Guest Post: Surprise! An Economy With A Pulse!

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man

Surprise! An Economy With A Pulse!

With so much economic doom and gloom out there, it’s easy to forget that there are actually some bright spots in the world. I’ve spent the last few days in one of them– Georgia.

Perhaps most famous for being continually stomped on by Russia, this place has suffered severe hardship practically since independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In 2005, Georgia was shut out of the Russian market, it’s largest trading partner. It happened again in 2006.

Then, of course, you may remember the Russian military invading Georgia (do you see the theme here?) in August 2008 in support of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia in northwest Georgia.

Russian forces rolled across the border, occupied several key areas in the country, and bombed the hell out of Tbilisi just for good measure. The damage is still visible to this day.

Yet despite so many challenges, Georgia has finally turned the corner and become one seriously exciting economy with some seriously compelling opportunities.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that there is hardly any natural wealth in the country. Like Hong Kong or Singapore, Georgia has figured out that it can’t get rich by becoming a resource powerhouse.

Consequently, the last several years has seen what they call the ’de-Sovietization and Singaporization’ of Georgia.

Georgia has shot up in the ranks of international business… from slumming with the likes of Pakistan just a few years ago, to besting places like Estonia and Switzerland.

They’re doing it by tearing down worthless, extractive economic institutions and making things easy for business and investors.

At a 15% flat rate, for example, corporate taxes are essentially as low as Singapore or Hong Kong. Capital gains, in many cases, is zero.

Regulation has been reduced dramatically– registering a property or starting a business, for example, are easier in Georgia than just about anywhere in the world.

And with both a US and UK comprehensive tax treaty (sorry Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), Georgia could make an excellent place to establish a tax efficient international business structure.

Ultimately, its ease of doing business is going to be one of the major growth catalysts for this economy– just like Panama, Dubai, or Estonia before.

Georgia is surrounded by places that are marred in obscene regulatory minefields, Byzantine tax codes, and corrupt officials. In the future, this will make Georgia the natural choice to do business in the region.

One of the clearest (and easiest) opportunities here is in the banking sector.

I’ve spent the last several days re-examining the local banking sector and diving into the numbers, and my analysis has led me to the conclusion that it’s one of the best capitalized banking systems in the world.

To give you an example, it’s common for banks here to hold in excess of 30% of their deposits in CASH. They don’t loan it out, they don’t invest in stupid government bonds or CDOs… they actually hang on to their customers’ funds.

By comparison, a bank like SunTrust in the US, or RBC in Canada, hold less than 3% / 5% of their customers’ deposits in cash, respectively.1 199x300 Surprise! An economy with a pulse!

Bankers here are also incredibly conservative; loan standards require borrowers to pay exorbitant interest rates and put up massive down payments… which also means they pay depositors relatively higher rates.

Just this morning, in fact, I negotiated a 1-year fixed deposit rate with a local banker on behalf of SMC subscribers for 10%… in US
dollars.  Local currency rates are even higher.

For dollar holders who don’t want to take any currency risk, the carry trade potential is significant– borrow for 1% to 4% in the United States, Hong Kong, or Singapore… and invest in a 1-year CD in Georgia yielding 10%.

One of the most interesting things about this place, though, is that it is an easy ‘escape’.

If your back’s against the wall and you really need a place to go, Georgia gives visa-free entry for up to 360-days to dozens of
nationalities– including the US, Canada, Japan, all of Europe, St. Kitts… and even places like Cuba and Iraq.

That’s right. Without so much as a single piece of paper, you can show up to Georgia and spend nearly 1-year here. Afterwards, you need only exit the country for a day in order to start a new 360-day block. Not a bad deal.

Living here is dirt cheap… and a lot of fun. The people are incredibly warm, and I’ve found that the younger generations which are on board with the ‘Singaporization of Georgia’ are incredibly sharp.

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Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Buy silver and it won't matter where you are.  Well, maybe it will a little.

Marginal Call's picture

Simon picks a near-future warzone to move to.  Nice.  

TruthInSunshine's picture

Iceland also has a pulse ever since they DENIED their banksters' requests for bailouts, as in the opposite-of-Bernanke-or-ECB plan.


The sooner that people figure out that they're being gamed by The Money Masters and that ending the racket that puts them into perpetual debt-serfdom, as a society and even as a sovereign, is good for them (yes, yes, living in within one's means may take getting used to for some, but even they will discover that 90% of the shit they purchased on credit was useless junk that collects dust), the sooner we can get back to real, sustainable, organic economic growth.

End too-big-to-fail and stop subsidizing the entire banking industry. It's not special. It deserves no preferential treatment. Let banking CEOs get jobs at McDonald's after their salaries are clawed back.

GiantVampireSquid vs OWS UFC 2012's picture

Suprise: Another economy bending over for the seven sisters.

agrainvest's picture

Here are the macro stats of another 'unsung' Eastern European economy, located just across the Black Sea:

  • Budget deficit @2.7% (second annual deficit after a decade of surpluses);
  • Net Govt debt to GDP @ 16%;
  • Inflation @ 2.1%;
  • Currency pegged to DEM since 1997;
  • Corporate tax rate 10% (flat);
  • Personal tax rate 10% (flat);
  • Divident tax 5%;
  • Capital gains tax on exchange traded stocks, bonds and derivatives 0%;
  • Bilateral double taxation treaties with all EU countries, US and most of the OECD;
  • The market cap of the entire country @ prevailing farmland prices would be EUR 17 bn!
  • Average monthly salary is EUR 250!

Thats what the Germans had in mind, when they coined the term 'Lebensraum'.

If you look at it from a different perspective, what is happening in Europe at the moment is nothing more than a fast but overdue reverse convergence of the garlic belt to the Eastern Lebensraum.

tiger7905's picture

LEAP/E2020 see's collapse in Sept/Oct 2012 timeframe if we make it that far...



zilverreiger's picture

*peep peep peep*

thats right gene, into the loading dock!

CPL's picture

Lord Tubby Black.


Yes, the economy that works is under the current mess of effects of ivory tower morons running the show currently.


Even it though it is struggling and in a deflationary situation.  Black markets are weird things.  Value can be quite drastic from retail.  Not much room for profit, if there is any.  Most people see that part of the universe with a "need" instead of a want.  As in I "need" food to eat and "need" to pay rent.  So they hock some stuff, notice that most of the history channel is now shows about haggling?


BlueCollaredOne's picture

Those who do not learn from history channel, are destined to repeat history channel. 

CPL's picture

Pawnstars is on permanent repeat cycle for the whole summer.


"How much for my Elvis pre-utilized ass skratcher?"

"Dunno let me call my expert of ass skratchers."

"Mr Charles P Pennyworth the Third, PhD in ass skratching here to assess the situation.  Yup it's an ass skratcher, you can tell it's elvis by the Ass prints on the skratching end.  It could be let go at auction for the mild price of $1000."

"awesome, gimme $1000 bux."

"no, I give you $200."


For those that haven't seen pawnstars, that's the whole show.  Just saved you all the monthly cable bill of sitting through it.


BlueCollaredOne's picture

The history channel has devolved into absolute garbage.  Im too young to remember if it was ever any good , but I have to believe that they actually used to air "history" programs.  At least I still have the science channel.


Pawn Stars summed up.

Missiondweller's picture

The History channel used to be great. I once read their average viewer was college educated w/ a household income over $100K.


Not sure who they are targeting now with "Ancient Aliens", "Swamp People" & "Shark Wranglers".


Seems they are aiming for a much dumber audience now.

CPL's picture

It had a history series called "Connections" by Alstair Burke that was an amazing history show. 

I can't begin to explain where the entire idea of the history channel crumbled to dust.  It was somwhere right after it became the World War 2 Channel. 

Every night would showcase some dead nazi or USO fart catcher.  Then the "mystery" nazi weapons showcase series.  Surprised the executives didn't have something as stylish as "Hitler and Eva's tickle trunk fashion tips".  HGTV had that trading space show where neighbours fuck up each other's homes for a grand, only seemed reasonable for history to do something similar to sell in a box set for Xmas.

For history, I do love talking with the old boys at the Legion but they have other interests other than "ze germans and the huns".  Like soup...not kidding that was a discussion a month ago.  There are even fights over it.  Two men that were friendly with one another for 20 years are now at odds, over that soup conversation. (Pea and barley soup if it makes a difference to anyone)


I would guess that the current line up is aimed at the "used to be" making over 100k, toothless, cut off jean pants demographic.  I'd add a show to that line up.



aerojet's picture

I can't complain about this enough!  I have History and H2 and H2 sometimes has decent programming, but also the Ancient Aliens and a lot of other insultingly awful garbage.  The original History channel is dead to me.  How many more inane shows about guns can they have?  Guns are even interesting, but not in the context of these reality shows!

moonstears's picture

He's a funny guy, that CPL! Chortled a little, then snickered, then laughed. I like the show but that's a good synopsis! Bravo!

TWSceptic's picture

So what, it's still fun to watch.

tahoebumsmith's picture

Lets not forget about Iceland either. A little country with alot of balls that told the Bankers to go fuck themselves and once they did they have been on the mend ever since. Go figure?

CPL's picture

Actually they aren't.


Like the US, don't get sick to the point that you require anything other than a doctor's visit.

Don't get sick where you need a prescription.

Make everything you own last a bit longer because there is no credit industry to purchase a dock's worth of Chinese crap.

I haven't heard much out of gold and silver holders in Iceland either, there had to be one in the HUGE population of 300,000 people.  There are small Canadian cities that are bigger with less debt.

Don't expect the road to be paved.

Don't expect the power to stay on.

Don't expect certain foods or regular gas shipments.  Remember cash in hand first, no credit.  not a bad place to be in a house and planning.   But most cases, you have to have someone willing to ship without the insurance necessary.

CommunityStandard's picture

"Make everything you own last a bit longer because there is no credit industry to purchase a dock's worth of Chinese crap."

Are you implying this is a bad thing?  The only way to force people to live within their means is to take their credit away.

Random_Robert's picture

You're an idiot.


Every point you made above is not relevant to Iceland at all.


"Don't expect the power to stay on"... Are you fucking kidding me?


Icelandic geothermal energy - google it.


Iceland exports it's net electricity surpluses to UK - google it.


Icelandic Oil production and supply surplusses... google it.



CPL's picture

Hold on a tick let's talk about Iceland then.


First Iceland's manufacturing base is FISHING.  All that fun and awesome energy production to provide 300,000 people with energy, it's a net exporter of all things energy.  All those cool parts and machines to make it all run come from where?  How about the computers?   Clothes?  Bikes?  Engines?  Cars?  Food? 


That power incidentally isn't just for Iceland, it's for Canada, the Icelandic government doesn't own ANY of that energy, Canada does.  In fact Iceland cannot hack it.  It's joining the EU...AGAIN.

Iceland is attempting to use any currency BUT the snowball/popsicle/ice cube/krona.

There is little happening in Iceland business wise because there is nothing to report.  Fishing is dead because the ocean is empty.  There is no banking.  What's left?  Snowballs and pickled herring...



This is not to belittle what people have accomplished individually in Iceland, but stop for a second to understand what the outcome is and that there are no resolutions to the original problem.  The fact Iceland is seeking ANYBODY to provide them with a fractional reserve currency should be a big warning to people.

Things are not fixed.  Not in the slightest.  Quitting a system doesn't reinvent the system.  That takes effort and a plan.  With 300,000 people living on a sheet of Ice in the arctic circle I can bet their economy is running exactly the same as their Inuit cousins in Canada or Russia.  It's not.  At all.  It took bravery to quit, it takes a plan to execute the energy needed to rebuild in where it will do the most amount of good.  Iceland is still trying to pay public pensions, does that sound fixed?

The biggest icelandic export right now is children and the tiny amount of fuel it supplies to itself and the world.  It's hardly enough to rebuild credit,not financially, but the credit of trust.  Like New Zealand, it has a looooong way to go.  340 years to go in fact because that's how much money they spent against the future.  340 years worth measured effort, priced in popscicles, against currencies locked into a hyper inflation scenario.  How's that for shit your pants scary?

The best they can hope for year after year?  Less and less without being locked into a central bank.  Unless there is a secret pickled herring need we've all missed, Iceland suffers from the same communist horseshit drivel all Nordic EU countries suffer from.  The borrowed good life.  But that's all done now.


Think what you wish and dream of revolution, but don't mistake the effort that is required to make something work.  We've all known some great artists and musicians through our lives that are NOT famous for the exact reason.  Potential is there, execution is non-existent.  So the problem now is hardly one of banking, it's will power.


For England, is that the same England that is running in a brown out situation and has trouble like every other TINY island nation finding fuel for the pumps.  Forgive me, but selling a tiny amount of electricity to run glasgow for 3 hours is hardly a notable effort.  I bet it's cost more in cabling than the project ever see's over the 20 year plan.  I bet more so that the cable is stolen like the teleco cable attempted theft two weeks ago that knocked out telco's for all of Scotland.


None of this is as simple as anybody wishes.  None of it.

Random_Robert's picture

Fuck me...


You're an even bigger idiot than I originally thought.

aerojet's picture

I'd prefer what you just said compared to a line of fucking banksters, politicians, soldiers, cops, bureaucrats, and welfare queens waiting to pick my pocket! 

dwdollar's picture

Georgia is one of the first places Russia will annex when NATO falls apart.

Tirpitz's picture

Repatriate the homeland of ol' comrade Stalin.

zilverreiger's picture

Lets not forget Georgia is a US proxy state

ArsoN's picture

Been meaning to go for years... 

Undecided's picture

Fuck Georgia they are nothing but an extension of U.S. political and military policy.  its nothing much more then a test by the U.S. on the russians.

TGR's picture

Simon's discovered another country! Thanks Simon!

CommunityStandard's picture

"Georgia is surrounded by places that are marred in obscene regulatory minefields"

Just watch where you step, as you'll want to avoid the actual minefields.

New American Revolution's picture

One year at 10% huh?   How much of it are you expecting to get back?

pods's picture

Really.  I wonder what rates George Jung was given in Panama?

Sofa King Confused's picture

You can get that same rate in Ecuador also.  And they use the US Dollar, ( Federal Reserve Note) for their money.

kito's picture

but i was just in atlanta the other day. and all the banks were offering .0000002 percent on their cds!!?? im confused, really, what is simon talking about?

rufusbird's picture

Nice read, great information!

Freeman-S-Stratos's picture

Ahhhh, that economic power house of Georgia.....



bdc63's picture

the weather is better in Belize ... just say'in ...

Red Heeler's picture

Tbilisi is a great place to be a small-time "entrepreneur" . . . . if one is a Georgian.

ZeroPower's picture

Simon Black, you are an idiot, and your articles are getting to be completely ridiculous. Let us know how your "one year 10% IRR deposit" works next time Russia decides to invade...

Iwanttoknow's picture

Simon,Are we pimping for Soros?

Cosimo de Medici's picture

For such a self-proclaimed homme du monde, Simon sure sounds like a mark.  One year $ CD at 10%?  You "negotiated" that?  Yea, I bet Mr. Bankerkashvili was really taken by you, eh?  I wonder why Jamie Dimon isn't parking his $400 billion in spare deposits there instead of trying to play some tranches of synthetic CDX, which his CIO somehow considered less risky than your Georgian bank?

Kind of has the same smell as what the Icelandic people did to Scottish pensioners.

barkingbill's picture

as for the russians, the georgians started it from everything i read....

CustomersMan's picture


This place is a nest of Israeli spies, as bad or worse than Malta, and is backed by the top Jewish Banking Cabal. Any innovative company will have it's secrets stolen, and eyes plucked out while watching them, only to see them exploited by the "tribe" either there or in some others part of the world, or sold to competitors. Just look at "Facebook" and who benefited most,...and who did the work. This place will be far worse by X 10 to the tenth. They will or have set-up an AMDOCS type system I'm sure , or one better to tap into every call, every transmission. Look at who controls all the top Internet and technology companies in the US , twelve years after "they" chrashed it. They are not the innovators,...they are the "thieves and exploiters of innovation". Guanan- F******- TEED.


So, it's business friendly,...but if you're good as a company and take them up on it, watch out.


Not loved by it's neighbors, and is being promoted by the same people who caused the global financial disaster.


You want to reward that behavior by posting positive stories?


Other than that I agree with what you said.

EmileLargo's picture

I have Georgian friends. The place lacks the first requirement for a rich country: rule of law, and law and order. Without that, they can have -5 percent tax rates, it wont work. Kidnapping for ransom is still common.

The second problem is the Russian situation. The last Russian attack showed that the Americans or any one else is toothless in trying to prevent a Russian attack. Perhaps the Goergians can build their economy on private banking and lure the Russians and their money away from Switzerland. That may seem to be the only solution.     

Tinky's picture

I am not a reflexive Simon-basher, however, the naïveté of this particular recommendation is striking.

Missiondweller's picture

I think the idea is that they have a thriving free market economy focused on reducing regulation.


There's no doubt they live in rough neighborhood. He did not claim there was no political risk.

Tinky's picture

That's fair enough, but isn't context exceptionally important? After all, if someone offered you a $20k gold Rolex for $1500, it would, without any other considerations, be a terrific deal...