America and the World

As I write this, I am sitting in the lobby on WiFi in the Impiana Casuarina Hotel in Ipoh, Malaysia.  I like to say that Ipoh is a lot like Muncie Indiana.  A small town atmosphere.  Nice people.  But there is one big difference, things in Asia are changing extremely rapidly.

On this trip, I will visit China (Shanghai), Malaysia (Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur), Thailand (Bangkok), Singapore, India (Mumbai) and Switzerland (Zurich).

One of the benefits and challenges of my last 8 years at Finisar was the very extensive travel that was required as we moved from having all of our employees in the USA in the spring of 2000 to just 5 years later having more than 85% of our employees as citizens of countries in Asia.

What is so different today is that each of the Asia countries has more cars, much higher prices, more wealth, more of everything.  And they are just warming up, so to speak.  In Shanghai, we traveled by car as before, but the traffic jams were more snarled and happened at times when before there would have been no problem.

In Malaysia, same story.  But also the places where I used to stay for $24 per night (same place) now cost more than $60.  And while it is true that the US dollar has fallen and that can explain some of the change in prices, it does not explain it all by a long shot.  What is more the explanation is that people here are wealthier and so wages and other expenses are higher.  More people have jobs so to get people to work in the hotel is not so easy.

I will write another post later in the trip.  But I know I will continue to find the same story.

And the reason is that the rest of the world is catching up fast and we are wasting our time fighting unneeded wars and focusing our economy on sub-prime mortgages and ultra risky investments instead of making money and progress the old fashioned way.  Creativity and hard work and patience.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Essays, Investing, Personal Stories

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