Editor’s Note: Our friend and colleague, Keith Fitz-Gerald, is on an investment research excursion to Southeast Asia. Here’s the first installment of his investment travelogue.
Money Morning/The Money Map Report
SINGAPORE – Any doubts I had about how the recent U.S. economic malaise was affecting the Asian region were promptly dispelled when I rolled off my 23-hour flight into Singapore`s Changi Airport.
At 11:50 p.m., it was every bit as busy as Frankfurt or any other major international airport in the middle of the day.
As I looked around while I waited to clear customs – a process that took nearly two hours because of heightened security – I was struck [as I am on every trip to the Far East and Southeast Asia] by just what a melting pot this is: There’s a simmering brew of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and Western cultures here, and even late at night the energy is palpable. Right away, one can sense the uniqueness that is Singapore.
That’s exactly why I got started so early today – jet lag be damned!
After a four-hour sleep that resembled a nap more than it did any kind of real rest, I headed out for a stroll around Singapore’s core and the historic Orchard Road area. My goal, as it usually is when I travel, was to observe the city’s transformation as it wakes up to face a new day. Not only does this help me get grounded whenever I arrive in a new city, but when it comes to investments, there are few better ways of gauging a city’s economic vibrancy.
As usual, I wasn’t disappointed.
Singapore is running full throttle. The country has become Asia’s boomtown. Not only is it situated right at the nexus of centuries-old trading routes; the government has done a very effective job promoting free trade. Indeed, Singapore has enacted a bevy of regulations that are designed to encourage banking and financial development, including tax incentives, currency exchange and infrastructure development.
From the moment I hit the streets, I was overwhelmed by construction activity. There were thousands of migrant workers from Malaysia flowing into the city. And the whining and metallic crashes from the ubiquitous construction equipment melded into a din that only added to the sensory overload I was experiencing.
The old is being replaced by the new here, and old Singapore is being re-made into a cosmopolitan city on par with any metropolis in Europe or in the United States.
While it was once lined with pepper plantations where evening strolls were interrupted by the occasional tiger mauling, Orchard Road is now a palace of capitalism. In fact, it’s one of the world’s most concentrated shopping areas and within a few hours, it was filled with people. There were young executives, fashionistas in impossibly tight jeans and, of course, people like me, just taking it all in.
And everywhere I looked there were hints of the great economic boom we’re all following. Take Citigroup Inc. (C), for instance. Even though it’s under tremendous pressure in the U.S. market, Citi is creating a spectacular presence here when it comes to personal wealth management. So are China’s banks. Both had lots of signage and customers at their Orchard Road locations.
Then there were the cars. There are lots of them for such a seemingly small city, and most were fuel-efficient models. Singapore has no resources and needs to import nearly everything it consumes, so there is an emphasis on conservation. Not surprisingly, public transportation is cheap and very well run. It better be, given that there are some $90,000 Hyundais here.
With all that’s going on, it’s no wonder that legendary investor Jim Rogers chose to move here.
Speaking of whom, Rogers is the reason I’ve flown all the way to this part of the world. He and I will be sitting down together to talk global investing – and I can’t wait to share what I learn with you in the weeks ahead.
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About the Author
Keith is a seasoned market analyst and professional trader with more than 37 years of global experience. He is one of very few experts to correctly see both the dot.bomb crisis and the ongoing financial crisis coming ahead of time - and one of even fewer to help millions of investors around the world successfully navigate them both. Forbes hailed him as a "Market Visionary." He is a regular on FOX Business News and Yahoo! Finance, and his observations have been featured in Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and MarketWatch. Keith previously led The Money Map Report, Money Map's flagship newsletter, as Chief Investment Strategist, from 20007 to 2020. Keith holds a BS in management and finance from Skidmore College and an MS in international finance (with a focus on Japanese business science) from Chaminade University. He regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand.