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Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.


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Why most Americans are broke

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Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I just checked out of the Ritz-Carlton here in Kuala Lumpur. For the money, it is the best luxury hotel on the planet, in my opinion.

In addition to pool attendants who sneak up on you to offer fresh melon skewers, your American Express Platinum card (or just asking nicely, in some cases) will often get you an upgrade to a fantastic, sprawling suite with your own butler on call 24/7.

I had a hankering for some fresh orange juice after finishing up a Skype call at 2am, so I just pushed the “Butler” button and – voila! – juice was at my door in mere moments.

The next morning, I already fell over when the butler wheeled in the biggest breakfast cart I had ever seen room service bring.

Now, the fact that all of this set me back about $190 a night (Amex even gives card members $100 in free food… try the $42 Wagyu beef burger) is reason enough to look beyond the bankrupt west.

Just the cost of traveling here in emerging Asia is lower, even while the level of luxury is on par with some of the best hotels in the world.

But that’s not why I’m writing this.

In the couple of times I’ve stayed the Ritz here in Kuala Lumpur, I’ve gotten to know a few of the staff members.

And after enjoying a fabulous meal at the hotel’s Chinese restaurant, I asked, “where are most of your guests coming from?”

Several staff members huddled around the desk and began to tell me about the wealthy Middle Easterners who are coming to Kuala Lumpur to invest in local real estate, where prices – which I expect to fall a little in the next year – are barely trading at Asian financial crisis levels.

Other guests include Chinese investors who are similarly setting up shop in Malaysia. Other Asians are traveling here for the high quality, low cost health care.

“What about Americans?”, I asked.

The non-response told me everything I needed to know.

It seemed the same goes for Europeans. Of course, there are some, but the bulk are the new affluent from this part of the world.

Now, the hotel doesn’t know that I am the Nomad Capitalist, but they did once again confirm – without divulging customer info, of course – everything I know about the direction of luxury consumers around the world.

The word is out: most Americans are broke.

I say this not because it brings me pleasure to do so. I say it because, if you’re NOT broke, you are likely being held down by the tide of people who don’t have two nickels to rub together.

Allow me to share an interesting example…

I recently shared with you that I sold a home I owned in The Land of the Free. I made a fantastic return over the past few years through a combination of good research and sheer luck. (I wrote about it all here.)

Recently, I had the final negotiation in the home sales process, and it ended up costing me $4,000.

You see, I’m told that buyer came in full of piss and vinegar. He and his girlfriend tried to convince my real estate agent they were real heavy hitters doing me a favor by buying my home.

Now, as a capitalist, I subscribe to Rule #1: respect the cash. And I do.

But what happened with these “heavy hitters” is indicative of what is happening in the bankrupt west today, and why it is likely dragging you down.

While the buyers tried to convince us they were nothing more than shrewd negotiators, their mortgage paperwork tells a different story.

After refusing to raise their offer above a certain level, we eventually realized why: they couldn’t qualify for any more.

In fact, they not only maxed out their offer, but I’m told they went $750 over and had to convince their broker they were “good for it”.

Then, they wanted me to pay their closing costs.

Then, in our final inspection negotiation, they suddenly demanded $4,000 in repair money to be paid to them at closing. They cited wanting new landscaping among other small fixes as their reason for the demand.

We countered, saying they were well aware of these issues before making their offer.

Of course, it turns out (I’m told) that they not only don’t have much money for closing costs, but they don’t have any money to make repairs.

What a great time to go out and buy a house.

Now, I’m all too happy to cash in on such fiscal irresponsibility, but it makes for an interesting contrast between the spend-spend-spend culture of the west, and the more analytical, wealth building culture here in much of Asia.

Earlier today, I was speaking to a Singaporean friend of mine who just complete an interesting real estate deal where he netted a 40% return in less than two years. He is also making some agricultural investments, one of which has nearly doubled his money in the first year.

It’s the kind of stuff we talk about in the upper levels of The Nomad Society Membership… finding contrarian opportunities the average person isn’t focused on.

That is what is driving the vast accumulation of wealth here in the emerging world.

For one thing, foreigners account for a good chunk of real estate investment in places like Malaysia, and especially in even more emerging countries like Cambodia.

The investors throughout Asia are excited, not scared, about opportunities to invest outside of their own country.

They are starting businesses in high growth areas, not in countries like the United States where competition is brutal.

And they don’t allow patriotism to influence their investments.

As a result, even relatively poor Chinese are saving at a rate of 30% or 40%… below China’s mean savings rate of 51%.

Now, the fact that you read this site means you probably DO have a few nickels to rub together.

But if you haven’t started to take action on living, doing business, or investing overseas because of fear, consider what you are missing out on.

While offshore banks are paying 5% and 6% yields on US dollars (and higher rates on foreign currencies), your local bank account is causing you to go broke slowly by paying yields far below rising inflation.

In the real estate market, I am one of the few lucky ones in the United States, where real estate is about to fall again. It already is falling

Meanwhile, while I got beat up a little bit on the sell side in the USSA, sellers here in Malaysia are having the red carpet rolled out for them. While too much exuberance is not good, the fact is that people actually want to invest in real estate for the long term here.

Here, it’s not just hedge funds looking to capture high yields to balance their low-yield treasury portfolio… then dump their real estate holdings once they’ve driven prices to unsustainable levels.

On top of the fact that the average American is getting screwed by non-existent interest rates, a rigged stock market, and government-created inflation, the US government propaganda machine has made most US persons so scared of anything “offshore” or “overseas” that they keep their money “safe and sound” in bankrupt US institutions.

As author Anaïs Nin once remarked, “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Meanwhile, I’ve been speaking with people from all around the world about obtaining a second passport as part of my offer to consult with a limited number serious citizenship seekers for free.

Overwhelmingly, the most serious people are Chinese, Middle Eastern, and African. While Americans are severely limited in the global investments they can make because of their passport, it is those in emerging countries who are actively obtaining second citizenships in order to bolster their economic options.

Earlier this year, I told you about three contrarian investments I was making. If you are interested in opportunities that fly in the face of conventional wisdom and allow you to take part in what I call the “New Boom Markets”, you ought to consider joining my private club, The Nomad Society.

In September, we’re having a private dinner right in the middle of Hong Kong, and we’ll be discussing several interesting investments most broke Americans wouldn’t even think of touching. But people here in Asia ARE touching them, and they’re getting rich in the process.

All of the information on the club is here.


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