Editor's note: Today we have a special interview to share with you. Below, Crisis Investing editor Nick Giambruno, Casey Research founder Doug Casey, and International Man contributor Jeff Thomas discuss a topic they all think about often—leaving your home country to sit out an economic or political crisis.
As Doug says, the world is very unstable right now…and it's never been more important to have an escape hatch. Read on to learn how you should start preparing today…
Nick Giambruno: It seems like each week there’s a new attack or mass shooting. Racial tensions are on the rise. Europe is experiencing a migrant crisis that’s tearing the continent apart.
There’s no doubt the world has become a crazier place in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, I think it’s only going to get worse.
At what point do you decide that conditions at home are likely to worsen and set up an escape route with the intention of moving to another country?
Doug Casey: The pot of envy and jealousy is being stirred up big time, and the implications for anyone with any amount of wealth are potentially dire. It doesn’t take much to turn widespread resentment into a wave of violence. As I’ve previously said, it’s time to eat the rich, and these days, anyone who isn’t poor is considered rich. This is why my mantra has been to not just diversify one’s assets and financial risks, but to diversify political risk. Political risk is actually greater than financial risk today. It may not be time to get out of Dodge quite yet. But if you don’t want to be left with grabbing a backpack and heading for the hills as your only option, it is absolutely time to be setting up second residences in places you’d enjoy going for an extended vacation while the global economy works through the coming liquidation of decades of stupid government economic policies. It’s going to get really, really ugly, and if you don’t prepare now, you’re going to get hurt.
Jeff Thomas: Quite so. I recently addressed this question in an article entitled “Three Strikes—You’re Out!” The article outlined the fact that, in the US, confiscation of wealth has been permitted under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which allows banks to confiscate depositors’ funds. Confiscation of other property has been permitted under civil forfeiture law, which allows authorities to seize assets without even charging the individual with a crime.
Then, in December of 2016, the passage of the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act permitted the removal of freedom of speech if the individual’s statements disagree with “accepted truths.” To my mind, when a country has reached this stage, your days are numbered as a free person, and it’s best to plan to exit soon and probably for an extended period.
At this point, the US has reached the point at which, if I were an American, I wouldn’t trust living there any longer. But the US isn’t the only country that’s unravelling. For my own part, I’m a citizen of the European Union, yet I’m no longer prepared to live in any EU country. There are better choices.
Nick Giambruno: Most people have health insurance, life insurance, fire insurance, and car insurance. They hope they never have to use these things, but they still have them.
I call international diversification “freedom insurance.”
It’s about putting different parts of your life where they’re treated best. That way, you maximize your personal freedom and financial opportunities.
With that in mind, how would you choose where to live if your political or financial freedom at home were about to be completely snatched away?
Doug Casey: The question is, which of the world’s countries is “best”?
There are a lot of possible answers to that question, and they change over time. When my grandparents left the Old World, there was no question that the US was the best choice. I’m extremely happy they chose to move there and not act like potted plants, rooted to the soil where they were born.
But things change. For decades, America has been changing… in the wrong direction. There’s too much fear. Too much force. Too many taxes. Too much regulation. Too much debt. It’s become as homogenized as an endless field of genetically engineered Monsanto corn, and is becoming just as unpalatable. Paradoxically, it’s simultaneously subdividing into different cultural units. The system itself has become unstable.
I’ve been to 155 countries, many of them numerous times, and lived in ten of them. I see the world as my oyster. All that travel has given me the opportunity to make some interesting comparisons. Many places are actually more pleasant, safer, and more profitable for an American than the US. The same goes for Canada.
I ruled out Africa, which is where I would go if I were 30 years younger and I wanted to make a bunch of money. But as a lifestyle choice, it’s a nonstarter.
I ruled out most of Europe, though there are still some interesting places there, because it’s likely to be on the front lines of what may resemble World War 3, as well as the unfolding conflict with Islam. Plus, it’s overtaxed, overregulated, completely corrupt, and the population has an extremely socialistic mind-set. Further, all the European countries are members of organizations such as NATO, OECD, and the EU, which carry the potential to drag them into every fresh crisis that arises in that historically troubled region, the current dust-up with Russia being a good example.
I’m a big fan of Southeast Asia. The problem is that the region is full of people, which is fine if you want to live in a city, but I also like wide open spaces. And if you aren’t Thai or Chinese or whatever, they will never truly accept you into their society. They may treat you as an honored guest, but more likely as a white ghost; you’ll never truly integrate. That isn’t always a bad thing, but I like to at least have the option.
So that brings us to Latin America. I ruled out Central America because, frankly, it has no class… the land of the Frito Bandito and all that. I’ve been to every country in Latin America numerous times and I could talk about all of them at length, but by process of elimination, it basically boiled down to Argentina.
Of course, Argentina has problems, but regardless of the tremendously bad press it sometimes gets, it now has fewer problems than about any other place I can think of, and far more advantages.
Jeff Thomas: You can begin with what you think would be the order of choices based on what you know today. But you’d want to stay flexible. We can’t know how severe conditions will become, so you’d need to be ready to change the order around.
You may intend to sit the crisis out in, say, Medellín, but if a nuclear war breaks out and the air in the Northern Hemisphere becomes unlivable, the Southern Hemisphere operates on a different weather system and the two systems are independent of each other. So, you may suddenly decide to fly to Buenos Aires or some other destination in the Southern Hemisphere that you’d researched.
Ultimately, though, your last choice—your “Alamo”—would be the place that even if conditions were bad everywhere in the world, the population there has a history of pulling together in the tough times, and they don’t hate foreigners. In any locale, the standard of living may decrease, but, as long as your basic needs can be met and the people are historically self-reliant, the quality of life could remain high.
Nick Giambruno: After you settle on one or two places that would offer you and your family a freer, more promising future—and set up a way to live there—you face a second choice. When is it time to wave goodbye to your current home and actually get on the plane?
Jeff Thomas: That’s a very pertinent question and one that even many people who have prepared one or more alternative residences haven’t truly addressed. They tend to say, “I know where I’ll be going; I’m as ready as I need to be.” And they’re not. They need to have a planned trigger for exiting.
I liken this to investments. If you know that at some point in the future the value of a stock is going to drop, you place a stop on it. If and when the price drops below the stop you’ve set, your broker automatically sells it.
This does two things: First, it forces you to establish a value below which you don’t wish to own it. But it also removes the indecision and emotion that come into play as the stock declines. Placing the stop in advance assures that you sell automatically. The same is needed when deciding when to leave a place that, at one time, had been a good home. The emotion attached to the concept of “home” is going to be responsible for locking in countless people during the coming crisis. They’ll fail to pull the trigger just as so many German Jews did in 1938. When they do decide to pull the trigger, it will be too late. By that time, more controls (migration controls, capital controls, etc.) will be in place and, in addition, many target countries may have already closed their doors to exiting people, just as they did in 1939.
Doug Casey: It’s not going to go well for libertarians, classical liberals, old-line conservatives, individualists, freethinkers, non-conformists, people who subscribe to letters like this or cruise suspicious websites, or gamma rats, generally. It was a dangerous environment for these types (not to mention those of Japanese or German descent and members of various religious groups) during America’s past crises. When the chimpanzees are hooting and panting, you’d better join them, or they’ll start wondering why not. Even H.L. Mencken dared not say anything controversial during either World War.
Nick Giambruno: So, what constitutes a “stop” trigger? For a move abroad, it’s not the price of a particular good or service. And, of course, you can’t set a specific date. That would be impossible to accurately predict.
Doug Casey: The world is very unstable right now. It’s not just the economic and financial problems we’re facing. There are serious political, social, demographic and military problems looming. Now, it’s true that life isn’t just full of problems—life is problems. So, if you can manage it financially, it’s always made sense to have an escape hatch, a bolthole, or even two, elsewhere. But it’s more true than ever today. Things are actually much more dicey now than any time since the early to mid-1980’s. And that was the highest risk time in the post-World War 2 era—up until now. As for me, I already spend about 75% of my time abroad. I guess my “stop” has already been triggered…
Jeff Thomas: Well, my concept of “stops” with regard to packing a bag and getting on a plane is based upon practical problems in exiting. If you knew that your destination country was already receiving a number of exiters and they were planning to set a cap on how many more they’ll accept, I’d pack my bag then and there. I wouldn’t wait for the limit to be established. I’d want to know that I’d made it under the wire.
Similarly, if you knew that a bill was being put forward in your own country to limit travel or stop money from moving out, those would be stops for me. Unfortunately, in the EU and US, much of that is already in law, but not yet implemented. So, a notice of implementation would be unlikely to allow you much time. If you’d already readied yourself for departure, you’d be amongst the few to actually be able to just pack your bag and get out in time.
Nick Giambruno: Are there any other types of stops? Jeff, when we had dinner in Argentina recently, you mentioned something as simple as airplane schedules.
Jeff Thomas: Yes, that’s a crucial one. Some people may plan to remain on the same landmass and hope to drive to where they wish to go. In that case, you’d want to set a limit on the number of incidents of police stops or civil unrest on the highways you’d accept before going. When you hit that number, you’d go even though you feel you could tolerate worse. The same would be true for boat travel. If problems such as piracy were beginning, you’d want to move before it became a major problem.
Most people will be planning on airline travel. That means that you’d want to keep a close watch on cancellations of flights due to unrest at airports, travel restrictions by governments, and/or the failure of airlines to meet the demand. You may have a perfect plan and have everything prepared, but if you can’t get a flight to reach your destination, you’re trapped where you are.
Doug Casey: Many people think that the election of Trump heralds a rebirth of traditional American values. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It’s actually just the “last hurrah” of Western culture in the US. The country has been transformed since 1960, and by 2050 it will be a different place entirely. The election of 2016 exposed the fact that people in Red counties and Blue counties have totally different values. They’re not going to merge into Purple. They despise each other on a visceral level. It’s the kind of divide that precedes a civil war, as hard as that may be to feature. For the indefinite future, you might as well put the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” on continuous loop, instead of the regular audio, when you’re watching the news on TV.
Nick Giambruno: As we often discuss, the emergency exit door could slam shut earlier than you expect. My personal approach is to plan and act more conservatively than I think necessary. That way, I’ll never be stuck trying to move when it’s simply too late. It’s always better to be a year early than one minute late with these things.
Jeff Thomas: Yes, the temptation will always be to hold off; to delay pulling the trigger. That’s the emotions coming into play and it’s the greatest danger. If you always make your move earlier, you’ll not only be more assured of success, you’ll also arrive before the crowd, which means that the transition will be easier than it will be for the throngs that may arrive just months or even weeks after you.
Doug Casey: That’s completely true. In addition to that, living at least part of the year abroad has many, many advantages. Your standard of living should be much higher. Your sense of personal freedom greater. Your social opportunities much broader. And even your health improved. I like eating fresh food, with basically zero temptation of processed fast food. I like working out at the gym we have at La Estancia, or going for a swim, then a sauna, a massage, and usually laying in the sun, for a half hour. Many days I’ll go for a long horse ride around the property. I like the feeling that, once I get beyond the vineyards, I could easily ride my horse a hundred miles in any direction and not see another person. A few of my friends do it—although I won’t at this point.
The Internet makes business as easy as it is back in the States, but I’m spared a lot of distractions. I like my neighbors, because they’re actually self-selected for worldview—which definitely is not the case in Aspen, where I still spend some time.
Plus, I’m pleased to have been right about the way Argentina is going. For at least the next four years, everything will be moving in its favor with the new government. The country could—should, actually—have a boom. Even while the rest of the world is mired in the Greater Depression. That’s something I prefer watching on my widescreen, rather than out my front window…
An Afterthought From Nick Giambruno
As the reader may know, Doug has built a world-class residential community in Argentina called La Estancia de Cafayate.
I’m also an owner and happy to be part of this unique community. My wife loves Cafayate and its breathtaking natural beauty as well. And that’s crucial, of course.
La Estancia has become a huge success. The community is quite well established. It’s not just an embryonic concept that exists on some blog. Over 50 houses are fully built, and a similar number are under construction.
All of the on-site facilities—the hotel, golf course, and so forth—are top notch. The athletic club and spa are particularly impressive. I like to go every day I’m there.
But the best part of La Estancia is the successful, likeminded people from all over the world, with most coming from the US, Canada, Argentina, and Europe. The mix creates unparalleled networking opportunities.
In terms of lifestyle, La Estancia de Cafayate is hard to beat. There’s really no place else like it.
Doug once remarked: “Some of the people here are going to pay for their houses with the opportunities they come across just by being around likeminded entrepreneurs.” I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.
I’m also an Italian citizen, and Argentina feels particularly European to me. Unlike its South American neighbors, it’s a country of immigrants. Most people living there can trace their roots to Italy, Spain, and other European countries.
Really, it feels like living in Italy for a fraction of the price. I travel all over the world, and I’ve never been to another country that offers such a high quality of life so cheaply.
Even better, Argentina doesn’t suffer from the politically correct culture that’s infected the US. The government is weak and inept, which is actually a good thing. Nobody takes it seriously, so there’s no reason to be frightened of it.
It’s pretty much the opposite of the US, where armed agents of the State routinely harass citizens for the most harmless things, like an unlicensed lemonade stand run by the neighborhood kids.
Naturally, your Alamo of choice might be different. But personally, for me, La Estancia de Cafayate checks all the boxes…
The Cafayate region supports its own food, water, and electricity needs.
There’s an excellent sense of community. It’s well integrated with the local Argentines. There are no unhealthy social dynamics.
I could go on. But instead, I’d like to invite you to visit in person and enjoy a glass of wine with Doug and me.
In fact, we’ve just confirmed the dates for our next private retreat at La Estancia.
This exclusive event takes place March 14–19.
You’ll join Doug Casey and me in an immersive experience of the good life in Cafayate.
The week will be filled with cocktail parties, horseback riding adventures, golf, tennis, luxuriating at the athletic club and spa, dining out on Cafayate’s scenic plaza, and generally enjoying Argentina.
There will also be plenty of opportunities to network with successful, likeminded individuals from all around the world.
Most importantly, this retreat will allow you to fully appreciate just why, out of all the places in the world, Doug chose Argentina, and specifically Cafayate, as the place to build his personal Alamo and freedom-lovers’ community.
The only way to fully appreciate it is to visit in person. So be sure to mark the dates: March 14–19.
Space is extremely limited. For more information about this special retreat with Doug and me and how to attend, send an email to JoinNick@LaEst.com.