Sunday, September 02, 2007

Panama City

Just got back from four days in Sao Paulo. I still need to finish my trip back up to the US in August, but I will have thoughts on Sao Paulo soon- hint: it was very different from my first impression when I came with the World Bank in summer 2005.
The canal is cool to see, but oh so slow. It takes more than an hour for one boat to come through. This is after the water level where the boat is in the video had been lowered.The presidents of Panama and El Salvador were visiting the canal that day with their security entourages. This while a major labor protest from all the construction workers was going on in the center of the city.

In front of a Panamax boat, the largest size that can fit in the Panama canal (and built as such). After the expansion of the canal (to add a third set of locks), the canal will allow much larger boats, helping shipping meet more economies of scale, which have played a huge role in expanding international trade already.

Panama is having explosive growth, perhaps too much so. Expect an oversupply of residential condos in a few years, though there's no denying the appeal of the area given the familiarly (has the dollar, US friendly) and the great tax breaks Panama is offering to get foreigners to move there. Combine that with the new business from the expansion of the canal, and you have a booming place. Of course, I ended up sharing a taxi with a residential developer that moved from, of all places, Florida. The real estate speculators that chase booms don't go away, they just move on sometimes. At least he is actually retiring here.

A red-devil, the famously colorful and dangerous driving public buses in Panama. I wish I had gotten a better picture.


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