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By Luc Loranhe (2007)
In this article, I argue that the best foreign investment a country possibly can obtain is for sufficiently rich foreigners to settle there. Thus, the most sensible policies for attracting foreign investments are those that provide rich foreigners with the best quality of life... and this means: as much personal freedom as possible in a social environment as safe as possible. More specifically, it also means: no obstruction to local sexual relationships. To make this point, I first discuss what is wrong with the kind of foreign investment that usually comes to one's mind when the term is used.
No part of the world has changed as rapidly over the past 20, 30 years as has Asia, particularly East Asia and Southeast Asia.
For most of the countries in that part of the world, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the change occurred in the decades before the mid-1990s, and it was mainly driven by foreign investment.
In the decades before the early 1990s, these countries transformed from feudal, agriculture-based societies into rather modern societies with a strong export-oriented manufacturing sector. Direct foreign investment was a driving force.
However, these countries haven't changed much in the past decade because China has been soaking up most of the Asia-directed foreign investment. Furthermore, many of the benefits of foreign investment were reversed in the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Foreign investments can come in many different forms.
The simplest, and most dangerous, form is dollar-denominated loans, given to local governments, local banks, and local companies.
Local banks would, for example, receive loans at a rate of 5 percent interest, and borrow it to local lenders as local currency at a rate of 15 or 20 percent interest. As long as a country's currency would depreciate at less than 10 percent per year towards the dollar, the banks would operate at a profit.
The fact that this kind of foreign investment was just a dollar-denominated loan often was hidden behind a contractual facade. For example, the loan could have been disguised as equity investment in a non-bank business. However it was then just used for playing the financial market, with the aim of profiting from lending rate discrepancies or similar financial benchmark figures.
Economies based on that kind of foreign investment regularly melt down, as has happened during the Asian financial crisis. Such meltdowns have happened regularly in all parts of the world, before and after the Asian financial crisis, most frequently in South America.
Foreign investments that come as financing packages that somehow have to be repaid are a dangerous turf.
Foreign portfolio investments, where foreigners buy stock on a local exchange, aren't much better.
Both, financing packages and portfolio investments, are linked to the exchange rate of local currencies, and if they are not carefully managed, their overall impact on the wealth of a country can easily be negative. This means: this kind of foreign investment can easily leave a country poorer than it was before the "investment".
From the perspective of poor countries, the purpose of foreign investment is to bring foreign money into the country to spur economic development. But that effect can only be had if the foreign money is, in a long-term manner, converted into tangible assets.
For example, when a foreign company builds and operates a toll road in the developing country. Not, if a foreign company gives a dollar loan to a local entity, so that the local entity can contract the foreign company to build the toll road for them, and also not if a local entity gets that loan (repayable as dollars) so that it can purchase the necessary equipment from the overseas company.
If a foreign investor is actually converting own money into assets in the country where he invests, the talk is of foreign direct investment. However, on the scale of toll roads or other large infrastructure projects, there are much fewer foreign direct investments than the business sections of newspapers make people believe.
You do get foreign direct investment into production facilities, for example, if Nike sets up a shoe manufacturing plant in Indonesia, or when Isuzu moves their pickup truck production to Thailand, in both cases because of lower wages.
Such foreign investment is generally considered beneficial to countries that receive it because it generates jobs.
On the other hand, one should be careful not to overestimate the positive effect of such foreign investments, for all the profits are typically repatriated, and the actual asset transferred to a Third World country isn't much to brag about. Production facilities typically are outmoded within 5 to 10 years, and then their worth is barely above the scrap value.
You have another kind of foreign investment that isn't much better. That's when Western "services" companies of the kind of Wal-Mart and Carrefour, or franchise givers such as McD and KFC, or banks like HSBC or Citibank move in. They just displace local businesses, create large numbers of unemployed people (because they have a higher turn-over with fewer staff and at lower costs, and they also repatriate the profits.
And then there are those foreign investments that buy into local companies, such as when a big US tobacco company buys a well-established local company, primarily to gain a distribution foothold. Local owners who receive the money from overseas buyers usually have nothing better to do with the cash than to bring it to a Western developed country, in order to receive a residence permit there, and a subsequent citizenship. Such schemes are foreign investment indeed, but not in the Third World country where the company is purchased.
They generate net capital outflow, not capital inflow.
You can look at it from any angle: the best foreign investments a country possibly can get are foreigners who personally want to relocate to a Third World country and bring with them capital in the range of 100,000 to 1,000,000 million US dollars. That normally is capital that really stays in a country into which it is brought. The figures don't sound as impressive as the 100-million-dollar amounts of financial markets machinations, or foreign portfolio investments, but the money brought along by foreigners relocating in a Third World country at least is genuine, not just a number in the clouds that will never rain down on the Third World country above which it lingers.
The funny thing is that precisely this kind of foreign investment is very much thought after by many countries of the world. Third World countries? Ha! No, it's the most developed countries that seek that kind of foreign investment. And they know why.
Just check the "investment immigration" pages of the US, Germany, Canada, the UK, France, or whatever rich country. Anybody who brings a good amount of money (typically around 1 million dollars) into the country, and invests it into a new business (not the stock market) receives a fast-track residence permit.
As I said: you can look at it from any angle. The secret of genuine foreign investment in any country of the world is attracting rich and well-educated foreigners to live in the country that wants to attract foreign investments. Everything else is either not genuine or outright trickery.
Therefore, countries that want to attract foreign investments should concentrate on making their countries as attractive as possible for rich foreigners to live in. Yes, I want to encourage these countries to charge comparatively high flat monthly taxes on foreign residents: 200 to 500 dollars per month.
But apart from that: make foreigners feel comfortable, by providing good security and permitting a fair amount of personal freedom not available anywhere else (for example: granting personal drug use). And don't obstruct sexual relationships (including gay sexual relationships) with locals. Actually, sexual relationships of rich foreigners with locals are a country's best option to bind foreigners, and foreign investments.
I am not only talking of rich foreign men having sexual relationships with local women. Before Indonesia implemented the strictest anti-drug laws in the world, many rich Western women regularly flew to Bali to party, and to have charming Indonesian boyfriends. Or they even settled in Indonesia. There is nothing wrong with attracting rich foreign women to settle in a country.
You can grant citizenship to foreigners who pay for it (let's say: 100,000 US dollars), and investments in higher amounts will likely follow all by themselves, if you keep the atmosphere friendly. Don't encourage commercial nightlife, though. But better than to outright prohibit it, is to impose high taxes on it.
Apart from that: be wary, very wary of depending too much on the US. They don't like the above-outlined model. And keep out Western brainwashers: missionaries, NGOs, or feminazis.
Editing note: My interests are primarily philosophical and political (and of course sexual), and not economic. However, to give more weight to the above analysis, it should be well referenced. Therefore, contributing editors with a background in economics are encouraged to work on the above and similar articles. The reward, as usual, is free access to the sexual opportunities or sexual function package.
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Copyright Luc Loranhe