below.

Beating inflation is absolutely vital now… especially for those about to retire… because Social Security is fading.

Lalla was a 14th century poetess who lived in Kashmir.  She described herself as a somewhat… something… moving dreamlike… on a fading road.

This is a perfect description for Social Security now… somewhat… something… moving dreamlike… on a fading road.

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Almost every plot of spare Ecuador land is rich and growing food.

Picture this.

Excerpts from a recent AOL.Money article by Jim Kuhnhenn entitled “White House Projects $9 Trillion Deficit”: In a chilling forecast, the White House is predicting a 10-year federal deficit of $9 trillion — more than the sum of all previous deficits since America’s founding. And it says by the next decade’s end the national debt will equal three-quarters of the entire U.S. economy.  But before President Barack Obama can do much about it, he’ll have to weather recession aftershocks including unemployment that his advisers said Tuesday is still heading for 10 percent.  Overall, White House and congressional budget analysts said in a brace of new estimates that the economy will shrink by 2.5 to 2.8 percent this year even as it begins to climb out of the recession. Those estimates reflect this year’s deeper-than-expected economic plunge.

The grim deficit news presents Obama with both immediate and longer-term challenges. The still fragile economy cannot afford deficit-fighting cures such as spending cuts or tax increases. But nervous holders of U.S. debt, particularly foreign bondholders, could demand interest rate increases that would quickly be felt in the pocketbooks of American consumers.

The amount of  this debt just an astounding and will almost certainly lead to inflation and a falling US dollar.

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A lot of the food grown is organic so…

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the local markets, like this one in Cotacachi have low cost organic “Productos Organicos.”  This makes it easier and less expensive to eat well in Ecuador.

The article above about the deficit is bad enough news but a recent USA Today article Social Security checks set to shrink in 2010 that shows how for those who are retiring, matters are getting even worse. Here is an excerpt:  Millions of older people face shrinking Social Security checks next year, the first time in a generation that payments would not rise.

The trustees who oversee Social Security are projecting there won’t be a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the next two years. That hasn’t happened since automatic increases were adopted in 1975.

By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly payments would drop for millions of people in the Medicare prescription-drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly.

Cost-of-living adjustments are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year, largely because energy prices are below 2008 levels.

Seniors “count on that COLA,” said Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut who heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “To some people, it might not be a big deal. But to seniors, especially with their health care costs, it is a big deal.”

Even the Cathedral next to our hotel grows organic corn in the church yard.

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There are numerous ways to beat this inflation crunch.

Inflation beater #1: Move to a low cost of living location like Ecuador. Inflation will hit Ecuador as well… but the starting baseline is lower.  In addition people in Ecuador know how to live well… on less.

Inflation beater #2: Own real estate or other commodities. The price of property and commodities, properly purchased will rise with inflation.  Property in Smalltown USA especially offers value now.

Inflation beater #3: Have your own business.  This is the greatest inflation beating asset of all, the ability to earn wherever you live.

This is why we offer our course Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business.

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With so much sun and plenty of rain, the grass is rich, even in Cotacachi at 7,500 feet altitude for…

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these organic cows.  Plus raw milk can be purchased directly… and at a low cost from the dairy keeping the cost of good living down.

A clear mind and healthy body are also a vital assets… plus a second language is a powerful diversification tool.

This is why I am willing to pay you $300 to attend either our Ecuador Super Thinking plus Spanish seminar in September or our North Carolina International Business & Investing seminar in October.  Sign up for either seminar and I will email you our Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business Course (offered at $299) free plus I’ll knock an extra dollar off your seminar fee…. to round up the $300 savings.

Gary

Here are comments from one seminar delegate about the way we help: I really enjoy your Ecuador e-mail every day, especially because of the eclectic nature of the subjects. The recent postings on Loja were great, as my wife and I visited Loja for two nights and a day when were were in Ecuador last March. It is a beautiful town, and we met some very nice people there.

At our hotel the staff makes our own butter, marmalade and ice cream. Plus they love serving in beautiful ways. Here is how they set out the cutlery!  How can anyone not be charmed by such care.

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Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Super Thinking + Spanish Course

Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Learn more about global investing, how to have an international business and diversification in Ecuador at the seminar.

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina with our webmaster  David Cross & Thomas Fischer of JGAM

October 16-18 Ecuador Southern coastal tour (early sign up before Sept. 1, $499 per person).

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

Oct. 25-26 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador Seminar

Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any two Ecuador seminar or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Read the entire articles below:

White House Projects $9 Trillion Deficit

Social Security checks set to shrink in 2010

Ecuador Car Rental Review


See below why our recent article about Ecuador car rentals aroused more than just comments about cars. That message evoked a strong reaction to change… a change that must take place…  a change where resistance is futile and in many places a gesture that degrades our chances for happiness, health and a life of ease.  See why below.

We Americans do love our cars.

I know.

I have kept my little Suzuki Samari going for 22 years now… and hopefully will be driving it for another 22 years…. or more.

 

Four wheel drive from flowers. What fun!

I was not surprised that my suggestion in the Ecuador car rental article “get a driver rather than rent a car  in Ecuador” caused some panic.

You can read that article at car rentals in Ecuador

Beware those who try to separate Americans from their cars!  This caused one reader to worry so about the cost of cars that he wrote:

Hi Gary,  what about importing your own car, or buying one there?
From what you are writing, the living seems to be very inexpensive, that is until you want to travel on your own. Try that on $1000 month or a fixed income.
All that shines is not gold. Reading between your lines these past 3 months I have come to conclude that there are lots of “hidden” costs in living in this 3rd world country.

I have lived for decades in many similar countries, and even worse, however never have I encountered such car costs as you describe. These are by far the most expensive car rentals I have heard of.  Doesn’t make sense living there unless one wants to walk or take taxis everywhere. An independent person would be doomed to frustration.  No, thanks…this was the article that opened my eyes.

This reader jumped to some incorrect conclusions. The gist of the article was that people who visit Ecuador should hire a car and driver.

The car rental situation is quite different for a tourist than for someone who has moved to Ecuador, learned the system… knows the roads and is not trying to see the country in a limited  time period.

Many people who live in Ecuador have cars.  Cars are not that expensive…. especially new ones partly assembled in Ecuador.

Gas is really cheap ($1.50 a gallon) and mechanics very inexpensive.

We recently looked at buying a four wheel drive Land Rover Challenger in good shape for our hotel.  The asking price was $15,000.  But we wouldn’t drive it.

GoEcuador says: It is now possible to obtain a used car in good condition beginning at $4000.

I just posted an entire report about prices of used cars for our Ecuador Living subscribers. If you do not subscribe to Ecuador Living and want that report on Ecuador car prices, learn how to get that report here.

Plus that reader says he is independent because he has a car?

He forgets the fact that this means he is very dependent on cheap gas… something he may not have for long.

In Ecuador, the cost of hiring a driver can be less then renting a car and may even less than owning your own car. The availability of drivers with cars can eliminate the idea that we become dependent on others if we do not have a car.

One small piece of technology altered the automobile driver equation… the cell phone. In Ecuador most people have cell phones.   A number of drivers we and many others rely on have cell phones.  A car is always just minutes away from a call… no parking… no insurance… no maintenance… no getting gas.

Another reader wrote:

Thank you!  We would purchase a locally manufactured ‘middle of the road’ (pun) vehicle.  But I’m worried about drivers, accidents, tickets, gringo-problems with the locals and the police as well as the various other road condition, speeders, etcetera other issues.  (We have both driven over 45 years in various countries with no tickets – I’m not worried about our driving.)  We plan to relocate to Ecuador – probably suburban/rural area (but near enough to a city with a bilingual school) so will need a car daily for commuting our daughter to school, shopping, and more.  How can it be affordable to take taxis all the time instead of owning a vehicle ourselves?  Please let me know how others do it.   Do you and Merri drive in Ecuador? Thanks.

These notes conjure several important points about change from living in Ecuador or anywhere abroad…  points that go way beyond cars.

These readers, like so many readers who contact me, projected the old American commuter ideal onto an imagined lifestyle into Ecuador.

Why?

This mental error is understandable.   We Americans are car junkies.

I am living proof.

Like many Americans I obtained my driving license on my 16th birthday.  Shortly after I found a job and bought my own car… a 58 Chevy Bel Air just like this.

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That was a great car and I just about lived in it.  We boomers in high school were judged by our cars!

I initially carried the burden of the car mentality with me when I left the USA.  I have driven in some crazy places during my time… jungles… war zones… deserts… swamps.  We’ve had our car robbed in Nice … had fender benders in Djakarta and on roundabouts in London and Rome.  Merri had her car bombed in the parking lot of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona…along with everyone else’s car there. (Long live the Basques!) Plus I have had a couple of cars stolen and some serious smashes in the US.  I live with the effects of a broken back, whiplashed neck and busted knee from driving an Austin Healey Frogeye (see below) into an 18 wheeler truck .

So I have experienced the good and the bad of cars.

When Merri and I bought our first hacienda in Ecuador, the seller threw in a really great, old Land Rover… gray… perfect leather seats but so old it had only three switches… one for the lights, one for the windshield wipers and one that apparently did nothing.   You could (and we did) start that vehicle with a hand crank.  The heating and air conditioning system was a flap in front that you could either open or shut.

We loved that car and I drove it exactly once… from our hacienda to Calacali… about a hour ride with only 15 minutes on a paved road.

The rest of the time we had our driver drive us.  This provided one more job in a country that needs employment plus gave Merri and me time to talk… look at the scenery and not worry about parking and all the rest of the hassle that comes with driving.

That is the only one time I have driven in Ecuador in all these decades.

Now let me add… I have always been a driver.

When I lived in Hong Kong I had a car… a great little Sprite Frogeye. Like this…

I loved that car in Hong Kong but hardly ever drove it.  I took the peak tram, the Star Ferry, taxis… the trolley and even jumped on the bus from time to time.

Why?

Have you ever tried to park in Hong Kong?

Ditto for London. I had a number of cars… first a little MG Midget like this.

In 1970, I drove that MG from London to Rome with my wife and two children… one still in diapers… a mistake… having not learned about the luxuries of Eurorail.

Then I had an Audi… a Peugeot… a BMW… and a Triumph Spitfire.

Yet I rode my bicycle many miles through London traffic from my home is Chiswick to my office on Artillery Row near Buckingham Palace.  I was often stopped by the police and even ticketed for riding my bike on a short cut through Kensington Gardens.   I also regularly used the Tube.

Why?

Have you ever tried to drive in London?

Plus riding the bike every day eliminated having to drive the car to a gym… a double savings.

Here is a point about change that goes beyond cars.

Americans are car addicted because of the nature of America.

Americans need and are highly dependent on cars because everything is spread out,  gas has been cheap, there is little public transportation and labor is expensive.

This set of conditions does not apply in all countries.  Cars are an asset in the USA but they can be liabilities elsewhere.

Why in a time when the environment is at risk through pollution… energy prices are rising… and roads are becoming more and more congested… would one want to stick to a lifestyle that revolves around one car per person if that is not the most effective lifestyle?

The one car per person mentality is old thought.

We really need to move onto the new.

Due to high labor costs, Americans have become hooked on DYI.   Yet when we move to a country with great, low cost labor… it makes sense to take advantage of these conditions.  Everyone gains.

When we can do good, why not create a bit of employment and save time, energy and money… why not sit back and enjoy the ride?

Hundreds of my readers have moved to Ecuador.  Almost none have chosen to buy a car because they really are not needed in many places there.

In Cotacachi we walk. Our friends who have moved to Cotacachi report  losing weight, feeling better and having more energy… in part because they walk more instead of driving.

Taxis are very inexpensive.  Most trips around town are a dollar and they come quickly to a cell phone call.  Though Merri and I do not use the buses, many of our friends do. The system works well.  If we need to take a trip away from the village, we have a number of drivers who have excellent vans and cars who charge between $55 and $70 to take us wherever we want to go.  A ride is  available at any time night or day… with one cell phone call.  Usually on a long furniture shopping trip to many places nearby, we might spend $10-$15….plus we have the advantage of the driver’s help, no problems parking, etc.

We have eliminated the cost of the car… gas… maintenance…. insurance…. parking… security.

Many US and Canadian readers write to us asking about cars…. big refrigerators… washing machines and dish washers.  These are all products that have evolved from North America’s spread out, low energy, high labor cost, nationally distributed, highly preserved food lifestyle.

In many countries you do not need these expenses and burdens.  You can walk daily to the market and get great fresh food.  This is fun!

Why have a huge fridge?  Merri and I love visiting the market. We searched for the tiniest fridge we could find.  We live just like we lived in London for all those years.  Every morning out on the streets looking for THE perfect vegetables, fruits, etc. and then enjoying a morning coffee and back home with everything for lunch!  What fun!

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Here’s the kitchen of one of our condo rentals.  Do you see a fridge?  It is tiny and hidden away. We amble to the food markets instead. Cotacachi market is just three blocks away and we enjoy buying our food fresh from our neighbors.

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Ecuador Visit

The market provides these bicycle carts. For 50 cents or a dollar a happy man will ride all your groceries home for you….and put them away if you like!

The food market is fun and we love having a hot fig and cheese sandwich for breakfast. Not a combination most would ever dream of. They are delicious but missed if you are driving your car though miles of traffic to get to the American style super market!

Why pay a premium for imported dishwashers and washing machines when you can have cheerful, happy people do your cleaning and ironing for you?  You save time, energy and create employment to help the poor.

Which makes more sense?  Spend extra money for a very expensive  imported washing machine that takes up space in your home… and requires effort on your part or spend a LOT LESS money letting these two cheerful mothers, Rosita and…

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and Rosita Elena…

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do your laundry and deliver your sparkling, ironed clothes to you?  I love all natural clothes but they do require startch and ironing…and here’s our delightful answer.

You save space, money and help the Rositas support their families.

There is another important point here.

You help the environment. One washing machine that serves 20 families is better on the environment than 20 machines serving families.

Ditto for cars. Even in the USA, car sharing is growing as explained in the Washington Post in an article entitled “Car-Sharing Merges Into the Mainstream
Not Just for Tree-Huggers: Businesses and Universities Help Drive Growth of Flexcar, Zipcar.”

You can see how Car sharing is growing in Germany and car sharing is growing in Japan.

Car sharing is growing in these industrialized countries because labor is still dear.  In Ecuador you can car share with a driver!

Plus one more really important point.   With rising energy costs, why would any of us think that on a limited budget we can continue to have this wasteful high energy lifestyle?  Why would we even want our old wasteful high energy lifestyle?  Americans have been warned.  Four dollars a gallon gasoline can return.

In fact four bucks a gallon may be low.  In Europe gas can cost seven dollars a gallon.

This note is not about cars.

It is about change.

We’ll be seeing more and more change in our lifetimes… coming faster.

We can profit if we adapt to the change and take advantage of new circumstances by living in new ways based on the local conditions that surround us.

Those who try and stick to old ways in a new environment will lose opportunity and ease in life at best. They may even suffer… sometimes a lot.

Change means we may life differently than before.  Change means we may even choose to live in a country where we were not raised and born.  This change can enhance our lifestyle… improve our health…. relieve our stress… if we adapt and embrace that country for what it is and enjoy its unique attributes.

If we choose to leave one country… why try to reproduce what we decided we no longer enjoy? If you want a mini USA or another Canada in Ecuador… but on the cheap… I expect you’ll be very disappointed coming to Ecuador.

Ecuador is a great place to be… but it is Ecuador… not Canada… not the USA.

Think about the quote by Anatole France about change: All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

Through change we may lose the one car per person lifestyle… but gain stronger legs… healthier lungs and cleaner air.  We may not be able to jump in the Chevy, go to the levy and drop off the laundry, do the banking  and get a Big Mac on the way… but in the change we can eliminate our fear of the meter maid.

Plus that ride can still be provided by a wonderful knowing person… just one cell phone call and minutes away.

Do not get me wrong. I still have cars… three right now in fact… all in the US, a Honda minvan for long drives and our old Suzuki and a conservative Dodge pickup for use on the farm.  Conditions warrant each.

Yet I am thinking about creating bio diesel from the farm when change brings the day that gas is not so available or cheap.

We have no car in Ecuador and have never missed one for a second.

If change is bringing a time when the daily one person per car commute must pass… Ecuador is a great place to get started.  For car sharing with drivers, taxis, buses and yes walking… Ecuador is a good place to be. 

Gary

Join Merri me and Thomas Fischer of JGAM and our webmaster David Cross in North Carolina this October.

Learn more about global investing, how to have an international business and early retirement in Ecuador at the course.

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Or join us in Ecuador and learn more about living and retiring in Ecuador.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Spanish Course
Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Tour

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador
Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.  $1,799 for two.

See why we love Cotacachi Market here.

Ecuador visit

 

Multi Currency Strategy


A multi currency strategy is important now because extensive research on seasonality shows that basically in all major equity markets, nearly all returns are achieved from the beginning of November through the end of May. This means we are approaching the best time when equities will rise.

However a year ago, a global financial crisis began. So before we jump headlong into more security investments we need to ask, “What happens now?”

This week we will look at the strategic multi currency economic outlook developed by Jyske Bank’s strategy and research team.

The most important part of investing is to create a realistic match of your portfolio to your own wants, needs and desires.

Next, you need to invest in good value.

An overview of global economics is vital to help you spot good value.

I review my personal portfolio and how I have responded to the crisis of the last year and what I am planning ahead for subscribers of our Multi Currency Course.

Jyske’s report begins:

“It has now been a year since the international financial crisis really took off. The Fed as well as the European Central Bank have had to render assistance in the form of additional liquidity, and there is still a shortage of liquidity today – a year later.

At this point in time – a year after the onset of the crisis – the economic slowdown and the high commodity prices (particularly the oil price) have added to the financial crisis and the global economy is still facing big challenges.

What about the current situation? Well, it can be said that fear of low growth has now replaced the fear of high inflation. This development has taken place after the oil price fell by more than 20% from the peak in mid-July while at the same time we are being inundated with poor economic data for Europe, the UK, Japan, while the emerging markets are also seeing a somewhat weakening development.

What are the forces behind the global economic slowdown in addition to the weak US economy?

Global shocks = Global effects

Drastically rising food and energy prices have put a damper on the consumers’ purchasing power globally and reduced growth by 50% relative to the level in 2007. At the same time, the companies’ earnings are under pressure due to rising commodity prices and wages.

The reaction on the part of the authorities:

Despite the housing-market crisis, financial crisis, oil crisis at full blast in the US, it seems that the US economy saw stronger growth in H1 than the Japanese as well as European counterparts. An important reason for that is that the US authorities did all they could to avoid a slowdown in growth. The Central Bank lowered its interest rate markedly to 2%, and tax relief in the amount of USD 100bn were granted. Europe has seen an interest-rate hike and no easing on the part of the authorities.

Prepared for the worst:

A new development was that already at the beginning of 2008, the US companies seemed to have begun reducing inventories and cutting labour costs in preparation of the bad times ahead. Apparently they were better prepared than the companies in Europe and Asia, which will have to make deeper cuts in production to adapt to the new weaker demand.

Investment Conclusion:

A general theme for investors is positioning for continued weakening of growth outside the US. Therefore, among other things, we now see a markedly stronger dollar as the trend has been reversed. That we prefer US equities to European ones and that European bond yields will fall towards the US level.

On the whole we keep the risk unchanged in the portfolio by maintaining neutral weight for equities. Our considerations with respect to the future are that we will rather prefer to increase the proportion of equities than to reduce it.

This autumn, equities may be boosted by the lower inflation level. Moreover, the many global investors have reduced their holdings considerably. They may gain some appetite for equities when they see the favourable effect from the lower oil prices.

However, the challenges for the equity market is that slow growth will spread from the US to the rest of the world and put pressure on the companies’ earnings and, moreover, the financial crisis is still not over.

Tomorrow’s message by looking at each analysis by Jyske of each currency zone.

Until then, good global investing!

Gary

Join me and with Thomas Fischer from Jyske Bank at our upcoming international investing course in North Carolina. International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina October 3-5