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Dear Abby - Jeff Thomas

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I joined the Navy to see the world. I've seen it. Now how do I get out?”

Readers will most likely be familiar with “Dear Abby”, the American advice column that has been popular since its inception in 1956. The above question was sent to her in 1981, but may be even more relevant today.

It will be no secret to readers of this publication that some of the formally most-prominent, most-free jurisdictions in the world are now in a state of serious decline and face economic, social and possibly political collapse. Although their level of influence is still close to their all-time high, they’re each at a precipice from which they may soon fall.

The great majority of our readers were born in these jurisdictions and, at present, still live there. Many of them read publications such as this in order to find out whether it will still be feasible to safely remain where they are in the future and, if not, where else they might go.

Not surprisingly, those of us who are not citizens of these jurisdictions and/or do not reside in them, have a very different perspective.

In my frequent meetings with those struggling with the decision of whether to expatriate, the one comment that I hear most often is, “What can you do? The whole world’s falling apart. There’s no escape.”

Yet this is not the case. Although we’re witnessing the final peak of empire for the US, with its closest allies (the EU, Canada, Japan, Australia, etc.) joined at the hip and in danger of being taken down at roughly the same time the giant falls, this group of countries, however powerful at present, do not comprise all the countries of the world.

To be sure, of the nearly 200 countries in the world, most all of them are directly or indirectly economically connected to the US in some way. Some receive US foreign aid that help keep their governments afloat. Some export products to the US; some import products from them. If and when a collapse comes, their degree of dependency upon the US will determine their level of damage However, many countries trade quite a bit less with the US and receive little or no foreign aid. These countries will be impacted to a far lesser degree. Some countries have nearly zero trade with the US and, historically, tend to operate independently of US economic and political trends.

Then there are those countries that do have an overlap with the US, but are poised to actually do better economically, should the US decline dramatically. To many who live in the US and, indeed in the other countries that are closely tied to it, this seems to be an impossibility. They mistakenly believe that the entire world is little more than a subsidiary to the great empire. But this is not the case.

All empires have a shelf-life. All grow powerful through productivity, then become corrupted and eventually collapse under their own governmental weight. An empire-collapse generally happens only once in anyone’s lifetime, so, when it happens, for those who witness it, it seems altogether new, yet, historically, it is a normal part of the life-cycle of empires.

Each time it does occur, many people who have chosen to remain at the epicenter become casualties. The further away they are from the epicenter (economically and politically, but not necessarily geographically), the less they’re impacted.

So, if this is true, how does one choose a “safe haven” in tumultuous times? There are two separate options that serve to answer that question.

Destinations that Will Be the Least Affected

  • Determine which countries have minimal trade with at-risk countries. For example, the smaller ASEAN countries tend to buy more from each other than they do from the EU or US. Their exports tend to be the same. Similarly, South American countries tend to buy more from each other than from the US or Canada. They tend to “buy Spanish.” Even products like Coca Cola and Hershey’s chocolate tend to be made locally under license, rather than imported from the north. This means that an economic debacle in North America will have little impact on such countries.

Once you’ve narrowed the field to one or two countries, go for a visit. Go to a supermarket and hardware store. Read the labels on goods to see where they emanate from. In some countries, most goods are produced locally, or by immediate neighbours.

  • Check tourism percentages. Many countries have very few visitors from at-risk countries and, as such, won’t miss the loss in business if it dries up.
  • Investigate which countries tend to go to war. In both world wars, most countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America sat out the wars. This is significant in that these countries are more peaceable places to live if a major war breaks out. But, additionally, they’re likely to continue their level of prosperity, as they’re not draining their coffers to pay the devastating cost of war.

Having examined which countries have avoided previous large wars, ask yourself if they’re likely to sit out the next war.

Destinations that Will Be Beneficially Affected

  • In a time of monetary collapse, there are always people who choose to exit rather than remain in a problem jurisdiction. Most of them tend to be those who possess enough wealth to make the exit easy. From the standpoint of the destination country, this means an injection of wealth and investment, which in turn means that the destination country prospers more than it did in normal times. Such countries are rife with opportunity in such times.
  • Some countries (especially empires) rely on muscle to establish and maintain their position in the world. Many other countries (particularly smaller ones) tend to focus instead on providing opportunity to attract new residents. In difficult economic times, the former group tends to be hit hard; the latter group tends to thrive.

In reviewing possible destination countries, select those that, although they may offer a different lifestyle from your present one, that lifestyle is one that you can easily adapt to and possibly even prefer.

A final point: Those who live in prosperous countries tend to visit other countries from a tourist standpoint. However, if one’s home country is in decline, it’s wise to spend those tourist dollars by travelling to countries that are potential alternative homes and, whilst there, instead of going to the beach bar for daiquiris, spend time examining the lifestyle for residents, cost of living, business opportunities, etc.

For those individuals like the one who wrote to Dear Abby, there’s unquestionably an answer to the question, “How do I get out?” In fact, there are a host of answers amongst the nearly 200 countries in the world. Rather than complain that, say, Ghana is not a positive choice, consider Singapore or Thailand. Rather than state that Nicaragua will not work for you, focus instead on Uruguay or the British Virgins.

In any era, there are a variety of choices, some worse than your home country, some better. Amongst the latter, there’s tremendous opportunity.

Find your alternate home.


The author is not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by Sprott Money Ltd. The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of the author or guest speaker, are subject to change and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprott Money Ltd. Sprott Money does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness and reliability of the information or any results from its use.

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