Tag Archive | "Warren Buffett"

The American Dream Goes South at Florida Investment Seminar


I’ll focus on how the American dream is heading south at JGAM’s multi currency seminar in Florida this May.

If looked at one way… the American dream is dead. Let’s ramble through economic history for a moment to see why.

In the early 1980s the US had a challenge… a severe recession from July 1981 to November 1982.  Inflation was high so the Fed  slowed the rate of growth of the money supply and raised interest rates. The federal funds rate rose to 20% by June 1981. The prime interest rate, at the time a highly important economic measure, eventually reached 21.5% in June 1982. Businesses went broke by the drove… 50 percent over the previous year.  Especially hard hit were farmers and real estate developers.

The recession was the most serious recession since the Great Depression.

This was tough but inflation eased and the economy rebounded.  Growth took off again… real growth without bad inflation because the real estate overhang and subsequent bankruptcy of the Savings & Loan industry was dealt with by the Resolution Trust Corporation.

RTC liquidated via auction and a massive sell off to private business, the real estate that had been assets of savings and loan associations that were insolvent.

The US government had the sense then not to try and control these assets.  Entrepreneurs bought the assets for pennies on the dollar and turned the property into viable deals in ways that no government agency ever could.

Japan then had a serious recession and the same opportunity.  There was a real estate and stock bubble in Japan in the 1980s.   Then in 1989 there was a massive withdrawal of confidence. Investment collapsed, causing the Nikkei index to fall more than 60 percent.

The Japanese government however decided that it could provide a fix. the Japanese felt they could not let big Japanese businesses go broke.  Between 1992 and 1995, Japan tried six spending programs totaling 65.5 trillion yen. They cut  taxes in 1994. In 1998 they cut taxes again and launched stimulus packages worth more than 40 trillion yen.,  A year later… another stimulus program. In 2000 11 trillion yen more was spent to stimulate the economy.

Over a decade the Japanese government provided 10 stimulus packages worth more than a 100 trillion yen.   The main result was to ruin the Japanese government’s credit with public debt that exceeds 100 percent of GDP. This is the highest percent of debt of all major nations.

Any other results?  Here is evidence… the main Japanese stock index the Nikkei 225 from 1989 till 2009.  Japanese society is indebted for life and the stock exchange has fallen from over 35,000 to  7,600 in 20 years.

Wow that really worked well… so

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now the US government has decided to do the same thing.

Last week the government  offered another $30 billion in funds to A.I.G. insurance.  This is the fourth round of aid to the American International Group. The government already owns nearly 80 percent of the insurer’s holding company. How much more can they buy?

This sounds like a good investment since the insurance giant was about to report a $62 billion loss after the government has already given a $60 billion loan, a $40 billion purchase of preferred shares and purchased $50 billion of the company’s toxic assets.

Behind this, the government has invested $50 billion in Citigroup… $45 billion in Bank of America.  The Us auto bailout could cost another 100 billion. More on that in a later message.

This is all taking place as the US economy spirals down at an accelerated pace.

Yet the current administration is basing its spending on calculations that suggest vigorous rates of economic growth in years to come.

They have suggested this economic growth will come in 2010.

I wonder?

There seems to  a disconnect between the Federal projections and fiscal reality.   Current conditions are not yet at the level of the 1980s, when unemployment exceeded 10 percent, but they could be soon.

Moody’s chief economist now places the odds of “a mild depression” at 25 percent. In that view, the unemployment rate would reach 10.5 percent by the end of 2011 — up from 7.6 percent at the end of January — average home prices would fall 20 percent on top of the 27 percent they have plunged already, and losses in the financial system would more than triple, to $3.7 trillion.

Yet President Obama calls this a “once in a generation” opportunity and proposed a 10-year budget that overhauls health care, arrests global warming and expands the federal role in education.

How to pay for it?   Tax more corporations and the wealthiest taxpayers.

Wrong!  Higher tax will simply kill business or drive it abroad.  What a  good idea to chase away the last of the success.

The President said  he would shrink annual deficits.  His explanation is that he will increase revenue from rich individuals and polluting industries, reduce war costs and assume a good rate of economic growth by 2010.

The rich will stop working or leave the US.  The polluters will move to Mexico or China or wherever.   The high rate of economic growth will not appear.  Stopping the war will help… but not enough.

Technology means that politicians can no longer ignore the global market and tax its citizens to death.

Take for example what is happening in Ecuador.  Remittances sent by  Ecuadorians who work abroad fell 22 percent in the last quarter of 2008.

$643.9 million was sent from October to December 2008. This is $181.7 million less than in Oct.to Dec.2007.

A similar drop was experienced in the third quarter of 2008 and is caused by the global financial crisis and especially the economic slowdown in the United States, where it is estimated 1.5 million Ecuadorians live and work.

The U.S. employment rate has crashed especially in manufacturing and construction which employ a large number of Ecuadorians.

The same is true in  Spain – where 600,000 Ecuadorians live. this is the second-leading destination for Ecuadorians.

This means that there are more Ecuadorians to serve for less in Ecuador.  This forces the Ecuador cost of living down down.

So if you are an American who is about to be super taxed… where would you choose to live?  Our farm manager sent us this note recently, “We had 4 inches of snow in China Grove.”

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Would you rather live there and pay more tax or…

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enjoy open air dining as Merri and are doing here in our Cotacachi hotel courtyard with Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins or…

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would you rather enjoy a mountain train ride as these…

multi-currency-investing-florida-course new Cotacachi residents are doing…  passing through green mountains  and blue skies.  Getting a sun burn.

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The is the train from Ibarra to Salinas Ecuador.  Would you rather be taxed extra to be in this pool or…

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be here on Ecuador’s coast with tax advantages?

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Which view will the rich prefer?  This in the US or…

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this… especially if this San Clemente Ecuador ocean view costs much, much less?

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Where would I prefer to walk with my hound?  Here in sub zero temperatures or

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here in Cotacachi Ecuador…especially if I am taxed less and the cost of living is much lower and government interference in my life is less?

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Technology and the global market gives us as individuals enormous power to live where and as we choose that politicians can no longer ignore.

The government’s attitude to increase taxes on those who work hard could turn the existing brain drain from the US into a brain torrent.

In short there are many reasons I see that suggest the economic mess will  last for years in the US,  just as it has in Japan.

Recently, Warren Buffett wrote in his company’s annual report that “the economy will be in shambles, throughout 2009, and, for that matter, probably well beyond.”

This is not the picture we expect of the American dream.  However the picture is not bad for all.  Not all Italians became poor when Rome fell.  Italy is still a great place to live.  There are still millions of Japanese who have thrived over the past 15 years of Japanese recession.  The end of the America dream does not have to be the end of your dream.

In the US we can expect the rich to get richer… the poor poorer.   We can see why from our study of Power Distance Index.  We looked at PDI, and what it is, in a recent message about JGAM’s multi currency seminar.

There is more about Power Distance Index at http://www.clearlycultural.com which says:

Hofstede’s Power Distance Index measures the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above. It suggests that a society’s level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.

For example, Germany has a 35 on the cultural scale of Hofstede’s analysis. Compared to Arab countries where the power distance is very high (80) and Austria where it very low (11), Germany is somewhat in the middle. Germany does not have a large gap between the wealthy and the poor, but have a strong belief in equality for each citizen. Germans have the opportunity to rise in society.

On the other hand, the power distance in the United States scores a 40 on the cultural scale. The United States exhibits a more unequal distribution of wealth compared to German society. As the years go by it seems that the distance between the ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ grows larger and larger.

The trick then is to not accept the PDI from the lower end. Let me explain.

Excerpts from 2007 article by a Stefan Bach , Giacomo Corneo  and Viktor Steiner at www.voxeu.org entitled German income inequality outlines an idea.  The article says:

Paul Krugman frequently mentions that America’s super rich make the 19th Century wealthy look poor. “We know what John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in Gilded Age America, made in 1894 … $1.25 million, almost 7,000 times the average per capita income in the United States at the time.” Krugman wrote. ”But that makes him a mere piker by modern standards … James Simons, a hedge fund manager, took home $1.7 billion, more than 38,000 times the average income.”

Surely such extremes cannot happen on Continental Europe with its social market economics and social solidarity. The authors of Policy Insight No. 4 shows that although income inequality in Germany is a long way from reaching US proportions, the trend is in that direction. Germany rich are getting richer, and its super-rich are getting super-richer.

In other words as a society progresses, those with power get richer while the majority of  the population become poorer.

Note above that power is determined  from below, not from above. It suggests that a society’s level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.”

Power is an illusion that keeps most investors and business people depressed while a few gain from this social falsification.

The internet destroys this illusion. The web gives us all power!  Today we have as much opportunity as the rich to gain from the changes that this economic correction will bring.

This is why Merri, our webmaster and I have created a new course on how to build a web business with a webmaster.  More on this in a moment.

First what you can do as an investor or with your own business.

One answer we saw above is to live in a better lower cost environment like Ecuador.

Another answer is to be a multi currency investor. Despite America’s government spending , the dollar has been gaining, particularly against European currencies. The euro slipped to under $1.26, nearing a two-year low and down from a high of almost $1.60. This is caused as fearful investors jump into 10-year Treasury bonds… which have been shown to be terrible long term investments.   All the US government spending means that the US dollar will fall. But against what?

The euro is not a trustworthy currency now. A March 1, 2009 New York Times article by Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle entitled “Growing Economic Crisis Threatens the Idea of One Europe” explains why.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

The leaders of the European Union gathered Sunday in Brussels in an emergency summit meeting that seemed to highlight the very worries it was designed to calm: that the world economic crisis has unleashed forces threatening to split Europe into rival camps.

With uncertain leadership and few powerful collective institutions, the European Union is struggling with the strains this crisis has inevitably produced among 27 countries with uneven levels of development.

Whether Europe can reach across constituencies to create consensus, however, has been an open, and suddenly pressing, question.

“The European Union will now have to prove whether it is just a fair-weather union or has a real joint political destiny,” said Stefan Kornelius, the foreign editor of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “We always said you can’t really have a currency union without a political union, and we don’t have one. There is no joint fiscal policy, no joint tax policy, no joint policy on which industries to subsidize or not. And none of the leaders is strong enough to pull the others out of the mud.”

Thomas Klau, Paris director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, an independent research and advocacy group, said, “This crisis affects the political union that backs the euro and of course the E.U. as a whole, and solidarity is at the heart of the debate.”

“All of that is in doubt if the cornerstone of the E.U. — its internal market, economic union and solidarity — is in question,” said Ronald D. Asmus, a former State Department official who runs the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund.

If the the euro is a good currency for diversification, which currencies are?

Our multi currency course helps you learn how to diversify into safe currencies.  Our studies currently suggest that the Danish, Swedish, Norwegian kroner and Canadian dollar make sense. For example beginning in March the Swedish kroner hit a new record low. The Eastern European problems are having an adverse impact on the Swedish banks.   Also the Norwegian currency is a good technical buy.

You can join us to understand why these currencies make sense by subscribing to our on line multi currency course.

You can also join us for a currency review at JGAM’s Naples Florida investment course May 29 to 31, 2009.  This course is $499 ($750 for two) but free to those who have subscribed to our on line multi currency course.

Another way you can attend JGAM Florida seminar free is to subscribe to our course on how to have a web based business.   You can enroll in this special course for $299 and attend the JGAM course in Naples free.

Here is a special offer on this course “Tangled Web – How to Have a Web Business“.

Or join us for an upcoming course in North Carolina or Ecuador.

Gary

Future 2009 courses

May 29-31  JGAM Multi Currency investment Seminar Naples Florida

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

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

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

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

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Expedition

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

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

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

Lifetime Lifestyle Opportunity


Global economic, currency and market turmoil are creating wonderful opportunities now.

Whether you are an investor, business person or just looking for a lifestyle change…what is happening now could be good for you…if you see it in the positive way…and adjust accordingly.

The Friday, December 4, 2009 USA Today headline was Employers cut 533,000 jobs in Nov., most since 1974.

This article by Barbara Hagenbaugh said:  Employers slashed jobs at the swiftest pace in 34 years in November, leading the unemployment rate to rise to 6.7% from 6.5% in October and the highest in 15 years, the government said Friday.  The report points to a rapidly deepening recession. The unemployment rate was held down as discouraged workers dropped out of the job pool.

This can lead to a lifestyle opportunity…for several reasons.

I find this downturn very exciting.  Last June I had my annual progression with my Vedic astrologer and he commented, “beginning Nov. 30, 2008  the period will be benign but will give self confidence that I will doubt.”

See how and why astrology is one of many ways I process information at Beyond Logic.

My astrologer asked for feedback on how this came to light because he had never seen this before.   What this meant was puzzling to him.

Now I can see how this position has been growing all through last year…as markets collapsed…as the portfolios we create and track crashed..as the world’s material mindset began to crumble.  I have felt a growing sense that everything is in perfect order…correct…and whatever comes we’ll  (Merri, me and you, my readers) not only do well….but will prosper greatly.

While many feel fear, I feel excitement and anticipation.  What a chance to examine new ways of living, business and investing!

Of course, part of me has questions, “Can this all be right? Will markets collapse?” etc. etc.

But in my heart there really is no fear.

I work at keeping it that way as well.  I stay away from the popular press headlines for example. I do not watch TV (we don’t have it here in NC or in Ecuador) or get caught up in the daily news.

Doing this is supported by Time magazine’s  December 11, 2008 article, “The Happiness Effect” by Alice Park  which says:

So public-health experts are beginning to wonder whether certain health-related behaviors are just as contagious as microbes.

If you’re struggling with your weight, did you in effect catch a case of fat by learning poor eating and exercise habits from a friend or family member who was similarly infected by someone else?

If you smoke, do you light up because you were behaviorally contaminated by smokers who convinced you of the coolness of the habit? Even more important, if such unhealthy behaviors are contagious, are healthy ones–like quitting smoking or exercising–equally so? And what if not only behaviors but also moods and mental states work the same way?

Can you catch a case of happy? Increasingly, the answer seems to be yes.

That’s the intriguing conclusion from a body of work by Harvard social scientist Dr. Nicholas Christakis and his political-science colleague James Fowler at the University of California at San Diego. The pair created a sensation with their announcement earlier this month of a 20-year study showing that emotions can pass among a network of people up to three degrees of separation away, so your joy may, to a larger extent than you realize, be determined by how cheerful your friends’ friends’ friends are, even if some of the people in this chain are total strangers to you.

If that’s so, it creates a whole new paradigm for the way people get sick and, more important, how to get them healthy. It may mean that an individual’s well-being is the product not just of his behaviors and emotions but more of the way they feed into a larger social network. Think of it as health Facebook-style. “We have a collective identity as a population that transcends individual identity,” says Christakis. “This superorganism has an anatomy, physiology, structure and function that we are trying to understand.”

This is what I do…just shut the negatives off.  If a happy friend of a friend’s friend can help you be happy…so too can fear in a distant acquaintance help you be afraid. I focus instead on the positive side of the changes in man’s mindset that this downturn can bring..about having stuff…using natural resources…being more with friends and family…leading a simpler life.  These are changes humanity must make. Economics are usually the fastest guide.

How can we complain, if one of our greatest tasks in life is to stop using so much plastic and the economic slowdown stops us from buying as much junk?  How can we complain, when one of our greatest tasks is to reduce our carbon output when the economic slowdown stops us from driving so much?  How can we complain when when one of our greatest tasks in life is to rid ourselves on the dependence on fossil fuels when the economic slowdown enhances innovations for alternate energy?

We’ll see how this unfolds…but I have always seen myself as an investor and business person on the leading edge…writing about what Merri and I are actually doing…rather than theories.  We are always starting some new venture and venture capitalists see opportunity in recession.

Ventures are fun!

An excerpt from a recent article in USA Today about venture investors by Edward Iwata, says:  Ever the glowing optimists, venture capitalists here vowed this week that a backlog of healthy young companies — with $100 million-plus in annual revenue and growing — are poised to lift the economy and stock market next year when they get acquired or go public.

“Ignore the gloomy forecasts”, says Tim Draper, founder of the Draper Fisher Jurvetson venture firm in Silicon Valley. “Many successful start-ups were born or grew quickly during downturns. That includes Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google, eBay and Fairchild Semiconductor, which launched the technology revolution in the 1950s.

“Each recession provides opportunities for renewal and growth,” Draper said. “The short-term view may be down, but the long-term view is fantastic.”

Draper and others even predict that new products and companies in clean technology, medical devices, wireless technology and other sectors will usher in a new economic era.

Some economists forecast that the U.S. economy won’t bounce back for several quarters. But that didn’t deter several hundred leading venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from spreading economic cheer at the Always On Venture Summit Silicon Valley at the Ritz-Carlton hotel here.

The article predicted a rebound after several quarters and went on to say:

Jeff Matthews, general partner at the RAM Partners hedge fund, said the current downturn is “absolutely the worst I’ve ever seen since the mid-1970s.” The upside? Wise investors will follow the example of legendary investor Warren Buffett, who bought all of the stocks he could afford in that recession 30 years ago.
“This is a cycle, a very terrible cycle,” Matthews says. “But this, too, shall pass.”

So Merri and I invite you to join us, with other venture and value investors like Warren Buffet, on the positive side of this downturn. The lifestyle opportunity could be a once in a lifetime deal!

Gary

See a lesson in lifestyle opportunities at Ecuador Holiday Roses.

We also invite you to join us this winter in Ecuador. Our course on beyond logic is February 9 to 11, 2009. For more information see

Feb. 9-11 Beyond Logic

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ

Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

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

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

Multi Currency Bank Risk


Multi currency investing and multi currency banks reduce risk.

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

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

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

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

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

However, recently one Danish Bank had problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The article says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next message, may you be happy too.

Gary

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

International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina

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

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Thomas Fisher speaking to our delegates at the farm.

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orange-roses

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

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

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