Wednesday, January 12, 2005

When the tide has subsided.

Billions of dollars has been pledged and collected for the victims of tsunami from around the world. The small fraction that will eventually reach those people to rebuild their lives would be used to buy basic necessities: food, shelter and clothing. Then whatever is left over would be used to provide for care, education and infrastructure of those communities. They will need boats for fishing, seeds and fertilizers for their gardens and rice fields and whatever else necessary to earn a living. Donated money and clothing will eventually run out.
Remember Afghanistan, Bam earthquake and recent Darfur tragedy? We almost forget about them already. What about Ethiopia? What Ethiopia you might ask. 20 years on, the people are still as vulnerable as they were back then.

Those badly affected countries need massive investment; they need new roads and bridges, housing, and income generating businesses. Property prices will arguably be cheaper compared to other places that are unaffected by natural disaster. There are also signs that the political situations are on the mend, the first cardinal rule in investing; country risk. Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers set aside their differences and stop shooting each other for the time being, no fresh killings in Southern Thailand and Indonesian government lifted sanctions on journalists visiting Acheh.

Eventually, those people in the disaster area need jobs, and jobs don’t come by without investment. If you have a spare million or two, or even less, you could probably buy a beachfront property in Galle, Phuket or Banda Acheh at a fraction of the price a month ago to develop into tourist resort, factories or houses for tourist and locals to rent. I can also predict that cement and building materials will be in short supply for months to come. If you are in building business, this is probably the best time for you to scout for new opportunities. Some of those billions that have been pledged would be used to build new infrastructure. Predictably the economic growth in Sri Lanka and Indonesia would be high for the medium term. New debt moratorium is in place, which makes capital cheaper and stokes economic growth. Ceteris paribus.

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