Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rising from the rainforest: The Amazon's World Cup stadium race -

Rising from the rainforest: The Amazon's World Cup stadium race -

'via Blog this'

China's Growing Interest In The Latin American Energy Sector

China's Expanding Involvement in the Latin American Energy Sector

  Print  Text Size 
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (L) with Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arriaza in Caracas on May 16.(JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)


Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas announced July 6 that one of China's state-owned oil companies, China National Petroleum Corp., will take a 30 percent stake in Ecuador's $12.5 billion Refinery of the Pacific, which will have a refining capacity of 300,000 barrels per day. The announcement is the most recent manifestation of a trend that has slowly unfolded over the past decade. China's originally simple relationship with Ecuador and Venezuela, primarily involving oil-for-loan agreements, has morphed into much more complex relationships involving investments throughout the energy production process, from financing to production to refining. Because these deals satisfy Beijing's overseas energy strategy, as well as Quito's and Caracas' own strategic imperatives, this already close cooperation is likely to expand in the years to come.


China has become a major importer of oil, and with its domestic oil consumption doubling over the past decade, it is highly exposed to fluctuations in the global energy trade. To mitigate the effects of these changes, the Chinese government, operating through its state-owned oil companies -- primarily China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (often referred to as Sinopec) -- has taken a number of opportunistic measures to guarantee that domestic demand is satisfied in a way that ensures at least a modicum of control and stability.
Chinese companies have invested in many of the Western Hemisphere's major oil-exporting countries, from Canada to Colombia, but their involvement is most robust in Ecuador and Venezuela. As a result of those countries' interventionist economic policies, they have been downgraded in international capital markets and pay a premium to borrow. Due to perceived risk, they have also fallen out of favor with many companies looking to invest overseas. As investment dried up, production stagnated and fell. As these countries searched for capital, China filled the void, taking advantage of opportunities not present in more crowded, reputable markets.
While its involvement in each country is unique, China uses similar tactics in both countries. These tactics shed light on China's strategy and the future development of the relationships.

Oil-for-Loan Agreements

China's foray into both Venezuela and Ecuador began with commodity-backed loans. China essentially bartered financial liquidity for guaranteed supplies of oil. Though other financiers were wary, China hedged the risk by denominating repayment not in fiat currency, such as the dollar or the bolivar, but in a raw commodity in which these countries are well-endowed and whose price is set by market forces and not by bureaucrats. Moreover, it made these loans relatively small and short-term, with renewal predicated on fulfilling the terms of the earlier tranche. So if either of these countries violated the terms, the downside risk to China was limited.
Both Venezuela and Ecuador have responded favorably to this mechanism. Since 2008, China has extended nearly $36 billion in oil-backed loans to Venezuela. In exchange, Venezuela has increased its shipments of oil and fuel oil to China tenfold, from around 50,000 barrels per day in 2005 to around 500,000 bpd in 2012. Since 2009, China has lent Ecuador around $8 billion. In exchange, Ecuador has begun sending oil to China. While in 2012 Ecuador sold only 5 percent of its exports to China, the loans are beginning to accumulate, and Ecuador will need to send record amounts of oil to Chinese firms. Indeed, according to Ecuadorian daily newspaper Hoy, by late 2012 more than 70 percent of Ecuador's future oil exports had been committed to China. This reported figure is likely a bit of a stretch, but it reflects the magnitude of the loan agreements.
While both countries can continue to reallocate oil shipments away from the United States to expand exports to China in the short term, this tactic is inherently limited if declining or stagnating production levels are not addressed. If production continues to fall while consumption rises, exports will fall and each country will have limited ability to take on additional loans.

Upstream Activities

In addition to its commodity-backed loan portfolio, China has also recently begun purchasing stakes in upstream exploration and production projects. Its main motivation for doing this is to hedge against increasing imports and price fluctuations by owning a stake on the production side. Another likely reason is to bolster oil production in countries to which it has loaned. Additionally, China's oil companies, particularly China National Petroleum Corp., have a lot of experience and expertise in heavy oil extraction and can leverage those skills to economically extract oil in Ecuador's and Venezuela's more challenging fields. 
China's activities in Venezuela's and Ecuador's energy sectors began to expand noticeably in 2007, when China National Petroleum Corp. and Petroleos de Venezuela began to form a number of joint venture companies to produce oil in the Orinoco Belt. Currently, they have four joint ventures -- Petrolera Sino-Venezolana (formed November 2006), Petrozumano (formed November 2007), Sinovensa (formed February 2008) and Petrourica (formed December 2010). The latter two operate throughout the Orinoco Belt, in the Carabobo and Junin divisions, respectively. Since 2008, China National Petroleum Corp. has increased production at Sinovensa from zero to around 140,000 bpd, and it now intends to increase it to 330,000 bpd by 2016. Additionally, the Petrourica joint venture is still in the exploration phase and could begin producing oil in the coming decade.
Similarly, in Ecuador in 2006, China National Petroleum Corp. and Sinopec created a joint venture called the Andes Petroleum Co., and through its subsidiary PetroOriental, began operating three blocks -- the Tarapoa block and blocks 14 and 17. Together, these three fields produce roughly 50,000 bpd. The joint venture also holds a 36.26 percent share in the country's second-largest pipeline, the Heavy Crude Pipeline.

Downstream Activities

As oil-for-loan deals and upstream production have increased, China has entered into deals with each country to build up refining capacity, both at home and in the region. China currently has a limited ability to refine more than a few hundred thousand barrels per day of Latin American crude, an amount that is quickly becoming insufficient. Moreover, much of this refining capacity is provided by smaller independent refineries, which Beijing is attempting to close or consolidate.
In May 2012, China broke ground on the400,000-bpd Guangdong refinery, which is a joint venture between China National Petroleum Corp. and Petroleos de Venezuela and will likely provide the financing to finally guarantee the future of the 300,000-bpd Refinery of the Pacific. With a 60 percent stake in the former and a 30 percent stake in the latter, China will have much more bandwidth to increase the oil trade with Ecuador and Venezuela, signaling that cooperation is likely on the upswing. But given that these two projects are still in their infancy, it will likely be at least several years before these refineries come online.
What began as a lucrative business opportunity for Beijing is now becoming a much more robust strategy. Not only will China continue to get guaranteed supplies of oil on favorable terms, it will also get a slice of the profits from the production and refining of that oil.
This involvement also has enabled the governments in Caracas and Quito to achieve their own strategic imperatives. With a steady flow of liquidity, these governments can maintain high levels of social spending without having to increase fiscal revenue. This arrangement will also help these countries increase oil production and refining capacity -- an issue of great national import.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Great Little Novel About The Dirty War in Argentina

I am a survivor of two military governments-Peru and Brasil during the 1970's. Peru's military government was benign with more intimidation than actual violence. Brasil's military government did some violent things but a lot of people were merely sent into exile. I only personally knew of one person who disappeared in Brasil in 1970. Elena lived through the military government in Argentina. It was monstrous. It could be compared to the reign of terror of the Nazis. Over 30,000 people disappeared. Children were robbed from their parents and property illegally taken on a grand scale.

It is hard to come to terms with what we lived through. When I go to Argentina the thought always goes through my mind as follows: "How could such nice and civilized people had done such terrible things?"

I just finished reading a charming little novel translated from Spanish with the title "My Father's Ghost Is Climbing In The Rain." It is by a 38 year old Argentine writer named Patricio Pron. This book touched my heart. It showed me all of the conflicts and pain of the young people who grew up after that horrible time and had to come to grips with the horrors that their parents lived through.

IMF Supports Argentina In Debt Dispute With Dissident Bond Holders

July 24, 2013 6:02 am

IMF pulls support for Argentina’s Supreme Court appeal

The International Monetary Fund has pulled plans to support Argentina’s push for a US Supreme Court review in the country’s court battle with creditors.
Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, withdrew her recommendation that the fund file an amicus curiae brief in support of Argentina. The IMF said she took the decision after the US made clear that it would not support the move.





A US court last year ordered Argentina to pay $1.3bn to a group of investors who had refused to accept a debt restructuring following the country’s default in 2001.
Last month, Argentina asked the Supreme Court to review the case as it continues its dispute with the creditors led by Elliott, a US fund. It came amid anticipation of a separate ruling on the case by a New York appeals court that could tip Argentina into a new technical default.
The IMF’s planned intervention was driven by concerns about the implications for future sovereign restructurings, although some experts argue that Argentina’s case is so unusual that there would be no knock-on effects.
The original plan to file an amicus brief had raised eyebrows, given the IMF move in February to censure Buenos Aires over its faulty statistics, and Argentina’s open hostility towards the IMF, which it accuses of prescribing the policies that led it to ruin.
The IMF spokesperson said it would not have been appropriate to proceed without US support, but added that the international organisation still maintained concerns.
“The fund remains deeply concerned about the broad systemic implications that the lower court decision could have for the debt restructuring process in general.”
One person familiar with the case said Washington appeared to be backing the IMF move as late as Monday. The US Treasury gave no reason for the apparent U-turn.
The Treasury said the Obama administration agreed with the IMF position that if the Supreme Court upheld the previous court ruling against Argentina, it could adversely affect other sovereign restructurings. But they said the US disagreed with Argentina’s failure to settle with western creditor nations.
The “holdout” creditors had lobbied Ms Lagarde to cancel the planned submission to the Supreme Court.
In a letter seen by the Financial Times, Michael Spencer, an attorney with Milberg, which is representing several hundred individual investors from Argentina, Italy and 17 other countries, appealed to Ms Lagarde “not to take this unprecedented and gratuitous step”.
In another letter, Gibson Dunn, the law firm representing Elliott, said any attempt to call IMF intervention neutral was “simply disingenuous”. It said the move would encourage more countries to litigate and ultimately lead to “fewer rather than more successful consensual restructurings”.
Additional reporting by Robin Harding in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gonzalo Lira Says: "If You Are A Baby Boomer, You Will Go Bankrupt If You Stay In America"

If You Are A Baby Boomer, You Will Go Bankrupt—If You Stay In America

Recently (drum roll, please) I had a tooth removed (cymbal crash!).

Unlike us, he’s got no worries—
he can afford a good gerontologist. 
But I live in Chile. So I wound up paying $62 for the extraction of a cracked rear molar, and an additional $450 for a state-of-the-art implant with a porcelain crown that ought to last me the rest of my life. This was done at a fancy-pants private dental clinic, with the latest equipment and some very hot nurses, lemme tell ya. I practically looked forward to going! (Don’t tell my wife. Please.)

Meanwhile, a friend in Texas, with nearly the identical problem, wound up paying $2,000 for the implant, and an additional $1,500 for the crown—almost 8 times what I paid. I told her it would have been cheaper—substantially cheaper—for her to fly down to Chile, stay at a nice hotel, and get the procedure done here. She thought I was kidding—until she compared the costs of the procedure, added the airfare and hotel costs, and then realized that I was right. (If you don’t believe me, check out the American Airlines website and the Holiday Inn website for yourself, then do the math.)

Another example: My 89 year-old grandmother has senile dementia, so she requires round-the-clock nursing care. Her cost? Here in Chile it’s about $1,500 per month—and this is private nursing care through a professional agency, with fully acredited RN’s taking care of her day and night in her own home. In the U.S.? The cost for the same quality of care would be between 5 and 10 times as expensive, if not more.

Now, I’m not bringing up these examples because I’m working for the Chilean ministry for tourism—I’m not. I’m giving these examples in order to highlight something crucial about globalization.

Globalization has meant that labor costs are much cheaper outside the developed world. A factory in China will produce a doodad at a small fraction of what it would cost to produce in America or Europe. Which is great, if you want to buy that doodad.

But globalization has also meant that the care and services required for older people are much cheaper outside the developed world—and prohibitively expensive in the U.S. and Europe.

Which is a disaster for retirees in America. Because if you are a retiree—or if you are a Baby Boomer who will soon be retiring—then you live on a fixed income: Be it a pension or Social Securitychecks or an annuity or some combination thereof. So if you live on a fixed income, and the price of health care (or health insurance) is continuously rising, then it is a certainty that you will go bankrupt before you die.

Pretty much sucks, yeah? Here’s why.

America is a demographic timebomb. According to the Population Reference Bureau, there are 72 million Baby Boomers alive in the United States today. That is, the 76 million that were born between 1946 and 1964, minus the approximately four million members of this generation who have so far died. As of this year, 2013, those 72 million people are aged between 67 and 49—and they represent almost a quarter of the total U.S. population.

Baby Boomers have begun to retire—and they are already having powerful effects on Social Security. As of 2011, the ratio of retirees to workers was 35 per 100. By 2030—when Baby Boomers will be between the ages of 84 and 66—the ratio will be 49 per 100. Social Security will be unsustainable—retirees will be receiving fewer benefits (i.e., less money) as more and more Boomers retire and demand their SS checks, while fewer and fewer workers contribute to Social Security.

(And by the by: The is no such thing as the “Social Security Trust Fund” or the “Social Security Lockbox” or any other such balderdash. Social Security is essentially a pyramid scheme, whereby new participants pay for the older participants. And as everyone knows, a pyramid scheme works great so long as there are ever more people joining the pyramid and contributing. But once the demographic base narrows—as it did following the Baby Boomers in 1964—there are fewer people left to pay the older players. Which is what’s happening to Social Security. Which is why Boomers will get far less than their elders, and far less than what they actually contributed over the years.)

On the other hand, the effects of aging and retiring Baby Boomers on health care costs are already catastrophic—and they will get much, much worse as the generation ages. An older population means more sick people. More sick people means more demand on health care resources, which of course drives up costs. And we are seeing this in the aggregate health care costs in the United States: Those costs rose “only” 4% in 2012 after adjustment for inflation. The year before, they rose 6.7%. Next year (2014), many experts predict costs will rise by nearly 7%. These numbers will only get worse as the 72 millions Boomers go through the aging process all at the same time.

So, rock? Meet hard place: Baby Boomers will receive less government retirement money, even as health care costs will rise, as ever-increasing numbers of Baby Boomers make more and more demands on the American health care system as they grow older and sicker.

This situation of less retirement money and higher health care costs is inevitable. It is a function of demographic reality: Too many Baby Boomers who will get sick, and not enough working, taxpaying Americans to pay for their care.

Which leads to the following, inevitable conclusion: Every Baby Boomer who gets seriously ill after retirement—but does not die—will likely go bankrupt.Every single one.

You know those horror stories about retirees who lost their businesses over a bout of appendecitis, or lost their homes because of a routine colonoscopy? A few years ago, those stories were reserved for an article in USA Today: A modern-day tragedy, my oh my. But now, these stories are happening to people we know. In some cases, they are happening to people we love. And in some cases—ever increasing number of cases—these stories are happening to us.

You have to be realistic about the situation. It doesn’t help to loudly claim that “American health care is the best in the world!”, and then stick your head in the sand until you’ve lost your home and all your money because of the spiraling costs of health care in America. And as to why this situation is as it is, the answer is academic. There is more than enough blame to go around, so assigning it is relatively pointless.

What matters is what to do about this situation. How to dodge the bullet, and get the health care you want without going bankrupt. You have to look at the situation, and figure out what’s right for you.

This is what I think:

If you are a retiree, or close to retirement, it is insane to continueliving in the United States. You will go bankrupt if you do.

Therefore, take advantage of globalization: Leave the United States, and go to where medical care is cheaper.

Going back to the example of my friend in Texas: She paid over $3,500 for a tooth, while I paid less than 13% of that cost. In other words, I got an 87% discount—because I was not living in America, and so did not have to pay the outrageous prices of American health care.

If you could get an 87% discount on your health care, would you take it? Or would you deliberately stand pat, pay 100%—and go broke?

The answer is obvious. So if you cannot afford health care in the United States—or realize that, in the not-too-distant future, you won’t be able to afford it—then the smart move if you are living on a fixed income (or will be soon) is to try to look for a place where health care costs are manageable. A place where you can receive your pension or Social Security check or annuity or whatever, and yet not be afraid that you are one medical emergency away from losing your house and all your money. A place where you can take advantage of globalization, and get the best medical care at the best price.

At my Strategic Planning Group, I have a Scenario called “Exit America”. In it, I discuss how to leave America (or Europe), and find a new place that’s right for you. I do not claim that there is some Eden out there where everyone can just go and be happy—there is no one-size-fits-all Shangri La. That’s because everyone is different, and so different people have different priorities—different things and situations and environments that make them happy. Which in turn means that “Eden” is different and unique for each one of us.

Therefore, in the Scenario, I outline a strategy to find a country that’s right for you. I explain how to figure out your priorities, then start looking for a place that satisfies those priorities, while at the same time giving you practical knowledge and insights into how to exit America.

When I started the Scenario, I had in mind people who wanted to leave America because of political or philosophical reasons, as I did. In my own case, I had become dismayed by the police-state mentality that has creapt into American life following 9/11, which finally made me want to leave.

But now, it’s becoming increasingly clear that one of the main reasons to leave the United States is because of the economics of retirement.

The flood of retirees that will hit America will make life unaffordable for people over 60 in the near-term future. Therefore, unless you are insanely rich, it is inevitable that you and the vast majority of your Baby Boomer peers will go broke because of health care costs, as I explained above.

So if you are a Baby Boomer, the smartest thing you could do is leave the United States now, while you’re still healthy enough to do so, and move to a country where quality health care is affordable. A country where your fixed retirement income will be enough to pay for good medical care without bankrupting you. In short, anyplace but America.

A final thought.

Have you ever seen a bankrupt elderly person? Have you ever met someone who is over 70, who cannot get any kind of a job, and who cannot start any kind of business? Have you ever met an older person who has no home, who has no assets, who has no income save for a small government check? They might get a few hundred dollars from the government every month—but will it cover their basic, necessary expenses? Will it be enough for shelter, for food, for medical care?

Probably not.

Now ask yourself: Do you want to be that person? Do you want to be making the choice between eating and taking your necessary medication? Do you want to be a person who scrambles to exist, but does not live? Because you will become that person, if you plan on retiring on a fixed income in America. One serious but non-fatal illness will break you, and leave you with nothing when you are at your weakest—guaranteed.

This is the inevitable outcome of the U.S. healthcare situation. Denying it is foolish, and trying to assign blame is a waste of time. The demographic reality cannot be denied. So if you are a Baby Boomer, and you do not want to be homeless and broke in your retirement years, your best shot is to exit America now—while you still can.
If you are interested in exploring strategies to leave America and find a country that’s right for you, go to my Strategic Planning Group’s Preview Page and check out the site.


  1. Gonzalo,

    I'm glad that your grandmother is receiving good care, but I wonder about the numbers. You wrote that it only costs $1,500/month to give her round-the-clock care at home. A 30-day month has 720 hours, so if there's only one nurse there, then the cost is only about $2 per nurse per hour. Do nurses earn that little in Chile, or is someone else covering the costs above $1,500/month?

    1. Rob, I live in Chile also, and the monthly min. wage here is about $400. So, yes, if you hired three workers to to cover the 24 hours per day in different shifts, the cost would indeed, come out to less than $1500. monthly. Now I'll admit that nurses probably earn a bit more, but still the $1500. isn't far out of the ballpark.
  2. Gonzalo,
    If someone leaves this country with a pension or Social Security being paid in US dollars, and the US dollar tanks, then what? With QE6 or 7 or whatever Helicopter Ben is doing now, it's inevitable that inflation will destroy the spending power of the money from this country. So, is dog food better in Chile, or in the USA?
    1. If the US dollar tanks (you mean when it tanks) how will you live in the USA?
  3. In India round the clock nursing comes for $300-1000 a month depending on the city.
  4. I'm 28 and left America about 6 years ago. After I left America, I left so free, like a massive burden had been removed. America is literally becoming a hell on earth.

    The government has billions of dollars to spend on war, but doesn't have any money to feed, house, or take care of it's own citizens?

    And Americans are so apathetic, they don't care. They'd rather just watch stupid TV shows rather than go out and DEMAND that their government starts taking care of them.
    1. Then you’d probably understand my post, “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey”

    2. I left in early 2004, after realizing the Reichstag Fire meant that the old America was finally over and done with, and a new Amerika would be there to stay. Though young, I wasn't idealistic or naive enough to fancy 'the people' would rise up and demand their rights restored or the constitution restored or whatnot. Discretion is the better part of valour, so I 'skedaddled', in the immortal words of Mark Twain.

      But yeah, economically as well, the place is just not worth it, the atmosphere of permanent paranoia and police state propaganda and praxis quite aside.
  5. All by design by psychopathic politicians whom care about nothing but their own welfare and POWER.
  6. Yeah , heaven on earth, right? Bet you guys got an immigration time bomb on your hands too, right? Millions of Americans and Europeans crashing the gates trying to get into Latin America, no doubt, eh?

    Uh, no. Ever wonder why?

    Case you didnt know, here in America we´ve got a saying: "You get what you pay for". Do you seriously feel comfortable living in a civilization where a caregiver (one of the most important jobs a person could ever do, BTW) gets a measly $2 a day? Doesn´t that tell you something the country itself? Its economy? The people? Apart from outrageous, its sounds downright disgraceful to me. People´s wages tell a lot about the country and the standard of living. Econ 101, bud.
    1. Dear Anonymous,

      It seems you don’t understand the exchange rate, or that incomes vary around the world. In one country it might cost 500 Baht for a nice shirt. Wow you say, 500 just for a shirt, - that’s way too high! It is too high, - if you are thinking that it is equivalent to dollars. It is not! In fact it equals about sixteen U.S. dollars. So it is not really so high.

      Likewise rates can sound too low. Too high or too low depends on what you can buy locally with the local currency. Not what the US dollar is worth inside the US. Two or three dollars can be worth much more in another economy. You missed that point, and that is the point that the article clearly conveys.
    2. How does $1500.00 per month equate to $2.00 per day?
    3. In America, we have another saying" "You are a dumbass."

      Go back to watching American Idol...
    4. A nurse in your South American country gets 50 bucks a day for round the clock care? That´s just shameful. People´s wages tell a lot about the country, its laws and standard of living. Econ 101, bud. Bet you guys dont even have a Constitution or Second Amendment down there, right? To me just sounds like your Latin American civilization is racing to the bottom.
    5. Dude the standard of living is much cheaper in Chile than America, because its not a socialist hellhole where every regulation adds a dollar or two to the cost of living. Latin America, in particular Chile is on the way up. Check out The Dollar Vigilante and hear what Jeff Berwick has to say about the country.
    6. Agreed on Chile. I am looking at the Berwick/TDV sponsored community in Chile for a "home minutes to the city and ocean" and a larger block of land farther south in the alpine-terrain regions. See galtsgulchchileDOTcom or their facebook page. Chile is my choice after several years of travel through EU and S.Asia.
    7. Oh yeah, South America is on the up and up... I bet it is, just look at the crack pots running the place. Last time I checked there were riots and lock downs round the clock down there. Dont blame them actually, poor old nurse gets 50 bucks a day? I´d be rioting too. Jeff Berwick? You gotta be kidding me, dudes been runnin some real estate scam in South America for years, of course hez gonna give the country a AAA. No thanks. Like my grandpa used to say about travelling overseas : If it aint got a 2A, stay the fu&% away.
    8. There is a reason NZ agribusiness and mining invests heavily in Chile, and it is not cultural compatability, but agricultural synergy and rule of law.

      And the lack of rule of law is why NZ businesses avoid the US and we are suspicious of entering a free trade agreement on American terms.

      The other option is to not retire, of course.
    9. @ Anonymous - "How does $1500.00 per month equate to $2.00 per day?"

      REPLY: Your question can’t be answered because it does not make sense. You are being deliberately obtuse or you simply don’t have the capacity to understand exchange rates. The first amount does not equate to the latter and no one said it did.

      Currency value changes even within a country. After WWII, in the late 1940’s and into the 1950’s, the USA minimum wage was about 30 cents an hour; bread was 10¢ a loaf; a gallon of milk was 84¢; a brand new car was about $1,500 and a gallon of gasoline was 15¢. New houses in Levittown sold for less than $10,000.

      So for a “measly $2 a day” as you say, you could do OK. But according to your words, “that sounds disgraceful” to you. You say, “Doesn’t that tell you something the country itself? Its economy? The people? People’s wages tell a lot about the country and the standard of living. Econ 101, bud.”

      Well “Bud”, people were happy and lived pretty well back then. Bud it seems you don’t understand inflation, exchange rates, value or currency dynamics. So Bud, does the bread taste better now that it costs $2.39 a loaf instead of a measly 10¢? Does a gallon of gas go further now that it costs $3.89 instead of a measly 15¢?

      Inflation will continue and the current prices will look like a real bargain in fifty years. Maybe then some dunce will look back and write, “That’s just a shameful standard of living. Econ 101, bud.”

      Bud it seems you won’t be happy until the minimum wage is a hundred an hour and bread costs $65.00 and a gallon of gasoline is $130.00. Somehow you think high figures are good. Yet you won't get any more value for your high wages because prices have gone up too!

      You totally ignore the real value of currency, and what the local currency can purchase. The standard of living is not reflected in how high (or low) the figures are, but rather what the currency can purchase.
    10. "Bud it seems you won’t be happy until the minimum wage is a hundred an hour and bread costs $65.00 and a gallon of gasoline is $130.00. Somehow you think high figures are good" - Henry V

      Yo buddy, wake up n flush out yer head gear, case ya didn´t know, oil n wheat are friggin commodities. Know what that means,right? Unless yer in Venzenuela where gas is 5 cents a gallon (and you aint got no Second Amendment Rights, BTW) poor old 50 dollar A DAY Latin American nurse gonna pay them same gas prices as our average 50 dollar AN HOUR ´Merican nurse. Guess who gets the better deal genius. Like I said : Econ 101, son. Now back to bed, adults chatting here, kay?
    11. Hey anonymous, - Several people sincerely tried to explain exchange rates to you, but clearly you have no appreciation. Now you toss in wheat and oil and 2nd amendment rights. You are really stuck on Latin American nurses and sounds like you need one! None of your bunk has anything to do with exchange rates. You obviously lack basic knowledge and have nothing of value to contribute. Your insults toward others show your juvenile nature, ego problem and lack of anything meaningful to say. Your arrogant, condescending attitude is not welcome here. Yes this is a forum for adults, so clearly you don’t belong here. Go troll elsewhere.
    12. "Your arrogant, condescending attitude is not welcome here." - Mike

      Uh, you just called my arguments "bunk" and that I "lack basic knowledge and have nothing to contribute" and that I am "not welcomed here" and you callin´ me arrogant and condescending?

      Listen Mikey, all I´m saying is that its a race to the bottom. I´d rather hit rock bottom in my country where at least we´ve got the Second Amendment that´ll protect us from tyranny, than move to a continent with a history rife in dictatorships and mass killings. Yeah, no matter how cheap you can get a nurse.
  7. There is a way out, growth. But for some reason regressives like BO don't understand that. Stimulus is not making disability easier for my able bodied relatives or using the EPA to kill cheap power.
    1. Growth. Seriously, that's your best answer?
    2. Growing the workforce will grow tax receipts which could avert the coming SS disaster. Growth is the best answer.
    3. and inflation too !
  8. my ma had dementia and stayed at a group home in Ca. for $1600 per month--it was run by the church
  9. I'm a retired boomer, and yes, my illnesses did nearly take me to bankruptcy and the economy nearly took my house. What you have said is absolutely correct. However, as a true blood American, I "survived" by standing firm and NOT running for the exit. Think carefully about the ramifications of your actions when you are against the ropes, because when you run, you have already given up.
    1. I don’t understand this mentality at all.

      “I survived by standing firm”? Standing firm against whom?

      See, Fate is not a person—it is a set of circumstances. If I have a bad set of circumstances that in all likelihood will get worse, I don’t “fight against” my circumstances. Rather, I try to improve my circumstances. If that means moving, so be it.

      Moving is not synonymous with “giving up”. Rather, staying put and allowing circumstances to destroy you—THAT is “giving up”.

    2. Thank you GL for this comment.
      I left California because I could see I was working for the state and I had ceased to enjoy myself due to the over regulation of the state. I LEFT!!! As soon as I left things immediately got better and I was able to prosper in a cheaper state. I hate to leave the U.S. but like California I dont like what I see and I no longer have faith that the people will see what is happening here and fight back. The DHS is preparing to kill us with the purchase of 1.5 billion bullets ( not an exaggeration) and the so called media claims that the people who think the government orchestrated 9/11 are conspiracy theorists. When there is absolutely too much evidence to prove they did it. I know were screwed and soon everyone else will know it too.
    3. "I don’t understand this mentality at all. “I survived by standing firm”? Standing firm against whom?" - GL

      You dont get it cuz you´re proly not American. What Anonymous is getting at is that there aint nuthing we hate more here in America than a Benedict Arnold. People who are here for the ride, suck this country dry and as soon as sh%$ gets ugly, they head for the nearest exit (kinda like you). You proly went to public school here in the US right? Learned English well enough to go to college, no doubt. Proly used our hospitals and called police when there was trouble. Enjoyed the benefits of living in a free country under a Constitution and Bill of Rights, correct? So, after all that hand over fist taking, what do you decide to do? You start a blog dissing the US of A. Class act bud, real class act. Yeah, I understand anonymous, I understand him perfectly.
    4. Hilarious! Your impersonation of a gap-toothed, Appalachian-American is excellent. Do you perform at the local or national level?

      "Lemme" try...
      Ya'll come back, heah!

    5. "Your impersonation of a gap-toothed, Appalachian-American is excellent." - Invic

      Gap toothed or not, I callz em as I seez ´em Vic, and 50 dollar a day nursing smells awfully fishy to me...awfully fishy I reckon.
  10. I have tried real hard to get a job outside the US- including Chile- but it's not that easy.
  11. I admit , I am not american myself but I do know lots of americans and when I deal with them I have a very strong impression that these people are incapable of immigrating to another country (Canada does not count).I mean , their whole mentality is built up in such a way that the US seems to be the center of the world and the rest is province.They neither want to learn foreign languages nor do they want to adapt to other cultures and mentalities.Of course the article is about elderly people but they have been like this all their life.I don't want to offend anybody but I think it will take many many years until the mentality in the US changes so deeply that the people would consider immigration a normal thing to do like it is the case with people from Latin America or from various Asian countries.
    1. "Well I speak American and I can go anywhere in the world that I want!" - Major Frank Burns 4077 M*A*S*H
  12. So glad I left the USA over 40 years ago (and renounced my American citizenship) for a wonderful life elsewhere; so now I can just sit back and watch them unwind. Too bad the results will be so disastrous that they will take the rest of us down with them. I recall the brainwashing I got in school ("clean propaganda" I guess you could call it) that the USA is the greatest; and this is what most Americans still believe, to their everlasting danger and regret. Thank you for this article.
    1. No America is no longer special. We are going right down the toilet with BO and his henchmen in charge.
    2. You were quite ahead of the curve 40 years ago Annemarie! America was still quit tolerable a country to live back then. I wonder what you seen back then to make you move that others didn't? Vietnam? Disco ( just kidding )?

      Also, how did you make a living in another country which I see is a big obstacle for others trying to make this permanent move?
  13. Other Anonymous person, you are right. Although some Americans are willing to immigrate, the vast majority are not. Most Americans have never even traveled outside of the country and would never be able to figure out how to deal with another culture.

    But a few will be able to move, in order to benefit from lower costs of living and other features of other countries.
  14. Interesting comments, I do think we are headed down wrong path in Usa we are losing freedoms and lifestyle.however life is still nicer in usa as far as cleanliness infrastructure amenities etc we are still rich compared to many. that may not last as we are spending above our means. but exp[lains why no one is stampeding out. I have traveled extensively last 5 years. America still has many advantages. however NOT the only nice place to live.What I do not get is young man who says USA should demand our government GIVE us things .That may be why you didn't like it here. In America we make our OWN way. that is why we are having trouble now government growing instead of can do independent Americans and businesses. However you have a pt about war .those monies could be spent better if not for necessary defense. Still people handouts not good idea unless unable to fend for selves,promotes poor business and personal growth .Almost every problem in America now stems to entitlement thinking. Bad idea to start social security medicare Medicaid etc food stamps a disaster. I don't think America is the only good place,chile is s good place because they are copying the American dream ,the original one,work hard make money keep most of what you earn, everyone make there own way and reap only what they themselves sow and earn.until we get back to nthat trouble ahead!
  15. Regardless of the forecasts and so on, it would be a really difficult decision! And the older you become the more difficult to relocate. We've been toying with the idea for decades but will we ever do it? Who knows.
  16. The U.S. is turning into a 3rd world, bankrupt police state. If you pig ignorant sods are too thick to realize that, then you deserve to eat dog food out of a can when the reality check hits.
  17. Dear Gonzalo,
    What is up with the homosexual banner. I don't know about Chile, but in the states that is the flag the butt bandits and lesbians use to broadcast their homosexuality to the world. I know you are married,so I found it rather perplexing. Maybe its a cultural thing. Cheers.
    1. You mean the new background? I thought it was very ’70’s retro, which is why I put it up. In a few weeks, I’ll be changing it again.

  18. I'd like to hear where you folks who have left, live now, and why you chose that country.
  19. I wrote the previous question, and as an after thought, would like an opinion from Gonzalo.I am a single woman, 66 yrs old and I do think about leaving but in reality,I just don't know how to go to a totally strange place ,where I know no one,and try to make my way.The other thing is that I use alternative health care a lot, use supplements to stay healthy, and I wonder about the availability, of these things, in other countries.I have recently been in communication, with a young man, living and working to in Sweden.He is French and has a similar health problem as I have.He is not able to get the alternative care in either of those two countries even though France has some of the best healthcare in the world.At least in the US we have a lot of alternative available, which is much preferred, in terms of getting well, instead of being medicated to erase symptoms.
  20. I am an American, but have lived overseas. It is way better economically. In the US my pension check would allow me to eat nice dog food and to buy my medicines..nothing more. Where I have lived, the same amount of money would allow me to eat well, have money to play, travel and have fun and still pay for my medicines. As for languages, English is widely understood globally, and if you make the effort to try to learn and speak another language, even if you speak it no better than a 5 year old, people there will warmly accept you. As for starting over again in a new country, its steps just like when you moved to your first apartment..find the post office, find the grocery, find a phone book..its really 99% the same no matter where you live. Now, my last thought...for Americans who are controlled by fear..fear of Obama, fear of badguys, fear of not being patriotic, fear of change, fear of new things..fear of being called chicken..or whatever other paranoid dreams control you...your minds are all very very clean...they have been washed vigorously since you were children and it causes you physical pain to just relax and think for yourselves....brainwashing does that..
    You would consider it crazy to think that you had done something bad or wrong, simply by moving to a nicer neighborhood...You know there is nothing wrong with shopping at a lower cost store for the same stuff you why is it "wrong" to choose another country to live in which offers you more safety or cheaper prices or that is simply more fun?
  21. I considered moving to South America, but there are too many South Anericans there. Me no habla.
  22. I like the idea of leaving just have to wonder when the US goes belly up it will have a huge affect on many if not all countries and might the ugly American be a hated target.
  23. I notice no mentions that everyone - no matter what age - will end up bankrupt - if IOUSA continues to gift each and every retiree - regardless of wealth or means - with the wages of the working SLAVES.

    That in itself says the most.

    Just as the last 2 generations cannibalized boomers and younger - the boomers will continue the ponzi theft scheme by picking what little flesh remains on Americans who are middle aged and younger today.

    Who would have thought - 60 years of FREE MONEY - NOT MEANS TESTED TRANSFER OF WEALTH PAYMENTS and SOCIALIZED MEDICINE FOR THE AGED 65 AND OVER would destroy America and rename it IOUSA.

    Can you feel the freedom - you slaves who are "on the hook" - will be forced to live like an animal - so your recent ancestors get "theirs" ?

    Nation of LIARS and HYPOCRITES.


  24. Yes pros and cons to leaving the US and going to South America...certainly costs are lesser, but also is earning capabilities. Is America perfect? Far from it, however it can be what you wish it to be. Opportunities abound. The great nation of The United States of America is and always will be a great nation. With so many issues including globalization, the US will succeed and continue to prosper.
    1. The great nation of The United States of America is and always will be a great nation. With so many issues including globalization, the US will succeed and continue to prosper.

      That is not self-evident. In fact, it can be shown to be untrue. Rome was a great empire—until it wasn’t. Same with the Byzantine Empire, the Spanish empire, the French empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the British empire.

      All these empires rose, prospered, decayed, and were finally overrun. What is so special about America that it will manage to avoid this inevitable cycle, and continue to be the dominant empire until the ends of time?

    2. Well, the Spanish Empire went bankrupt in the 17th century, but it stayed in business for centuries longer. I expect a painful financial crisis in the near future here in the USA. Still, the USA has great natural resources and plenty of smart, capable people. If I could retire today, I would move to SA or CA. I've vacationed in Costa Rica and Panama. There are already many US and Canadian expats there - mostly retirees. These countries are very appealing- Chile or Uruguay might be even better, but they are also further away.

      From what I can tell, health care in these places is very good and not wildly over-priced as it is here in the USA. I hope to move to Panama or somewhere after I retire. Maybe I can take some steps to preserve my modest savings - maybe my promised pension will have some value in a few years or maybe not. I'll do what I can to prepare.

      The USA is certainly not a hellhole as some over-excited commenters have said. I just cut some roses from my yard and put them in my vase. The sun is shining and my air conditioner is purring away. My kitchen is stocked with good, cheap food. I may visit the neighborhood taco truck for a good burrito later. That said, the trends here are very disturbing. We should all heed Mr. Lira's warnings and make some prudent preparations for trouble. Also consider that if the $15 trillion US economy takes a plunge, you'll feel it in SA, too. Maybe it's not fair, but it;s that kind of world.

      hasta la vista,

      Matt in Ohio, USA

    There was a history textbook used in US High Schools-"American Pageant"
    It went thru 13 editions becoming more and more politically correct in the process.

    I would recommend all of you to dig up the pre-50's edition from the Good Old Times (all Times when Old are Good) .Then you realize that basic structure of US Society remained the same throughout the ages.With the same amount of economic injustice and so-called freedom (much talked about but rarely seen).

    Using the politically incorrect terms from this venerable textbook (back then they called a Spade a Spade):

    My Ancestors were "Bipeds from the Forest" who came to the "Land of Second Chance". That nails it-at least in my case!

    I firmly believe that for me there is no "Land of Third Chance". I do not want to expatriate-mainly because I do not like Foreigners and do not trust them.I saw enough of them while serving in the military.

    If things take a sudden turn to the worse-I'll manage to fire a few well-placed shots.If I die-what is the big fucking deal? Who the fuck cares?

    I do not want to live 120 years .I saw enough of those living corpses in Florida.DWD-Drivig While already Dead.At 20 miles below the speed limit.

    Bottom line:

    If I'll die in a Combat Zone
    You don't have to box me up & ship me Home.

    Just bury me (preferably upside down-so the whole world can kiss my ass) where I was born.

  26. Dear Gonzalo,

    I couldn't agree with this article more. If I was a Boomer with a small pension, social security, a modest savings and have a paid or partially off house I would have left to a Latin American country long ago. I personally welcome the challenge living in another culture and learning a foreign language.

    My question to you is for the people - like me - who were born after the Boomers and have no such assets and no hopes of collecting social security. For example, if someone is between the ages of 35-45 and will live another forty or fifty plus years I calculate one would need at the minimum $500k-$750k to make that move and that's not counting if you have a spendthrift spouse and children. I don't see how the the average American would even get work in Chile or if they did it wouldn't pay much. So, not having a job prospect in your new country, nor substantial savings and income do you cover how the average American could survive this move in your strategic planning group?

    1. I'm a late boomer. This is what I have done.

      a. Left the big city in NZ with million dollar homes and moved to a small academic town.
      b. Paid off the mortgage.
      c. Joined the state pension scheme (there is a tax cut) at minimum but maxed out the academic scheme.

      I have helped daughter out of the hole and I have two boys to get through degrees. At that point, somewhere rural and warm, and part time work until I drop dead or dementia takes me. Northern Queensland or Samoa look good right now.
    2. great idea Chris for those of us down under. I am a early boomer so here's what my plan is..1.leave paid employment in big city with million dollar homes 2.collect pension funds 3. pay off mortgage out home in big city to replace income 5.relocate to small town in deep south where rents are cheap,water is free,seasonal employment is in abundance,and higher education is offered for zero fees.All I have to do once I get there is decide how to spend all my free time.
  27. Good post Mr. Gonzalo. A few observations: Successful expatriation is a difficult process. As I see it, three of the key barriers are 1) language 2) the possession of only one passport, and 3) the cost of relocation (financial and emotional). Mr. Gonzalo, per your Wikipedia link, you had the good fortune to grow up in the US and in Ecuador, possibly Chile too. This presumably provided you at least dual citizenship and certainly multi-language skills. You also appear to have a successful career and are, I'm guessing, in good shape financially.

    Notwithstanding the excellent points made in your post, it is very difficult for most Americans, or any others, who would wish to expatriate to actually be able to do so. My head is well above the sand, believe me. However, nothing is free and expatriation is a very expensive undertaking.

    1. It’s not as expensive or difficult as you might think.

      First off, you’d be surprised how much of the things you own are just not really necessary.

      Second, learning a new language as an adult is not as difficult as you would think. At 45, I started picking up French and German (as I was living there last year), and it was a lot easier than I thought.

      Third, getting a second passport is doable.

      Fourth, the cost of relocation—once you’ve ditched those possessions which you really do not need—is much less than you might think.

      At the end of the day, moving to another country so as to start fresh is what Americans’ ancestors did. Relocating and starting fresh is part and parcel of America’s collective heritage. So it should be no trouble at all for a “real American”, to pull up stakes and move on.


  28. Gonzalo, you forgot one important think: DEMOCRACY.

    Elderly won't bankrupt. They'll VOTE!

    They'll vote for anybody who will promise them higher pensions, cheap or free healthcare, etc...

    Trust me, I live in the EU so I know.
    And trust me, there still exists a gap between taxes in USA and the EU. So the taxation, expropriation, redistribution, regulation (and other forms of socialism/facism) will increase to european levels (and beyond).

    So finally no elderly will escape. Only productive minority will have the reason to escape. But the state won't let them (trust me, I've lived behind the iron curtain and I know what the state is able to do if considers something as "needed").
  29. I love it,..The entire "Ego and Narcissism" of the American doctrine of..."We are #1" is going down the toilet.

    Isn't "Capitalism Great??"
  30. Lets say fro argument purposes, that we all want to leave the US for the reasons you stated. what Countries would be best for an American to go to. Canada, Mexico or farther away?
  31. Truth, who does the fear belong to?
  32. AmeriKKKA is filled with racist Nazi right wing thug murdering psychopaths - white people are fearing their selves - you reap what you sow - white devils!!
  33. Sooo, can you provide the name of the Dental Clinic please. I've been researching Bali & Thai clinics where they are $2000-$2500 per implant plus resort costs. About $8000 here in Oz. I've met a few Chileans in the resource construction industry & they are good tradesmen & a good laugh. But $450 per implant is mouth watering even with the travel involved.
    1. Clínica Dental Cumbres, if you’re interested. Here’s the website:

  34. Thank you, Gonzalo for all your articles.
    I am a retired woman, on Social Security. I have a science education, but was never able to attain high wages. However, because I like to learn and am open minded to what works, I am self trained in nutrition, homeopathy and herbal medicine. I garden. I exercise. I live simply, but well. I do procure the services of holistic medical professionals if needed.
    I am a Christian and I practice Buddhist principles.
    I did travel to South America to look to live, but realized
    even there, relocation was out of the question financially.
    For those who take responsibility for their lives/health, and get educated, I think it may be possible to survive in the US. For those who can relocate, I wish you the best, I loved Uruguay and Southern Brazil.
  35. Just came into this and interested in what you all have to say.Have traveled extensively throughout the world and there are pro and cons on both sides. For those of us who served in the military, it is disheartening to say the least to see what we went overseas to fight against now within our very borders. However, those that sought asylum in other countries when their homeland was taken over, can testify that good intentions are not enough to keep evil from taking over.

    That being said, if relocating to another country is in your agenda it does not mean you have to give up your citizenship. Many Americans have dual citizenship and have not given up on the motherland. But are being cautious if things get too bad.

    International helps those looking to relocate elsewhere and also is promoting the a course on how to English overseas and support yourself. Might be worthwhile checking it out.
  36. Mr. Lira is correct about "stuff". We don't need things hanging on our walls or all the gadgets and extra stuff in all our drawers or an oversupply of clothes. Clean out your living quarters. Donate or sell - see if your newly simple life isn't instantly better and you feel freer. Then start buying food and water, and dig in for the catastrophe that’s coming.