Turkey Is An Interesting Investment Option Offering Diversification And Steady Growth

TURKEY
The Climate In Turkey, Then And Now

July 17, 2014
Panama City, Panama

Dear Offshore Living Letter Reader,

My first trip to Istanbul was about 16 years ago. At that time, you exchanged your dollars into Turkish lira day by day. We were in the country two weeks; the exchange rate went from about 250,000 lira to US$1 to about 400,000 lira to US$1 by the time we left. The country and the economy were in disarray.

In the countryside, people put their money into construction. Any house you saw had a second or third story started…with the owners living on the ground level. With inflation running at 100%, the only safe investment a wage-earner with some extra cash could make was in expanding his house.

Inflation remained above 20% annually until 2004. It’s currently about 9.5%. However, with GDP growth at about 4.5%, the currency isn’t falling like a rock (although it has lost about 50% of its value against the dollar in the last five years). Fortunately, the country dropped six zeroes from its currency in 2005, so you’re less likely to be scammed by the movement of a zero or two by your taxi driver (as happened to me way back when)…though the taxi drivers still try to pull one over on you otherwise if they can.
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Istanbul Is A Bustling City, Where East Meets West

Istanbul
The Paris Of The East

July 14, 2014
Istanbul, Turkey

Editor’s Note: Lief Simon is making his way back from Istanbul to Panama City today. Following is a report from Kathleen Peddicord from that city. Lief will share his insights from the trip, including observations and discoveries to do with the real estate and investment markets in this part of the world, later in the week…

Dear Offshore Living Letter Reader,

Years ago, a friend in Belize told me that a country never escapes its origins. The United States, he said, is a land of puritans. Belize is a land of pirates.

And Istanbul is a land of traders. Once the end of the 4,000-mile-long Silk Road, the mother of all trade routes, this part of the world, as a result of all the traffic and all the business that culminated here, has been notable since the second century B.C.

Making our way around current-day Istanbul these past two weeks, our small caravan of travelers couldn’t help but compare this great city to Paris, the city all cities are graded against and (to admit our bias) our favorite place in the world to spend time. Indeed, Istanbul has long been referred to as the Paris of the East. The better we got to know Istanbul, the more readily we accepted the accolade. The cafes, gardens, parks, and river walks of Istanbul are all a la Paris. The windows of bakeries and confectioners can be picture-perfect arrangements of breads, pastries, and sweets. The people dress smartly and wish each other good day as they come and go. The old city is ancient, but spreading out from it are many and diverse other quarters, from bohemian and artsy to chic and modern…again, just like in Paris. Climbing the hill to reach Galata Tower felt like climbing Montmartre toward Sacre Coeur, and, reaching the top, we had our choice of street-side bistros for lunch and hip and groovy shops for exploring after we’d eaten.

Most fun for me, Istanbul, again like Paris, is a city made for walking. Not only the oldest parts but every region of this city, both Euro and Anatolian, invites you to take off on two feet to explore it up close. When you do, you discover book stores and art galleries, antique shops and boutiques of all descriptions, on and on as far as your curiosity and legs will carry you.

“You know,” said my associate publisher Harry one day as we gazed appreciatively upon the neat and symmetrical displays of brightly colored candies in yet another notable Istanbul shop window, “maybe we shouldn’t be saying that Istanbul is just like Paris. Maybe we should be saying that Paris is just like Istanbul.” Continue reading “Istanbul Is A Bustling City, Where East Meets West” »