Tag Archive | "The Netherlands"

Ecuador & International Banking Update


Here is an important Ecuador & international banking update created by the wonderful world of mobility in which we live.

Our global mobility provides huge benefits… broadens our horizons and enriches mankind through global trade.   Yet being global also creates some problems… one of them is banking.

This site recently posted a message about Ecuador banks that began with, “I do not trust Ecuador Banks.”

This is not a slight on Ecuador.  This statement is a comment on the realities of trying to maintain control of one’s own wealth in an era where almost all governments are increasing control over money.

The banking article was followed by  another article stressing  the importance of diversification in Ecuador Diversified.

Here is a reminder of the importance of this information.  A couple of years ago I purchased a block of buildings in Ecuador planning to resell them.  I am according to plan selling them now and recently received a payment.

My attorney wrote this to me:

They deposited funds in my account last Wednesday to pay for the condo and asked me to send to you.  There is a 2% tax on money going out of Ecuador which was recently established, plus bank commissions.  I will wait for your instructions  to wire these funds to you.

There previously was a 1% tax but it has now been increased to two percent. This increase is not a big deal but a step in the wrong direction and a reminder that we should never trust any one country, currency or banking system.

I just sent our Ecuador Living subscribers an alert about one more Ecuador banking problem.  Ecuador Living subscribers click here.

Learn how to subscribe to Ecuador Living here.

Hence my mantra to have what I call a “Six Point Command Posture” which is to:

Live in one country
Bank in a second country
Invest in many countries
Earn in two or more countries
Use a company incorporated in a fifth country
Take a second residence

Where to Bank

Knowing where to bank is a growing problem… especially for Americans.  Non Americans should read this article any as you’ll see that you are not exempt from this problem either.

Americans are being crushed between a rock and a hard spot.

The Rock. Many US banks will no longer accept Americans residing overseas because they have a foreign address. This has been caused by the US Patriot Act.  Banks have to know their clients so they refuse to accept (or keep) clients with overseas addresses, even Americans who have banked with them for decades, but change their address.  The following banks have been sited as closing accounts with just 30 days notice of long term customers just because they took on a US address: Ameriprise, Bank of America; Bank of New Hampshire; Citibank; Citizens Bank; Edward Jones, St. Louis; E- Trade; Fidelity Investments; INGDirect; JPMorganChase; Morgan Stanley; National City Bank in Riverview, Michigan; Provident Bank, Maryland; Smith Barney; T. Rowe Price; USAA Federal Saving Bank; Vanguard mutual fund; Wachovia; Washington Mutual; Washington Mutual Investment, Spokane; WellsFargo; Zions Direct.

The Hard Spot. At the same time the IRS has created a set of regulations that discourage non US banks from accepting Americans.

Many Swiss and British based banks will no longer accept Americans.

Here’s an excerpt from a 13, June 2009 Telegraph article entitled “Lloyds Bank hit by Obama tax purge” by By Louise Armitstead:   Banking group drops American customers in UK ahead of costly proposals to stamp out tax evasion  Lloyds Banking Group is ditching American customers based in Britain pending a crackdown on international tax evasion planned by President Barack Obama.

This week American private client account-holders at Lloyds’s received letters informing them of an “important change in policy regarding clients who are resident, domiciled or linked to the United States by property or asset holdings”. They were told the bank had “no choice” but to “cease acting as your investment manager.”

One letter sent to Bank of Scotland’s portfolio management division, which is now part of Lloyds, said: “The USA has a mature regulatory environment governed by its Securities and Exchange Commission. These regulations mean that we are not licensed to manage portfolios for US clients.”

The letter added: “Unfortunately we cannot offer an equivalent service from within Lloyds Banking Group.” Clients have been advised to transfer their assets.

One recipient, who has lived in the UK for over 25 years, said: “After all this time, I’ve suddenly been told I must take my money elsewhere and I don’t understand why. Now I’m scared that other banks won’t take me on either.”

The Brits are no the only group shedding US account holders.

A July 12, 2009 USA Today article entitled “Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap”  by Kevin McCoy explains how other banks have booted Americans as well.  An excerpt says: The closely watched Justice Department court fight to get the names of 52,000 suspected American tax evaders from Swiss banking giant UBS has prompted some other foreign banks to drop U.S. clients they once welcomed, tax experts said Monday.

Eager to avoid a similar struggle with federal prosecutors, banks including Credit Suisse and HSBC in recent weeks have notified American clients they must close their offshore accounts or transfer them to the institutions’ U.S.-based operations, where tax reporting requirements are far stricter.

“Overall, the international banking community, and particularly the offshore banking community, has been very friendly to American account holders,” said William Sharp, a tax law specialist at the Sharp Kemm law firm in Tampa. “That changed in the past couple of months as a result of the UBS case.”

The Dutch were early in dropping American clients.

ABN AMRO, a huge, Dutch based, international bank gave all clients  with U.S. passports within 30 days notice in 2008 and then closed their accounts because of the  high costs to comply with U.S. regulations.

Expect this problem to get worse! Beginning in 2010 stronger US reporting rules will force even more overseas banks to stop accepting Americans.  They simply cannot afford to fill all the obligations.

Americans should not feel totally alone…nor should non US investors feel totally safe from being shut out of a banking center.

According to the British Times Newspaper, Barclays Bank used the US anti-terror laws to shut down the personal bank accounts of British citizens who were working for Iranian owned businesses.

The bank enforced anti-Iran sanctions under the US Patriot Act.  Accounts of Iranian owned companies that operated completely legally in Britain were shut.  But Barclays went much further. They amazingly shut down accounts of directors of these companies and even more amazing they shut the personal accounts of ordinary staff members, including clerical officers, computer engineers and bank tellers, just because they worked for an Iranian owned company.

Here is an excerpt from a June June 6, 2008 Times of London article entitled, “Barclays bank rejects customers to comply with US terror law:”  Barclays began the account closures in February, shortly after reports from industry sources that US Treasury agents had been touring the City of London putting pressure on financial institutions to withdraw from any form of business that might have Iranian links.

One source told The Times that City banks had been warned that they would lose access to the US market if they continued to deal with Iranian businesses. Barclays has extensive business interests in the United States.

Case study: Cast out in the supermarket

Chris was doing the shopping in Tesco when Barclays rang to tell him that his bank account was being closed. Later that evening his wife was told that her Barclays account, which she had held for 25 years, was also being closed.

Chris, 46, works in IT for Bank Saderat, and his wife is in the accounts department of Melli Bank. Both institutions are Iranian-owned. “They said it was because of sanctions but I knew there were no British sanctions on the banks. I asked them if they were responding to US laws and they said they didn’t have to give me a reason,” he said.

The couple opened new accounts with one of Barclays’ rivals but they had difficulty transferring standing orders, especially Chris’s child-support payments. He said: “I know that UK banks are being pressured by America to stop all dealings with Iran but what impact will it have to shut an English bloke’s account with an English bank? The Iranians won’t give a monkey’s. What upsets me is the lack of respect Barclays have for their customers.”

This last comment hit me strongly… the lack of respect many of the big banks have for their clients.

This is one reason I have enjoyed banking with Jyske Bank in Denmark for more than 20 years.  Jyske is big and well managed enough to be very safe, but small enough to provide genuine care and attention to the individual.

This is why I was not surprised that a number of years ago, Jyske made the decision to spend a lot of time, energy and money to comply with US law so they could continue to serve US as well as non US investors around the world.

This shift though has created some confusion. For example a Reader from the Netherlands sent me this note:  Hello Gary, Since beginning of this year we are subscribed to your newsletter. In your articles we read that it is possible to go to Jyske Bank and start doing multi-currency for about 30,000 dollars. We were very enthusiastic about this philosophy and asked the Jyske Bank for information. However we were very surprised when we got information back including the message that we have to start with $150,000 euro. Can you help us and maybe clarify the misunderstanding about this starting amount?  Thank you very much in advance!

The services and minimums required by Jyske Bank Private Bank (JBPB) for non US investors differs from those offered by Jyske Global Asset Management (JGAM) who serves US investors.

Jyske Global Asset Management (JGAM) offers Americans managed accounts, advisory accounts and IRA services to US clients.

JGAM’s managed accounts provide Americans with access to international investments in all currencies, traded on all stock exchanges.

There are two levels of managed accounts for US investors:

Mutual Fund Managed Accounts, $50,000 to $200,000.  Accounts from $50-200,000 are mainly  invested in mutual funds and ETF`s in order to get the appropriate diversification.

Individual Investment Managed Accounts from $200,000 up are mainly invested in individual securities as trading costs are not prohibitive for this size of account.

There are two forms of advisory accounts for US investors.

Advisory Accounts for US Residents.  Accounts for US residents are available and provide access to investments in currencies, commodities and US listed securities.

Advisory Accounts for Americans who are resident outside the US.   US citizens who are resident outside the US (proof of residence is required) have access to investments in currencies, commodities and all international investments in all currencies, traded on all stock exchanges.

The minimum required to start an advisory account is $25,000.

Because the minimum annual fee is  $1,000 JGAM recommends an initial deposit of minimum $50,000.

IRA accounts are managed accounts with more conservative investments than those in a normal  managed account.  IRA accounts require a minimum investment of $50,000.

Jyske Bank Private Bank offers the following services to non US investors.

Non US Clients can open accounts with minimum deposit of Euro 150,000 (approximately 220,000 USD), or equivalent in another currency.

JBPB works with six profiles:

Income profile. A low-risk profile, invested in currency accounts (cash) and/or traditional bonds.

Stable profile. A low-risk profile, invested in bonds (incl. high- yielding bonds), a small equity part.

Balanced profile. A medium-risk profile, invested in equities and bonds (main emphasis on bonds).

Dynamic profile. A medium-risk profile, invested in equities and bonds (main emphasis on equities).

Growth profile. A high-risk profile, invested mainly in equities and a lesser share in bonds.

Aggressive profile. A high-risk profile, invested almost exclusively in equities.

There are six managed strategy funds (available only in Euro) for investors who want managed services with minimum deposits of US$ 220,000. These six funds are based on the principles of asset allocation and match the investment profiles above so all investors can attain risk diversification, risk management with even a limited investment.

There is a full Discretionary Portfolio Management service for investors who want managed services with US$ 350,000 and above. This service is also based on the six strategies above. Jyske Bank will invest and manage the clients portfolio in close cooperation with the Bank´s experts and their network of international partners. These strategies are offered in EUR, USD, GBP, DKK and SEK.

Investors, who do not want managed services, and have accounts of US$ 220,000 or more, can wish to engage in an active dialogue with their advisers and be very involved in the decision-making process. based on the client’s investment profile. They can invest in currency accounts in a large number of currencies, all tradeable equities and bonds, mutual funds and commodities.

Here is one huge feature I like very much about both JBPB and JGAM…  No Jyske employees in  management, advisory services or any employee receives any kind of bonus pay. This eliminates any temptation for hidden agendas to exist.  Employees have no incentive give any advice or take any action that is not in the client’s best interest.

Technology has given great mobility to our wealth. This mobility is good for the individual and the global economy… but governments do not like this as they wish to control our finances.  The tension created by this struggle between the individual and the collective has created a never ending thrust and counter thrust of regulations and adaptions to these rules.  It is harder to maintain a diversified global portfolio than it used to be… but the effort is still worthwhile.

Gary

The greatest asset of all is the ability to earn wherever you live, which brings everlasting wealth.

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

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 giving everyone who enrolls in our North Carolina or Ecuador International Business & Investing seminar in October or November our “Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business Course” (offered at $299) free.

Here are comments from a reader about the way we help:  Thank you for your inspiration and information outlining foreign banking and retirement.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome for planning the steps to evaluate the early stages of living abroad.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Super Thinking + Spanish Course

Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Join us with Jyske. 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.

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

Read the full articles:

Lloyds Bank hit by Obama tax purge

Some foreign banks drop U.S. clients because of UBS flap

Barclays bank rejects customers to comply with US terror law

International Investing Trick


Here is a global diversification trick that may do well in the likely global economic scenario ahead. Buy good value shares internationally as markets dive during the summer dip.

In a moment we’ll look at some Ecuador health ideas… first the investing trick.

Global equity markets have been in a bear market rally for six months but are now hitting the summer blues due to seasonality.

Share prices will probably drop now. Chances are there will be a strong global equity slump at least through October 2009.

This will create extra value in equity markets and provide good opportunity to pick up high value long term.

The bear market is likely to carry on until 2012-13, but good value shares acquired during dips are more likely to spike early and have extra potential after the bear ends.

Now through October 2009 could be a good time to invest in high value shares for long term appreciation.

But which shares… in which markets?

One way to approach this is to look for extra value created by inefficiencies in markets…to find markets where the values are best.

Statistically this is the best way to be absolutely sure of the best long term returns.

There are numerous investment managers who use very strict valuation criteria (usually based on dividend yields, cash flow, price earnings) to spot the best value markets.  They then try to apply similar criteria to select good value shares in the good value market.

The next goal is to decide how much should be weighted in major market and how much in emerging markets.

Here is a comparison of the Morgan Stanley Major Market versus Emerging Market indices.

The MSCI World Index is a market capitalization weighted index that measures the equity market performance of developed markets.  It includes 23 developed market country indices : Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index includes Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

MSCI Indices performances.  Total per annum return over:

Major                            Emerging
15 years    4.10%                   5.41%
10 years  -3.85%                   9.11%
5 years    -2.77%                  11.16%
3 years   -10.81%              -00.17%
1 year      -20.81%             -27.53%
3 mos.      14.30%               27.53%

Regardless of the time frame observed,  the emerging equities almost always seriously outperformed major markets… but as a class they also dropped further in the 2008 downturn.

Here is a year-on-year comparison for the past five years.

Major                   Emerging
2003  10.74%           29.63%
2004    6.46%           16.51%
2005   26.17%           54.41%

2006     7.40%          18.23%

2007     -1.66%         25.71%
2008   -50.30%      -37.64%
2009      5.39%         34.79%  3 months

This history suggests that emerging markets deserve a substantial ranking.

However before becoming too aggressive in over weighting emerging markets, we have to keep in mind two thoughts.

First economic thought. The last 15 years has been a catch-up era when the investing world caught on to the idea that emerging markets offered great opportunity.

Second economic thought. A great deal of emerging growth came from debt financed exports to the developed world. This leaves emerging economies holding huge amounts of debt for customers who may not be able to repay the debt nor continue to buy the same volume of goods as before.

The easiest way for investors to invest in good value during dips is via a value mutual fund.

You can select a value major market fund, a value emerging market fund or a value diversified fund.

The benefit of a value diversified fund is that the professional manager decides how much to weight in emerging and major markets.

For example I just sent a lesson to our multi currency subscribers that showed a US traded international diversified value fund that has risen 36.08% in the past quarter ending June 30, 2009.  This fund is 86% in major markets and 14% in emerging markets.

Learn how to read about this fund as a multi currency subscriber.

The most valuable asset we can have in tough economic times is good health. This is why we studied Ecuador health ideas at our June tour.

Cotacachi is considered sacred by the shamans… a place of wonderful mountains that ring the valley.  This is Mt. Cotacachi to the west.

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Mt. Imbabura to the east.

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The valley is surrounded by mountains like these twin peaks…

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creating wonderful, mystic  sunrises.

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The first afternoon of the tour we visited La Mirage Spa and the Shamana Estella.

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She began a theme that the many shamans we visited confirmed.   She said that the three keys to better health, increased longevity, more energy and fulfillment are good nutrition, proper exercise and good sleep.

The purpose of the Ecuador shamanic tour is to learn ways to unlock this healthy  combination in a natural low cost way!

The second day we joined Clemencia, the Shamana of Zuleta and drove 15 minutes from our hotel Meson de las Flores to Otavalo market where we visited the local food market…

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filled with fruits…

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vegetables…

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flowers and …

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herbs.

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Here is the shamana speaking to the group with Merri and Mauricio translating.

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We learned the importance of the herbs to make good teas that hydrate the body are cedron, chamomile and lemon verbena.

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We learned how other herbs relax such as chamomile and valerian root. Plus we were told to boil lettuce in milk as a prebedtime drink for better sleep.

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On the other hand, tea from cinnamon, paprika, cloves and ginger help reduce sluggishness in digestion and to speed the system when we need to be fired up.

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You can read this entire report as an Ecuador Living subscriber.

Gary

We hope you’ll join us and enjoy Ecuador’s or North Carolina’s beauty soon.

ecuador-sun

Sunrise from Meson de las Flores.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

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.

Ecuador Politics & Reality


Will Ecuador politics lead to this?

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or is this the more likely result of Ecuador politics?

ecuador-politics

See below a batch pf Ecuador pictures and why I lean towards the politics of dancers in Ecuador.  First some words about Ecuador politics.

A reader sent this note asking about Ecuador political realities.

Mr. Scott, I want to thank you for the reports that you are sending me about Ecuador politics. I had decided to come there the first week of April and check things out. Then I saw on the news, here in the US, that the President of Ecuador is becoming just like the President of Venezuela, another dictator that will ruin the country and make it very undesirable and unsafe to live there. I would like for your honest opinion on this matter.  Sincerely,

Here is my Ecuador politics reply.

I never believe much of what I read in the news anymore. When I see how the US, especially the CIA treats Latin politics and Ecuador I am surprised there is not more hostility to the US.

Many readers read a lot of bad stuff about Ecuador politics and Correa and how he is not renewing the US lease on the Manta air base that started in 2000.

What the news on Ecuador politics does not report is what the US has been helping Colombia do from that base.

For example the news up north has not reported on an article at Commondreams .com written by the Environment News Service. Here is an excerpt:

Ecuador Sues Colombia to Stop Anti-Coca Herbicide Spray

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands- The government of Ecuador today filed suit at the International Court of Justice against the government of Colombia, in an effort to stop or restrict aerial anti-coca spraying that has allegedly sickened people on the Ecuadorean side of the border and harmed livestock, farmland, and sensitive, ecologically diverse rainforest areas.

The lawsuit follows seven years of persistent but unsuccessful diplomatic efforts on Ecuador’s part to convince its neighbor to the north to establish a 10 kilometer (six mile) no-spray zone along their shared border.

Colombia is expected to argue that the aerial fumigation of illegal coca farms, which provide the raw material for cocaine production, is a linchpin of the war on drugs.  Ecuador claims that the chemical sprays have sickened its people, poisoned farmland and damaged ecologically sensitive areas.

At a press conference in Quito announcing the lawsuit, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Maràa Isabel Salvador said, “With the purpose of establishing the existence and dimensions of the afflictions suffered by Ecuador as a result of these and past fumigations, last year President Rafael Correa created the Ecuadorian Scientific Commission, comprised of eminent scientists from our country.

“The results of the commission’s work have been crucial to reaching the irrefutable conclusion that Colombian aerial fumigations have had noxious effects on our people and our environment,” she said.

“There is no doubt that the fumigations conducted by the government of Colombia constitute a grave violation of the sovereignty of Ecuador and of the most basic principles of international law,” she said, “which prohibits a state from causing harm to the population, land and well-being of a neighboring state.”

Since spraying began in 2000, Colombia has refused to consider such measures, the lawsuit asserts. Instead, its planes and helicopters loaded with herbicide have flown right up to and sometimes directly over the border, releasing chemicals designed to eradicate all forms of plant life.

The spray has drifted to the Ecuadorean side, where villagers have reported feeling the mist settle on their skin. People in Ecuadorean border communities, many of them poor subsistence farmers or those raising small cash crops, have suffered skin lesions and rashes, burning eyes, nausea, dizziness, respiratory problems, and intestinal bleeding. Some have died.

Ecuador alleges that the spraying has killed livestock and crops, forcing the abandonment of villages, while harming ecologically sensitive areas of high biodiversity.

Nearly one third of the country’s territory is protected or park land, and Ecuador is estimated to have the highest average biological diversity of any nation on Earth.

Since 2000, the United States has been financing the aerial spraying of coca crops in Colombia, which is the world’s leading producer.

According to the lawsuit, Colombia has refused to disclose the exact makeup of the herbicide it uses, though the active ingredient is known to be glyphosate (N-phosphonomethyl). The active ingredient is reportedly combined with other chemicals to make aerial sprays more potent.

Ecuador protested the violation of its territory as soon as spraying began in 2000, and has sought to resolve the countries’ dispute through negotiation and diplomacy.

As a last resort, it submits its argument to the International Court of Justice, whose jurisdiction is confirmed by the American Treaty for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes, also known as the Pact of Bogotá, to which both Ecuador and Colombia are parties.

Ecuador has been an active partner against illegal drugs. It is the only Andean country with virtually no coca crop. Yet they have to put up with this even though Colombian government officials agree that the aerial spraying against coca plants is largely ineffective.

Nor did the northern news make much mention when Colombia bombed Ecuador territory to kill a FARC commander that had taken refuge in the hinterlands of Ecuador.

I wonder how the US would have reacted had Mexico dropped bombs in Arizona to kill Mexican criminals there?

Nor have the northern news reported much of the details outlined at antiwar.com in an article by Kintto Lucas entitled  “CIA Infiltration’ Charges Prompt Shakeup in Ecuador’s Armed Forces”

Here are excerpts:

QUITO – President Rafael Correa’s allegations that intelligence services in Ecuador had been infiltrated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have led to a shakeup in the armed forces of unforeseeable consequences.

The current crisis broke out as a result of Colombia’s Mar. 1 bombing raid of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp in Ecuadorian territory, which led to a brief rupture in relations between Ecuador and Colombia and sparked a regional crisis that was quickly overcome through dialogue.

At least two other members of the Ecuadorian high command have also offered their resignations, said Camacho.

Ponce, the new defense minister, said “this is not setting the stage for a witch hunt, but for a healthy critical exercise of transparency. The stability of our democracy is not based on cover-ups but on the courageous analysis of our actions.”

He also urged the armed forces “to undertake a generous review of their structures and practices.”

On Saturday, Correa denounced in his weekly radio broadcast that the CIA “has totally infiltrated some of Ecuador’s military intelligence bodies.”

According to the news report, when it began to be revealed that the armed forces had previous knowledge of the Colombian air strike on the FARC camp in Ecuador, several military officers complained internally that the intelligence service had not passed on the information.

Local media outlets reported that military intelligence had been following Franklin Aizalla, an Ecuadorian citizen who died in the attack on the FARC camp, without informing Correa.

On Mar. 17, Correa and then defense minister Sandoval learned from the press that Aizalla had been under surveillance, which Colombia’s right-wing President Álvaro Uribe had been aware of for some time.

Colonel Pazmiño’s curriculum indicates “very effective training by the US and Israeli security bodies,” wrote Ecuadorinmediato, which added that “he handled military intelligence operations in a nearly autonomous manner, without duly reporting to his superiors, many of whom were unaware of those actions.”

He also said that, “besides the CIA’s infiltration in the armed forces, it is essential to take a look at what is happening in the police, who have traditionally had the closest ties to US security policies for the region.”

Former US Southern Command chief Charles Wilhelm said in 2000 that after Ecuador signed an agreement leasing the air base in the port city of Manta to the US military, one of Washington’s aims was to “reorient” the Ecuadorian armed forces.

The officer who spoke anonymously to IPS said “part of that reorientation was the modification of the training received by the Ecuadorian military, to make it more similar to the training received by the Colombian army.”

A few days after the Mar. 1 bombing of the FARC camp, the Colombian magazine Cambio reported that members of the Ecuadorian police intelligence services had helped locate the camp.

More recently Ecuador accused an expelled Mark Sullivan, the U.S. Embassy’s first secretary in the office of regional affairs and stated he was in charge of CIA operations here.   Ecuadorean officials claim he meddle in the assignment of senior police.

The US denied this CIA allegation… but why am I not convinced?

Having said this, the Presidents in Ecuador have been bad for the entire 14 years Merri and I have been here. This has made little difference to day to day life.  Go to Garyascott.com and type Correa in the search engine as I have written several messages about him.  He is the best I have seen so far.

I believe that many of his policies are incorrect but he is the first President here that I believe will be reelected in April.

He is smart in that after just two years in office he is running again while he is popular instead of waiting the normal four years.  I believe he will be reelected now. In two more years…who knows?

He has been providing free housing for the poor.

They are little 240 square feet affairs.

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given free.

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These little houses are everywhere on the coast.

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Let me be clear about Correa. I do not like many of the things he has been doing… but then again I do not like many things that Obama is doing either.

Obama and Correa have much in common… youth… energy and inexperience.

Anyone looking for a place to live where the country has only good politicians may be in for quite a search.

Let me also be clear about my position regarding the USA.

A reader recently asked:

Gary, Just curious – if you love Ecuador so much – why is legal address in NC, USA.   Why a non-profit entity in the US!

My reply kind of says it all.

Does one have to dislike one country because they love another?

We have lived in Hong Kong,  England, Europe, The US, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and have enjoyed them all.    If there is one key theme in the thousands of messages we have sent to our tens of thousands of readers about global living is that diversification, people and value are keys aspects in our beliefs.

We love Ecuador and live part time here.We also love North Carolina and live part time there.  We make no bones about our love for America and how we live more there than in Ecuador.

We reported recently how we are shifting our focus back to Florida and why at Ecuador shamans & truth … value and people… plus diversification.

Those three themes value… people… diversification are our politics.

This is our North Carolina home.

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This, Meson de las Flores is our Ecuador home. Note how the US and Ecuadorian flag freely fly, side by side, with those of many other nations.

ecuador-politics

Each makes the other better!

We do not get much into politics here. We just enjoy the life… the sweet people… the warm weather… the good food and low cost living and let the politicians and the newscasters play their games. They have very little effect on life here.

In fact bad Ecuador politics in many ways make life better for retirees here.  Bad politics screw up the economy leaving people poor and keeping the cost of living low.

I hope that changes. I would like to see more people in Ecuador prosper but that probably will not happen soon.

Low oil prices… reduced remittances from abroad and a global economic slow down will challenge Correa over the next four years if I am correct and he is reelected.

The bad economics will put Correa under pressure and he’ll make mistakes. He may even come off as a brash hot head.  Does this make him a dictator? Not that I have seen.  Will it make any difference in my life or the other gringo’s living here. Probably not.

In fact if there is anyone to fear it is the NEWS that misleads you and tries with its spin to lock you into a narrow point of view. Life is good out here… make no mistake about this.

While many are living with the crowds and stress and snow and high prices… thinking there is danger here… a growing number of us are enjoying the sun… low stress… low cost and a good life without big brother.

While so many are stressing out up north, here is a group of new residents here in Cotacachi who decided to take the day train from Ibarra to Salinas.

ecuador-political-reality

Off they go!

ecuador-political-reality

Sun… ecuador-political-reality

blue skies and friendship… plus…

ecuador-political-reality

happy entertainment when they arrive…

ecuador-political-reality joy… color and

ecuador-political-reality

good food to share.

None of us are worried much about dictators and these soldiers here.  See my upcoming story about this one next week!

ecuador-politics

However, you should come take a look, see and feel for yourself.

Gary

Join us in Cotacachi.

Future 2009 courses

May 29-31  JGAM Multi Currency investment Seminar Naples Florida

June 12-14 Shamanic Mingo Tour
June 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
June 18-21 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

July 3-6 Ecuador Import Export Expedition
July 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
July 10-13 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

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

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Expedition

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

Merri, our webmaster and I have created a new course on how to build a web business so you can earn in Ecuador or anywhere you wish to live.  Here is a special offer on this new course.

You can enroll in this special course for $299. However if you sign up for three courses in any one month.

Cotacachi Mayor’s House


Recent messages looked at how Merri and I search for Cotacachi real estate.

The road paving we have been tracking is now done.

cotacachi-real-estate

In two directions…

cotacachi-real-estate

in less than two weeks.

We keep our eyes open every day and the search pays off.

Today, near Primavera II condos…

cotacachi-real-estate

Around the corner from Cotacachi’s Mayor’s house (which is for sale) …

cotacachi-real-estate

we spotted two old houses for sale.  This one is $25,000.

cotacachi-real-estate

and this, $36,000.

cotacachi-real-estate

These fixer uppers have huge lots, in the center of the village. They may be real sleepers.  We’ll see as we’ll inspect them on our Imbaburra real estate tour that begins tomorrow.

You can gain Cotacachi real estate information and Ecuador real estate contacts as an Ecuador Living subscriber. See details here.

Speaking of sleepers, this excerpt from today’s password protected multi currency course shows why European shares may be sleepers as well.

Here is the excerpt:

This multi currency update has three portions. First we see anther inflation indicator. Second we update our search for value. Third we end with some answers to questions from lesson one of our new updated primer course.

Recent inflationary events include the support by US authorities of Bank of America with a guarantee of liquidity and capital. B of A faces losses of up to $118 billion dollars.

The government gets shares in the bank worth $20 billion.  In other words the government stumps up about $88 billion (that it does not have).  This is inflation.

Citibank in trouble as well.

Jyske Global Asset Management wrote in its last market update three days ago:

Fears of further credit losses and rumours of another large US bank being nationalized dragged the international stock market down this week. The New Year rally last week is already forgotten, and investors are anticipating new lows in 2009.

Citigroup Inc. posted an $8.29 billion loss, only a few days after the announcement of their plans to sell the control of Smith Barney to rival Morgan Stanley.

Sales at U.S. retailers dropped in December for the sixth consecutive month (first time since 1992) and the most in three years.

S&P cut Greece’s long-term credit rating to A- with a stable outlook, due to its public and private debt and the budget deficit. The downgrade makes Greece the lowest rated country in the Euro zone.

Market participators are now speculating whether a Euro exit may become an option for some members of the Euro-bloc, analysts view Greece as the weakest economy within the Euro zone.

The European Central Bank (ECB) Thursday cut the Euro zone interest rate to the lowest level in more than 3 years.

As expected the main policy rate was cut by a half percentage point to 2%. The Danish Central bank followed the ECB with an even bigger cut of 75 basis pts to 3%.

#1: Falling interest rates are indicators for increased activity in share markets.

#2: Combine this with the fact that stock funds saw huge redemptions in 2008.

#3: Add in the next fact that international equity funds were among the most redeemed losing about a fourth of their total assets in 2008.

U.S. stock funds only had redemptions of about 10% of their assets.  Bond funds on the other hand experienced positive flows in 2008.

This increases my enthusiasm for international shares…especially in Europe.

Low interest rates plus markets that are oversold plus inflation all bode well for shares.

There are four ways to fight inflation; real estate, your own business, commodities and equities.   So depressed international equities in an atmosphere of low interest rates spells opportunity.

These three factors are the elements that create value because value investors are generally bucking the trend.

This is why last year my biggest equity position was in the Jyske Invest European Equity fund.  I picked a fund that was invested mostly in markets that Michael Keppler of Keppler Asset Mangement viewed as having the best value.

Keppler has changed some of his rankings this month so let’s review the change and see if my position still makes sense.

Let’s look at the geographical breakdown of the Jyske Invest European Equities fund I hold now.

This fund has departed quite a lot from the synchronicity it enjoyed with Keppler’s top values when I invested two years ago.  The fund’s portfolio is spread here now:

UK  24%
Germany 16%
Switzerland 13%
France 12%
Spain 7%
Netherlands 4.5%
Sweden 4%
Spain 4%
Finland 3%
Italy      2%
Greece 2%
Denmark 1.5%
Norway 1.5%
Luxembourg .5%
Ireland  0.5%
Austria 0.5%

The fund’s managers report says:

There are prospects of uncertainty in 2009. The world economy is struggling
and the optimism has turned into pessimism. Central banks and  governments have been busy introducing rescue packages and  interest-rate cuts. The help has been offered, but is it sufficient and when will it begin to show an effect? We
expect that 2009 will bring wide swings in the equity market. A lasting upturn is not likely to be just around  the corner. We are still looking at a longer period characterised by uncertainty before the optimists outnumber the pessimists.

For the fund we prefer cheap shares with prospects of earnings growth. That type of shares has historically yielded the best returns.

Though this fund no longer has the same value synchronicity with Keppler that it previously had, I’ll continue to hold this as I plan to increase my equity position. I can balance this fund’s holdings to better match Keppler’s rankings by adding Hong Kong, Singapore, Italian and other funds or ETFs.

You can learn more about Keppler’s market updates and the ETFs we use in our multi currency portfolio as a multi currency susbcriber.

Until next update, good global investing

Gary

Join Merri, me and Peter Laub of Jyske Global Asset Management at OUR INTERNATIONAL INVESTING & BUSINESS COURSE IN ECUADOR. We review economic conditions, Ecuador real estate, my entire portfolio plus investing and business ideas for the months ahead.

Gary

Your own business is a  good way to secure purchasing power. This is why Merri, our webmaster and I decided to create a new course on how to build a web business with a webmaster.  There is a special offer on this new course that expired to the general public last Tuesday…but is still available to you.  See the offer here.

Get this course FREE if you join us in Ecuador this February.

Feb 9-11 Beyond Logic Keys to More Wealth & Better Health

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ

Feb. 16-17 Imbabura 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

Or join Merri, me and Thomas Fischer of Jyske Global Asset Management, July 24-26, 2009 in North Carolina for International Investing and Business Made EZ

Multi Currency Bank Risk


Multi currency investing and multi currency banks reduce risk.

During this current credit crisis, it makes sense to pay attention to ways to bank risk as well as investment and multi currency risk.

Eleven US banks have failed in 2008, seven of them since mid July.

Now a Warren Buffett owned insurance company has stopped insuring bank deposits above the federal $100,000 guarantee. This withdrawal of insurance shows that many insurers and bankers are worried about future bank failures.

One of many reasons I have banked with Jyske Bank (beyond the fact that they are multi currency experts) for many years is their strong safety ranking.

I like the fact that Denmark has ranked high in Moody’s and other country ratings as one of the safest countries in which to bank.

However, recently one Danish Bank had problems.

Thomas Fischer at Jyske Bank sent me this note in July 2008:

“Hi Gary, I just want to keep you informed that this morning Roskilde Bank (a Danish regional bank) had to ask the Danish Central Bank for support. It is the 9th largest Danish bank and it has been hit hard as it has been involved in the Danish real estate market. The share dropped 45% this morning. Some other smaller regional banks have seen their share prices falling between 10-20%. Jyske Bank has dropped 1.3% The Central Bank will probably put Roskilde Bank up for sale either the entire bank or parts thereof. The bank will not be allowed to collapse and the clients are thus not going to lose any money but it is obvious not good timing to get a situation like this. Thomas”

Thomas was correct and shortly after the Globe and Mail reported:

COPENHAGEN — Denmark’s central bank unveiled an $896.8-million U.S. bailout of Roskilde Bank acting to confine the negative effect of the struggling bank on the Danish financial system. The central bank stepped in after Roskilde, Denmark’s eighth-largest retail bank by market share, failed to receive any offers after putting itself up for sale in the face of bigger than expected writedowns on real estate loans.

The article outlined that Roskilde was extraordinary as a Danish bank in
that it was heavily exposed to the property sector and that other Danish banks in general were well prepared in a deteriorating Danish economic situation.

The Danish Central Bank had no expectations of any other banks suffering
similarly.

In fact a June 2008 report from Denmark’s National Bank says:

Denmark’s domestic and foreign central-government debt has the highest rating from Standard & Poor’s (AAA), Fitch Ratings (AAA) and Moody’s
(Aaa). Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s affirmed the rating
in September 2007, December 2007 and April 2008 respectively with an
unchanged stable outlook.

Analytical reports and specific ratings on individual government secu-
rities are available on the websites of respectively Standard & Poor’s
(www.standardandpoors.com), Fitch Ratings (www.fitchratings.com) and
Moody’s (www.moodys.com).

Jyske Bank also ranks well on its own and has a stable outlook at this time. unlike most major banks. Here are current rankings:

Bank Rating Outlook
Jyske Bank A+ Stable
Citigroup AA- Negative
Deutsche Bank AA- Negative
Goldman Sachs AA- Negative
JP Morgan Chase AA- Negative
Credit Suisse A+ Negative
Lehman Brothers A Negative
Morgan Stanley A+ Negative
UBS AA- Negative

As can be seen, Jyske Bank is doing well. Jyske is the only bank on the list with a stable outlook. All others are on the watch list for down-grading.

Note that Jyske Bank has the same rating as Morgan Stanley but a better outlook.

Jyske Bank’s rating is better than Lehman (after today probably much better), the same as Credit Suisse and one grade below the others. However, it’s very seldom that S&P give a rating above A+ for a relatively small bank like Jyske Bank. The other banks on the list benefit from their size but this does not tell much about how well they are run.

If you have any questions on how Jyske Bank you can see the bank’s home page www.jyskebank.dk/english and read the latest semi-annual report.

US investors should contact Thomas Fischer at fischer@jgam.com

Non US investors should contact Rene Mathys mathys@jbpb.dk

The thousands of other reasons I like Jyske are the people that work there.

An article at scienceblog.com entitled “Happiness is rising around the world” says that Danes are the happiest people in the world.

The article says:

People in most countries around the world are happier these days, according to newly released data from the World Values Survey based at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

During the past 26 years, the World Values Surveys have asked more than 350,000 people how happy they are, using the same two questions.

Data from representative national surveys conducted from 1981 to 2007 show the happiness index rose in an overwhelming majority of nations studied.

The 2007 wave of the surveys also provides a ranking of 97 nations containing 90 percent of the world’s population. The results indicate that Denmark is the happiest nation in the world and Zimbabwe the unhappiest. The United States ranks 16th on the list, immediately after New Zealand.

Economic growth, democratization and rising social tolerance have all contributed to rising happiness, with democratization and rising tolerance having even more impact than economic growth. All of these changes have contributed to providing people with a wider range of choice in how to live their lives—which is a key factor in happiness.

“The results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives,” Inglehart said.

As an example, Inglehart points to the tolerant social norms and democratic political systems in Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada all of which rank among the 10 happiest countries in the world.

In my opinion this happiness shows through at Jyske. Our dealings have always found the staff to be helpful, cheerful and willing to take an extra step to help make us as their customer happy as they are

Until next message, may you be happy too.

Gary

Join me and Thomas Fischer from Jyske Global Asset Management in North Carolina to learn more about economic trends.

International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina

We’ll have lunch at the farm and enjoy the leaf change.

farm colors

Thomas Fisher speaking to our delegates at the farm.

seminar-roses

orange-roses

multi-currency-meeting

Delegates enjoying a private conversation with Thomas Fischer during a coffee break at the farm.

This is the most beautiful time of the year on the Blue Ridge.

multi-currency-meeting-in-autumn

International Investing and Business Made EZ & Fun Part II


International investing and business have proven themselves over the past 40 years to be profitable. And even more than the profits are the broadened horizons, fulfillment and fun!

Yesterday’s message International Investing and Business Made EZ & Fun looked at why International investing and business should be a fun filled process…not a dull boring set of numbers.

One reason for this is that those who live a fulfilled, involved fun existence are likely to be healthier…with less need for expensive pharmaceuticals and medical treatment.

This makes life better plus can save huge amounts of cash.

This is likely to become even more important in the years ahead for those who live in much of the Western world.   Existing medical systems are already filled with problems.  Inflation and aging populations will make the problems even worse.

At the turn of the decade, The World Health Organization analyzed the world’s health systems. The WHO used five performance indicators to measure health systems in 191 member states.

The five performance indicators were:

* Fairness of financial contribution.  While private health expenses in industrial countries now average only some 25 percent because of universal health coverage (except in the United States, where it is 56%), in India, families typically pay 80 percent of their health care costs as “out-of- pocket” expenses when they receive health care.

* Overall Level of Health.

* Distribution of Health in the Populations:  the average level – goodness – and the smallest feasible differences among individuals and groups – fairness.

* Responsiveness: respect for persons including dignity, confidentiality and autonomy of individuals and families to decide about their own health as well as prompt attention and access to social support networks during care, quality of basic amenities and choice of provider.

* Distribution of Financing.

The study revealed that U. S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries.  The United Kingdom, which spends just six percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on health services, ranks 18th.  Several small countries – San Marino, Andorra, Malta and Singapore are rated close behind second- placed Italy.

Here is the WHO ranking.

1         France
2         Italy
3         San Marino
4         Andorra
5         Malta
6         Singapore
7         Spain
8         Oman
9         Austria
10       Japan
11       Norway
12       Portugal
13       Monaco
14       Greece
15       Iceland
16       Luxembourg
17       Netherlands
18       United  Kingdom
19       Ireland
20       Switzerland
21       Belgium
22       Colombia
23       Sweden
24       Cyprus
25       Germany
26       Saudi Arabia
27       United  Arab  Emirates
28       Israel
29       Morocco
30       Canada
31       Finland
32       Australia
33       Chile
34       Denmark
35       Dominica
36       Costa Rica
37       United  States  of  America
38       Slovenia
39       Cuba

Most of the readership of this site live in countries where the medical system is not even in the top 15 countries!

This means that many of us, (especially us boomers now in our 60s), may want to rely on a good lifestyle to keep our health…not the medical system.

The cost of this medical system is another reason we want to have independence
rather than reliance on government funded programs.  We’ll see why next message.

Until then, may your international investing and business be good…and fun!

Gary

Learn about our next International Investing and Business Course in North Carolina

Ecuador Ecuador Import Export Course

International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador