Tag Archive | "unconsciousness"

Investing Internationally


Investing internationally with thought about reflexivity can improve your wealth.

See three thoughts below that can help bring you everlasting wealth.

#1: George Soros’ thoughts on international investment reflexivity and how the power of thought affects investing and business internationally.

#2:  More on Ecuador’s government’s plan to take over a number of  TV and radio frequencies.

#3: An update on international emerging market values…

International Investments & Reflexivity

Investing internationally can bring everlasting wealth if your logic can adapt and focus in new and meaningful ways.  One way to focus your investing logic is by understanding reflexivity.

The term reflexivity was coined by George Soros.   His thinking on investment markets can help investors because the philosophy has proven success.

Part one of his book “The New Paradigm for Financial Markets” shows how we as investors and as a society need to think outside the box.  This section of the book makes seven points:

Point #1: Understanding world is inherently imperfect because we are part of the world.

Point #2: There are two functions in our thought… understanding the world … cognitive thought and having impact and taking advantage of the world… manipulative thought.

Point #3:  These two functions counteract one another. Manipulation requires intentions and predictions which are not fact.  So our beliefs and expectations can hinder our ability to see fact.

Soros writes in this book: “Take the stock market as an example People buy and sell stocks in anticipation of future stock prices, but those prices are contingent on the investors’ expectations. These expectations cannot qualify as knowledge.

Point #4:  Supply and demand are not independent of people’s expectations.  This means that the element of uncertainty cannot be be eliminated. Yet market theory that rules most investing and most government intervention in markets ignores this fact.

Point #5:  Social events have a different structure from natural phenomena.  Natural phenomena has a causal chain that connects one event directly to the next.  Human affairs include participant’s views. These views affect the causal effect and the participant’s views which creates self reinforcing loops.

Point #6: Natural events happen. Participants can affect what happens next with their decisions but cannot base their decisions on true knowledge because their decisions alter the truth.

Point #7:  At times reflexivity makes the abnormal normal.

Soros’ philosophy is supported by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle that states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known exactly.  The more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known. It is impossible to measure both position and velocity of a microscopic particle with any degree of accuracy or certainty. This is not only a statement about the limitations of a researcher’s ability to measure particular quantities of a system, it is a statement about the nature of the system itself… the fact that the act of measuring anything alters the very thing being measured.

This would make it seem that we cannot really gain an understanding of what will happen with any international investment or business.   This is true.

However there are ways we can come closer to understanding… because we are a part of nature, which by definition makes us part of and in touch with everything.

Access to this infinite knowledge is via our more subtle brain waves.

Access to these waves can come in many forms.

Soros claims to have many ways to access this greater knowledge but in his book his son wrote:  My father will sit down and give you theories to explain why he does this or that. But I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking, at least half of this is bullshit. I mean you know the reason he changes his position in the market is because his back starts killing him. It has nothing to do with reason. He literally goes into a spasm, and it’s his early warning sign.

Some would call it intuition, instinct, gut feeling and perhaps these are just ways of describing getting in touch with a deeper, non linear, infinite field of intelligence that all receive but few tune in.

We cannot define infinity and logical thought by definition must be linear.

Final decisions should be rational and should come from our logic… but logic by its nature must be focused on a very narrow path.  This means we need a way to let our intuition tell us when we need to shift the focus of our logic on a new path outside the box.

One way the yatchaks (means to know) of the Andes and wise people everywhere is to look for signs of nature.

One term used for these signs is totems.  For example, my totem is the Heron.

So let’s ask what in the heck do Herons have to do with international investments?

The answer is nothing and yet everything…

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Here is an explanation about totems from Speaker for the Animals:

Heron – Aggressive – Self-Reliance – Self Determination  Heron links two worlds: the waters of life—the Unconscious, and the air—the realm of the conscious mind. He feeds on fishes, which symbolize the treasures of the Unconscious mind: spiritual nourishment for the Seeker. Yet he is also a creature of the Earth, so he is a grounding influence for people who spend too much time in their minds and who are called to ‘fish’ in the waters of the unconscious.

The legs of Heron are long to “stand” the deep waters of the Unconscious: the Waters of Lethe bring sleepiness and unconsciousness if one is not awake, aware and wary. Heron is a solitary fisher; if you call upon Heron to be your own totem, you must be able to stand alone as you seek, for there is no one to call on should you step into too-deep waters.

Heron’s strength for those of us who spend too much time ‘in our minds’ is that he brings one down to Earth. With Heron as your guide, he will bring you to ground to explore life here in the physical instead of just daydreaming or losing oneself in one’s imagination or dreams.

We’re unconventional, hearing our own inner drummer. We don’t worry about ‘keeping up with the Jones’s, doing what others do, believing what others believe, valuing what others value. If there is a weakness, it is that Heron works too hard at its fishing because he is a superb ‘stalker.’ He spends long hours standing and watching for a movement in the water, and needs sometimes to ‘loosen up’ and spend more time playing, courting lady herons or just snoozing in the Sun.

Most people, as Ted Andrews says in his book Animal Speak, would never choose to live this way: “It is not a structured way, and does not have a stability or security to it. It is though, just a matter of perspective. There is security in heron medicine, for it gives the ability to do a variety of tasks. If one way doesn’t work, then another will.”

Solitary in nature, Heron people follow their own path. They learn self-reliance. This is a valuable character trait in these times of conformity and homogenization of values. Heron people can stand alone, listen to their own inner wisdom, and go their own way when everyone else is conforming to society’s commands. In this way, they build their own ways to be as well as choose their own way of doing. They are individuals first.

Herons are active in my life and I have painted one (inspired by Audobon’s Heron) that hangs in the entrance to our house.

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So when the Great Blue Heron that lives on Little Horse Creek flew from our high mountain bog right over this morning, I dug out my copy of Animal Speak.

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I rethought my business and investments in contrast to the symbolism of the heron.  This never happens without my coming up with some worthy thought.  Today it related to a partnership I was looking into.  I reread Solitary in nature, Heron people follow their own path. They learn self-reliance.

This started me rethinking if Merri and I really want a partner. This started me looking at the business in a very different way.

Ecuador shamans and yatchaks use this process extensively and call it shape shifting. They place themselves in the spirit of their totem and this forces them to think about whatever subject they are concerned with in a different way… thinking like a heron or eagle or condor definitely puts you out of the box!

I did not come to any conclusions about my business decisions because I saw a heron.  The fact I saw a heron caused me to sit down and use my logic to rethink my plans in a different way.

Learn more about how to improve your thought process here.

Ecuador Radio and TV

On the subject of Ecuador, a previous message shared news about the Ecuadorian government’s plan to seize a number of radio and TV stations and promised to stay tuned to what happens.  I have asked many of my trusted sources in Ecuador for their opinions which we’ll share in various messages.  Here are two from businessmen in Ecuador.

The first contributor was quite negative when he wrote:  The first thing to take into account is that he is actually proposing control over the press not only within the countries but at a international
level. What he is saying is that countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and others, should create an international committee that will oversee what the media is saying about the governments.

Ecuador is following the Venezuelan model, so if you see that Chávez is pushing for a new legislation that control the media and whatever content they have that may “threaten” the nation security, Ecuador will follow that soon. Below is what Venezuela is doing, they actually want to sensor the information that the media exposes meaning that if who oversees the media thinks that this or that information is “bad” for the country, the media or the anchor will actually face justice and may even go to jail for at least four years. They closed 32 radio stations and 2 tv stations.

Rafael Correa, the President, said that his team was about to revoke some radio frequencies depending on the outcome of a report that his government is finishing. This will mean that whatever happens will be done in the next weeks. Critics claim that this was not done on a technical level but on a political one, opening the door for the government to possibly revoke the frequencies of radio stations or TV stations that oppose the government.   On this matter nothing is sure yet, but Conartel, which oversees the media, actually punished a TV station, Teleamazonas, that opposes the government.  The fines were applied to that TV station one time, by law the second time they must close for about 90 days and the third time they must close forever. They censored the Simpsons also from that TV station and there was a public outcry because Conartel and the government threaten to punish them.  We figure that since he started a new period, things will start to happen in the coming weeks, so far nothing is concrete yet.

He was not totally negative though and added: One thing although is that the government is not talking about taking over TV stations or radio stations, but revoking the frequencies. But take this into account, the government actually took over some private TV stations, they got them as part of a debt that Filanbanco, a bank, had with the government back in the crisis of 1999. This appears to be a separate thing. On the same takeover they got two TV stations plus a newspaper El Telégrafo.

The second contributor feels good about this new and wrote:  Hi Gary,  I have lived here full time for over 9 years and have seen the corruption and I believe that Correa’s intentions are more good than bad. I believe that many things that he does for a good reason while he is working on removing corruption are turned into bad press by the opposition. The same opposition that stole from the people of Ecuador throughout history, and want to regain control and steal from them again. I think that the Wall Street Journal article you wrote about says a lot. It says to me that he is going through the licenses one by one to find out if the licenses were granted illegally through corruption and payoffs. If they were granted legally, no problem…..and if they weren’t we are going to suspend the license and you will have a chance to prove that you obtained it legally.  A year or so ago, two television stations were taken over, with the same uproar in the press. But the truth is that they were taken over because the owners of those two stations were the owners of one of the banks that went under when they took all of the depositors money and went to Miami to live happily ever after. Well, Correa went after their assets ( a first for a president to go after someone like this) and some of those assets were the two tv stations. So we need to look past what the press says as many of them are owned by this type of opposition. I see Correa in a similar boat that President Vicente Fox of Mexico was in a few years ago, when His party was elected after over 100 years of severe corruption by the ruling party and he wanted to remove that corruption. He was also fought along the way by the opposition that wanted the power back to again steal from the people. It is a very difficult job that Correa has ahead of him, and I hope that he can succeed and become possibly the best president that Ecuador has ever had.  Regards.

We’ll be providing a full report on the radio and TV position to our Ecuador Living subscribers

Emerging Markets Update

We’ll share more comments about international investments in Ecuador in upcoming messages… but let’s use our logic here to look some more at international investments in all emerging markets.

One problem many investors have when using non linear approaches to international investments is that they forget the final logical step…. which is to come back and end in the logical mode.

Thinking outside the box does not mean we should just ignore what is in the box. We want to use our logic to reflect on “in-the-box-stuff” in different ways.  If we do not know what’s in the box then we won’t know when we are out of the box.   Boxes exist for a reason.  At times the box.. assuming the box is the norm… but Soros says “is abnormal.”    We need to conclude if the box is normal or abnormal which dictates that we do examine what’s in the box.

Thinking outside the box does not mean we should abandon logic.

So I may sit down and rethink everything… or something I am doing when I see a heron… but I add that to my traditional logical thought.

This is one reason why we regularly review Michael Keppler’s major and emerging market value analysis.  Kepler is a statistical genius and guru…. very institutional… logical mathematical .

What I search for are strokes of intuition supported by such logic.

This morning for example their were three crows grazing our front yard.

Stock market investors sometimes refer to three crows as a pattern of successive declining stock prices over three days often identified by overlapping candlestick patterns. Three crows are often seen as a warning of a period of powerful selling pressure on the stock market.

This does not mean I rushed out and sold all my shares. It does mean I looked at logical data like Keppler’s value analysis to see if the logic supports the intuition.

Here is an excerpt from our last multi currency portfolios update that shows Keppler’s mathematical logic.

Emerging Markets equities recorded their highest ever quarterly return. In the second quarter 2009, the MSCI Emerging Markets Total Return Index gained 34.7 % in US dollars and 27.5 % in euros.

This brings the year-to-date total return of the global Emerging Markets benchmark to 36 % in US dollars and 34.8 % in euros.

All markets covered here were up last quarter. Hungary (+69.7 %), India (+59.8 %) and Turkey (+56.6 %) had the most impressive returns.

Peru (+11.2 %), Israel (+15.8 %) and Morocco (+19.6 %) came in at the bottom of the performance range with what would be very desirable double-digit returns under normal circumstances.

In the second quarter 2009, the Emerging Markets Top Value Model Portfolio, which invests according to the Top Value Strategy and assumes index returns for each national market included in the strategy, gained 45.5 % in US dollars and 37.7 % in euros, outperforming the benchmark by 10.8 percentage points in US dollars and by 10.2  percentage points in euros.

There were two changes in our performance ratings last quarter: Korea was downgraded to “Sell” from “Neutral” and Brazil was upgraded to “Buy” from “Sell”.

The Top Value Model Portfolio now contains the eight “buy” rated markets: Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey at equal weights.

It is unusual for a market to rise all the way from sell to buy as Brazil did this quarter. This is in keeping with our thoughts on Brazil Distortion Thoughts published in  April and June.

You can see the password protected pages and full emerging markets update and a warning about these values as a Multi Currency Portfolio subscriber.

Whether you plan to have international investments, an international business or non at all, it will become increasingly  important to think outside the box as change accelerates and new social and economic paradigms are required.  Whether you use backaches, gut feel, hunches, totems or meditation and prayer… new ways to focus your logic an help you have everlasting wealth.

Gary

Combining good international investing with the greatest asset of all, the ability to earn wherever you live, 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 willing to pay you $300 to attend either our Ecuador Super Thinking plus Spanish seminar in September or our North Carolina International Business & Investing seminar in October.  Sign up for either seminar and I will email you our Tangled Web… How to Have an Internet Business Course (offered at $299) free plus I’ll knock an extra dollar off your seminar fee…. to round up the $300 savings.

See details of the two seminar below.

international-investments-seminar

Thomas Fischer teaching at our IBEZ seminar.

Join Merri, Thomas Fischer of JGAM, our webmaster David Cross and me in North Carolina this October and enroll in our emailed course on how to have a web business free.  Save $300.

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

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Here is an email for a recent seminar delegate: Hello Gary and Merri,  I have wanted to write to tell you how much we enjoyed your IBEZ seminar, and to thank you both for inviting us all into your lovely home for lunch last Sunday.  Merri, again, thank you for taking the time to prepare foods especially for me; they were delicious, and I appreciate your effort!  Thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable, very well done, stimulating seminar.  I came away not only with all the notes provided, but also with many ideas which I plan to begin working on now that we are back home.  Wishing you all the best,

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

international-investing

We take delegates on our Ecuador seminars to Otavalo markets.  Many buy enough goods to resell in North America to pay for their entire trip.  Ecuador tiles are one great product attract many international businesses.

Here are comments from one seminar delegate about the followup from our course: Thanks so much.  I have been following the advice in your Multi Currency Course/International Investing monthly and have added selected suggested funds from your lists which are available in my Fidelity IRA.  Even though my transactions are in SMALL amounts for stock and ETFs I am almost back up to the total invested amount prior to the stock market dive of last year.   Your emails have given incentive to keep diversified investments when I know other people are selling out.

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Super Thinking + 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 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 for two.

See the entire explanation of herons at speakerfortheanimals

Ecuador Risk


Ecuador has risks.

As does everywhere.  In fact our world has more risk then ever before.

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Are quiet Ecuador streets like this Cotacachi avenue at risk?

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The young Ecuadorian children who go to school early, alone don’t seem to feel much risk.  Yet?

Change creates risk and we live in an era of increasingly rapid change.

Those who welcome this fact are those who have the best chance of success. ahead.

This is the era of rapid change… the era of  extra risk.  The current time period within this era is of accelerated change and risk.

This is an important message about how to manage risk in Ecuador or anywhere.

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Even young children play alone in the Cotacachi Ecuador streets without much risk

Yet we must always take care.

Take for example the US travel advisory for Ecuador… read  without perspective. Ecuador risk would seem high.

Here are excerpts from the US travel advisory for Ecuador:

SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy in Quito advises caution when traveling to the northern border region of Ecuador, to include areas in the provinces of Sucumbios, Orellana and Carchi, northern Esmeraldas, and southern Esmeraldas, south of Atacames.  U.S. government personnel are under limitations with respect to traveling alone and over-nighting in these areas due to the spread of organized crime, drug trafficking, small arms trafficking, and incursions by various Colombian terrorist organizations.

CRIME:  Crime is a serious problem in Ecuador, and visitors should be alert and cautious.  Non-violent crime is common: hundreds of Americans are robbed every year in Ecuador.   Incidents of rape have increased, even in well-traveled tourists areas and when the victims traveled in groups for safety. Shootings, kidnappings, and carjackings are still relatively rare, but American citizens have been victimized by those crimes.  The Ecuadorian government has increased police patrols in tourist areas, but travelers should remain alert to their surroundings and maintain constant control of personal belongings.

Criminals sometimes use incapacitating drugs such as scopolamine on unsuspecting tourists in order to rob them.  These so-called date rape drugs are put into drinks in order to drug the unsuspecting victim.  This drug can render the victim disoriented and can cause prolonged unconsciousness and serious medical problems.  Never allow a stranger to “buy” you a drink and never leave your drink unattended.  Several American citizens have reported thefts of property following ingestion of such substances.

Does Ecuador sound risky?

Ecuador sounds risky until you read the travel advisory for Italy.  Here are excerpts from the US travel advisory for Italy:

Some travelers are victims of rape and beatings.  There are incidents of drinks laced with drugs being used by criminals to rob, and in some cases, assault tourists.  Many of these incidents occur in the vicinity of Rome’s Termini train station and at major tourist centers such as Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona, as well as in Florence and Naples.  Criminals using this tactic “befriend” a traveler at a train station, bus stop, restaurant, café or bar in tourist areas, then eventually offer a drink laced with a sleeping drug.  When the tourist falls asleep, criminals steal the traveler’s valuables.  There are also instances where the victim is assaulted, either physically or sexually.

Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing, theft from parked cars, and purse snatching are serious problems, especially in large cities.  Clients of Internet cafes in major cities are also targeted.  Tourists who have tried to resist petty thieves on motor scooters have suffered broken arms and collarbones.

The U.S. Secret Service in Rome is assisting Italian Law Enforcement authorities in investigating an increase in the appearance of ATM skimming devices.

Organized criminal groups operate throughout Italy, but are more prevalent in the south.  They occasionally resort to violence to intimidate or to settle disputes.

Italy could seem risky as well until you read the travel advisory for Spain .  Here are excerpts from the US travel advisory for Spain.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:     Spain and Andorra share with the rest of the world an increased threat of international terrorist incidents.  Like other countries in the Schengen area, Spain’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering and exiting the country with anonymity.  Spain’s proximity to North Africa makes it vulnerable to attack from Al Qaeda terrorists in the Maghreb region.  Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.

In the deadliest terrorist attack in recent European history, in March 2004, Islamist extremists bombed four commuter trains entering Madrid, causing 191 deaths and over 1,400 injuries.  Spanish authorities tried the suspected terrorists and their co-conspirators in February 2007 and convicted in October 2007.

The Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization remains active in Spain.  ETA has historically avoided targeting foreigners, directing their attacks against the police, military, local politicians, and Spanish government targets as well as attempts to disrupt transportation and daily life. However, foreigners have been killed or injured collaterally in ETA attacks.  Two examples of this are the Barajas Airport bombing in December 2006, in which two Ecuadorian nationals were killed and the bombing at the University of Navarre in October 2008, in which 17 students were injured including one American student.  In addition, bombs have been used as part of criminal extortion of businesses, particularly in the Basque region. The risk of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time” in event of an ETA action is a concern for foreign visitors and tourists.  U.S. tourists traveling to Spain should remain vigilant, exercise caution, monitor local developments, and avoid demonstrations and other potentially violent situations.

Street crimes against tourists occur in the principal tourist areas.  Madrid and Barcelona, in particular, report incidents of pick-pocketing, mugging and occasional violent attacks, some of which require the victim to seek medical attention.  Although crimes occur at all times of day and night and to people of all ages, older tourists and Asian Americans seem to be particularly at risk.  Criminals frequent tourist areas and major attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, outdoor cafes, Internet cafes, hotel lobbies, beach resorts, city buses, subways, trains, train stations, airports, and ATMs.

Thieves often work in teams of two or more people.  In many cases, one person distracts a victim while the accomplices perform the robbery.   Spanish authorities warn of the availability of so-called “date-rape” drugs and other drugs, including “GBH” and liquid ecstasy.  Americans should not lower their personal security awareness because they are on vacation.

We could go on… in Europe…  in Asia… or anywhere.

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Parents in Cotacachi Ecuador do not feel much risk when they let their children play in the parks.

Mostly, places are not the cause of risk.  The causes of risk  are within,  our awareness, our actions, our  patterns and habits.

If one becomes aware of change and adapts accordingly… there is no risk.  There is opportunity instead.

Early adapters are called risk takers.   They are not.

Real risk takers are those who do not  adapt because…  we know…  there is change.

The real risk is living by OLD rules in a NEW world.

The real risk is believing in General Motors for example… because it is the biggest… oldest… so it must be safest.

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Young lovers in Ecuador can meet safely in out of the way places.

The world is new every day and each day, some old rule no longer works.

The old rules used to say that the Western world was safe… and the emerging world riskier.   The old rules said that the Western world had low crime…  the emerging world had high crime.

Yet look at excerpts of a recent New York Times article entitled “Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid” by Solomon Moore (See a link to the entire article below) says:

One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole or probation, at a cost to the states of $47 billion in 2008, according to a new study.

Criminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data. Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which quadrupled in the past two decades, according to the report Monday by the Pew Center on the States, the first breakdown of spending in confinement and supervision in the past seven years.

This suggests that the US has quite a lot of risk… both in crime and health.

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Ecuador people are by nature, caring, friendly and warm.

Sometimes I get letters like the one below from readers who have been victims of crime in Ecuador.  This reader lost her computer and camera when she forgot them in the business lounge at the Radisson hotel in Quito.

Dear Gary,  Can you believe, the Quito police, working with the Radisson hotel, found my  briefcase with the computer and other small items and had them sent by Federal Express to me.  I had provided them with the receipts of all the items stolen, for the items they were not able to send me  (camera and cellular phone) I was reimbursed via bank transfer. I still can’t believe it.  This was a good ending and so unexpected.  send you all love, and good thoughts. Laura

New rules about risk are being written every day and our daughter Francesca shared some thoughts on this when she recently visited us here.

Fran is quite a traveler.  Here early studies were in England… Gloucestershire and Birmingham.  Then she spent more for more than a year in Spain and Costa Rica, and moved to Naples and Delray, Florida which were bases for her to  manage real estate tours in Argentina, Belize, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay.

She worked for several years doing human rights training in Geneva, Switzerland before returning to get her Masters degree at London School of Economics.

Then  she worked in London for the Crown Agents where she was assigned
as a project manager and consultant to governments in Nigeria,  Peru, Sierra Leone and South Africa.

She has worked the last several years  as a development planning, monitoring & evaluation consultant in Swaziland and is returning there now on a contract with the United Nations.

As a young, single woman (now married) she has had to be aware of risks traveling everywhere from Florida to London to Lagos.

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Here I am with Francesca on her wedding day.

Fran & Sam rode to their reception in Richmond Park on a bicycle built for tow.

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Riding a bike through London traffic… now that is risky!

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Here are some common sense thoughts that Francesca shares about living with risk.

Living with Risk by Francesca Scott

We’re living in risky times; from the economic collapse, to swine flu, to erratic weather conditions.  It sometimes surprises me when people ask me if I’m not worried about living in Swaziland (my current home), because, they say, Africa is such a dangerous place.  I figure that when I return to London, my risk of being attacked in a terrorist attack skyrockets.  And I am still dumbfounded by the fact that children are screened for guns at schools in the United States.  By the way in England for the first time screening for knives has begun in some inner-city London schools.

The issue of risk came to mind recently, when I was visiting my Grandma. One evening over dinner, the discussion turned to the security situation in Swaziland, and I mused that in certain ways I feel safer in Swaziland than I do in parts of London. My Grandma commented that gangs were increasingly becoming a problem in Portland, her home city, and that she didn’t feel that safe these days.  The next day, as we stopped at the local bank, I was surprised by the thick wall of bullet proof glass completely separating the staff from the general public. They don’t have that in banks in London, or in Mbabane, Swaziland’s capital city.

I began thinking about how easily we adapt to different risks within our local environments. In many countries, one would be crazy not to have bars on lower windows. In central London, I hold my bag very close to my chest – I value my purse and cell phone too much. My mother-in-law, who lives in Australia, actually leaves her keys in her car when she stops at a store to pick up groceries (gasp!).  Sadly, I doubt that will last for much longer.   So does my Dad in NC.  They have a policy on the farm that all keys remain in all vehicles…just in case someone needs to jump in one!

Each country has a different risk profile, from pick-pockets, to pollution, to drug barons.  I am not saying that Swaziland does not have its dangers – my house has been broken into several times, and I drive much more defensively than I would in the US or the UK (mostly to avoid wayward cows that have drifted onto the road).  The important thing is to be fully informed about the risks.  This might sound obvious, but sometimes people are scared off by unfamiliar risks or misinformation.

It’s also worth remembering that there are often a variety of ways to mitigate those risks through effective prevention methods, so long as you know the rules. Most of us are guilty of exposing ourselves to unnecessary risk as a result of ignorance at one time or other, and are lucky that we’ve lived to tell the tell. I was threatened at knife point by a drug addict in a park in Spain, when I lived there as a student.  When I recounted my story to my Spanish roommate, she told me that I was a fool to be in that park in the first place, ‘…didn’t you know that it’s the favorite haunt for heroine addicts in the city?’  Well, no, obviously I didn’t know at that time, but it was a valuable lesson for me about the importance of knowing the rules.

I must admit to being a little scared before I went to Swaziland.  After all, it’s in one of the poorest parts of the world, and only three hours drive from Johannesburg, a gang-ridden, violent city. I also couldn’t shake off all those awful images of Africa I’ve seen on the evening news. I told myself that I would try it out for six months (I figured I could survive for that length of time in an underground bunker living off tinned corned beef and bottled water if it was that bad), and make a decision from there about whether or not it was for me. Two-and-a-half years later, I still thoroughly enjoy living here and am very glad that I resisted my initial anxieties.

For those considering buying property, or even moving to Ecuador, or any other country – developed, developing or downright poverty stricken for that matter – I would recommend to take the time to become fully informed about the types of risks you might face.  You can find out a lot from the internet and books, but it would be a shame to be scared off by some of what you read or by the well intentioned comments of a neighbor who hasn’t ever lived away from their home town.

Everyone comes from a different starting point, and everyone has a different risk threshold.

Also, the dramatic stories tend to be more interesting to tell.  While reading around can certainly offer you a variety of different and valuable viewpoints, it’s also important to talk to people who have lived in the country. Locals can be an invaluable source of information, while ex-pats may be more appreciative of the kinds of risks unanticipated by a foreigner, risks that may seem glaringly obvious to a local. Also, find out what you can do to mitigate those risks. Often you can reduce your exposure significantly using the appropriate precautions. If you think that the benefits outweigh those risks, then go down and check out the country for yourself.  That’s the only way you can really know if the level of risk is one that you could tolerate.

It might be that the risks are in some countries and in some places, in fact, just too high, pushing you beyond your comfort zone, or that the restrictions necessary to reduce your risks would make you feel stressed and claustrophobic. It’s no fun lying restless at night at night because you’re worried over a break-in, even though you have an alarm, or resent the lack of privacy from having a guard permanently outside your house. If you’re looking for the exact replica of your own community, with the same level of risk, and a Starbucks around the corner thank you very much, then somewhere like an emerging country really may not be for you. There will inevitably be new and different risks in poorer countries, some to which you, as a foreigner, could be at much higher risk than a local.

But take a moment to reflect on the risks that you face in your daily environment back home, and you might find that such risks are relative. While some risks will be new when you move abroad, you will also leave some behind. Therefore, before making any decision of moving to a country other than your own, I recommend making sure that you are informed by the reality on the ground, not some misconception fed by the media or well-intentioned homebodies. Only with that information can you gauge whether you’ll be comfortable with the type and level of risk you might face. For an adventurous soul, you may well find that the benefits of living in a new culture, the fun of exploring a foreign terrain, make everything worthwhile.

Risk assessment is a vital part of survival and success in today’s world.

This has always been true so always consider risk… but when you evaluate danger… don’t  just look at the places where you will be.   Review your thinking, your habits and patterns to see how you can turn risk into opportunity.

Gary

Join us here at our hotel Meson de las Flores.  Learn more turning risk into opportunity at our courses and tours.

ecuador-risk

June 12-14 Shamanic Mingo Tour

June 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

June 18-21 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

July 4-8  Ecuador Export Tour

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.

See the entire article Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/us/03prison.html