Shopping for a Country

Shopping for a Country

“Argentina and Uruguay leave a great deal to be desired, and rate low on any list of countries for permanent expatriation.”

The above quote is from Doug Casey. For those who may be unfamiliar with Doug, he literally wrote the book on internationalisation, describing the concept of planting flags in a variety of jurisdictions in order to avoid being “owned” by any one country.

The book was called The International Man and was published in 1978. It was the inspiration for the International Man Communiqué.

Doug helped create La Estancia de Cafayate, an upscale community located in northern Argentina. Doug lives there much of the year but also lives in Uruguay part of each year, in addition to his other travels.

So, if the original International Man made the statement quoted above, how could he possibly be the same man who actually lives in Argentina and Uruguay?

The answer is that the above quote was taken from his 1978 book, in which he provided appraisals on liveability for many countries in the world. At that time, Argentina and Uruguay were twin disasters.

Although they both possessed tremendous natural resources and had wonderful climates, both were collapsing economically. Both countries had gone the socialist route by first becoming welfare states, then inflating their currencies, which the governments attempted to abate with wage/price controls, import/export allocations, foreign exchange restrictions, increased taxation, and further welfare. Not surprisingly, this socialist cocktail ended in social and economic collapse.

In 1978, Argentina and Uruguay were two of the worst choices as candidates for internationalisation. And yet, immediately following Doug’s statement above, he went on to write, “But turnaround may be near in Uruguay, which is economically and psychologically exhausted by its troubles.”

He was right.

The US and EU are currently in a death spiral and are plummeting downward. In any three-month period, events grow more severe in both frequency and magnitude. This, more than any other indicator, suggests that these jurisdictions are not at present a good place to be.

Those of us who advise on internationalisation often begin with the recommendation, “Worry less about what state your country is in now; focus on where it will be in two years, in five years, in ten years. The faster it is headed downward, the sooner you need to plan an exit.”

Uruguay Now

As Doug predicted above, Uruguay had indeed reached the bottom of its cycle in 1978 and had nowhere to go but up. I personally regard Uruguay today to be one of the most enjoyable places in the world to live, and I spend a portion of each year living there.

So, what has changed? After the collapse of socialism, Uruguay went in a customary direction—military rule—which also failed. Since then, the country has been in recovery.

Uruguay is still somewhat leftist in direction but is now tempered with the understanding that commerce and productivity must increase. Although the majority of people still like the idea of socialism, the general mood is more like southern Europe in the 1950s: a somewhat relaxed, easygoing lifestyle, in which most people work but are relatively unambitious, being content with their lot in life and having plenty of time to share what they have with others. There is a pervasive mood of consideration of others that is rarely found elsewhere.

This mood offers the new resident the opportunity to be accepted quickly and to be assisted in his needs. This is not a good country to start a business in which employees will be expected to hustle in the northern style. This is, however, a very good atmosphere in which to enjoy a very relaxed life.

If the rest of the world turns sour, Uruguay will be almost unaffected, as there is minimal import and export. The country is largely self-contained in terms of production, and crops and farm animals are in abundance. No one will be starving, even in a major downturn.

Above all, after living through a socialist crash, what Uruguayans seek most is stability.

Argentina Now

In the 1940s, the Peróns started a socialist dream in Argentina that has never fully gone away. Unlike the Sino-Russian model that suggested that the population must expect poverty and misery forever, Argentines were encouraged to believe that the Latin sense of relaxation and festivity could be had by all. Argentines have never quite gotten over this dream, and after each economic collapse, they mope whilst the country slowly recovers, but after a few years, begin once again to vote for those who promise the return of entitlements, saying, “We can give you everything you want; we just did it wrong last time. This time we’ll get it right.”

So, why on earth would Argentina be a country that someone bailing out of the First World would wish to go to? Isn’t it just as dysfunctional as the First World is becoming?

Well, actually, yes, it is. But there are two caveats. First, Argentina follows a pattern. The locals are accustomed to that pattern, and they, for the most part, ride it out. They know how to adjust for the cycles, and more important, they know the limitation as to how bad it is likely to get.

Second, the government, unlike the governments of the First World, is grossly inefficient and inept, and they don’t have enough money to enforce their own laws and edicts. What this means is that, whilst a newcomer may not wish to be living in Buenos Aires during the riots that are even now occurring and are sure to worsen, life outside the capital is very different. Attempted control by the central government is largely ignored in the outer provinces. Life can be extremely laissez faire. It is also quite inexpensive, and as in Uruguay, as long as you don’t wish to create a business that goes against the local way of life, life in the outer provinces is very enjoyable.

Options

Still, the idea of living in semi-socialist Uruguay or serially unstable Argentina would seem to fly in the face of what readers of this publication might think of as the ideal: a country where the citizens are highly productive libertarians with an upscale standard of living and a high degree of personal freedom.

Yet, in both countries the individual has the opportunity to create his own atmosphere. Neither government has the wherewithal, nor the ambition, to own him and micro-manage his existence. Whilst it may be true that, as yet, there is no country in the world that is a libertarian’s haven, the objective of internationalisation is to have the freedom to create your own world to as great an extent as possible and to be left alone by the powers that be.

There are many different versions of this in the world today, in a variety of jurisdictions—some upscale, some minimalist. Some with First World amenities, some simpler. The objective of today’s international man is to select the jurisdiction (or multiple jurisdictions) that most closely meets his personal preference. Whether that be Uruguay, Argentina, Thailand, Ecuador, or Bermuda, the choices are many, and as the description above evidences, they are ever evolving.

The one essential is to select a destination where either the direction is not negative, or the government does not possess the level of control that it can carry you down with it.

Editor’s Note: Naturally, things can change quickly. New options emerge, while others disappear. This is why it’s so important to have the most up-to-date and accurate information possible. That’s where International Man comes in. Be sure to check out our free guides and special reports to keep up with the latest on the best international diversification strategies.

Tags: uruguay, economic collapse, argentina,