The Contrarian View of Argentina

Before getting to my main theme today – a contrarian view of Argentina, which I started writing rather reflexively after a number of dear readers sent me links to an interview with an Argentine expat who offered up a very dark appraisal of the country – I have a few bits and pieces I want to share with you.


Ron Who?

While the phenomenon of Ron Paul's invisibility has been commented on by a number of individuals, including myself, I feel compelled to comment once again based on the experience I had earlier this week.  

It happened on Wednesday morning while uncharacteristically turning on the television news in the hopes of distracting myself from the drudgery of pedaling away on my stationary bike. Normally, I just listen to loud music, but for whatever reason, this week I decided to watch the news and so turned on CBS.

The lead story was all about Newt Gingrich's apparent surge in South Carolina, but also about Rick Perry and Rick Santorum and their continued battle for the nomination. At one point, the newscaster went so far as to show the four candidates on the screen as he discussed their positioning for votes in South Carolina. Yet, even though he is running third, the news program didn't even mention Ron Paul!

In the perfect hindsight afforded by the passage of the last couple of days, we now know that the grips of Santorum and Perry were so weak – single-digit territory – that they both subsequently dropped out of the running.

So now that leaves just Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Oh, and that other guy, you know Ron whatever-his-name-is.

Anyone who thinks that the game in this degraded democracy isn't rigged, isn't paying attention.


About Those Jobs...

The politicians make a great show of concerning themselves with the levels of unemployment. And so they bluster about the need for this new program or that new program – in fact, about any new idea except for the one that will actually be effective. Namely, stop the meddling.

This week, there have been some interesting developments that merely confirm the government’s intentions are to continue doing exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

For starters, we had the news that President Obama announced his administration was going to block the Keystone XL pipeline, blaming the decision on the Republicans and foisting responsibility for the call onto the back of Hillary Clinton's State Department.

Of course, the story has received quite a bit of coverage, so I won't repeat it here. However, I will share with you a Reuter's column by John Kemp titled “Keystone symbolizes what is wrong with US policy.” As he points out, despite an existing network of pipelines from Canada, the initial permit application for Keystone XL was filed in 2008 – and yet here we are, going on four years later, and the president is complaining about the “rushed and arbitrary deadline” imposed by the Republicans as part of the latest round of budget theatrics.

The actual fact of the matter is that the United States is becoming increasingly unfriendly toward businesses that actually produce anything tangible, despite our politicians constantly carping about the evil capitalists sending American jobs overseas.

On that front, there's a great series that Bloomberg has just kicked off, titled America’s Dirty War Against Manufacturing,” on why US manufacturing is expatriating itself. Here’s a relevant quote:

Those industries left the U.S. in search not of cheaper workers, but of more supportive governments. If the U.S. lost manufacturing due to high wages (or unions, labor laws, regulation – the other commonly cited villains), how do you explain the manufacturing success of Germany and Japan? Germany, the world’s pre-eminent high-end manufacturing economy, has higher wages, stronger unions and stricter labor laws than the U.S. Japan, too, is a high-wage competitor, yet Toyota Motor Corp. still makes 60 percent of its vehicles there. General Motors Co. makes only about 30 percent in North America.

So if wages aren’t to blame, what is?

Policy. But is U.S. government policy really hostile to manufacturing?

Sadly, yes. 

While the government may make life hard for the manufacturing sector, it positively detests the extractive industries – the Keystone XL pipeline being just one of many recent examples. This week, for instance, the outlook for new mineral exploration and mining in the geological treasure chest state of Nevada was cast into doubt by new regulations related to protecting the habitat of the sage grouse.

So you’ll know what one looks like, in case your travels have not taken you to the remote and generally inhospitable back country where Nevada mining goes on, and thus to where sage grouse apparently roost, I was able to find a photograph to share with you.  

Now, personally I have nothing against the sage grouse, or any other bird, for that matter. I am simply trying to make the point that if you are trying to attract capital investment, create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign producers of the tangibles our economy relies on, surprising businesses with ever more regulations is not helpful.

But the story my friend Porter Stansberry sent along this morning takes the cake – it is a proposal to establish a "Reasonable Profits Board" whose sole purpose will be to control how much companies in the oil and gas business will be able to earn going forward.

A relevant quote from the article... 

The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a "windfall profit tax" as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit. 

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding "a reasonable profit." It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

The bill would also seem to exclude industry representatives from the board, as it says members "shall have no financial interests in any of the businesses for which reasonable profits are determined by the Board."

Dan Ferris, the editor of Stansberry’s Extreme Value newsletter, was on the same e-mail string and on reading the article wrote back the following note, which I thought worth sharing.

 So... just to recap, then...

Selling gasoline is a crap, low (if any) margin business. If you don't attach a convenience store to it, you make nothing. Refining gasoline has a margin between something like 1% and negative infinity, except every now and then when it almost looks like it's not another crappy business. 

And Congress says they make too much money. If they could guarantee a reasonable profit, they'd be subsidizing it, not taxing it. 

People who lend out your deposits (ten times over) and forbid Walmart from entering their business because Walmart's model would only benefit customers, not cronies, aren't making too much money. 

People who get money from the government to keep the price of sugar double the global price aren't making too much money. 

People who get money from government to grow corn so they can do the most expensive possible thing with it – turn it into ethanol – aren't making too much money. 

Al Gore's carbon credit trading operation isn't making too much money. 

College professors who don't teach, who drink fine wine, live in Tudor McMansions and drive Volvos while writing papers on the oppression of women in the workforce aren't making too much money. 

But people who sell gasoline... one of the skinniest margins on Earth... a product without which life as we know it comes to a grinding halt... they're making too much money. 

This is what you get when you vote, people trying to make good sound bites for ignoramuses who vote, as if the political process had all the depth and meaning of a Disney movie trailer. "Coming soon: Hope, Change and Reasonable Profits!"

And, finally, to put this all in perspective, the following is a quote that Reason magazine ran from Eric Schmidt of Google.

Q: You recently testified before Congress in an antitrust hearing about Google. What are your reflections on the experience? Were the leaders there asking the right questions?

Eric Schmidt: So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. Okay? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer. I mean, it’s fine. It’s their job. But it’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to… lower than free? You see what I’m saying?

I've said it before, I'll say it again here – if you want to fix the economy, stop government meddling!


The Contrarian View of Argentina

by David Galland

After receiving a number of queries on the topic, I felt compelled to further clarify the rationale for helping to establish a community of largely libertarian-thinking individuals in the remote northwest of Argentina. 

I am, of course, referring to La Estancia de Cafayate – or "Casey's Gulch" as it is often referred to in deference to the role Doug Casey played in creating the vision for the place. As we have mentioned in the past, La Estancia has made incredible progress over the past five years and now boasts a community of over 200 property owners from over 30 countries.

Yet, understandably, dear readers write in wanting to know why, of all the places on planet Earth, Doug Casey and his partners selected the perennially dysfunctional country of Argentina to establish a bolt hole, gilded though it may be. After all, these questioners correctly point out, it seems that hardly a week goes by without yet another quirky and invariably counterproductive decision being announced by Argentina's government.

Though the Argentine government’s predilection for self-damage is worthy of criticism, in fairness it must be mentioned that some of the most visible critics today may have ulterior motives. One in particular is currently trying to get a development project in Chile off the ground, and from everything I can see, the promoters seem to believe that the best way to do so is by grinding away at the notion that Argentina is a nice place to live. Understandable, I guess, ‘tis the nature of commerce.

(As an aside, having lived in Chile for a year – our son was born there – I can attest from first-hand experience that the place has many good qualities. I just much prefer Argentina.)

Doug Casey enjoying the sights in Buenos Aires

More interesting, however, are the views of a recent Argentine expat, which have made it into fairly wide distribution, in one instance in a publication put out by the aforementioned Chilean land promoter, and in another by a writer with distinctly dystopian views.

I say "interesting" because a cursory glance into the background of this particular Argentine expat, a 30-year-old with apparently very little foreign travel experience, reveals that until recently he lived in one of the tougher barrios of Buenos Aires and made some meager income by writing a run-of-the-mill survivalist book and publishing a back-end blog designed to promote that book. While I have no question that the man's experiences are authentic, accepting his dim view – and it's a very dim view – of living in Argentina is exactly the same as reading a blog written by somebody living in a bombed-out slum in Chicago and accepting at face value that his experience is representative of what it is like to live in the United States.

Oh, and for the record, the murder rate in Chicago, at 16 per 100,000, is roughly three times higher than that of Buenos Aires. Yet if you read the blogger’s posts, you would think the place was a war zone. It is also very much worth pointing out that Buenos Aires province is by far the most populous in Argentina, containing about 39% of the country’s 40 million population, a sizable chunk of which live in the city proper. As with all big cities, there are neighborhoods that are best avoided. But outside of Buenos Aires, the country is sparsely populated and generally has a very congenial small-town feeling about it with much lower crime rates. (Cafayate has a population of just 12,000.)

I've mentioned all of this in my introduction only to stress how important it is in the Internet age to take care in evaluating the quality of the information you are receiving, and the bias of where that information comes from. (And yes, I, too, have a bias – more about that in a bit.)

Viewing the matter from a slightly different perspective, you have to ask yourself why somebody as well traveled as Doug Casey, who literally wrote the book on such things (The International Man, Alexandria House, 1979), would have made Argentina a primary residence, or why other internationally savvy individuals you may have heard of – Bill Bonner, the head of Agora Financial, and Jeff Berwick of The Dollar Vigilante come to mind – own land in Argentina.

While I can’t speak for Bill or Jeff, I can quote Doug from a fairly extensive interview he did recently with Alternative Latin Investor. Here’s a quote from that interview.

In spite of his aversion for government intervention, Mr. Casey says that his favorite country in the region is, of all places, Argentina, a choice he says is founded on much experience and careful consideration.

“I spend a lot of time living outside of the US,” he says, “so I have to ask myself where I would prefer to live. As a pure investor, I’d much rather be in Colombia or Chile. Argentina has had an unbroken track record of economic disaster since the 1940s. But the reason I like Argentina is for the culture, the sophistication, the climate, the wide-open spaces – for those reasons, not as an investor.”

On a personal level, I was very fortunate to have been able to spend the better part of three years investigating literally every country I ever imagined might qualify as my own personal paradise on earth. Ultimately, I settled in Argentina, where I now also have substantial property investments, including a new house currently under construction at La Estancia de Cafayate.

Simply, after investigating and living in a number of countries, Argentina was the hands-down winner because of the quality of life, which is very high. Especially if you have a certain net worth, the bulk of which resides in a different country: no one with any other option would leave serious money in an Argentine bank… but that’s a detail, not a problem.

This gets to a common misperception about the nature of internationally diversifying your life. Namely, no one who has any understanding of the topic would dream of picking up everything from one country and dropping it into another. That would be simply trading one set of problems and risks for another. Successfully diversifying – which has never been more important – involves doing as much as possible of the following:

  • Securing your assets in a number of countries.
  • Having your tax residency in one country (ideally, one with favorable tax policies)
  • Your actual residence(s) in places where you can enjoy a very high standard of living, but ideally not where you are a citizen – as that makes you a serf as opposed to a welcomed visitor.
  •  Your business incorporated elsewhere (which is much easier these days, thanks to the Internet).

In other words, Argentina, for those of us who love the place, is just one part of the equation, the part about living well. As I mentioned a moment ago, after wandering the globe for three full years, I couldn't find a more agreeable country – and Doug would tell you the same thing.

That is especially true of Salta province, where the up-and-coming wine-growing town of Cafayate is located. It boasts altogether excellent weather – with sunshine on the order of 330 days a year. Importantly to those of us who care about such things, it’s an agricultural community, meaning high-quality, naturally grown food, almost all of which is grown within a 50-mile radius of the town, as well as excellent wines and free-range beef. Then there’s the still relatively inexpensive domestic help, friendly people and an active lifestyle that always makes time for leisurely meals with friends and family.

Your correspondent goofing around at polo

In the case of La Estancia de Cafayate, the lifestyle is supplemented by the many amenities (South America’s largest golf course, a world-class athletic club, polo fields, horseback riding, etc.) and a community of intelligent and largely like-minded individuals. In short, the place has an abundance of the best things in life.

The things that are not present also define the place. For example, unlike developed countries, when you are in Argentina – and especially in the countryside – you will be amazed how quickly all of the noise that comes from living in the frenzy of an “always-on” modern society fades away. No more constant drums of war or cable news programs blaring excitedly about the latest fabricated emergency or threat. 

(And, no, Argentina isn’t about to go to war with the UK over the Falklands again – the relatively recent debacle from military rule has left the Argentines viscerally against all things military. Today, as a percentage of GDP, the Argentines spend the same amount on their military as does Switzerland – just 0.9%. By comparison, the Chileans spend 3.2% and the US 4.8%.) 

Absent all that noise, it’s always a very pleasant surprise to discover how tranquil everyday life can be. The only thing I can compare it to is a sort of peace of mind that settles over you in the second week of a long vacation.

Now, let me make it clear. Even though Doug and I both have a small commercial interest in La Estancia de Cafayate, it isn't my intent here to give you a sales pitch but rather to attempt to communicate as honestly as possible the pros and cons of Argentina. In that others are so happy to constantly point out the cons (which I will also do in a moment), it's especially important to understand the pros

In that regard, I'd like to share some data with you about the Argentine economy that might cause you to view Argentina through a somewhat different light.

What Most People Don't Know About Argentina

I bet you didn't know that, in dollar terms, the Argentine economy has been growing at a compounded year-over-year growth rate of around 15% for the last decade.

That level of growth is on par even with China. Of course, like China years ago, Argentina was starting from a low point following its last crisis – but it has certainly not stagnated since.

Thanks to the Argentine government’s controversial default in 2002, the country has almost no public-sector debt, very much not the case with most of the world’s large economies. Specifically, its current debt-to-GDP ratio, net of debt held within the public sector, is less than 14%.

The private sector is also virtually debt-free. That is because credit in Argentina is viewed entirely differently than it is in the West, in part because of the country’s regular bouts of inflation, but also because it's just not part of the culture. For example, almost no one has a mortgage on a house – they just aren't available. That means prices for property aren’t inflated by a bubble of debt.

On a macro-level, Argentina is currently running a minimal overall public-sector deficit and, thanks to the commodity boom, steadily runs a current account surplus. As I don't need to tell you, the US government’s deficits are now running close to $1.5 trillion a year, and the country has been running a current account deficit on the order of 5% of GDP for decades – trading the nation’s wealth for other countries' products. In Argentina, it is the other way around.

Of course, as just touched upon, one big advantage that Argentina has is that it is a commodity producer in a world with a growing appetite for commodities. Furthermore, a country that deals in tangible assets – corn, beef, soy, oil, minerals – has a big structural advantage in a world undergoing an explosion of money printing. 

Still in the positive camp, anyone who has spent time in the country will tell you that, on the whole, the country’s population is well educated, and those from the higher social strata are typically well read and sophisticated (with an Argentine, you are far more likely to find yourself in a conversation about philosophy than the weather or sports scores). I can’t tell you the situation throughout the country, but the public school kids in Cafayate are given inexpensive personal computers as part of the curriculum.

Also important, the country has a young population, so while there is always some nonsense going on with the unions, it pales in comparison to the endemic problems related to old-age pensioners in Europe – problems that will only get worse.

Furthermore, while the US and so many Western countries are struggling with high levels of unemployment, Argentina has almost no unemployment.

And, finally, while the uninformed might be tempted to think of Argentina as a Latin American backwater, that’s hard to square up with its membership in the G20.

Of course, Argentina’s economic successes are very much in spite of the government, which seems determined to take every opportunity to throw sand in the wheels of progress. Clearly, however, Argentine businesses have learned how to deal with those interventions. More than that, they have managed to prosper at a time when so many industries around the world are struggling: earnings for publicly traded Argentine companies rose by 13% in 2011, second only to Peru in South America, which was up 14% (earnings in Chile were up only 6% and Brazil 7%).

The resilience of the Argentine economy is important on a number of levels, starting with the reality that economies with a lot of desperately poor people tend to have more property crimes. A recent ranking of countries by per-capita purchasing power (an indicator of how much of life’s essentials you are able to afford) placed Argentina at 58 out of 192 countries, ahead of Chile, Turkey, Mexico, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Thailand, Panama and, of course, China and India. Argentina’s per-capita income is the highest in South America.

It is worth noting, too, that while many dear readers may not be in favor of socialized medicine, in Argentina health care is free and the quality of the doctors, in my direct experience, very good, even in the public facilities. In Cafayate, there is a new and reasonably well-equipped hospital, and the doctors are well trained: one of our partners recently had an emergency appendectomy done there, laparoscopically, and was impressed with the high quality of care.

Not to go on, but here’s another little-known fact – that Argentina has one of the highest levels of per-capita water usage (500 l/day) in the world. While I haven’t verified the actual reason, I was told by someone I trust it is because a high-level personal hygiene is the cultural norm, so much so that it is standard to provide showers to construction workers as part of normal work practices. That people pay attention to their appearances, as well as their hygiene, is also evidenced by the fact that Buenos Aires has a reputation as one of cosmetic surgery capitals of the world. (Need a little tuck? Prices are about half of what they are in the US.)

The Challenges of Argentina

Now, nothing I have said here should give you the impression that Argentina is perfect. As I learned from the aforementioned three-year quest for paradise, there is no such thing. Every country has its flaws.

In the case of Argentina, dealing with the bureaucracy can be incredibly frustrating. Not so much in terms of daily interactions; for example, the odds of your being pulled over for a traffic offense are barely above zero, and transiting through airports for local flights involves minimal interference (and yes, you get to keep your shoes on).

The dealings with the government become cumbersome when trying to do business or get an official stamp on some document related to what should otherwise be a mundane activity. For example, buying a car. There are, of course, ways that you can circumvent much of this if you have a few dollars – and I'm not talking about paying a bribe, because I've never been asked for a bribe in any of my dealings in Argentina – but rather by hiring a good local attorney (or an inexpensive gofer) and letting them deal with the nuisance issues.

This unfortunate truth aside, however, there is no question that you can get business done in Argentina. Using La Estancia de Cafayate as a relevant example, five years ago the place was literally a horse pasture. Today, it is almost fully built out with all the infrastructure in place and about 30 homes either finished or in the construction process. By infrastructure, I refer to a championship golf course that has been playable for going on two years, a beautiful clubhouse, all the roads, power, water systems and a world-class athletic club, which is now in the final stage of being equipped before opening. A deluxe boutique hotel operated by the award-winning Grace Hotel Group is under construction and moving towards completion next year.

It is no exaggeration to say in any developed country in the world you'd be lucky to even have your permitting at this point. Most likely, you'd still be deep into investigating the natural habitats of the local insects to make sure you weren't going to inconvenience any of them.

The shame of Argentina is that it literally has everything necessary for it to be one of the most successful countries in the world. The only thing standing in its way is a government that, thanks to circumstances from a half-century ago, is supported by many in the population who remain steadfast in their misdirected affection for the long-dead wife of a hardcore populist.

Should common sense prevail – perhaps forced upon it by the next government-engendered crisis – and the free market be allowed to regain even a little lost ground, the country's economy would be a force to reckon with. I'm not optimistic in that regard – either it will eventually happen, or it won't. But that has nothing to do with the quality of life in the wine country of rural northwest Argentina, a place of stunning beauty, a warm and intelligent population, very high-quality food and all the other essentials for living well.

So, that's what I know about Argentina. While there are certainly people who know more, and I would urge you to seek them out, I can say for a fact from some of the articles I have read that there are a lot of people who know a lot less.

[There are many good reasons for Americans to expatriate, and this free guide from a former U.S. citizen highlights 10 worthy of consideration.]

Before signing off, I wanted to share some notes Doug Casey sent back to me after reviewing the above article.

Doug’s comments

1. It’s one thing being a citizen of a country, whereby the government considers you its property, and totally something else to be a visitor, who has to be courted to invest and spend. An Argentine (especially if he has no money) is much better off moving to another country. Whereas an American (especially if he has a few bucks) is much better off in Argentina.

2.  Argentines have learned to dislike and distrust the army and the police; that’s a very good thing – unlike Chile where they love them. Most Argentineans reflect their Italian background and don’t believe in taxes. Nobody really takes the government seriously.

3.  The government is very inefficient. The last thing you want is an efficient government. Especially now that the whole world is following the example of the US and is “locking down.”

4. Only poorly traveled, unsophisticated people equate the travails of the government with the standard of living for a resident non-citizen.

5. You don’t want to move to any new country and become a citizen. It’s a moving target – acting like a plant and making permanent roots in any one place is a stupid error. Don’t act like a plant – you’ll be eaten. But you must diversify your assets internationally and have a pleasant foreign crib in case the going gets tough at home.

6. Argentina has the advantage of not being involved in NATO or any foreign wars. It’s off the beaten path and out of harm’s way.

7. The fact the government has stumbled from one financial disaster to another (which has never bothered foreigners living here) just means the country is used to dealing with tough times. It’s likely to do much better than most during the Greater Depression.

8. The place is more like Europe than Europe itself at this point – ethnically and demographically. And there’s no looming religious war with Islam to be dealt with.

David again. If you want to understand Argentina (or any country, for that matter), buy a ticket, and by all means don't spend your entire holiday in Buenos Aires, unless you enjoy hanging out in big cities. Getting slanted, questionable views on the Internet about any country is no way to form an opinion about the place.

Now, I hate to bring it up, because it’s so blatantly commercial, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one last time the upcoming annual Harvest events this March at La Estancia de Cafayate. These events really are special, with leisurely days spent in the company of wonderful people – and a half-day Casey conference thrown in, too. But they always sell out quickly, and the March event is filling fast. If you have any interest in seeing the place, or experiencing a vacation you’ll remember for a lifetime, drop a note to Dave Norden today at dnorden@LaEst.com, and he’ll send you back an information package.


Friday Funnies

As I am running late, Friday Funnies will be a bit light this week, but I did want to share an e-mail I received from Chris in New Zealand this week. It’s a set of questions and answers that actually appeared on an Australian tourism website. It's nice to see a government agency that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Note that the nationality of the person asking the question is indicated in parentheses.

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK) 
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die. 

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA) 
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles. Take lots of water. 

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK) 
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA) 
A: A-fri-ca is the big, triangle-shaped continent south of Europe.
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific, which does not...
Oh, forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in King's Cross. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is north in Australia? (USA) 
A: Face south, and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here, and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK) 
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...  
Oh, forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys' Choir plays every Tuesday night in King's Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
 
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK) 
A: You are a British politician, right?

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney, and is milk available all year round? (Germany) 
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA) 
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled, and make good pets.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA) 
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA) 
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
  
Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France) 
A: Only at Christmas.
 
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA) 
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first. 


Additional Resources

Kung Fu Girl Interview with Louis James. In last week’s edition of these musings, fellow La Estancia de Cafayate community member Pete Kofod contributed an excellent essay, The Rise of the Praetorian Class, which has subsequently been widely picked up, including by Alex Jones.

This week I have an offering from another member of the La Estancia community, Kung Fu Girl, who recently conducted a solid interview with our own Louis James. While investors who are experienced in the opportunities that are available in early-stage mineral exploration companies won’t learn anything new, she and Louis do a great job of recapping the fundamentals.

Visit the Casey Research pavilion at the Cambridge House Investment Conference this coming Sunday and Monday in Vancouver. I won’t be there, but Louis James, Marin Katusa, Jeff Clark, Ed Steer, Olivier Garret and a number of other members of the Casey Research team will be. The program at the pavilion is quite comprehensive, featuring both the Casey team and some of the serially successful honorees of our Explorers’ League and NexTen organizations. There’s no charge. Here’s a link to more details… see the “badge” about halfway down the page for info on the Casey Research pavilion.

And that's it for this week, I hope I didn't bore you too badly with the long dissertation on Argentina – obviously something I feel pretty passionate about. Next week, I'll make an attempt to focus on more conventional topics.

Until then, thank you for reading and for being a Casey Research subscriber!

David Galland
Managing Director
Casey Research

Jan 20, 2012