Retirement Plan Blog

Your retirement plan is essential for happiness and success. It is also necessary to be flexible and to keep up to date.You will be affected by politics, economics, climate and a host of social parameters. It is vital to stay in touch and to be able to adapt effectively and quickly.

A Tight Ship

There have been some recent changes to this site. You can now feel safer using the site in its new format. The changes made are recommended by Google and may well become compulsory for all sites in the future. This change is good for all who use the internet.

The first and most obvious change is in the URL (Universal Resource Locator) for the site. This is what appears in the “location” rubric towards the top of your browser. It is now shown as: "" and not: "" as previously. The addition of the “s” in the “https” prefix has taken a great deal of effort to put into effect. (In the published paragraph it seems impossible to eliminate the "s" from the "http" in the second URL.)

The second change, which also shows in the above mentioned rubric, is a small image of a locked padlock which is a green icon in most popular browsers. It is to the left of the URL, although it can be in other positions. In the Firefox and Chrome and Chromium browsers the icon is green. It shows as a black and white image in the Microsoft Edge (Internet Explorer) and Safari browsers.

Clicking on the padlock image will bring up a dialogue box confirming that you have a secure connection. This means that any information that you enter into the web site is encrypted. You can, therefore, safely enter such details as are necessary to obtain information and services via this web site. Thus your name, e-mail address and other details cannot easily be stolen or corruptly obtained by anyone other than those to whom you wish to present this information.

Following additional links via the padlock image more details of this site’s security can be viewed. Ultimately, of course, your confidence in the safety of the site depends upon your trust in the authority issuing the information. Any certificates should be issued to the web site in particular and not to any “general address” or purported site or site owner other than those suggested by the URL and the web site itself.

We hope that you can now feel happy that we have done all that is possible to ensure your safety and security in using this web site. Please enjoy the information and services provided here and we hope that you will return often.

Ecuadorian Update

The ramifications of the new immigration laws introduced earlier this year are now becoming clearer. Changes affecting health insurance have been confirmed with respect to existing residents, those with applications in progress and new applicants who have just started or are about to begin the process to obtain residency. There is a period of grace before proof of insurance will have to be provided. Tourists are also affected although the new regulations are not yet being enforced at borders. It would not be wise to depend on delayed application of the new rules. The law has been passed and enacted and can be applied at any time.

All of the above residents and applicants must have health insurance covering them in Ecuador. They have until early November 2017 (90 days from August 3rd 2017) to provide proof of insurance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Cover may be provided by the public insurer, IESS – The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social) – or by a private company.

It can also be confirmed that all tourist must have travel insurance that covers them in Ecuador. This requirement, although now applicable, will not be enforced at the point of entry until early March 2018. It is of course sensible to have travel insurance at all times.

The source for this information is the blog “Gringos” maintained by Bryan and Dena Haines. Information in this blog is comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate and always well presented. Local details with respect to appropriate lawyers and insurance companies are provided in the blog and the relationship, if any, between the authors and the firms mentioned or quoted is made clear.

Clearly this requirement may affect “Golden Rule” (never make irrevocable decisions about moving to a new country without making at least a couple of trips to the place) visits to Ecuador for some travelers. However, as stated above having valid travel insurance is a prudent measure at all times.

Applicants for permanent residency status may also have to review their decisions depending upon the reasons for wanting residential status. If the object is to establish an emergency “bolt hole” then this new health insurance requirement adds to the reasons that make Ecuador unsuitable. The travel restrictions at various periods during the establishment of permanent residency are the major reasons why Ecuador is not useful as a quick “go to and leave at will” haven.

Retirees wanting long term (permanent) residency in a financially and economically stable developing country of delightful people, which offers coastal and inland possibilities, a variety of climate choices owing to sea level or mountain locations even though the Equator crosses the country and first class world wide communications both electronic and physical need not look beyond Ecuador. As always it is necessary to make sound and flexible financial arrangements and to stay in touch with current affairs.

Advertising : This Site and You

The object of this site is to provide information not to sell things. It would be good and helpful if the expenses of the site were paid from site earnings. Successful advertising is a simple way to do this. Advertising should never dominate the site or be over-powering for the visitor. To make it least intrusive all of the advertising in the main, central column, on this site is contextual advertising. This Makes it relevant to the subject of the page perhaps even helpful to visitors.

Achieving understated advertising is not easy. It contradicts the usual practice of advertising and is contrary to the interests of those whose goods and services are being promoted. The principals whose goods are advertised are less interested in the convenience and comfort of those exposed to their promotions than they are in increased sales. This is true even if the advertising costs them little or nothing.

This attitude by principals makes life difficult for web sites like this one. A click on an advertisement takes a visitor to the principal’s web page. If a sale is made the web site on which the advertisement appears earns a small commission. A lack of sales will often result in the principal withdrawing permission from the advertiser to place such advertisements. This means that pages have to be reconstructed to remove advertisements. Failure to do so simply means that a click on an “advertisement” by a visitor leads the latter to nowhere. This is irritating and annoying for visitors.

This site and all other content sites want to provide information relevant to the subject of interest. Web sites may present broad subjects or serve narrower, niche interests. Both kinds of sites may well present information to satisfy most visitors. Thus a site about “railways of the world” could include pages relevant only to steam engines. A site dealing with “steam engines”, specifically, may also refer to railway systems throughout the world. Usually sites make it easy for visitors to go to pages that suit their particular interest. The point is that visitors’ requirements should be paramount.

This site felt that it might not always be convenient for visitors, should they wish to purchase items via site advertisements, to have to use United States Dollars. Two pages were put up, “Buy British” and “Buy Canadian”, so that visitors from those countries could be taken from advertisements to principals’ sites in their own countries and be able to pay in their own currencies. This required affiliation with the principals in those countries. A lack of sales from the advertisements will mean that these pages will be taken down. The contextual advertising leading to the principal’s US site may also disappear. The sale of books does not seem to count as “sales from advertising”.

From a principal’s viewpoint, as a visitor, you are a sales opportunity not someone whose interests should be otherwise satisfied. This site thought that you should know this. Begging for clicks is not the objective here.

Relaxed but Poised - Part IV (Final)

In the “Taking a Liberty” post the difficulties of forecasting events was highlighted. All pundits had access to sophisticated statistical methods and had, historically, records of accuracy in predicting results. Almost none of them got things right. How, then, can an individual expect to make good assessments for personal physical and financial safety and security?

In Part I it was established that banks are necessary evils. Knowing this affords some protection. An offshore bank account is still a useful defense against creditors. More importantly privacy has disappeared. A bank will disclose your affairs to any organization or government to enable it to do business in any market which interests it. Most banks will re-lend or invest deposits without permission for their own benefit. Depositors pay for any losses incurred via reduced access to and/or by outright savings confiscation. Deposits should be the minimum necessary, for short periods and spread across many banks.

There are banks which simply hold funds in the deposited currency. The only risk is in the “value-security” of the currency chosen. Such banks raise charges but these could be less than the “haircut” administered owing to losses due to a bank’s incompetent investment of deposits.

Holdings of precious metals are only as safe as the place where they are stored. There are reputedly safe repositories although you may prefer to keep your stock more closely accessible.

The failure to mention the cryptocurrencies with respect to financial safety and security has been criticized. This site is intended for retirees. Many are not familiar with systems such as Bitcoin, the best known cryptocurrency. Such currencies are highly speculative with large value swings over short periods. Privacy and low costs are major benefits. General acceptance for “ordinary” transactions may improve as the understanding of cryptocurrencies increases. Until then any apparent advantages should be used with extreme care.

In short, know your enemy. To paraphrase a well know warning, “if something seems risky it probably is”. Find another way.

Physical safety depends upon the ability to move swiftly prior to an impending disaster. Dangers may be political or economic. Be prepared to be proactive in facing apparent difficulties. Should the anticipated problem not develop recovery elsewhere is easier if you and the family are safe and finances are secure.

Speed of movement depends upon citizenship and residential rights. A minimum “set” of mobility “tools” is two passports and two other permanent residencies, the latter coupled with unlimited re-entry rights.

Parts II and III provided details about the acquisition of passports and this site also gives information on permanent residency conditions and applications for a number of countries. Exercise care when applying for citizenship and/or residency. It is easy to be misled down illegal and expensive paths. Not all residencies are appropriate depending on the movement restrictions that may be imposed.

Your well-being depends upon you. Seek help and assistance from those with experience. Ultimately it is your judgement that will prevail and determine your course of action. Forewarned is forearmed.

Relaxed but Poised – Part III

After Part II it could justifiably be asked - “If a passport is so valueless a document why would a second one be any more useful?” Flexibility is the answer. To leave permanently a country whose passport is held a second passport is needed. Financial and physical safety and security are reasons for needing to leave a country.

A second passport can be acquired by ancestry, as the result of permanent residency, by purchase or, less likely, via political asylum or recognition as refugee. The first option is the best but will not be open to all. The second depends upon successfully acquiring permanent residency, somewhere. Not all countries permit residents to become citizens. Care must be taken in assessing “economic citizenship” schemes. There are many scams concerning the “sale” of passports but some arrangements are legitimate. As examples the Commonwealth of Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis are two countries offering legitimate “economic citizenship”.

Permanent residency is a civil status freely offered by many countries to retirees. None of the words in this last sentence can be taken at face value. Permanent residency is rarely “permanent” and conditions are often attached. The status is not offered but comes via a detailed, often complex, application. An application is usually expensive and fees are not refundable if the application fails or if the status is subsequently withdrawn or voluntarily forsaken. “Many” countries do not permit such applications. It is often not necessary to be an “age defined retiree”. Application fees may be lower for older applicants.

The country to which one applies depends upon the reason for the residency. For “bolt hole” purposes residency must be available rapidly. In some places temporary residency confers for all practical purposes the rights of permanency and is quickly granted.

Financial security demands that the new country must have an international banking system. This cannot now mean that financial institutions will not report to governments, most will and do. Other governments and their financial institutions must not be constrained by the new residency. Some countries have a prohibition on transacting with those with U.S.A. attachments. Many Arab and Muslim countries will not deal with Israel and vice versa.

For flexibility there must be no restriction on physical movement to and from the new country. This may rule out some places. Ecuador restricts new residents to three months’ absence for each of the first two years of temporary residency, to six months for the next two years of permanent residency after which an absence of up to five years is permissible. Uruguay prefers that at least half of the period of application processing is spent in the country. The U.S.A. cancels residency for those who are absent for more than twelve months without prior permission. Other countries allow multiple re-entries and no absence restrictions provided financial commitments are maintained.

The priority must be the reason for which residency is being sought. Side benefits such as are offered by Panama should not cloud the real personal issue.

Relaxed but Poised – Part II

It is too late when the trooper carrying an automatic weapon appears on the promenade behind your beach lounger. You have just not been paying enough attention to current affairs. Just because you have no voting rights does not mean that you should ignore local politics. So far as safety is concerned two things need to be considered separately, citizenship and residency.

Almost everybody is able to obtain one passport. It may be as a result of the accident of birth or because of a successful application for political asylum or of having refugee status approved and resettlement granted. A passport is a document evidencing identity and citizenship. There is no obligation on an issuing authority, usually a government, to grant a passport to any applicant. If issued the passport remains the property of the government and it can be cancelled at any time. The holder of a passport usually has the “right” to enter, leave, reside in and work in the country of citizenship. These “rights” may be varied at any time. No government is obliged to accept the veracity of a passport so far as an individual or a group is concerned.

The document, the passport, often states that the holder enjoys the protection of the issuing authority. This should not be taken too seriously. When visiting a country other than that of citizenship “protection” means that the holder can be sent back to the country of citizenship at the holder’s expense. No reason nor explanation need be given for such action.

If, when visiting a foreign country, a person is detained or imprisoned the most that can be expected of the detainee’s country of citizenship is that a request may be made that detention is under no worse circumstances or conditions than a citizen of the detaining country may expect to be held. A detainee can have no expectation of receiving funds by way of a grant or loan from the country of citizenship nor will there be any interference in the legal system of the detaining country. If the country of citizenship has no diplomatic representation in a detaining country then a third country which is so represented may be given instructions with respect to the limits of the help that may be offered by the detainee’s own country. If it seems that the future of a detained person may seem bleak that is simply because it is.

There may be and are all sorts of declarations of the rights of individuals by any number of august international bodies but there is no acknowledged or accepted capability of enforcement of such rights. The possession of a legally issued passport is essential for travel between countries but it confers few enforceable rights on the holder.

It is possible to hold more than one passport. How this is possible and what advantages this has will be considered in Part III of this series of posts and also, for retirees, the question of residency as distinct from citizenship.

Relaxed but Poised – Part I

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Who said it? Who cares? It is a necessary but no longer a sufficient condition for safety. For retirees time is short and recovery opportunities limited. Security both physically and financially requires preparation and the ability to act. Financial arrangements can become unsafe. Physical conditions can deteriorate rapidly. Careful monetary and residential planning and constant attention to detail are essential to avoid disasters.

An offshore bank account, once, put a physical and jurisdictional barrier in the path of any creditor. This is no longer enough for immediate and long term safety. The protection afforded by banks has diminished as the confidentiality of clients’ affairs has eroded. Anonymous or “numbered” accounts are now relics of the past. Banks and their managers as a “friends of the family” in stable relationships over decades have disappeared.

Banks now intrude into the affairs of their clients under a “know your client” policy. Customers must adopt the policy of “know your enemy”. Banks operate, as they must legally, for the benefit of shareholders. All services offered have only this in mind.

Banks must now report to Governments details of clients’ accounts. Countries compel banks to report by imposing penalties for reporting failures on dealings in their financial markets. The ubiquitous “FATCA”, the U.S.A. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is notorious. This legislation has caused banks to close the accounts of anyone with an American connection and to refuse such a person account opening facilities. Many countries have followed the American example hoping to recover taxes.

Banks are not just money holders. They lend depositors’ funds without permission. Enough money is kept on hand to deal with daily transactional needs. Not all investments are profitable. If things go badly the daily drawings of clients are restricted and ultimately depositors' funds are confiscated to balance the books. This “lending process” is called “fractional reserve banking”. Just as central banks create money for governments so main street banks do the same for their customers. Debt is the agency of fiat money creation. Banks add to the national money supply often to no good economic purpose. It is the customer that faces a “haircut” if things go ill as was the case in 2008.

Risk spreading is one defense. Hold cash, including fiat money, precious metals (gold/silver), buy property, acquire a few blue chip shares, deposit in a number of banks, use at least one bank practicing a 100% reserve policy – i.e. it does not lend your money. Such a bank will raise charges but these could be less than any loss if a “friendly financier” becomes “Figaro from Seville”. Ask Greeks, Cypriots, Irishmen and Zimbabweans, a few who have suffered recently. Keep money assets in a range of “stable” currencies.

The tap on a computer keyboard should create or reverse a fund transfer. Keep computer batteries charged and VPNs updated. Scan the headlines of at least two international newspapers daily.

Know your enemy, be vigilant, be prepared. Part II follows.

Taking a Liberty

Recent elections in Australia, United States of America, France and the United Kingdom have proved that, politically, nothing can be taken for granted. The best predictions have been bad in all cases. Seasoned observers and previously accurate complex mathematical formulae have proved that predictions once thought to be reliable can be totally wrong on the day.

Australians expected a right-centre government with a good working parliamentary majority and at least a compliant upper house. Instead the government is one seat away from a hung parliament in the lower house and in the Senate commanding a consensus is like sweeping fog into a corner on a windy day.

Americans were led to believe that they could expect the “ho hum” of their special kind of two party politics in a continuation of the system designed to do very little at enormous expense and at which it spectacularly succeeds. What they have is a non-professional behaving grossly unprofessionally. Succeeding in business it is often a matter of doing and saying whatever is necessary. Lies, sailing close to the wind, sleight of hand and sometimes outright dishonesty are needed to achieve objectives. Competitors play by the same rules. In the civil service totally honest people are not in the minority. Honourable employees totally bemuse and confound the “quick or the dead” businessman who has amassed no such currency.

None of the major French political parties managed to get a presidential candidate to contest the final run-off for the presidency. The hard right wing candidate did not quite have the legs on her campaign to win. As the Americans have learned the new president is no pushover and does not succumb to bullying.

The politics of expediency led the British Prime Minister to seek to convert a comfortable position into a landslide victory to ensure a hold on power for a decade. Success looked to be assured. Unfortunately the Conservative party believed its own rhetoric and sold it to a largely supportive media. In common with the Australian government the British leader has found that governing for the benefit of the “well-off” while offering the majority grinding austerity simply does not work. The voters thought this way also and now no party has a majority in parliament and the Prime Minister will be lucky to see out this year in power much less the next ten.

So how can ordinary people, especially retirees, protect their own interests when those in charge with all the accoutrements of power get things for themselves so horribly and disastrously wrong? More is needed than financial care and acumen and certainly much more than simply keeping abreast of current affairs. There has to be the ability to react and to act with speed, certainty and legality. Some ideas and suggestions will appear in the next post on this site.

Ecuadorian Confirmation

It can now be confirmed that Mr Lenin Moreno defeated Mr Guillermo Lasso in the run-off election for the Presidency of Ecuador. Mr Moreno won with 51.16% of the votes. He was the vice-president in the out-going Presidency of Mr Correa, the latter being ineligible for re-election.

It is likely that the basic policies of the previous administration will not change greatly as was certain to be the case had Mr Lasso been successful. However, every new leader anywhere will want to put his own stamp on the country.

New laws with respect to entry to Ecuador were published prior to the election. Administrative regulations have not yet appeared.

There is continued easy access for tourists and other non-immigrant visitors. Provision is also still made for immigrant visitors to acquire residency. It does seem that some new procedures will be established. There will be a temporary residency which must be held for 21 months prior to application for permanent residency. There are more stringent restrictions with respect to absence from Ecuador during the temporary residency and early permanent residency. It seems also that there have been changes with respect to health insurance.

Until matters of practice become established it may be advisable for prospective retirees, for whom a particular immigrant visa is available, to check with local lawyers and/or the Ecuadorian Embassies in home countries. Some details may no longer suit all applicants and a re-assessment of plans may be necessary.

This site has provided links to information posted since the new laws have been promulgated on its "ECUADOR VISA FOR RETIREMENT" page. The information is in varying degrees of detail and most is not from official government sources. Those seeking details should beware of sites basing comments on conditions which were current prior to February 2017.

Nothing is a continuing or cast iron certainty so far as governments are concerned. Prospective retirees must keep in touch with changes to ensure that their financial security and personal needs can be satisfied on an on-going basis with adequate flexibility to take account of possible future changes.

Prudence, Protection and Preservation

The previous two blog posts described the risks to your wealth and from where it comes. This post reviews earlier strategies, which although no longer fully effective are still useful, more precisely identifies potential attacks and suggests alternative protective possibilities.

A few years ago it was necessary only to open an offshore bank account to achieve satisfactory capital security. An account with a bank in a jurisdiction other than that of normal residence or citizenship would usually put physical distance between funds and creditors. It would also establish legal barriers to the access of account details and to the funds. Accounts could be anonymous or numbered accounts making identification of ownership difficult. More complex financial structures, limited liability companies (shelf companies) and trusts, could be established with less than obvious beneficiaries. This has changed in the past few years.

Governments often assume that those with offshore bank accounts are, prima facie, tax evaders. Laws have been passed by many countries requiring overseas banks to report the holdings of their nationals and residents. The U.S.A leads in this kind of legislation with its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Many countries are following this example. Banks are compelled to report on customers owing to draconian penalties imposed in the event of their failure to comply upon remittances made via the regulating country. So far as the U.S.A. is concerned the reporting requirements are extremely onerous. Banks now prefer not to have as customers anyone with connections to America. Accounts have been closed and new applications are denied. The law also applies to other financial institutions such as stock brokers.

It is almost impossible for American citizens and residents to open or maintain offshore accounts. However, as Rothschild suggested banks will not be cowed by governments. Some banks are opening new entities which do not do business in or with the U.S.A. They are not threatened by the penalties and can entertain accounts for those on whom they might otherwise be forced to report. Those requiring offshore facilities have simply been driven deeper underground. The government is frustrated and banks lose very little, if any, business.

Banks are still the principle enemy of wealth preservation. There is hope. Developing now are facilities which bypass banks for transfers and most other transactions. Crypto-currencies, of which there are now many, are increasingly accepted by businesses and can be dealt with via the internet directly between customers and enterprises. The best known such “currency” is “Bitcoin”. It has gained wide acceptance for transfers domestically and internationally. Neither bank nor government intervention is necessary.

Funds should be spread over a number of countries and banks practicing “fractional reserve banking”. Banks which do not lend depositors’ funds are safer but there are charges and always risks so far as any particular currency is concerned.

So, there are available anonymous facilities if needed. Banks should be used if and when necessary. It is important to stay in touch financially and politically. This website discusses all of these matters.

You can buy books by Les on specific countries for Kindle or for other readers at the retailers mentioned below.

You can also buy a Kindle device from Amazon for reading the e-books that you purchase.

Just click below where appropriate.


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