Global Investment

By , 14 August 2016

Global Investment
Global Investment

Would you trust me with your money?

It's an interesting litmus test of a person, and not usually too difficult to answer. Providing you're familiar with the person in question of course.

This is also what most investment boils down to. If you invest in gold or oil or other commodities, you can remove the human element of your risk, and you end up exposed only to the forces of supply and demand. But property has tenants, and you need to trust they'll pay you, and not trash your place. And shares are entirely dependent on the people behind them. A company is only as good as their people.

But the story doesn't stop there. Even an investment in good people can fail if the people around them are rotten. More specifically, those in power. What good is it investing in a country where the government can acquire your property if, one day, they decide they don't like you?

Furthermore, an investor cannot always vet the people behind every investment he makes. He has to rely on averages, and more importantly, reliable systems to keep people honest. Remember, he's an investor, not a manager.

Finally, there's the relationship between risk and return. Theoretically, the market rewards taking on higher risk with higher returns, but my feeling is that expected returns don't often justify the risk. Investors sit behind desks. They aren't on the ground in the countries they invest in. And when you get a closer view of what is going on, doubts surface more readily.

These are the sorts of problems I find myself considering when I look at the world through the lense of an investor. Recently, while I was daydreaming, I ran through the countries I have some familiarily with, and asked myself the question, "would I invest?" Here are the results. This is more art than science. I haven't looked at the data - only the people and their social systems.

I've ranked them into five groups: no thanks, probably not, maybe, probably, and definitely. A brief description of each is given below.


These countries fail on grounds of corruption, incompetence, or insecure property rights.

  • The Philippines
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Morocco
  • Turkey
  • Bolivia
  • Ecuador
  • Panama
  • Nicaragua


The problem with the following countries is not necessarily incompetence. It's usually either a lackluster market or uncertainty around property rights. Or just too much damn paperwork. 

  • Portugal
  • Malaysia
  • Japan
  • Croatia
  • Thailand
  • Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Peru
  • Indonesia
  • Russia
  • Sri Lanka


This is the point where risk reaches a level I'd be willing to adopt, depending on the return. With some proper research, I think I could find some opportunities in these countries.

  • Costa Rica
  • France
  • Spain
  • China
  • India
  • USA
  • UAE


I'd invest in these countries after some basic vetting.

  • Canada
  • South Korea
  • Austria
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom


Yes, please take my money.

  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Australia

Please remember, this is based on my experiences with people and cultures as I travel around the world. There is no data here. It is simply food for thought. You should only invest in what you understand.

Global Investment

About Roger Keays

Global Investment

Roger Keays is an artist, an engineer, and a student of life. He has no fixed address and has left footprints on 40-something different countries around the world. Roger is addicted to surfing. His other interests are music, psychology, languages, the proper use of semicolons, and finding good food.

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Comment posted by: Wallace, 7 years ago

Interesting that you put China and India above Malaysia, Italy and Croatia. I personally would put them the other way around. Looked into property in Croatia about 4 years ago; was a bit dodgy, requiring an agent who takes a significant cut, but may have improved since they joined the EU. Malaysia would be great - solid British legal system and freehold land for all - except for the minimum purchase price imposed on foreigners, which creates a 2 tier market. Italy I haven't looked into but surely it would be very mature and stable?

I would not touch China. Stupidly overpriced, negligible rent returns and you only lease the building. In India I believe there are significant restrictions on foreign ownership.

And you left out New Zealand!

Comment posted by: , 7 years ago

Japan falls under "Lackluster market". This picture explains it best.

Presumably, if I knew more about what was going on in the Japanese economy, I'd be able to find some suitable investments. As it happens, I don't have much incentive to do the research.

I never imagined investing in India until I went there. 1.2 billion people, and probably just as many business plans. They're naturally into trading. The problems I see are more systemic: e.g. corruption, poor infrastructure, and perhaps some of their traditions. But Indians are smart. I think they will solve these problems.

If you look at Singapore or Hong Kong, I think it gives you a pretty good idea of what China could be like. They are actually heading down that path, but I'm uncertain that their communism will adapt to the degree it would need to to accommodate rich and powerful individuals.

Comment posted by: steven, 7 years ago

I assume Japan was too much paperwork? interestingly low. And I was surprised to see India and China so high.