There is an increasing trend to move from the USA to another country to work and live. This is not surprising to me. Recently this has picked up quite a bit; I am surprised by the velocity at which this interest in moving (I figured it would be a long term mega trend but not so drastic, so quickly). Economic changes are often quite surprising in how rapidly they move forward.
An interesting survey shows USA investors have become much more interested in relocating in the last two years (the data they show though has tremendous volatility over time, so I am not really sure this means much). I wonder how much of it can be explained by investors wanting to get a deep understanding of very promising markets. I wouldn’t image the actual number that do this is huge, but maybe the number considering it is significant. Billionaire investor, Jim Rodgers moved to Asia because he sees Asia as key to the future. One of the reasons I moved to Malaysia this year was to get a in depth understanding of what South East Asia is like (it is not a deciding reason, at all but maybe the 4th or 5th reason).
I believe the globalization of the employment market is a long term trend that will continue – especially for “knowledge workers.” The USA rested on the post WW II economic domination for nearly 50 years. The policies also helped this continue: investing in science and engineering, favoring entrepreneurship… But other countries have realized the value of these things (and the USA is slipping – not investing nearly as much in science and engineering and favoring large corporations that give politicians large amounts of cash over innovation – see things like the incredibly outdated “intellectual property” system, SOPA, favoring huge financial institutions…
The combination of long term policy weakness, the inevitable decline in the USA to world ratio of economic wealth, and the financial crisis caused by the policy weaknesses have seemingly greatly accelerated the trend. The next 2 or 3 years will determine if that is a permanent acceleration or if we go back to a slower pace – but on the same path. My guess is that we will stay on this path but the pace will not follow the level surveys might indicate (showing interest in such a big change is far different from actually moving).
There don’t seem to be any decent estimates of Americans living abroad. The US State Department claims releasing their estimates would be a national security risk? And the Census bureau says it would cost too much to try. Wild guesses seem to be between 4 and 6 million.
I recently started reading A Bull in China: Investing Profitably in the World’s Greatest Market and am enjoying it.
From the Curious Cat Management blog, Decemeber, 2004:
Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers tracked his trip around the world by car. Previously he had documented his around the world motorcycle journey in Investment Biker. His views offer a worthwhile perspective that is often missed, in my opinion. That said I wouldn’t accept his views as the final truth they are valuable as one perspective to shed light on areas that are often overlooked.
China Wakes, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn documents their time as Journalists in China (1988-1993) and again offers valuable insight into China. Obviously even gaining an incredibly oversimplified view of China would take a great deal more than one, or even ten books. Still the authors provide viewpoints that I found added, in a small way, to a picture of what China, was, is and may become. I plan to read their book: Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia.
Jimmy Rodgers is one of the most successful investors ever. He and George Soros were partners during the amazing run with Quantum Fund (up over 4000% in 10 years) and he has been successful since. This interview provides his current thoughts – ‘It’s going to be much worse’
Rogers looks at the Fed’s willingness to add liquidity to an already inflationary environment and sees the history of the 1970s repeating itself. Does that mean stagflation? “It is a real danger and, in fact, a probability.”
One smart investor, no matter how smart, will have many wrong guesses about the future. Still he is someone worth listening to.