Tag Archive | "overseas banks"

Growing Loss of Freedom

Here are three ways to overcome an insidious trick and growing loss of freedom.

The trick is called extraterritorial jurisdiction.

This approach law enforcement first came into my awareness in the 1970s.  They started using  extraterritorial jurisdiction to turn global financial institutions into unwilling government agents.  The initial case I observed was an attack on a Swiss Franc based mutual fund run by a conservative businessman (I recall his name was Harwood).   Harwood had created a Swiss mutual fund denominated in Swiss francs.  The fund was a good idea.  The only problem was that the SEC objected to Americans investing in the fund.  They told Harwood to cease and desist and turn over the funds to them.  He declined so the SEC told the Swiss Bank to turn over the funds in the fund.  The Swiss explained they had no legal authority to do so.

The SEC’s response was to get a US court order and seize funds held by the Swiss Bank in America.  They used the US legal system to exert control in other territory outside the US.  The idea has expanded since and to such a degree that now most banks outside the USA won’t accept (or even retain)  US customers.

The fact that overseas banks are shedding US customers caused a friend to send this note after reading the message Bad Banking News.

Hi Gary, after reading about bad banks and how good Jyske Bank is, it ironic that I have been told that Jyske bank does not want my business any longer because of I presume FATCA regulations.

Here is my reply and a list of ways to grapple with the problems created by extraterritorial jurisdiction.

I wrote:  It is shameful that we, the public, have let our leaders do this to us.  I have had two 25 year + banking relationships Jyske and my London stock broker both closed my account in the last year.

The problem is worse.  My children who were born in England, live in England (one is in Africa) have had many of their accounts closed… just because they inherited a US citizenship from me.  My youngest daughter never lived, never schooled and has never worked in the US… yet she has to pay US tax.   Many English banks will not allow her to have an account, even though she is also English.

This is because the US says that if an overseas bank accepts a client who is a US person, the bank must comply with various US laws, FACTA being one of them. 

There are even more problems that this law enforcement tactic creates. 

Many banks and brokers now restrict US non residents (such as Americans living in Ecuador) from having accounts or from buying certain types of securities such as mutual funds in the US.  For example Wall Street Journal reported that “Fidelity Investments and other asset managers are telling U.S. clients who live outside the country that they can no longer buy or trade mutual funds in their brokerage accounts”.  (1)

The big firms find the compliance too expensive and the number of overseas US clients too small. For example Fidelity’s change will affect about 50,000 accounts, or less than 0.3% of Fidelity’s 20 million accounts.

Americans abroad are being informed by many U.S. banks and brokerage firms that their accounts have been restricted or even closed simply because they live outside the U.S.  Banks and brokers include Morgan Stanley, Fidelity, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo.

This can put Americans abroad between a rock and a hard spot.   US banks won’t open accounts for them but neither will banks in the country where they live.

To make matters even worse, many US banks even restrict US customers with many types of transactions due to excessive federal regulations.  This fear extends even to escrow agents who process real estate sales.  The federal government has made so many financial transactions felonies that everyone is afraid to act except exactly by the book even if an action makes sense and the regulations do not.

This slow loss of our financial freedom has been taking place at least since the 1970s and is not likely to end soon due to the Pareto Principle, or 20/80 rule.  20% of the population have 80% of the money.  These restrictions do not apply to the bulk of voters so no one in Congress will pay attention to a resolution, leaving Americans who live abroad having taxation without representation.

Here are a few steps you can take.

#1: Keep a US address and a US phone.  Even though you may be resident elsewhere a US address and utility bill will help you open or keep numerous accounts.  Have your mail forwarded.

#2: Use an overseas bank and broker who are willing to deal with all the compliance difficulties.  ENR Asset Management in Canada  who helps resident and non Americans bank in the US, Switzerland and Austria as well as buy and sell securities through these banks and brokers.

See details about ENR Asset Management here

or contact Thomas Fischer at  Thomas@enrasset.com

#3: If you have substantial assets (well into seven figures), many overseas banks and brokers that will not accept non resident Americans will open accounts for overseas companies and trusts owned by Americans.  The reason for the substantial assets is that the cost of setting up and maintaining such structures is prohibitive for smaller amounts.

The use of extraterritorial jurisdiction is restricting the freedom of all Americans who live and/or bank and invest aboard.  The trend is not likely to change soon so become aware of your options if you plan to fall into this category.


(1) www.wsj.com Fidelity bans overseas US investors

The Ultimate Investing Secret

The ultimate investing secret is the simple fact that investment opportunities come and go in cycles.  

Because we have been watching the trends for decades, we spot many distortions  we saw decades ago as they create repeat opportunities.  For example, our 1986 report “The Silver Dip” showed readers how to turn $250 into over $45,000 in a year.   When we spotted the same repeat distortion in silver’s price in 2015, we issued our report “Silver Dip 2015”.   Those who acted on the report made as much as 200% in 2016.

There is another phenomenal distortion that has been building for a number of years.   Here is how I (and you can as well) am cashing in on this trend.

“If I Live Long Enough, I’ll really cash in next time”.    I made this promise to myself in the 1980s.   A remarkable set of economic circumstances helped anyone who spotted them become remarkably rich.  Some of my readers made enough to retire.  Others picked up 50% currency gains.  I invested as much as I could handle then as the profits rolled in for about 17 years.

Then the cycle ended.  Warren Buffet explained the importance of this ending in a 1999 Fortune magazine interview.  He said: Let me summarize what I’ve been saying about the stock market: I think it’s very hard to come up with a persuasive case that equities will over the next 17 years perform anything like—anything like—they’ve performed in the past 17!

Now I see those circumstances headed our way again.

The Dow Jones Industrial recently soared past 20,000 and reached an all time high.   So why aren’t average investors all rich?   There are several answers.  First, even though the Dow has peaked, for the last 17 years the US stock market has been in a bear trend.  You’ll see why in a moment.  Another reason why the investors have not done so well is because of currency loss.

One final reason why profits have not been so good.  Someone, probably someone you trust, has been stealing from you.

One of the biggest obstacles in profiting from the upcoming circumstances has been and remains the financial system.  The reality is that banks and brokers have been structuring investments that are sure to lose.  They sell you on these investments and then another division of the very same bank (or broker) that recommended the investment, bets against you.   The bank knows that the investment is toxic.  To add insult to injury, many of these same institutions cheat you on the way in and the way out (when you buy and sell a share) of the bad investment.  Most brokers and bankers are interested in your money making them rich, not in helping increase your wealth.

Three Patterns Create 50% profits.

Despite the predators on Wall Street who are waiting to take big gouges out of your savings and wealth, equities are still the best place to invest for the long term.  This chart from the 24 page Keppler Asset Management Asset Allocation Review shows that over the past 80+ years equities have dramatically outperformed other types of investments.


Click on image to enlarge.

Good investments require a relentless search for value.   Your investments have to be good enough to reap an outstanding profit even after the parasites siphon off their part.

To take advantage of the once every 17 year circumstances, I chose to track Keppler Asset Management who continually researches developed and emerging markets globally.  Keppler is one of the best market statisticians in the world and numerous very large fund managers use his analysis to manage funds such as State Street Global Advisors.  Keppler compares the value of each share in each market based on current book to price, cash flow to price, earnings to price, average dividend yield, return on equity and cash flow return.  From this study of monumental amounts of data Keppler develops a Good Value Stock Market Strategies.  The analysis is based on long term, rational, mathematical facts and does not worry about short term ups and downs.

From Keppler I learned that market timing is not the way to get these high profits.  Another graphic from the Keppler Asset Allocation Review explains why.


Click on image to enlarge.

A dollar invested 88 years ago in Treasury bills rose to $20.58.  The same dollar invested in U.S. stocks over the 88 years grew to be was worth $4,677, UNLESS you missed the best 43 months.  Literally all of the the Dow’s growth in 1,056 months came in 43 of those months.   Your odds have been one in 24, better than roulette perhaps, but not good enough.  Plus even after these odds, the predators are going to take their cut.  You have to ask, “Am I that good at timing?”

The better alternative to timing is to invest in long term indexing based on value.  Long term strategic investing in market indices reduces the amount of trading.  Low trading activity is important because trades are where investors are most vulnerable to predatory tactics.

A part of the long term strategic trading is to invest in low fee diversified Country Index ETFs.  This simplifies the search for value because it focuses research into lumps.

A comparison of US versus German stock market indexes gives an example of lump research and you can create good value, low cost, diversified portfolios that offer maximum potential for profit as they reduce risk.

Keppler’s research shows that Germany’s stock market is a good value market.  Keppler lumps all the shares (or at least 85% of the shares) into the calculations.  There is no attempt to select any one specific share.  Keppler’s research shows that the US stock market index (a lump of about 85% of all the US shares) is now a poor value.

Germany has the world’s fourth largest economy.  The country is the third largest exporter in the world and has recorded some of the highest trade surplus in the world making it the biggest capital exporter globally.  Yet German shares have been overlooked.  German share prices are good value.

For example, recently the German Stock Market had a relative price to book value ratio of  .78,  a relative price earnings ratio of  0.87 and a relative dividend yield of 1.12.  The US Stock Market has a much higher relative price to book value ratio of 1.29, a relative price earnings ratio of 1.07 and a relative dividend yield of 0.81.  German shares cost much less, compared to the values and earnings.  German shares pay much higher dividends as well.

Keppler predicts that the US Stock Market (which is ranked as a sell market by Keppler) will have an annual index gain for the next five years of  3.1% and a total return (with dividends) or a total five year return of 21.7%.  The same calculations for the German Market predicts an average annual index gain over the next five years of 7.5% and a total return (with dividends) or a total five year return of 47.3%.

Which would you rather buy,  a 47.3% return sold for 78 cents on the dollar or a 21.7% return sold for $1.29 on the dollar?

You can forget about any specific share in the US or Germany and invest into an index (in this case the Morgan Stanley Capital Index) which represents about 85% of all the shares traded on the exchange.

You can invest in ETFs that passively invest in all the shares of the index in stock markets that offer good value.  iShares investment company for example has  an ETF that invests in 85% of the shares traded on Wall Street.


This ETF is called the iShares USA (symbol EUSA) and in this example rose from $22.91 to $43.40 or 89% in the past five years.

iShares also offers an ETF that invests in about 85% of the stocks listed on the German Stock Exchange (Symbol EWG).  EWG rose  from $19.70 to $28.13  or 42% in the past five years.


Keppler’s lump research shows that Germany is a good value market.   One simple (even very small) investment in iShares Germany MSCI Index ETF gives you a portfolio  of almost all the shares traded on Germany’s largest stock exchange in Frankfurt.  This ETF is a share traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  The ETF invests in 85% of the shares in Germany.  This ETF is a passive fund that does not try to outperform the growth of the German Stock Market.  The managers simply track the investment results of the MSCI Germany Index.  The MSCI Germany Index is designed to measure the performance of the large and mid cap segments of the German Index which is composed of the stocks of 54 different German companies and covers about 85% of all the German equities.  Germany’s ten largest companies compose about 60% of the index.  These ten companies are:  BAYER (Health Care) composes 9.91% of the index – SIEMENS (Industrials) 7.89% – DAIMLER (Consumer Discretionary) 7.04% – BASF (Materials)  6.81% – ALLIANZ (Financials) 6.65% – SAP STAMM (Info Tech) 5.69% – DEUTSCHE TELEKOM (Telecom Srvcs) 4.46% – DEUTSCHE BANK NAMEN  (Financials) 3.66%  – VOLKSWAGEN VORZUG (Consumer Discretionary) 3.18% – BMW STAM (Consumer Discretionary)  3.15%.

You lump your research.  You lump your investment.  This makes it easy to capture the powerful economic circumstances that are unfolding now.

Just investing in Germany is not enough.  There are currently ten good value developed markets, Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore and the United Kingdom.   Plus there are 11 good value emerging markets.  With even a couple of thousand dollars you can easily create a diversified portfolio in each or all of these countries with Country Index ETFs.

Investing in many stock markets through ETFs gives you opportunity in the second pattern of the falling US dollar.  Preserving the purchasing power of your savings and wealth requires currency diversification.

The strength of the US dollar over recent years is a second remarkable similarity to 30 years ago.   In 1980, the dollar rose along with Wall Street.  Profits came quickly over three years.  Then the dollar dropped like a stone, by 51%  in just two years.  A repeat of this pattern has been growing, is seriously overdue and could create up to 50% extra profit if you start using strong dollars to accumulate good value stock market ETFs in other currencies.

For example because of fears about the euro, EWG, the German ETF dropped 9 percent in 12 months.  These declines are created by currency concerns.  When the euro regains strength, the shares have the potential to appreciate even more.

This is the most exciting opportunity I have seen since we started sending our reports on international investing ideas more than three decades ago.  The trends are so clear that I created a short, but powerful report “Three Currency Patterns For 50% Profits or More.”  This report shows how to earn an extra 50% from currency shifts with even small investments.  I kept the report short and simple, but includes links to 153 pages of Keppler Asset Stock Market and Asset Allocation Analysis so you can keep this as simple or as complex as you desire.

The report shows 22 good value investments and a really powerful tactic to use that allows you to accumulate these bargains now even in very small amounts (even $5,000).  There is extra profit potential of at least 50% so the report is worth a lot.

Research shows that most people worry about having enough money if they live long enough.   I never thought of that.   I just wanted to live long enough to see the remarkable economic opportunity that started in 1980 come again so I could hot the jackpot.  This powerful profit wave has begun.  I have made the investment myself  suggest you investigate this in my report “Three Currency Patterns For 50% Profits or More.”

buy Three Economic Patterns Create 50% Profit

My Guarantee

Order now and I’ll email the online report “Three Currency Patterns For 50% Profits or More” in a .pdf  file right away. 

I guarantee you’ll learn ideas about investing that are unique and can reduce stress as they help you enhance your profits through slow, worry free purposeful investing.  If you are not totally happy, simply let me know within 60 days and I’ll refund your subscription fee in full, no questions asked.

You can keep “Three Currency Patterns for 50% Profits or More”  as my thanks for trying.

You have nothing to lose except the fear.   You gain the ultimate form of financial security as you reduce risk and increase profit potential.

buy Three Economic Patterns Create 50% Profit

I look forward to the next 17 years and sharing how to have more than enough money for the rest of your life.




Wisdom of the Masses Q & A

To share the inner intelligence that we all have… we have made  Saturday our Wisdom of the Masses Question, Answer and Comment day.

7 questions answered and three comments below:

*  #1: Are there Ecuador bugs & spiders?

* #2: Bank secrecy question.

* #3: How good are are US tax deductions in Ecuador?

* #4: Should one be a US citizenship or not?

* #5: Are Ecuador osteopaths and cancer cures quackery?

* #6: Are there Freemasons in Ecuador?

* #7: Question on driving to Ecuador.

* #1: Comment on driving to Ecuador

* #2: Comment on Ecuador red tape.

* #3: Comment on American liberty.

We can all benefit from the wisdom of the masses.


Almost every day a flock of wild turkey graze through our North Carolina front yard.  That flock displays a lot of wisdom.


For example no matter how much they are eating… one turkey always keeps its head up watching for the masses… a designated driver in the wild!

We try to keep out heads up for you so please send your questions, opinions  or comments.

We love the turkeys along with a host of bats that live in the shutters and the spiders and snakes in North Carolina because they keeps the bugs in check.

This leads us to the first question which is about bugs & spiders in Ecuador. 

Here are questions comments and replies for this week.

Question #1: Hello Gary,  I appreciate your web site very much.  My question is about insects, four legged animals, snakes, etc.  in Ecuador.  What can one expect in an apartment, a walk on the beach, a home near the beach or the Andes?   In Thailand there are spiders (harmless) but huge- five inches or so circumference, that require one to sleep with a net around thier bed.  They can be scooted out of the way with your hand, but nevertheless, for Americans not used to these types this could be unsettling while adjusting to living in Thailand.  So, I’m wondering what to expect if I move to Ecuador.  Thanks for your input.

Reply: Merri and I have always been amazed at the lack of insects… snakes etc.  in the Andes.  There are almost no insects or snakes. The only one that annoys is a small bug that hangs out in long grass… called “moscas”.  They bit like a redbug (jigger) and itch like crazy.  We sleep with our windows open… no screens required and our I do ever recall seeing a snake or spider.  These bugs in the grass aren’t everywhere and can be easily cured and naturally..which we have done around ourselves…but don’t lie down on a grassy area outside a soccer field for instance.

On Ecuador’s mid coast in the winter (the warm season) there a few mosquitoes, but nothing like south Florida, ore the north USA in summer.   They come out at dawn and dusk when the onshore and offshore breeze stop but I find if I wear long pants and shirts at this time… there are few bites.  We use mosquito nets as we like to sleep with our French doors open so we can enjoy the sound of the surf.

I have not spent much time on the southern coasts where there are more mangroves but have been told that the mossies are in greater numbers there.

Also that is where malaria and dengue fever are…however, I don’t think anyone would like to live in those areas…just like few people live in the Everglades in Florida.

If you want bugs,  and spiders and snakes, go to lower altitudes in the Amazon and cloud forests.  There are a lot of them there.

Question #2: You’ve said for years now that there is no more bank secrecy.  Recently I’ve received a request from the bank that took over for Anglo Irish in Austria. They ask me to sign a form “waiving bank secrecy” in accordance with US law and also provide them with a W-9 Form? They say if I do not give it to them, they will “put a documentation block on the account as these documents are necessary to fulfill our legal requirements.”  Instead of Anglo Irish Bank, it’s now called “valartisbank.” Would you please share your thoughts and comments on this?  What are the pros and cons of signing?  I really don’t wish to close my account, unless there’s something I am not thinking of.  I did not like JGAM’s minimums. But like offshore.

Reply: I highly recommend you sign the form. This allows the bank to provide the highest service and avoids the risks of automatic withholding.  You should be filing a Treasury Department form TD F 90-22.1 anyway so you are not giving up any confidentiality.

The benefits of overseas accounts are greater global investing expertise… ease of having multi currency accounts and investments and asset protection.  They are more private than most US accounts… but they are not secret. If a bank offers you a secret account, run as fast as you can.  Such banks are more likely to attract customers doing things illegally and you do not want your name to be near when trouble starts!

US legislation has created so many compliance issues for overseas banks that they now all have to do one of three things.

#1: Nickel and dime the account. I stopped using Anglo Irish long ago. They were a really great bank. I loved the people and had used them for decades, but their fees were very high for everything.

#2: Have higher minimums. This is the approach that Jyske has taken. $100,000 minimum for managed accounts and $1 million for advisory accounts.  This is just about the lowest anywhere anymore. We should not blame the banks. They have to make a profit.  We have to accept the blame as voters for allowing our Congress to pass laws that require banks to police their clients and fill in so many forms.

#3: Have a minimum fee. I use a great London stock broker that will open accounts for any amount but has a minimum annual fee of 1,000 pounds  (appx. $1,500 dollars) so you do not want a $20,000 account there!

Question #3: Hi Gary,  My dad & I are going to do the Ecuador Real Estate tours in October. He has been doing a lot of reading and is getting excited. He asked me a very reasonable question. Right now he gets a big tax deduction for interest paid on mortgage interest. His income is from an annuity, interest/dividends and Social Security. If we buy property in Ecuador, will he get the same thing? I thought we’d have to pay cash for property there, but I don’t know what the tax consequence is for him. Somehow it seems that he would be better off cash flow wise, but I don’t know how to explain it.

Reply: In Ecuador there is no tax on offshore income.  If your father becomes resident in Ecuador he receives a $92,000+ tax deduction each year. This is probably more than his current mortgage deductions.  He should consult with a tax preparer who has experience with US and Ecuador tax…. such as David Ingram (see next reply). 

Question #4: My husband and I are Cdn citizens but have held a green card for more then 8 years.  We have 3 children, 2 are dual and one is Cdn with a green card also.  We have made the decision to return to our hometown after several years.  The reason we are moving is for family.  We originally thought we would get our US citizenship before we depart so that our youngest would also be dual and keep our options open for the future.  We have received advice from several different source, both American and Canadian advisers.  At this point we are more confused then anything.  We are concerned with getting the citizenship because of our covered ex pat status and also concerns from my parents regarding inheritance and joint real estate we own.  Do you have any advice?  When is it possible to discuss this matter.  We are pushing back our citizenship interview which was originally scheduled for September 13th, 2010. Thank you

Reply: David Ingram replies:

If you give up your green cards and fifteen years later, your two US citizen children are living in Texas, you will not be able to just move south to be with them (for family as you describe returning to Canada).

If you leave one child without US citizenship, I can almost guarantee that “that” child will be the one that wants to move to the US in the future.

In general, my advice would be to take out your US citizenship and hold your options open.

However, if you do, you will have to file US returns for as long as you live, will be subject to US estate tax, etc.  I do not have enough information to deal with that.  You can, of course, file form I-131 before you leave the US and keep your Green cards alive for a long time without taking out citizenship at this time. The longest I know of is 8 years.

David Ingram is a CPA in Canada who can prepare tax returns for Americans and Canadians living in Canada. His email address is taxman@centa.com

Ecuador Living subscribers can get many additional tax and legal contacts at the password protected page “Ecuador Legal Contacts

Learn how to get an Ecuador Living password here.

Question #5: Regarding your article Way Beyond Not Ill that mentioned Dr. Robert Wickman in Quito how did you miss the report about him at quackwatch?

Reply:  I did not miss it.  We first learned of Dr Wickman from several clients who were cured of cancer and told us of Wickman. We researched, interviewed and totally disagree with quackwatch.  We did provide a link to Dr Wickman’s site where he openly mentions his arrest decades ago in the USA and in my opinion very honestly describes his treatments and a persons choices.

“Wickman states in his biography at that site: “In 1984 I was taken to court by the state of Arizona via the medical profession for fraudulent schemes and because I knew a health store owner and spoke with him on occasion, this made both of us co-conspirators and we went to jail for conspiring to commit fraudulent schemes. Can you believe that? I had to go to jail and lose my license to practice medicine because people got well and refused to die on schedule. In 1995, another judge that was not part of the original case to nail me, overturned this conviction, but could not give me back those lost years and the lost lives of many the patients who died because I was unavailable. Many were on the road to recovery, but had to settle for death as a result of my conviction. Many families were torn apart because an important part of the family had died. Is that fair?

Of course no one testified against me for saving their life, but the damage was done by “experts” that weren’t familiar with my techniques or treatments. In fact, in 1986, when all my options were closed to practice medicine anymore, I became a fugitive and left my country to set up life in another country, another continent, yes in South America to be exact. I was able to get established as a licensed health care provider, in fact the only Osteopathic Physician in Ecuador.

“I just could not bear to see years of suffering take place in my patients when a cure was certain for them. Many did suffer for years before they found me and had their suffering end in optimal health. I believe we were put on this earth to live and not exist with disease. Again, getting rid of symptoms just doesn’t cure the disease!”

My opinion is that quackwatch is at times a bit quacky themselves in condemning anything they do not understand or is different from the norm.

Dr. Wickman is highly respected in Ecuador by the medical community and as mentioned a number of our readers feel he saved their lives.  This is also one thing Merri and I really love about Ecuador is it let professionals practice with more liberty and let patients choose the type of care (from shamans to surgery) they desire.

Question #6: Are there any Freemasons in Ecuador (Quito).

Reply: The Grant Orient of Peru started Freemasonry in Ecuador in 1857 with lodges in Quito and Guayaquil.

When the lodges refused membership to the dictator in power at that time he slowed the growth and it was not until the early 1900s that the Grand Lodge of Ecuador was formed and exists to this day.

Let me add a comment about the free masons. I am of Scottish grandfolks and my dad’s dad was a Mason.  My father-in-law was a Mason. My mother- in-law and first wife were heavily involved in  Eastern Star.  The order of the Eastern Star is a society designed for the wives, daughters, and female relatives of men affiliated with Masonry.  They claim no association with Masonry but the causes and doctrines are extremely similar such as the belief of  faith in God and character building to obtain salvation by doing good works.

They were also involved in Freemason youth organizations, Order of DeMolay, Job’s Daughters and the Rainbow Girls.

They basically taught seven Cardinal Virtues:

•    Filial love (love between a parent and child)
•    Reverence for sacred things
•    Courtesy
•    Comradeship
•    Fidelity
•    Cleanliness
•    Patriotism

I am not nor never was directly involved in any of these organizations but my observations from being surrounded by them is that they were great charitable organizations but they certainly did not possess any of the mystic or conspiratorial qualities we read about these days.

I am a member of both Knights Hospitaler and Knights Templar and though we do some charitable work… ditto re mysticism or conspiracy. See more at www.Templarcode.com

Question #7: Without even seeing Ecuador, I plan to move there, yet, that time is 1 1/2 years away.  My son who is 51 and myself (69) already have our tickets for May 20 – June 3, 2011.  My son has an MCI 40′ bus, we are bringing down (we are checking on shipping now).  We had planned on driving, but recently learned about the Darien Gap. Between us, we have 2 dogs and one cat.  Can you direct us to any websites or info that could help with either of those?  Thank you for whatever information you have for us.

Reply:  Please…. please…. please do not plan on moving to Ecuador without visiting and staying a while. Our advice is visit first.  Cover some territory.  If you like what you see… come and stay as a renter. Learn the ropes. Look for bargains.  Then if happy…. buy.

I would not try to drive the Pan Am highway from the US to Ecuador. This is only for the most rugged and experienced.   Reader Mike Van Pelt and his wife Rene drove all over Latin America in this special vehicle built on a German Unimog.

Ecuador Real Estate Benefits Photo # 2

Even they did not take on the Pan Am Highway.  But the big thing is Ecuador will not allow used vehicles to enter the country!  They are strict on these issues and even if you made it through the now roughness of Mexico and then though Colombia, you would be turned down at the entry into Ecuador.

Ecuador Real Estate Benefits Photo # 3

The comment from another reader explains the cost of getting through the Darien Gap.

The Darién Gap is a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest separating Panama’s Darién Province in Central America from Colombia in South America. It measures just over 160 km (99 mi) long and about 50 km (31 mi) wide. Roadbuilding through this area is expensive, and the environmental toll is steep. Political consensus in favor of road construction has not emerged, and consequently there is no road connection through the Darién Gap connecting North/Central America with South America. It is therefore the missing link of the Pan-American Highway.

Come down, look around and see how you like the Andes AND the indigenous people…not everyone does!

Reader Comment #1: The Ecuadorian embassies in the US are a joke.  Called about 15 of them to ask one question, at least 12 had phones discontinued or no answer during work hours.  One girl was on vacation for 15 days and no forward.  All have an english option and then speak Spanish. The website says you can mail in visa application for 48 hour service.  The only person I was able to talk with said “no mail -you have to present documents in person.”  Their office is 10 hours drive from me.   Is this a primitive society?

Wanted to drive Pan AM highway to Ecuador, the 54 mile gap in road  would cost us over $4000 in vehicle shipping and air fares two-way.  USA put man on moon 50 years ago and Panama can’t build 54 miles of road.

My Comment #2: I am guessing that this reader has not tried to deal with any US agencies recently. Even the IRS when it gives advice adds a disclaimer…. that their advice cannot be taken as accurate!  I stood in line for four hours at the Miami passport office to get a passport renewed for our daughter (who was at school in England only to be told we could not get it renewed while she was out of the country.  The English consul of course did not want to renew it because we were not there.

I have also driven well over ten hours (Naples to Gainseville) just to get a Department of Agriculture stamp so our dog could travel to Ecuador because the Miami Dept. of Ag people were on Christmas holidays.

I have had even US customs at Houston Airport lose my passport as I was traveling!  They would not help in any way and stranded me for four days. What a mess that was.

The point?  Taxpayers dollars seem to work equally well everywhere. Red tape and bureaucratic bungling are not inclusive to third world countries.  Ecuador in many ways is less primitive to my way of thinking than many western nations.

Merri often deals with these consulates and she finds them very helpful in person (but hard to deal with on the phone).  However, for us we are 7 or 8 or sometimes ten hours away from a consul.  They are overworked there and under-staffed however, she reports than when she walks in the door, and there are never ay seats everyone rushes over to help her and let her go first in line…there again bureacracy is hard but the people are good.  We try to find our answer from Ecuadorean attorneys, other people who have tried to do the same that we are trying to do and the Ecuadorian Business Consuls…always helpful to us.  When I asked Merri to comment…she said “Be prepared for everything before you walk in the door.  If they tell you, Credit Cards only, then take cash (more than you will need AND a check AND credit cards…if they tell you cash only, then take all of the above! Be prepared for anything.”

Reader Comment #3: Thank you for your time,  I am a fellow Oregonian,  who stumbled onto your site accidentally while researching.  Having said that, I thank you for your work, and am now your newest student.

With respect to the questions for next week.  I wish to respond to the post from the gentleman requesting an answer to his query  “will america’s form of government survive in future given current lack of consistent information that reaches the concerned and the influence of the larger corporate businesses and unions as un-reported by today’s media?’

This is the very thread present in today’s media that led my research to your site.  I have come to believe that when we Americans discuss the intent and presence of democracy we fail to hold of greater importance that we are a ‘Limited Democracy’.   We forget that the core of our greatness is that individual rights come from a higher source and no form of government may supercede that.

The survivability of our system is sound, provided we do not cave to more government run social programs that replace a tradition of unprovoked private and individual contributions of generosity and charity.  Religion is a core value in this matter as it has always served as the catalyst of this behavior.  The more we neglect or shelve the idea of personal spirituality and the more we rely on legislative programs as substitutes for the caring of those among us who need, the more we will face an irreversible loss of the foundation that preserves our heritage.

Today, more than ever, demographics control and manipulate the media,  our lost ‘watch dog’ of the government’s actions.

Prior to writing this, I read your story on PIEC business and investing. Very astute advice for our country’s dilemma.  America needs to invest in it’s self.  Thank you again for your inspiration.

That’s it for this Saturday folks! Please send your questions and comments.



Ecuador May – July 2009 Tours

In Ecuador we offer two 2-4-1 tours this May and June.

Economic downturn?

Yesterday’s New York Times article entitled “Jobless Rate Hits 8.5%; 663,000 Jobs Lost” said:

The unemployment rate reached its highest level in a quarter-century after 663,000 jobs were lost in March, the 15th consecutive month of job losses.

Yet our Ecuador and other businesses are expanding so fast that I can barely keep up.

More and more readers are wanting to know… “How do you increase affluence like this when so many are losing it?”

This fact creates potential profit and benefits for you.

Apparently the needs to… live in Ecuador… invest in multi currencies…  have a small international business and…  have low cost natural health secrets have all risen at once.

These are our four specialties and this creates opportunity for you. Let me explain why…

Our business has focused on these four areas for decades and as the global economic crunch is highlighting  the values of these ideas… our 41 years of  international experience has seen a growing demand.  This makes us leaders in these fields exactly when more information is required. But this also creates three dilemmas.

These dilemmas force me to (happily) create two 2-4-1 tour packages where you can attend two of our Ecuador information tours for the price of one.   2-4-1… plus a bit more.

Here are MY three dilemmas that create YOUR 2-4-1 opportunity.

Dilemma #1:  We are swamped. This May begins Merri’s & my 41st year of living, investing and doing business abroad. Here is the passport from my first airplane trip, first time out of Oregon. Portland to Vancouver, Tokyo to Hong Kong at 21 years of age.


This is the first stamp in that passport, May 2, 1968.


Yet we are going stronger than ever before.  This March I spoke to almost 400 delegates in Ecuador and we were involved in five tours.  Here I am speaking to almost 300 delegates at International Living’s Quito seminar.


I spoke six times to this group.


Then went on to conduct four more tours in Cotacachi.


This, along with the four ezines I write, plus our investment and property management and life in general is keeping us… “kinda busy”.

Dilemma #2: We wish to remain small. This is the  fifth recession and market crash our business has thrived through (1968 – 1970s- 1980s – 1998 and now).   Part of our success is that we have remained a small (mainly just Merri and me) tightly run and controlled business.  We have had to expand some (especially with Meson de las Flores)  but overall we wish to remain a small, family business that we operate from our home.

Dilemma #3: We want to do more. I have friends and clients asking me to do seminars in May and June in both Ecuador and the US.  So I have been racking my brain to figure out how to be in two places at once.

This created the 2-4-1 concept that offers a special opportunity for you.

I cannot be in two places at once but I can make to possible for you to gain all the information I know and see what I am talking about for yourself by visiting Ecuador.

The first crunch comes in May and June when an exploding demand for information about multi currency investing and Ecuador living collide.

Jyske Bank has taken the trouble to qualify for US investors (thank God as most overseas banks are abandoning the US… with good reason).   I have agreed to help them conduct seminars in the US… the first in May when I’ll be joining Jyske Bank in Naples, Florida.

Yet we have many delegates who want to attend our real estate tours.  So we created our first 2-4-1 tour program where you can come to one of our educational courses in the US and one of two Ecuador tours for the price of one tour. 2-4-1

For example we have three Ecuador tours scheduled for May 2009.

Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour May 16-17

Imbabura-Cotacachi Real Estate Tour May 20-21

Ecuador Amazon Herbal Tour May 22-24

Merri and I will not be on these three tours and we do want to meet you. So to make sure we can meet, we will let you attend these either one of the May real estate tours free if you enroll in one of our three International Made EZ  courses, in July, October or November.

You get two courses for the price of one.  Enroll in any of these courses that Merri and I will conduct below and choose either May real estate tour free.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Nov. 6-8  IBEZ Cotacachi + Tangled Web

There is no need to  hurry either. If you are not sure about attending two tours,  sign up and attend the real tour now… then we’ll knock the tour fee off our IBEZ Cotacachi + Tangled Web course fee later.

You can also still take advantage three course discount as well.

For example, if you choose to attend all three of the May tours… both real estate and the Amazon herbal tours, then you can attend our July, October or November course free.

You can see some options below.

These three May 2009 Ecuador real estate tours are hosted by Alberto Verdezoto (a long term friend and guide as well as an expert on herbal medicine from the Amazon) and our staff.


Here is Alberto leading our last real estate tour on the coast.

You could not be in better hands.  Alberto was in the Ecuador travel business for more than 10 years and has been our main real estate researcher for three years. He has helped us find most of the good Ecuador property deals and is doubly helpful because he bargains down the price!

Here is Alberto (left) leading our staff at International Living’s Ecuador seminar in March.


On the coastal real estate tour,  you’ll see these houses near the beach for $19,500.


Here is an interior shot.


Plus on the Imbabura – Cotacachi real estate tour we’ll see these excellent houses.


with these views and…


with top quality finish.


Plus on the Imbaburra – Cotacachi real estate tour we’ll look at (unless it has sold) a really well organized 12 acre avocado farm just minutes from Ibarra.  The owner has returned to Loja.  Here is the entrance.


the main  house.


inside living room and…




Here are both houses from the rear and…


the back garden.


Here, in front of the houses, is the fruit… the cash generator.


The avocados are flowering for their first crop.


We are told they will offer a $50,000 a year income after two years… $25,000 potential this year. (Be sure to check this out as we are not avocado farmers so cannot discern the truth.)

Asking price with these two houses, land and crops is $260,000.

You can enroll in one, two or three of these courses below

Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour May 16-17. $499 Enroll here.   $749 For a couple.

Imbabura-Cotacachi Real Estate Tour May 20-21.  $499 Enroll here.  $749 For a couple.

Ecuador Amazon Herbal Tour May 22-24.  $399 Enroll here. $499 For a couple.

Take Two for One. Attend any of the three courses below and select any one of the tours above free.

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina + Tangled Web

Nov. 6-8  IBEZ Cotacachi + Tangled Web

Or sign up for two or three of the May 2009 tours and attend any of the IBEZ Cotacachi + Tangled Web FREE.

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.

Learn about our July 2009 Ecuador export tour 2-4-1 deal here.

Multi Currency Portfolio Review

Multi Currency portfolios are vital in today’s global and inflationary economy.

Yet its hard for Americans to invest multi currency portfolios abroad.  US authorities place such stringent regulations on banks that have US clients that many overseas banks no longer open accounts for Americans.

This is likely to get worse because a federal has now authorized the IRS to use John Doe summons to request information from overseas banks about U.S. taxpayers who may be using Swiss bank accounts to evade federal income taxes.  These summons are used to obtain information about possible tax fraud by people whose identities are unknown.  This is unprecedented.  How can a bank know if an account holder  has hidden an account from the IRS?

There are still easy ways to invest in multi currency portfolios.

The first is buying shares in a global company that earns outside the US.

General Electric for example has huge non dollar earnings. More than half itscome from abroad.  This is true of many US shares you can buy on a US  stock exchange.  IBM, for example derives 65 percent of its revenue from overseas.  Sch a share is a multi currency portfolio unto itself.

Another multi currency tactic is to buy a mutual fund that invests only in non dollar bonds or shares.

Take the Dodge & Cox International Stock (DODFX) Fund as an example.

This fund invests in a diversified portfolio of medium-to-large non-U.S. equities. This billion dollar no  load mutual fund had an average annual growth of over 24% per annum over the last five years. Investors can start with $2,500.

Overseas banks still provide extra privacy, asset protection and help investors access the greater currency experience in investing and lending that many non dollar bankers have.

Jyske Bank, Denmark’s second largest bank,  for example has registered a subsidiary (Jyske Global Asset Management or JGAM) with the American SEC so it conforms to US regulations.

This is a tax neutral opportunity. American account holders must report income and earnings just as they would a US account. W9s must also submit if account holders invest in US shares, funds or bonds.

Yet beyond the tax man, investors have their assets away from prying eyes and held in a legal system that offers asset protection.  Banking may be safer as well. Denmark is ranked by Moodys as one of the safest nations in which to bank.

JGAM’s service offers risk profiled portfolios ranging from low risk (LR) to speculative (SP) and with or without US dollar investments included..  JGAM managers use a top down global economic analysis that looks at markets and financial conditions around the world and recommend asset class allocations for each risk level.  Then they select individual shares/mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETF) for these allocations.
In all there are 17 portfolios opportunities each month.  Investors, based on their risk profiles, choose what percentage they want in fixed income, equities, alternatives (commodities metals etc) and cash.

Here for example are JGAM’s latest multi currency portfolio asset allocation breakdowns.

Low Risk Multi Currency Portfolio:  Fixed Income 70%,  Equities 20%,  Alternatives 5%,  Cash 5%.

Medium Risk Multi Currency Portfolio: Fixed Income, 40%,  Equities 50%,  Alternatives 5%, Cash 5%.

High Risk Multi Currency Portfolio:  Fixed Income  10%, Equities 80%,  Alternatives 5%,  Cash 5%.

Speculative Multi Currency Portfolio:  Fixed Income  20%, Equities 60%,  Alternatives 10%,  Cash 10%.

Let’s look at the low risk (LR) portfolio in more detail.

Normally Jyske would recommend that 80% to 100% of low risk portfolios are in fixed income.  Due to global inflation the managers are currently suggesting a tactical shift to underweight bonds, and overweight alternatives (commodities) and cash.

Then the JGAM managers offer a list of good value shares, bonds, funds and ETFs  that investors can choose.

Each equity is ranked as low medium or high risk to help the account holder to further refine their asset allocation.

You can see the low risk portfolio list here.

A similar process is used for bonds denominated in eleven currencies, US dollars, euro, British pounds,  Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Russian ruble, Brazilan real, Hungarian forint, Turkish lira, Icelandic kroner and South African rand.

This system allows investors to have multi currency portfolios that are custom fit to their circumstances and needs.

Now comes the interesting part about banking abroad….multi currency borrowing as well as investing.

For many investors, a multi currency portfolio is enough.  However some want added leverage and Jyske’s system allows multi currency borrowing.

Jyske will accept the portfolio as collateral and lend to leverage the investments at the following interest rates, depending on the amount borrowed:

US$                                  4.125%  to 4.875%
Swiss franc                       4.250%      5.000%
Japanese yen                   2.500%      3.250%
Singapore $                      3.000%      3.750%

Jyske’s current loan recommendation is to borrow 50% Swiss francs, 30% US$ and 20%  Japanese yen. At the median interest rate this creates an average loan rate of 3.58%.   Such loans can have a magical impact on performance even with low risk portfolios.

Say that a low risk portfolio of $100,000 yields 5%.  If $100,000 is borrowed, the portfolio now has $200,000 and at 5% earns $10,000 a year.  Interest costs are $3,580, so the return on the $100,000 is bumped up to $6,420 or 6.42% instead of 5%.

If $200,000 is borrowed the $300,000 portfolio yielding 5% earns $15,000 a year with loan costs of only $7,160. That means the $100,000 now earns $7,840 or 7.84% double the yield without leverage.

When markets are rising such leverage can create spectacular profits in some of the riskier portfolios. In 2007, a Green Portfolio consisting of five environmentally oriented equities, that I created with Jyske’s help, using two times leverage, rose 266.23% in one year!

Plus in many instances a borrowed currency can lose value versus the invested assets so there is an extra forex profit.

Yet forex returns can result in losses as well.   The leverage creates added risk and volatility. That same green portfolio that rose so fast, also dropped 100% in just a month during 2007 before rising again 150% in the next three months. Plus there are extra fees to think about when borrowing so always check with your banker first.  Consider the added risk carefully and never leverage more than you can afford to lose.

You can get more information on Jyske Bank from Thomas Fischer, Senior Vice President at fischer@jgam.com

A rising global population and growing global economy creates stress on world resources and encourages inflation. The same demographic stresses also put downwards pressure on the US dollar and this creates even more inflation.

Fortunately the same technology that helps create these pressures also allows us to survive and prosper from inflation through multi currency investing.


P.S. Join me with JGAM at our next two International Investing and Business Made EZ Courses.


Enjoy the leaf change this October and International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina


Or enjoy our hotel in Ecuador in November and International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador