“I’m sorry to be so late,” explained my assistant Marion, as she rushed through the door this morning. “But my taxi driver took me on a sightseeing tour of Panama City.
“When I got in, there was a man already in the cab. ‘I’m taking him to the store,’ explained the driver. ‘OK,’ I replied, knowing that, as it’s nearly impossible to get a taxi in this city during rush hour, I really had no choice but to cab-share with the man in the front seat.
“We dropped the man off at the store down the road, then the driver turned off the engine. ‘We have to wait for him,’ he explained, when he saw the look on my face. ‘He has to buy gasoline. Then we’ll take him back to his car where it ran out of gas.'”
“Panama continues to buzz,” writes veteran global real estate investor (and my husband) Lief Simon this morning in response to a friend’s e-mail inquiry overnight. ”This is the new Miami from a Latino point of view. The South Americans come here to shop now rather than going to Miami. The malls in Panama City are full of Venezuelans and Colombians. It’s closer for them, the shopping is just as good, and they don’t have to deal with the hassles of U.S. immigration and customs. ”Real estate in the city has hit a wall, with regards both to pricing and to sales; prices in Panama City are soft and will come down. However, Panama City is a market unto itself, and the level of activity elsewhere in the country is not declining but increasing. ”Americans are coming still, but this market is increasingly made by Europeans, who are arriving on the scene in ever-greater numbers. On my flight from Newark to Panama the other night, the plane was full. About a third of the passengers were Panamanians; another third were Americans, the rest were Europeans. ”And this is the off season.”