Offshore investing – Leveraging overseas trading

In today’s climate of a falling dollar and emerging economies all over the world, offshore investing can be an attractive option. Before looking at investing overseas, however, you should understand your financial goals, the potential pitfalls of overseas investing, and how best to leverage your investments.

First, you have to understand your own financial goals. It can be tricky when you’re ready to divest yourself to pull your money out of a foreign fund; therefore, offshore investing should be done primarily with money earmarked for a long-term goal, such as retirement or college for your infant daughter. Short-term investing should remain domestic, where you can access your money relatively quickly.

Next, you’ll need to determine where you want to get into offshore investing. No matter how tempting the economy, it’s a bad idea to invest in a company in a country that doesn’t like your country of origin. Your funds can be frozen or even seized by a foreign government, winding up with you losing everything. And there’s no way to insure against this.

You should understand the political situation in your chosen country. A country prone to coups is not a good risk; a country that’s held in high esteem by the World Bank is probably a good investment property. No matter how tempting the profits that can be made, you should never invest in a country that violates your country’s laws (for instance, if you’re American, you shouldn’t invest in a country on the American terrorism supporting countries list.) You could find yourself in serious criminal trouble for financing terrorism or some other heinous crime against your own country. And if you invest in a country that subsequently goes to war, suffers a coup, or undergoes some major problem, you could lose everything.

But it’s not just politics that makes offshore investing risky without proper foresight. If the American dollar gets stronger against the country you’ve invested in, your investments will suddenly be worth less. You should look at the country’s economic infrastructure, assure yourself that it’s in pretty good shape, and only then make a decision.

Despite all the pitfalls, there is also some serious money to be made with offshore investing. For instance, because of cheaper labor, an Indian engineer or software designer’s employment costs are about 40% those of an equivalently-skilled American engineer or designer. And companies that run offshore are better suited to take advantage of the rising demands of emerging economies; they’re there, they understand the people, and they are already recognized.

Investing offshore often can make a real impact on the lives of other people. Bringing investment capital to a third-world country gives it a sudden injection of cash, of employment for people who want to work, and of secondary businesses that spring up to supply the offshore business as well as its employees. Sometimes this jumpstart is all an economy needs to start emerging. Not only is investing overseas a great way to grow your money (albeit risky), but when done properly it also benefits people who you will never meet, but who will be grateful to you forever for just giving them a chance.