In the States last week, talk was grim, and people were worried, scaling back holiday plans, bemoaning how little they could afford to spend Christmas shopping this year.
Here in Panama this weekend, malls are full, shops are packed, and the streets are chaos. Downtown Panama City feels like one big fiesta. It’s Mother’s Day weekend…18 days before Christmas…everybody’s happy…and everybody’s out.
Friday night, I spoke to a group of travel writers here in Panama for a weekend conference. I talked about the do’s and don’ts of good travel writing, but, after my presentation, at the cocktail reception, the questions weren’t to do with traveling or writing…but with investing.
“Where do you think it makes sense to invest today?” conference-goers wanted to know.
“Where are you putting your money now?”
“Which international real estate markets still offer opportunity?”
“I fear I begin to sound like a paid endorsement [though I’m not!],” I replied, “but the market that makes more sense to me than ever, after more than a dozen years of endorsing it strongly, is Panama.
“There’s a reason Lief and I are in this country right now,” I continued. “We could be anywhere. And other places have our attention, too. But it’d be foolish to ignore what’s going on in Panama.”
Despite slowdowns and meltdowns elsewhere, Panama’s economy continues to fire on all cylinders, expanding quicker than most any other in the world. It’s all thanks to the continued surge in construction, transport, and commerce. The Panama Canal expansion project is in full swing…a new highway is being built between the country’s two main cities, Panama and Colon…and downtown in the capital is being completely reconfigured with a new, widened central thoroughfare, a city bypass system, and a broad, grassy stretch of parkland along the bay. If it all turns out anything like the artist renderings I’ve seen in the local papers recently, it’ll amount to the most impressive city transformation I’ve witnessed since Rouse remade Baltimore City’s harbor area when I was a kid.
You can’t appreciate the rate at which this country is growing unless you come and spend time here yourself. A friend who has lived here since he was a child remarked the other day, “You know, I grew up here, and so I’ve lived with construction around me my whole life. But what’s going on in this city now is unbelievable. Frankly, I can’t stand it any longer. I may have to move…”
Indeed, don’t come to Panama City for peace and quiet right now. This place is on fire.
On the other hand, if you, like the travel writer conference-goers I spoke with Friday night, are considering the world investment landscape, looking in near desperation for someplace to put your money as world economies and markets crumble, I strongly recommend you take a look, quick, down here in the Hub of the Americas, where traffic, trade, and world commerce are alive and kicking up a storm.
P.S. “Anywhere else, in addition to Panama, we should think about right now?” the conference attendees asked Friday evening.
Argentina. More soon.