Remaining Cautious In International Investments

by David Jenyns on March 28, 2008

Between 1950 and 1959 American investment abroad had increased to 2.5 times its size at the beginning of the period, and increases were pretty well scattered throughout the world. The owners of the $30 billion who invested apparently feel that the investment is sound. In 1959 American investment in Cuba was $955 million —nearly one billion dollars. In December 1958, I had a meeting with the owner of a hotel located in Havana, Cuba. The owner of the hotel stock was in need of funds to enter into some kind of a business deal. Either Castro would be defeated, and he could pay $15,000 and get the stock of his hotel back, or Castro would take his hotel over —which he did—and he would keep the $100,000 while I was left holding the hotel.

Expropriations of foreign properties by local governments are rare, but they have taken place, the most prominent being the Nazi expropriations of all kinds of properties in all conquered European countries and the Mexican expropriation of oil properties. Any time an opposing faction gains strength, particularly a revolutionary, military faction; there is great fear of the loss of international investments. As an investor, you need to be very cautious when entering into the international investment arena.

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