“ Why Do USA Persons Not Consider The Creation of Family Wealth?”
As I sit here, I consider lands that have been developed for hundreds of years, usually by the members of one family. Businesses that have been and are being conducted by members of a family that may have been in this business for generations – and proudly so. I wonder about USA persons and their failure to comprehend that, in the final analysis – family is what continues. And family should be protected from (to as great an extent as possible) the vagaries of fate.
Don’t misunderstand me, please. USA persons do want their families “taken care of” …but, usually, this involves the fantasy of huge amounts of money and no work; a leisure class, pseudo-aristocracy sort of vision. Not a continuing family business, vineyard, hotel, et alia. A more boring existence I cannot envision. The sort of wasted life, failure to develop and use talents sort of …drudgery, not a vision I would wish on an enemy. To be reduced to looking for something to break the boredom. Please, gift me with no such life. But, when you speak to USA persons…this is what they envision for their heirs. The pursuit of that most shallow of things – “Fun”, entertainment.
>From these experiences with USA persons I began to examine the current state of “The American Dream”. It isn’t what it once was – believe me, it is unrecognizable.
Once this dream was to be free and with the liberty to pursue any occupation or trade you could educate yourself to; to be self-supporting and dependent upon no one else. To generate an economic and social good/service needed and desired by others at a reasonable profit to yourself and pay a reasonable wage to your employees. Even to consider the welfare of your employees as this affected their usefulness to you and to the economy and the country itself. You’ve heard of it – capitalism. Of even greater import was the concern of having your children follow you in the business or profession. This was part and parcel of the “American Dream”. No more!
Now this “dream” has become a nightmare. Instead of investing and growing the family-fortune one consumes it with spending and get-rich-quick-schemes (forgive me, I consider mutual funds in this category – recent history bears me out, eh?). No thought is given to the creation of a family holding and future – only the immediate, short term “profits” that may be expended to prove ones monetary, and therefore social, worth.
Somewhere, somehow USA became convinced that only by spending could the individual prove their worth and position. While some merchants may adore and whole-heartedly endorse this I cannot and you should not. This is called consumerism – as opposed to capitalism. Consumerism leads to bankruptcy, as many have found out, and the absence of any meaningful inheritance for your heirs. The Family starts over, each generation.
Even when these persons do plan and acquire assets for their families it is not so that their family members may run the company or continue to amass the fortune. It is so that their heirs will not have to work…at anything. Hmmm. Ah well, there is the current “American Dream”.
However, is this what must be? No! Emphatically no! To overcome this it will be necessary to re-envision the dream. I commend to your attention the fashion of education used in certain European counties. That being the absolute knowledge and requirement that each person will have to work and produce something of value to the society.
In Switzerland and several other European States this is considered the norm and to ignore this in the education of the young would be a disservice. In USA it is not even considered until the child is in “high school”. Too late, imo.
But, education aside – what of the investments made by USA persons? Do they have lasting value? Few, if any do. They are, like the rest of USA economy, transient, temporary vehicles and not meant to be held for any length of time – tax considerations are the primary concern.
In USA houses and apartment buildings are not designed for permanency – only a few decades, at most, as this is the length of time before they will be demolished and something else erected on the site.
Compare this to the German standard: The base line duration that is to be built in to a house or apartment building is two hundred plus years. This is the sort of building in which one may invest. Is it much more expensive? No. Does such a consideration reduce maintenance and up-keep costs? Yes. But, – big but here – but, the depreciation standards and other tax considerations are vastly different in Europe than in USA.
Even setting aside USA investments and considering only European or 3rd World possibilities. USA persons only consider building or buying single-family dwellings. The uses of multi-family and renting to other Euro-USA persons doesn’t seem to occur to them. A friend of mine bought an apartment building in Turkey and uses the top-floor for himself and rents (to Europeans and USA persons) the remaining apartments. Did he have to make improvements? Yes, of course. Euro-USA standards are more demanding than Turkish. But, the profits are “improved” as well. By the way, did I mention that the rents are payable in Euro/USA currencies and those to be made to a Swiss corporation?
Could one build a low-rise mixed use facility in the 3rd world and do well? Yes. Especially if one builds using technologies that are earthquake and hurricane resistant (nothing is ‘proof’ against these). Are these technologies affordable? Yes, cheaper than “stick” construction and faster as well. Can 3rd world construction crews use the tools? Yes. In fact they may find it so easy that you will have to start a construction company to provide others with these structures. Ah, a business and a source of family wealth…in another country? Hmmmm, perhaps you’ll be advertising with EFAM before long - interesting, eh?
I may well be adding an article or two on just these techniques in the coming months – if there is interest. Let me know if you would like to see such, hmmm? They, the techniques, are so simple anyone may utilize them.
Remember, build a base of for family wealth where you are – wherever that may be. Never restrict yourself and your fortune to one country or even one continent. Always have places to go if the situation becomes unpleasant. Not just a place – places. This is why apartment buildings are so nice. Keep the “penthouse” for yourself – if needed or desired. After all you are going to build in a beautiful and desirable location for an expat…are you not?
Ah, I hear you out there: “Some countries do not permit non-citizens to own property in certain locales or even in the country at all.” You are quite correct. However, no country, to my knowledge, that permits foreign investment, forbids long-term leases. How long the term is a matter of local law and local counsel should be sought.
Some counties will permit 999 year leases – close enough to “in fee simple absolute” to suit me. I may be long-lived…but, eh? My family can always re-negotiate in 500-600 years, hmmm?
Corporations and nominees are other methods of dealing with the technicalities of ownership and control of real property. Local counsel, local counsel. Remember, these entities of use can have bank accounts, in fact, for business reasons, must have them. However, they aren’t yours – are they? Ah, the joys of trans-national business and freedom.
Don’t forget the niche’ markets of the USA and how the 3rd world and Europe can answer their needs and you can make a business.
One concern that European and 3rd world business people have in common that USA business persons do not is that of relationship(s). These are built over time and mutual experience(s) of each the other. Most of business in the world is based upon this – relationships. Not, of course, the major businesses but the small and medium businesses.
A small glass manufactory in Florence, or the Slavic Republic, if you are un-known to them and to anyone whom they know…. Ah, there may be concerns and considerations that, after a time will not be a problem. Billing, credit, shipping and even doing business at all – if the factory is at capacity.
Develop relationships and visit, talk, dine …how is it said? “Shmooz”? Get acquainted with the people and show appreciation for the products – honest appreciation. Recall, these people have , probably, been in these businesses for generations. And, they wonder if you will be in this business next week!
Through out the world USA persons are not considered “stable” in business. A few years and they are in some other, retired, gone. No relationship is possible in the European, 3rd world sense. But, this does not have to be the case – for you. You must only decide.
I give you another example: What businesses can you envision in Siberia or in Russia? Perhaps you know about the beauties of Ivory? Ah, but it is a product on the list of endangered species, is it not? No. Not the ivory from Siberia. It is from Woolly Mammoths and they aren’t endangered – they are extinct. So, objects of this ivory can be imported. Do you know of the writing (those in ignorance of them call it painting) of Icons? How about the nature of and the beauty of Russian paper mache’ and the egg-tempera paintings done on these objects? Hmmm.
What of Indian wootz steel? The knives and swords that can be made from it – such beauty. There are those who appreciate this steel and will pay well for it, if available.
Hmmm, there are boxes that have hidden drawers and compartments that would baffle any opener…and they are of exquisite beauty. Businesses abound, if one can and will see them – and investigate them.
In India there are some of the finest gold and silver smiths the world has ever seen. Does the West get a chance to see and enjoy their art? No. Because no one has seen fit to make it available and let it be known and appreciated. Lack of business opportunities? Bah! Lack of desire to engage in business.
More to the point, lack of vision as to how to have businesses in other countries and how not to let them become the end all and be all of your life.
There was once a man named Spinoza, who has become a “great philosopher” in history’s eyes. At the time of his existence he was a lens grinder. It was his contention that one should learn to make ones living with ones left foot. I take this to mean with as little effort as possible and with as great a return ,in satisfaction and in remuneration, as possible. So, if I am going to travel, expat or otherwise, I will be aware of and for business and real property opportunities. My family and my concern for them require it of me. How about you? Will you become a person who is independent of any countries foolishness …or remain one who has fallen into the “have-a-heart-trap” of USA consumerism and the re-invention, every generation, of the family modus vivendi?
Until I return , I remain : Your Swiss Uncle At Large, Timmie Rudizuli