Why Panama Is Still the Best for Offshore Banking for US Citizens
Why Invest Offshore
U.S. citizens have always been a little shy about offshore banking, unless they’re in that upper income bracket, moving millions and even billions of dollars around, tucking them away in stable banks and tax shelter havens. Middle class America, with modest portfolios, are more hesitant, and prefer to keep their assets with a local bank, close to home, where they can keep an eye on things.
While the caution is understood, in recent years, many frustrated middle class investors and homeowners have noticed their carefully cultivated portfolios aren’t growing; or worse, are even shrinking.
Traditional Offshore Banking
The first offshore jurisdiction to come to the average person’s mind, is Switzerland. The Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), located in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland, however, was among the European banks to suffer some of the largest losses during the subprime mortgage crisis, necessitating the general stable banking institution to generate large amounts of capital from outside sources.
Criticizing the enormous world bank’s policy of privacy to its investors, the U.S. government has pressured Switzerland into more information sharing among U.S. account holders, for the purposes of detecting tax evasion. The complaint, which was joined by several countries in the European Union, resulted in more stringent laws concerning U.S. and European deposits. Although Switzerland has agreed to more effective tax cooperation, opening an account in Switzerland can be difficult and expensive.
The power of the Euro faces as much uncertainty as the American dollar, with as many weaknesses in the banking structure. Investment in cargo ships has sent many of the banks reeling. A cargo ship valued at $150 million in 2009, will not fetch more than $40 million now. With the shipping industry going for bust, European banks are facing a potential loss of $350 billion dollars in loans.
Canadian banks are not much different than American banks. While somewhat more stable, growth rate for your investment is slow, interest rates on loans are high, stocks even higher, and the labor market has stalled.
The Japanese yen has crawled back into recession.
The Significance of the Emerging Nations
The BRIC nations; Russia, India, China, and Brazil, have been under the watchful eye of financial advisors and investors for several years. Leading investment banking institutions, such as Goldman Sachs, estimate that the economies of these four nations will be wealthier than most Western countries within fifty years.
Investing in an overseas bank, however, is a major step. It’s always best to visit the country you wish to invest in, and China, India or Russia seem a little extreme to most modest investors. However, Latin America is right next door.
Many of the Latin American countries have changed their policies to a more open and friendly relationship with U.S. citizens wishing to visit or invest in a little south of the border real estate. These once war-conflicted countries have enjoyed increased stability under democratic governments and responsible fiscal policies stimulating a burst in retail growth.
Although Brazil has dominated the economic market, the united efforts of the Central American countries to maintain favorable investment options, has created a surge in real estate options. High end investors led the charge, with interests in a second or third home on a tropical beach, but Central American investment can be started with as little as $1,000.
Panama and The Highlight of Central America
With so many beautiful countries to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one you want to dedicate to for your offshore investment. They all offer spectacular views, good banking policies and a rich and varied culture. A Panama bank account, however, is one of the most desirable in the world today.
With over 80 international banks, it has been placed among the world’s largest banking sectors. Three of Panama’s banks were featured in the top 1000 world banks for 2012. The leading banks in Panama and their positions are:
- No. 524 Banco General
- No. 663 Banco Latinoamericano de Exportaciones
- No. 789 Banco Nacional de Panama
Living It Up in Panama
Besides an expanded canal that has brought millions of dollars in revenue to the Panama economy and a sophisticated modern city, there are several reasons for its increased popularity. There are no corporate or personal taxes on offshore activity in Panama. You will not be double-taxed on your assets. All income earned outside Panama will not be taxed.
There is no conversion rate to foreign currency, or foreign currency controls. Panama uses the dollar. While Spanish is the primary language, most bank tellers and managers speak English. It offers online banking service, international wire transfer, and check service.
Panama is the top banking center in Central America. Its free market and investment-friendly policies have attracted a wide clientele, from retirees to entrepreneurs, to expats and adventurers.
Panama gives immediate residency to foreigners from 22 countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic and investment relationships with Panama. The United States is listed among these countries. Immediate foreign residents have the right to work in Panama, establish a business and engage in professional and economic activities. After five years of living in Panama, they may apply for full citizenship.
Perhaps one of its greatest advantages is its close proximity to the United States. You do not have to wonder how your offshore assets are doing. You do not have to travel halfway across the world.
If you move to Panama, you do not have to abandon the loved ones you left behind. A short plane trip, a hop on the bus or a drive in the car, and you can visit them, or more likely, they’ll wish to come and visit you!
Panama continues to be the best place to invest in if you’re thinking of an offshore bank. With a stable economy, easy access to your account, as well as a close circumference to the U.S., there simply is no greater advantage than investing in Panama.