Dateline: Belgrade, Serbia
Singapore is touted as not only one of the richest countries in the world but also one of the safest and most peaceful. And this year, it ranked 1st in the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom, making it the freest economy in the world.
How does a country reach such a status? By providing low taxes, having good management, and giving people what they want.
And what do people want?
They want to make smart investments and get returns on those investments.
With some of the world’s safest banks, Singapore is a no brainer when it comes to diversifying your portfolio.
Options such as Singapore savings bonds, government treasury bills, government bonds, fixed deposits, retirement top-ups, exchange-traded funds, and mutual funds exist for investment in Singapore.
Residence by investment is also an option.
You can even be paid in gold in Singapore.
Yet, there is one return strategy that I didn’t consider until last year: investing in Singapore government debt.
And I’m glad I did, I made an almost 10% return.
In this article, I’ll tell you how I did it and give you a few tips so that you can do the same with similar investments overseas, whether you are investing in Singapore government debt or in another country or asset.
The Singapore Government Debt Opportunity
I got an almost 10% return in about a year by investing in Singapore government debt, and it all started with one text message from my bank.
It was April of 2020 and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, economies have been going crazy. Initially, the US dollar was dominating as people exited emerging market currencies and funneled money into the US dollar.
It was then that I advised anyone who was holding US dollars to go out and buy real estate in countries that give residence and citizenship. I suggested that they invest in other countries, get passports and bank accounts, and get things done because the US dollar was at a multi-year high.
Then, as I was sitting in Malaysia, I got a text from my bank in Singapore.
Now, this text was one that I never expected to get from a fairly blue-chip bank in Singapore. It basically told me to get my trades on now. I even shared the opportunity with my readers here, discussing the benefits of investing in Singapore savings bonds.
The Singapore dollar had crossed to $1.41 against the US dollar.
For a long time, during my travels to Singapore, the Singapore dollar was at or around $1.20 to the US dollar.
It had weakened slightly, but it hadn’t weakened to that point. A new low of $1.41 to US$1 started to freak people out.
When I got the text message, I had already diversified with a number of assets held in Singapore dollars – from equities to real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Since Singapore is a country with great credit and is very fiscally responsible, I decided to buy more Singapore dollars.
If you have an account at one of the three biggest banks in Singapore, you can buy Singapore government debt.
In fact, it is probably one of the easiest things you can do in Singapore banking.
Investing in Singapore Savings Bonds
In Singapore, you can hold savings bonds for 10 years.
You buy them from the government in the month of issue on the primary market, which always seems like it’s undersubscribed.
You can then hold the bonds for your preferred amount of time and then redeem them at any time for face value. You collect the interest you’ve earned and it costs only $2 Singaporean each to turn the trade on and off.
If you hold the bonds for the entire 10-year maturity, you won’t have to pay the $2 to redeem it. They will give you your money back with an escalating rate per year.
In my case, I had a ridiculous 27 basis points for the first year. But since the last year was around 1.86%, it will average out to almost 90 basis points after holding it for the whole 10 years.
I decided to open a couple of bank accounts in Singapore. After that, I converted some cash out of US dollars at about $1.415 to USD $1 and moved it into the Singapore savings bonds.
The maximum you can invest at any time is 200,000 Singapore dollars.
Since world travel was very difficult in 2020, scouting for real estate deals was virtually impossible. I wanted to build liquidity to be able to buy when travel is possible again.
Needless to say, I have since accrued my 9.49% annualized return.
I recently ran the numbers, and while I earned the very tiny 27 basis points in the first year, there was a 9.22% currency appreciation as the tides have turned for the US dollar.
When I first looked at Singapore savings bonds in 2019, rates were near 1.5%. As COVID-19 hit, they dropped below 1% and then quickly down into the cellar.
It will rebound. The Singapore dollar will creep back to where it was last year, and even start to creep back to where it was a number of years ago before it weakened against the US dollar.
Trade Out Your US Dollars
Looking forward in 2021, many people say that the US dollar will take a beating.
If you look at what has happened to the dollar against the euro, Swiss franc, British pound, Australian and Kiwi dollars, and against the Singapore dollar, you can see that most countries, or currencies, have outperformed the US dollar in the last couple of months.
Looking at the Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit, you can see that both emerging markets and developing markets are getting stronger.
If you’re holding US dollars and you haven’t improved your portfolio or moved US funds into other currencies, I would suggest that you do that now.
If you’re holding another currency, I would suggest looking at markets where you can buy real estate, acquire citizenship, or purchase assets in items in US dollars because the price is certainly lower than it was at the beginning of last year.
I often ask people what they would do if they saved $1,000,000 a year.
A lot of entrepreneurs say they don’t know or haven’t thought about it — they haven’t even figured out how to invest or spend the money they have now.
The beautiful thing about being a Nomad Capitalist is having more and varied liquidity. Sometimes, the challenge is where to put that liquidity while you’re looking for the next deal.
At Nomad Capitalist, we transact in US dollars, as many of you do.
For me, knowing that the US dollar is declining naturally incentivizes me to move my money out of US dollars. Other countries’ currencies have declined as well, but the US may no longer be the cleanest shirt in a dirty laundry basket.
At times, it’s good to make 10% annualized returns.
Other times, you may want to get yourself into more safe haven currencies to get yourself diversified and open up new opportunities.
Investing in Singapore government debt has been just one example of an investment that worked out well. But I think you’ll see a lot more examples like this in the years to come.
Remember, if you’re holding US dollars, it’s worth looking at how to diversify out of those in the coming year.
If you’re a seven- or eight-figure entrepreneur, Nomad Capitalist can help you do just that.