Panama vs. Cuba: Which Is Better for Investors?

"Unlike Cuba, Panama has passed the ball, not dropped it." - Bob Adams, an American businessman in Panama 

While your man Alex Green was in Cuba last week, I was in Panama speaking at an economic conference sponsored by a local bank. What a stark contrast. Cuba has suffered an entire generation under a suppressed Communist dictatorship. 

But Panama tells a different story. When I was there as a young man in the late 1960s, there were no high-rise apartments, skyscrapers, major hotels or megabank buildings. Panama was a lazy, poverty-stricken country known for being a free trade zone (best prices on cameras anywhere) and the American Canal Zone, but that was about it. 

The difference between Cuba and Panama is like night and day. 

Now Panama City looks like Hong Kong and even has a Trump Tower. Some call it the "Singapore of Latin America." Unlike neighboring Venezuela (or Cuba for that matter), Panama has pursued a pro-growth policy of free enterprise, relatively low taxes and sound money. Years ago, it adopted the U.S. dollar as its official currency. Richard Rahn, a Cato expert who spoke at the conference, said it well, "Panama is successful because it has no central bank."

More ships are registered in Panama than any other country, including Hong Kong. It has the second-largest free trade zone in the world (Colón). It has smartly expanded the canal to handle the supertankers. Trade exceeds its GDP!

By:  Mark Skousen

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