2024 will be a year full of risk
I’ve been following professor Malinen of the University of Helsinki for a few years, so when I saw he would be in El Salvador at the same time as me, I reached out to him for an interview.
Why? Because his geopolitical takes are typically both contrarian and right. His strike rate has been about 80%.
I asked him for his views on 2024. He elaborated on:
- Risk greater than he would like of war expansion in Europe
- Finland’s strategic mistake of joining NATO
- Escalation in the Middle East
- Potential for a banking crisis
We finished on a positive note when discussing reforms in El Salvador as he had just met one of the ministers.
As for all the controversial topics, you don’t need to agree with his analysis. The key takeaway is that risk is much higher for 2024 than we probably would like to admit to ourselves.
He is a very interesting follow on Twitter / X.
He also has a Substack.
Finally, he runs a Helsinki-based geopolitics and economics research service.
I hope you had a blessed Christmas, and I wish you all the best for 2024.
Tread carefully out there.
To a World of Opportunities,
The Wandering Investor.
If you want to discuss your internationalization and diversification plans, book a consulting session or send me an email.
Transcript of “Geopolitical Risks 2024: War expansion in Europe and ME, Banking crisis”
LADISLAS MAURICE: Hello, everyone. Ladislas Maurice from thewanderinginvestor.com. Today, we’re going to be having a very interesting discussion on geopolitics and risks for 2024 together with Dr. Tuomas Malinen, who is an associate professor at the University of Helsinki, and who is also the co-founder of a Helsinki-based research service on geopolitics and economics. Professor, how are you?
DR. MALINEN: Fine, thank you. You don’t, of course, see it but it’s beautiful weather outside here in beautiful El Salvador. And I’ve been here a week and it’s been a great week.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. I’ve been following Professor Malinen for a few years now on Twitter, I really enjoy following him. And I saw that he was in El Salvador at the same time that I’m here, so I reached out to him and this is how we’re now making this video.
Look, I have been very disturbed by some of your latest thoughts/projections. And why, because, one, they’re quite negative going forward, which I understand, but the extent of the negativity is a little worrying. Why? Because you have been so right. I’ve been following you for a few years and your projections have generally been very accurate and disturbingly so. So when I hear you mentioning that 2024 could prove to be a very bad year for people, I’m listening. I’m not saying that what Professor Malinen is going to expand on is my base case, but I’m certainly listening to him, and I’m taking this into account in my own risk analysis for my portfolio.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. We have actually, at GnS Economics, which is the firm, we currently concentrated on like two paths. First is we analyze the current data and make projections of how the markets are going to go, what’s going to happen with the economy, and then we have the worst case scenario, which we follow also. And quite worryingly, the worst case scenario has kind of been playing forward in the background, which I maybe didn’t even suspect that it would in such accuracy, which it has done or has been going. And this concerns many developments, not just in the economy but, for example, what has and is happening in Ukraine.
Potential expansion of Russia / Ukraine war in 2024
LADISLAS MAURICE: Because I mean, I remember when the war started, you were amongst the first, publicly on Twitter and in your analysis for your members or people who follow you, you were amongst the first to say that Ukraine is going to lose this war and the biggest loser will be Europe.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. There were, like, let’s say, some accounts in Twitter and elsewhere, kind of people with, let’s say, less visible profile who already raised this issue before me. But I was probably, well, if not the first, among the first who really came out from, well, coming from the establishment as I am, and saying that, what if? What if we have gotten the whole thing wrong? When the war started, and of course, as a Finn, there was just an outpour of sympathy towards Ukraine, also on my part, like, on my tweets and all because, first, it looked like, okay, Russia is now trying to invade another country, the same thing it did to Finland in ’39 and then which led to eventually the Continuation War. So we had war pretty much from ’39 to ’44. And we lost 12% of our landmass in that fight.
It started with an outpouring support for Ukraine. But then we published a special report on the war at the end of March in 2020. And our best case scenario was there that truce will be agreed or reached somewhere in May, because Russia has taken what it said it wants to take, the East Crimea, it had a land bridge, and then they will negotiate. There is no point of the war continuing beyond that point when you get, like, when you get to April, you get the mud season in Ukraine, which makes it really difficult to go in these kind of attacks led by battle tanks and all that. And so we, okay, that’s the best case. The worst case was that the war drags on and even spreads.
And then, come end of July, I started to think that something doesn’t add up. So why there was no talk about truce and the Russian progression, all that, there was just something off. It did not follow the logic that these kinds of wars usually do. So I started to ask questions. It was early August, I started to ask questions, what is actually happening in Ukraine? What has happened in Ukraine, and where is it going? And there was, probably one of the biggest turning points was that I was in a conference in early September. I met a person who had a family in Kharkiv. Well, this person lived elsewhere. But I asked, well, is it true what has been told to us by the mainstream media from Kharkiv? Has it really gone like that? And answer was no. I asked, was there such massive Russian losses as we’ve been told? The answer was no.
Russians had left days prior when the Ukrainians come, then what I heard they started shooting in Kharkiv with long-range artillery and inflicted quite heavy damage. And these and a few other blogs I read from, it was actually one blog, it turned out to be there were three former, I forgot the names, they’re former US Marines. And they wrote, first, under a pseudonym, an explanation of the Russian war tactics in Ukraine, which were basically that when they progress, the East was fortified immediately. And the Southeast, they fortified it and then they started to bring Russian infrastructure, bureaucratic control, all that, they started to turn it Russian. So they had it done to the East, but then they just fortified their positions. Nothing this was done in the north. It seemed quite obvious the North was just a bargaining chip and a play to distribute Ukrainian forces all over.
As Russia came in Ukraine, well, they say they had 200,000 troops. Probably, they had far less. The plan never was to invade, it was to get the East. And then I started to think what is the motivation behind it? And it led to several discoveries. But the first one was my question, I think it was published in my newsletter, I think, it was middle of September, where I asked what if we got it wrong on the Russia-Ukrainian war? And, of course, it led to a massive backlash, people calling me all kinds of names. And was, essentially, vile crap, which I have gotten so used to it, so it didn’t bother me much. But still, that I presented a case where Ukrainian losses were considerably higher than Russian and what has been told to us, and that the Russian tactic never was to invade Ukraine. And yeah, all the outcry, especially in Finland.
And in October, I stated that I think that Ukraine has already lost the war, a year ago in October. Similarly, the outcry. But the developments were so clear in Ukraine at that point that I thought that this is a call I need to make, because you see the trajectory, you see where it’s going. And now we are at the stage where I really never wanted to be in my lifetime. I was born in ’76, and we lived right next to Soviet Union, in Finland, of course, for a long time. And I actually visited, my relatives were working at the Finnish embassies in Moscow, and then in St. Petersburg. As a 10-year-old kid, I visited Soviet Union two times. It was rather interesting. I still have very vivid memories of it. But it was a superpower then. And after Soviet Union was dismantled, there was like all the military threat went away.
But now Russia has been fighting NATO-trained troops and NATO gear for year-and-a-half, and they have come really good at it. And I think the Russian military currently is at its best shape since the 1940s. And it is really the second, even if not the first, army in the world right now. It’s in direct competition with the US. And this has been a cataclysmic geopolitical and strategic blunder from NATO and from the Biden administration, a catastrophic mistake to go into this proxy war with Ukraine. And for me, it became clear also that it was a proxy war in about January, when I started really to study the history of NATO and all that. And then I realized that it was probably US that pushed the escalation to a point, in Ukraine, that led to a military response from Russia.
And we can talk about the details shortly but, in January, also one of my American friend who is very far from any kind of conspiracy theorist or anything like that, he said to me that if Mexico would be joining Russia in a military alliance and would be shelling Texas, there would be no Mexico no more. The US would have taken over it, US troops. And when you think about Ukraine, Ukraine is the same to Russia as Mexico is to the United States. And this is a geopolitical game, and yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So where does this take us?
DR. MALINEN: Well, there’s one other thing I need to mention. I, unfortunately, cannot find the piece anymore, but a long-term political correspondent and journalist in the US wrote a piece in May. I don’t remember if it was his personal blog or whatever, I just I read it and basically in it, he stated that the aim of the Russia-Ukrainian war was to dismantle the Eurasian Union that was forming between Europe, China, and Russia. And as we can now see it, if that was the aim, it was a complete success to the US, in that sense, at least.
But where this leaves us is that Europe is weaker than it has been since the 1950s. There is a direct threat of this war continuing to other places from Ukraine, because NATO is about or has already but is not yet publicly acknowledged, NATO leaders are actually smoothing their way into, there is just two weeks ago, Jens Stoltenberg, the General Secretary of NATO, stated that you should not underestimate Russia. And I said, okay. I thought, okay, now they are making the way to publicly admit that they’re defeated by this great army of Russia, which they first thought was rubbish. So this has been a huge blow to the credibility of NATO, or when the losses–
There’s actually two options here now with the Ukraine for NATO. Or, three. Either Ukraine military command or something, they make a truce with Russia, essentially surrender. There is a Western-led truce and peace. Or, then there is a massive escalation on the side of NATO. There’s three options, basically, left, Ukrainian surrender, generally negotiated peace, or an escalation. And people have been asking me that, how do I see this going. And if I try to look to the crystal ball a bit, is Joe Biden is now, he is, first of all, he has become another US president who has lost the war in Ukraine, and the economy is about to tank. And you don’t win elections with those. What do you do when you have such a desperate situation? You start wars. Wars are popular, often at least if you have a good reason to present to the general populace.
It’s my take that it’s really difficult to calculate the likelihoods, but it’s worryingly high that NATO will try to escalate this conflict somehow during this spring. After the summer, it’s too late because you have to concentrate on the US presidential elections. I think it’s either the war in Ukraine or also elsewhere escalates this spring, or then we have about five years of peace, because it’s likely that Donald Trump will be elected, and he will strive for peace everywhere. That’s kind of, well, I don’t know, it’s a worst case scenario, but it’s the way of thinking I have now. And the thing is that people really should understand how chaotic this thing can get all over the world. Just in Ukraine, it’s also Middle East, and the ramifications from there could be utterly devastating to gas markets, oil markets, the global economy.
It’s, basically, I wrote a piece called The Sword of Damocles, which is the sword hanging above the global economy, which was the war in the Middle East. If it becomes a regional war, then we’ll have serious trouble. We would probably see economic destruction of like unseen scale, at least, for several centuries. It will be complete devastation. We can talk about specifics of that also a bit later. But where this all leads us to is a very precarious, very dangerous, fragile situation, which I don’t think investors or people in general are fully acknowledging. This is the most dangerous phase the world has been since, at least, the 1930s. This is a very dangerous situation for Europe and for the world. And if these things getting motion the wrong way, kind of the worst case scenarios are to play out, and you’re not prepared, you will be annihilated completely.
People don’t, for example, understand that if there would be a war in Europe, the laws in place during war are very different than what they are during the peacetime. And yeah, your privileges, your freedoms, many of those things would be taken away and you would not be able, like, this thing we are having now, this discussion, it would not be allowed to go through or be public in any of the outlets controlled by any of the globalist forces or local media or whatever. Censorship would be very heavy. And so it’s a very chaotic scenario, the worst case one, where we could end up to.
LADISLAS MAURICE: But in your mind, the worst case scenario is relatively likely?
DR. MALINEN: It’s much more likely than I would like to have.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Are you acting on it with your own personal portfolio?
DR. MALINEN: Yes, of course.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So, for example, concretely, what are you doing?
DR. MALINEN: Well, I won’t go into specifics, but I’m here in El Salvador, this was not pleasure trip. Also, I had fun, too. This is a business trip. If we have a war in Europe, and it will spread probably the US also then, so you need to look up a place where it’s unlikely to be any part of that war. And Latin America is one of those places.
Outlook for Hungary and Turkey in case of conflict
LADISLAS MAURICE: What about countries that are in NATO but that have been trying hard to distance themselves from NATO policies, such as Hungary, Turkey, where do you see such countries heading in such a scenario?
DR. MALINEN: I think they will resign from NATO. That’s the only reasonable thing to do in that case. I think, Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán has already hinted something like that. I was in Hungary three times in a conference during the past year-and-a-half and talked a lot with academics and all people from business background. And it seems that the cleansing of the military was done to make sure that the leaders of Hungarian military are really loyal to the people and not to NATO. So I think the NATO hawks are all gone. So they have been preparing for the option that something goes horribly wrong with NATO, and there’s a war with Russia, there is absolutely no point of any European country to participate in such an atrocity. There is no point.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah.
DR. MALINEN: Because Russia is not, like, Soviet Union was a formidable force in the sense that it could actually, there was a theoretical possibility that it could run over Western Europe and control it. Russia has no such muscles. That strength it lacks. It has now a very strong military but economically, otherwise, it could not and will not rule. It’s just Russia’s thinking it just wants a kind of line of landmass which is not threatening them. And they treat NATO as a threat. So they want just this landmass, which is not–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Does that landmass include Odessa and Transnistria?
Finland joining NATO as a key source of geopolitical risk
DR. MALINEN: I don’t know. Honestly, we are not geopolitical experts in that sense that we would quote these details. We just analyze the general global geopolitical structures and now concentrating in Europe. But I would say that it would include Finland, for example, too. And Finland and NATO could do much good by joining with Hungary and Turkey of objecting this aggression towards Russia. But it’s Finnish is currently run by Russia-phobic leaders, unfortunately. And if Alexander Stubb wins the elections, then it’s a checkmate, they hold all the key points. I couldn’t believe when I first heard him, but they actually brought a destroyed Russian T-72 battle tank from Ukraine to Helsinki. Really, I had a hard time understanding before I went and saw it myself.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So they just display it?
DR. MALINEN: They display it in one of the squares. And this kind of provocation is just unheard of. If they would have brought a destroyed Leopard tank from Ukraine to Moscow, the amount of outcry in Finland would have been massive, and for a reason. And Finland is currently being controlled by really dangerous people, in a sense that they have this Russia-phobic mentality, which they don’t understand even. They don’t understand what’s Russia about. And so they’re acting on the prime instincts.
And one of the most interesting thing is this, this was said by Douglas Macgregor, I heard his interview. You can look him up if you don’t know who he is, but he’s a former military commander from the US. And he had an interview, I listened to them, I think, yesterday morning or something like that, and he explained how the US is an air and naval force, it’s not a ground force. They don’t have such army anymore. And what Finland has is a ground force, very formidable ground force, modern, well-trained. So NATO, definitely, wanted Finland, if they want to engage a war with Russia, for example. And the actual date of accession of Finland as a full member of NATO was the date in April, I think, it was 9, when NATO was founded. That gives a signal.
Now, I think this is a signal, NATO is now complete and ready to complete its original mission, which is possible is that it’s the destruction of Russia, or before that, the Soviet Union. I think NATO was actually set up for that.
LADISLAS MAURICE: In any case, for Finland, during the whole Cold War, it had a privileged position of being in-between.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Being able to play the Soviet Union, being able to play the Western bloc, trading with both. You were in a sweet spot.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, we were.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And you did very well from it.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And sometimes, I wonder what happened. How do politicians and the electorate, especially the electorate, not remember how much of a sweet spot it was for Finland?
DR. MALINEN: It was not [erased 00:24:56]. That history was forgotten and it was given a negative tone called Finlandization, which means that we bow to Moscow, although we both bowed, and well, essentially, showed our ass, too. So we really ripped the Soviet Union off. We are in good terms but we ripped them off. We benefited massively from the Eastern trade. And–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Because I see why the West would want Finland in NATO, I totally get that.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: I see why the Germans would want you. But yeah, for Finland, it makes no sense.
DR. MALINEN: The propaganda campaign in Finland, after Russia launched its war against Ukraine, was massive. It fueled the very things that basically we fought war, our war memories, Russia is doing it again, all that, all that. The propaganda has been continuing till today. And it has, like, two main points. One is that Russia is evil. And second is that Russia is weak. And both are wrong. All of us who have operated somehow, or who have had relatives or close people who have operated Russia, and done business, all that, you know how it operates. You need to have a leverage and then you can negotiate. If you don’t have the leverage, you’re screwed. So you do not go and trust Russians. You don’t do that.
LADISLAS MAURICE: No, never. Because I mean, you said Russia is not evil. I mean, Russia is never really nice.
DR. MALINEN: Really.
LADISLAS MAURICE: I mean, Russia is not particularly nice.
DR. MALINEN: No, no. Of course, not.
LADISLAS MAURICE: You know? [laughs]
DR. MALINEN: No, no. It’s not, no. And it’s, how did Winston Churchill put it, Russia is enigma wrapped inside of, I’ve forgotten. Anyway, which is good. Yeah, it’s a mystery in many ways. But when you just understand that they don’t– Like, Obama tried diplomacy with Russians. Failed miserably. Miserably. They don’t trust in diplomacy, they trust in power. Threat of it, not using it, threat of it. And that’s, like, what Finland did. We built a very formidable army. And there was actually, I think, we had the treaty, it’s YYA Treaty. I forgot what it was, peace and cooperation, something like that, which was basically set up so that it wouldn’t take us into Warsaw Pact. So we stayed out.
It’s a stroke of genius from President Paasikivi at the time, and Urho Kekkonen, who came the President after that, was Foreign Minister, I think, at the time. And there was alliances were forming, and Finland, of course, didn’t want to get dragged in the Warsaw Pact. So they agreed that, what if we have this, that we will not go the Warsaw Pact, but we will promise that no harm will come to Soviet Union through Finland. There’s actually wording in the contract that all forces from Germany or its allies, so Germany was the risk, not the US. We formally had a contract on that, and it worked perfectly. But it was really a marvelous achievement of diplomacy and perseverance from President Paasikivi to get it done. And we just threw it away.
But the thing was that, to your question, so what happened was the massive propaganda operation ran over the Finnish populace. You’re really stirring the fears of Finnish. And then no actual discussion what joining NATO would mean at this point. “NATO is a peace organization, NATO is blah, blah, blah. We never have to be alone, blah, blah, blah.” And this was spread out. And I think it’s 4th of February ’22, President Niinistö said in an interview that going into NATO without a referendum is a foolish, foolish idea which will never be done. He said that you need the people to be heard. And just three months after, he had completely turned around. And we had no general discussion, no general election, no referendum, nothing. The people of Finland were not asked. Even if we would have had a referendum, we could have still gone into NATO, I think, from a very slim margin, but at least we would had the discussion. And we didn’t.
I would say that Finns, as nice but gullible people as many of them are, were tricked into NATO as the next Ukraine for cannon fodder. I think that’s how it looks to me now. And preparations are currently being made which I can only see as preparations for war against Russia.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Can you elaborate on that?
DR. MALINEN: Well, they are building NATO bases, for example, what I hear. This is not publicly discussed, but I have my sources, they are building NATO bases. And Russia, President Putin explicitly said, after Finland had joined the NATO, that they had no problem with this. Do what you wish. But we have a problem if you have NATO infrastructure in Finland.
And there was actually, I think it was last spring, anyway, we had the strangest discussion, public discussion that could Finland harbor nuclear weapons. And I started quite a massive campaign in Twitter and social media to explain the nuclear deterrence to our President, to our then Prime Minister Marin. And I explained that if you have nuclear weapons, like, 200 kilometers from St. Petersburg, which you can launch from artillery, from jets, you don’t have any defense capability, and the early warning system even won’t work. And in that case, Russia would react. This is the same as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. US knew if the missiles are just like 100 kilometers from their coast, they can strike without any warning.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So don’t go long Finnish assets for now?
DR. MALINEN: No, I wouldn’t go long.
LADISLAS MAURICE: [laughs]
DR. MALINEN: [laughs] No, no, don’t go long. No, it’s the other way around. If you have, sell, I would say, because it’s not looking good. And I really hope that this will not happen. But it’s actually the warmongering is so heavy now. And we are now part of this great NATO. And this applies to Poland and, for example, Estonia also. So I do worry. And people in Finland don’t really understand. And in Europe, they don’t seem to understand what’s about to come unless we stop this process. And we had had like two major wars starting from, of course, we have a series of wars in Europe, two World Wars have started from Europe. And like, the first war–
LADISLAS MAURICE: I mean, objectively, every century in Europe, we have a major war that runs across the parts of the continent, at least.
DR. MALINEN: At least, yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: I would say amusing, I’d rather say disturbing that Europeans nowadays think that they’re somehow beyond war, like, it’s something that was just in the past, as if the quality of our politicians had improved, as if people’s understanding of history had improved, as if people were more reasonable than in the past centuries. Because when I compare people now and people, I mean, from what I could read, before, I don’t get the feeling that people now are more reasonable and are more averse to putting themselves in situations that lead to war.
DR. MALINEN: Probably not. Like, before World War I, there were many close calls, but people thought also then that we are above the war. It doesn’t come anymore, politics will reign. Then one week it took and a whole continent was ablaze, starting from the shooting of Franz Ferdinand in Yugoslavia, from a small event, and then cascading process of events with all the like defense clauses triggering and all this. And within a week, we were in a war. So if you think, if you consider now how the line or the border between Russia and NATO goes, you have to ask yourself what needs to happen for the defense clause action, what is called Clause No. 5 on NATO Treaty will be triggered.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Any small thing can just snowball into, yeah.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, it can snowball. It can start from all kinds of, like, small provocations. But currently, it looks like Russia is kind of holding back. It’s not responding like Ukraine sending drones or shooting the Russian territory. They’re like, okay, well, fine, whatever. I would probably worry most about Poland now and what are they planning. But we don’t know. But you have to–
LADISLAS MAURICE: I mean, the amount of weapons they’re ordering is staggering.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. Like, if you re-arm, it will only lead to war. That’s one clear lesson from history. If you start to prepare for war, it will come.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Especially when your name is Poland–
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, yeah. [laughs]
LADISLAS MAURICE: and you have a history of being quite aggressive.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. And Polish, there’s, I think, about five major existential shocks to Russia, how Russia views it all, they viewed in Russian leadership. And Polish had one of those. I think they took the Kremlin or something like that in the 1700s or something like that. And then there was the Napoleonic Wars, and Hitler, Germany, [inaudible 00:35:50], two times and all that. So yeah, so it would fit that Poland would, at this point. Because Russia has also drawn, and Soviet Union, they have drawn lines over Poland because that’s the part of the [inaudible 00:36:06] safety zone. So it’s understandable that Polish would have something, some issues they want to clarify.
LADISLAS MAURICE: For sure.
DR. MALINEN: But it’s a dangerous thing now. Wars, if you look at the history of wars, they are an extreme points of development. And now, it has been such that NATO has been, we’re having a proxy war in Ukraine, while Russia has been fully engaged. NATO has been gathering intel mostly but Russia has gathered intel, put it in action, test and tried all this.
I saw an interview from a woman, a Ukrainian soldier, yesterday, who explained the Lancet drones, which are very cheap but they have become very effective of destroying even the most prestigious and well-protected Western tanks by targeting the weak spots, which I had my mandatory military service at Armoured Brigade, so I know how tanks can be destroyed. And she said that there’s basically no point of sending tanks in the frontline because they will be destroyed. Hundreds of thousands, even millions cost in tanks will be destroyed by these drones which cost, I don’t know, a few hundred euros to make. And we have already lost this war. And there would now be open front war with Russia and NATO, we would be seriously like– Russia would be here but we would start from a serious distance to get even to the level of military capabilities at the moment.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Because they’ve been ramping up, they’re building up their army. There’s only a fraction of their soldiers on the front.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And they’re just building, building, building.
DR. MALINEN: They are building.
LADISLAS MAURICE: It’s scary.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. I think the current rate of tanks is about one-thousand something per year. And they’re not building like cheap tanks, T-90 [inaudible 00:38:27] T-40. The T-40 [inaudible 00:38:30] T-90, the– Anyway, well, they have so many. They have a lot more [inaudible 00:38:36], they are building this and they are preparing because they see a threat, I think.
And there is actually not many outside Nordics probably know this but Kremlin has made two nuclear bombing simulation, run simulations to Stockholm with bombers. First one was in 2013. I think they got about 50 kilometers in the Swedish zone. There was just bombers doing a bombing run and then they turn away. And the next one was in late March 2020. And according to NATO, at least, I think the second one they had actual nuclear bombs onboard. I think this was a warning of showing what will happen if we would go head to head in a nuclear confrontation. If you have like the Baltic Sea is a narrow sea, 70% of all Finnish imports and exports come from there. And there is Öland, small islands, [hold by Swedes 00:39:54] in the middle, and then there’s Kaliningrad, which is kind of a tip, so there’s–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Königsberg?
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So the Russians have it. And I think the plan would be, I heard also this from the intelligence sources, that Russians would take over Gotland. Gotland is to [south 00:40:14], Öland, Gotland, and then drop a nuke on Stockholm. If you nuke Stockholm, you basically you demobilize whole Nordics. It will be like checkmate. You have this, you have control the Baltic Sea, Finland is here alone, of course, for us to negotiate.
And I think what it would do is to, of course, why would the Kremlin show this thing? I think the only reason is a warning, that don’t go on this path, and to openly show what you are planning. And it would be very difficult to defend that. But, first, I couldn’t understand why the bombing runs were simulated or done. But then when you start to look at the whole picture, the big picture, you understand this. Or, it makes sense, it becomes clearer. Although we can’t, of course, go in the head of President Putin and say this is what he was doing. But usually, in these situations, you signal like this.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Cool. So the implication for 2024 would be don’t go long assets in countries potentially on the front line with Russia.
DR. MALINEN: No.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So if you want to invest in Europe, stick to, what, Hungary, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, [laughs] Southern Italy.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. I don’t know. Possibly, Norway. I don’t know if it’s far enough, but.
LADISLAS MAURICE: It’s pretty close up there.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, it’s still close. Yeah, that’s true. But yeah, I don’t know but yeah, generally.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Generally. Cool.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. Some risk averse, yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Unless you have an amazing deal, yeah, that would be your take?
DR. MALINEN: Yeah.
Risks in the Middle East
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay, cool. Interesting. What about the Middle East? Because this one is ongoing, it’s raging. I don’t feel we’re getting that much information from it.
DR. MALINEN: No.
LADISLAS MAURICE: But it doesn’t seem to be calming down at all.
DR. MALINEN: No. Israel seems to be pushing hard now on Gaza on all fronts. Arab countries have been very, like, cool headed. And I do worry that when that changes, the whole region will just blow up. And its implications would be harrowing. Like, if you think about the Strait of Hormuz, which, what seas it connects, the Persian Gulf and, I have a very bad memory anyway, but it’s very crucial because I think one-third of all LNG comes through it, about one-sixth of all oil, global. And the really interesting thing is that Qatar exports, I think, it’s about 66 million cubic meters through it in a year. European Union requires about 44 million cubic meters of LNG this year just to warm or to operate. And the world free spare LNG is about 56. So if Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz, I think Europe would freeze and the LNG market would go ballistics. And these are the risks we’re currently playing in that region.
And I heard, just yesterday, that US administration would have told Israel that it has till the end of January to complete the operation, and then they, you know. So this is a good sign. Because the aims of Israel are unclear now. We don’t know what they’re actually aiming. But if you look at how they are treating Gaza, I don’t know. What I’ve heard, what I’ve seen is it’s a complete demolition of that area. And what will happen to the Palestinians, where do they go? Egyptian leader, Sisi, said last week, or during the weekend, or was it that day, if the Palestinians are pushed or the people from Gaza are pushed in the Sinai, there will be consequences. I think they’re playing with fire there.
LADISLAS MAURICE: They always do. People always play with fire in Middle East.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, they always do, yeah. But this time, I think, it’s worse than for a long time. It’s interesting that it’s 50 years ago there was the Yom Kippur War. It started, like, one day after this current one. It’s quite a remarkable coincidence.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. What are the odds?
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. And that led to the inflation shock, the oil embargo, inflation shock, all that, and the ravaging inflation of the 1970s. And then the Volcker era, interest rate rises to 21%. And it was the worst thing, if we would just think what would happen to the US economy if interest rates would go to 20% now.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So long South American oil producers?
DR. MALINEN: Yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: [laughs]
DR. MALINEN: [laughs] Yeah. No, the thing is now if we go a bit further of the conflict in the Middle East, if there would be an inflation shock, really, an energy shock, the oil embargo, shutting the Strait of Hormuz or something, prices will start to rise again, but will massively, at the same time, we would have a recession coming in the US. Europe is now already into one. So the recession, high interest rates. So what would central banks do? What I’ve been thinking is that they could go completely schizophrenic, like, they would start interest rates but, at the same time, when financial markets collapse, they would start printing also, like, complete not strategy. But I would be thinking what the Fed has done, that is what they could do, actually.
And in this case, the printing would need to be massive. I would say it would be in the range of tens of trillions. And then what we would have is an inflation shock, massive monetary shock. And if there would be, like, OPEC, as an objection, stepping out of the petrodollar, we would suddenly have a shitload of dollars in the world. And if you go through this projection of thinking, there is a risk of hyperinflation in the US at the end of this. That’s the worst case. And, like, we should be very, very, very careful, very wary what the central banks are going to do next. Because they created this mess, and they have very limited tools to respond of things that are about to come. So it’s not just war that will come. We can reach very detrimental scenarios, also economically and financially in this sense.
But generally, during fast inflations, stock markets have done well. [laughs] But of course, we don’t know how the recession effect. So I’m just saying that we have been not really forecasting GDP growth for about two years because the uncertainty is too high. We provide something, we provide estimate but make clear that these are like guess estimates. And uncertainty of what could happen in 2024 or the next year, I don’t think it has been ever this high since the, like, maybe 1940s, massive uncertainty. And people do not seem to realize it.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah.
Banking risks in 2024
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. And the one other thing I think people now do not generally understand is the situation in the banking world. So we were expecting the banking crisis to emerge already in late 2020 or 2021. That’s basically the one big forecast we got wrong. But it was just a timing issue. So when the banking crisis emerged in late September ’22, it was a bit difficult for people to understand what actually happened.
But the situation, when there were these companies associated with British pension funds, whose responsibility was to acquire stable funding streams for the pension funds to pay for the salaries and pension salaries. And the thing was that they had heavily invested in guilds, that is the UK government bonds, and with the rapid inflations and the rapid interest rate hiking cycle, their values had collapsed. So there was a threat of a margin call for the whole pension industry in the UK, which would have led to fire sales of assets of these funds, of guilds and all that, which would have crashed their value even further. And as there were banks and all held these guilds as dependable assets or collateral, it would have led to a serious trouble in the banking sector. And so, the Bank of England was forced to step in and start to buy guilds to stop the margin calls.
And the UK pension industry, they hold, their assets are something like £3.1 trillion. So it would have caused a massive strike or hit in the global financial system. And at the same time, like, this crisis began or was averted, I think, it was 28th of September. And then I was actually in conference in Budapest. I got a call on Saturday, that have you heard that Credit Suisse is in trouble? Or, actually, the call was that there is a big Swiss bank in trouble and, okay, then you just have to, there’s two. So what was it, then it was Credit Suisse. And they also were able to refund them [terms 00:51:27] recapitalize themselves, and all that. So it was averted at that point. But it started at the end of September 2022, the banking crisis.
And then the second wave came in the US in March this year, and it was the failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, Silvergate, and then the First Republic Bank. They all failed within a period of four weeks. But the thing was that, it’s actually funny, we’ve been warning about this banking crisis for a very long time. And then I remember, I had a very busy week, and it was at the end of March, Friday, I had a very busy week and we all kind of get-togethers and parties. I remember that I checked Twitter last time about 5pm Finnish time. And there was, okay, it was titled Silicon Valley Bank in Trouble. Okay. Regional Lender in Silicon Valley Failed Capital Acquisition. Okay, probably nothing. [laughs] And then weekend went and gone. And then, Monday morning, Finnish time, I open my computer. I was like, [gasps] [laughs] What has happened?
And during the night, like, the first Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in New York. And then, on Sunday, the US authorities and lawmakers decided that this is not enough. So on Monday, they had this barrage of measures. First, the Federal Reserve set up the bank term funding program or BTFP, which essentially offered one-year loans to banks against any collateral, any reasonable collateral, basically bonds and all that. And then the FDIC guaranteed all the deposits in the Fed banks. And as a last measure, and I watched this live, President Biden came to television on Monday morning US time to tell people that your deposits are safe. And at that point, I was like, [laughs] at that point, I understood that there was a risk of a nationwide bank run on the regional banks. I was like, “Oh. Cr…” [laughs] And right after that, we sent the warning to our clients that this is serious.
But they managed to stop the runs. But people have to understand that they threw a kitchen sink at it. Really, these are highly exceptional measures taken by the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and even the Biden administration. And the failure of the Silicon Valley Bank was mostly because they did what the authorities said they would do. Lockdowns, and the stimulus checks, and the massive, massive money print by the Federal Reserve led to a massive inflow of deposits in the banks, especially the regional banks. And this was like if you look at the series of demand deposits, it’s like, it grows very steadily, about $1,500 billion in a period about 20 years, and then, in two years, it goes to $5,000 billion. Makes absolutely no sense. There’s a massive, massive explosion. And balancing of banks works like you have to balance it somehow. So you need to have assets. And so you can give out loans or buy securities to balance it.
And authorities wanted, basically, they forced banks to hold US Treasuries. So for example, Silicon Valley Bank bought treasuries. And usually Treasuries are bought as held-to-maturity assets, which means that whatever happens to the value, you don’t account them to do your income statement, because you just wait that they mature and then you get the money back with interest. But then there was just the panic. It started from the failed capital acquisition, and people just started to withdraw their funds from Silicon Valley Bank. And they were forced to sell some of these held-to-maturity assets, report a loss, and then all hell broke loose. But the thing is that the treasuries, as you think about like two-year treasury, the yield went from around 0.2% to 5% in two years. You put that in a discount formula and you have a bond with no value, basically. Of course, it doesn’t go like, between interbank markets, of course, I think their yield was something like 1% and then it, but still, losses were massive.
And so the Silicon Valley Bank failed because it did what authorities wanted it to do. It was strange to see, like, these prominent figures of blaming the banks of bad risk management, because all who has done even a small amount of derivative action know how difficult it is to hedge a yield risk in treasuries. It’s not an easy task. Even if now someone would ask me how to do it, I would need to think for a while. So you can’t really blame the banks. They did what the Federal Reserve [asked but the basic 00:57:32] government committee which gives these international guidelines for banks. They did what they wanted. But okay, so this was the one thing.
But the other thing is that the failure of the First Republic Bank, it was really interesting that this happened early April, because it had massive losses from the real estate. If I remember correctly, it had like 80% of its loan portfolio came from the real estate, the commercial real estate combined. And so it take massive losses. And it had chosen a different strategy than Silicon Valley Bank when the deposit influx came. It gave out loans. And it gave out loans to real estate sector. And then they started to really crash their value, defaults, delinquencies, all that. So they started taking a heavy hit on their income, and it went strong negative. And then, because they didn’t have so much securities, they could acquire only $13 billion from the bank term funding program of the Fed. And they failed as a result. So they did not get enough liquidity to cover the deposit outflow and flight, failed. And once again, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over the bank.
US banks are now being hit by both the unrealized losses from the Treasury holdings and then massive losses on loans. And we actually ran scenarios on third quarter data in our latest outlook published at the end of November. We had the soft landing scenario, we had the Global Financial Crisis 2.0 scenario, and we had the repetition of Great Depression scenario. And in the Great Depression scenario, we basically we had the assumption that 15% of CRA loans will default and about 43% of mortgages. And this was based on what happened in Great Depression. Basically, the unrealized losses were negligible, it didn’t affect the failure of banks because the loan losses were so massive. But out of the 4,669 banks in this scenario, 4,305 failed. So it’s a theoretical thing, because they will never allow these things to go so bad–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Just print.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, they print. But the problem is that the loan losses will be utterly massive. So there is a risk that if the authorities fail to contain the new panic, which is coming probably in the spring–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Why specifically in the spring?
DR. MALINEN: Because recession is coming. This is a guess. You cannot really exactly time, to answer, the financial crisis, because it’s a psychological feature that drives the fear. So you just you guess. And usually when recession comes, people notice there’s a recession, they start to worry about banks. And this is what causes the runs, that’s how it usually goes, historically, at least. So that’s my current guess estimate, is that it will start sometime in the spring. And if authorities lose control of it, the panic go nationwide, then we could see a repetition of the Great Depression. Especially if something happens in the Middle East which pushes authorities have to stop this or limit it. They’re already in use.
And if the federal government would issue that it will guarantee all the deposits in the US banking system, I don’t know whether that threat would be credible in the eyes of the populace, because there is like $15,000 billion or something, was it $17,000 billion, in deposits in the US banking system. Part of this has been created by the Federal Reserve through the quantitative programs or quantitative easing. But if that doesn’t work, basically, they have only the finance lockdown left, when it’s as simple as that and you cannot raise more than, like, 50 bucks a day. They did it in Greece. And then they could issue a bailing of banks also, that legislation has been put in place in 2008.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. And all over Europe.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, both in US and in Europe, because they will play together. So the kind of a warning thing here is you have to be very careful where to put your money. We will publish the list probably this week of the 270 banks that survive the Great Depression scenario and we consider those to be the most reliable banks in the US. Interestingly, there is not a single big bank in it. Everyone fails in that. Every big bank, which is, of course, they said it will not happen. Anyway, we will publish that, and then we hope to get something similar done for Europe during the spring. But people need to understand that this banking crisis risk is very real.
And the only thing that the Federal Reserve, first, the Bank of England then the Federal Reserve, only thing what they did, is that pushed the crisis back under the surface, where it continues to grow. Citizens Bank failed just few weeks ago, small bank in Iowa. And what was very interesting about that failure is that it was mostly related to massive losses of trucking loans. So there are these asymmetries in regional banks. And now that different sections of US economy are collapsing, there will be asymmetric loan loss hits. So you have to be very careful about that also if you’re operating in the US banking system.
And the thing is that the FDIC has taken really drastic steps to stop, immediately, take over the bank and the deposits to completely stop any speculation of further runs. And you just have to ask if these bank failures keep on coming, for how long are they able to do it with this efficiency, and at what point the trust of people to banks breaks. Because that is what happened in the Great Depression, was actually just a major, major global financial crisis. So this is another thing people really should be considered about, the massive geopolitical risks but then there’s the financial sector is fragile, and you need to account that in your risk control scenarios.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Well, that sounds lovely, 2024 sounds lovely. Thank you.
DR. MALINEN: 2024, yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: [laughs]
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, really nice. [laughs] Of course, it could be that nothing happens. But the likelihood of, like, if you pile a detrimental development over a detrimental development, at some point, the dam will break and then they may happen all at the same time, creating other chaos if you’re not prepared. Let me add this, if there is one round, like, in banking crisis that the Federal Reserve or whatever, ECB, or whoever can stop, then that’s the last warning shot, then you need to understand that run to the hills, basically.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Look, in the past two years since the war started, I’ve been gradually reducing my exposure to Europe and investing more in Latin American markets, where it’s essentially cash valuations, where there isn’t any leverage in the system, because I feel that there is a lot less potential downside in these markets. When I’m buying prime real estate for $1,100 a square meter, I don’t feel like the downside is that much compared to if I were to buy in downtown Helsinki, for example, where there’s a lot of leverage.
DR. MALINEN: And a threat of war.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. [laughs] Threat of war, yeah.
DR. MALINEN: [laughs] Which doesn’t bode well with real estate.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. Look, I think people just need to take a step back and just acknowledge that risk is higher than it has been in the past decades, probably, that that risk is not being properly priced in because we don’t really understand what that sort of risk means anymore, and that people should be cautious, be reasonable. And I think, really, what’s important is to be diversified not only in terms of your investments but also in terms of residencies, etc., so that if things were to take bad turn, there’s always a place you can go to that is a bit safer.
Reforms and outlook in El Salvador
LADISLAS MAURICE: And so you’ve been here for essentially this purpose, here, in El Salvador. You’ve been doing a bit of recon work on the ground with some business partners of yours. What are your thoughts on this week that you’ve spent here in El Salvador? Because when we look online, we see Bukele, Bitcoin, blah, blah, blah, blah. I arrived here last night, so I really haven’t seen anything apart from that steak place you took me to last night.
DR. MALINEN: Really good steak.
LADISLAS MAURICE: It was good steak. Yeah, very good steak. So what are your thoughts?
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, like I’m a trained growth economist, which means that I’ve been trained to analyze economic growth. And then I added economic crisis to it during my later stage of my PhD studies. And so always, when I go to a new country, I look for certain things. One is my own crane index, by landing how many cranes you see. You don’t see much of them here yet. But that masks the development on the ground.
So what has been really striking for me that every turn I had here, it has been a positive surprise. So how things are done here in an effort to grow the country and make this a good place to live and to prosper and do business in a free market setup. On Thursday, I actually met the Minister of the Economy and the Minister of Tourism, and we had a nice longish talk. And they asked me, well, they asked me how I see and what are my proposals. And it was a very productive meeting. Like, when you meet government official ministers, many of them, in Europe or in Western countries, have their own idea already.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah, they’re not into listening.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, they’re just looking for ways to enforce their own view. This was different. We really talked and they listened. And it left me really good feeling that they are really trying to make this country grow and be a better place to live and stay and all that. This country, within this week, has kind of convinced me of these potentials. And we’re actually we’re setting up a company here now, two Finnish partners and one guy from here who helps people and businesses to come here to operate. So if you’re interested just get in touch.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Details below.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, details below. It’s been a really positive thing. This has made me happy to see.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Good.
DR. MALINEN: And one thing is that the people are really working hard in an effort to build the country and their lives. My friend, who is originally from El Salvador but has lived in many countries, also in the US, said that it’s because people have not tasted freedom for a long time. And when they finally get it, they really–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Go for it.
DR. MALINEN: They go for it. And the people here are so nice. And the strangest thing is that I have never felt threatened here. Of course, I have been in the central, but we have been going all around both the city and the country. And when I first left to this trip, I arrived, I went to Dallas, I wanted to see Dallas for the first time, go to JFK Museum, all that. And the first night in central Dallas, Dallas downtown was a bit of a shock. There was so much homelessness, aggressive people, [mix use 01:11:04] and I was like, no, this is not the US I remember. Because I have lived in the US in 2010, for example. And it was a changed country in many ways.
So I go back now to Fort Worth, Nashville, and New York, and we’ll see how they are. But the difference was really striking to come here. Because something bad has happened to the US, like many European countries, but it’s going the other way here.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah, because when you look at the, I mean, you’re an economist, you would know better than me, but when you look at the macro indicators here for El Salvador, there’s a large current account deficit, the country is entirely reliant on remittances, the level of investment, sure, it’s going up but not that much yet.
DR. MALINEN: No, no.
LADISLAS MAURICE: The export profile of the country is essentially just tourism, agriculture, it’s very primitive, a bit of services through call centers and the like. So when you look just purely at the macro indicators, it’s not impressive.
DR. MALINEN: No.
LADISLAS MAURICE: But of the people I’ve interacted with since I arrived last night, so the taxi driver, for one hour I was talking with them, optimism, talking about all the foreigners that are coming, investments, etc., you could feel he was welcoming foreigners and investments and understood the importance of foreigners coming to his country. Then I chatted with the receptionist. He was saying that the hotel is packed all the time. I chatted with some ladies at breakfast, and they were happy, because they say now it’s safe, they can walk around at night, etc. After dinner, I walked 40 minutes from our restaurant through alleys and streets not lit back to my hotel, which, a few years ago, would have been utterly unthinkable in El Salvador.
DR. MALINEN: Suicide mission, yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah, just suicide mission. And I’m there with my phone, it’s just nothing.
DR. MALINEN: And you left from kind of the best scale area to walk. And actually, we went to downtown a few nights ago and a friend, and he told me that just a few years ago going there would be a suicide mission. And it’s like great to see in the downtown you see development. I get really excited about these things. They have cleaned the very central and there’s a new library, but you see the border where the kind of not so good things start. And now when I come back the next time interesting to see where that border has moved. So little by little.
And I met, actually, in the conference with the ministers, there was also one official who was responsible for the development of the city center. I will not go into details how she’s doing it but it is a great plan and I’m sure that it will develop further. They have two serious deficits basically here, which is that not so many speak English. For me, who doesn’t speak Spanish, that’s a problem. They are fixing that also. And then San Salvador it needs a Metro bad.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah, traffic is bad.
DR. MALINEN: Traffic is horrible. But coming back to like there’s a state, pre-crane state, which basically El Salvador is now. They’re building stuff on the ground, especially in this area and anywhere they’re putting massive amounts of electric wire and all that wire into the ground, cleaning spots off and all that. So the craning that will come. And really, the macroeconomic indicators aren’t also impressive, but that’s like trend development economist, I want to go into a country to see what’s really happening on the ground, talk with people, sense the vibe. These are much more important because macroeconomic indicators, you can fix them to get the growth going and all that. So it’s a lot of positive things.
And then some writers have been very aggressive about the gangs put into prison and throwing away the key. But this is a question, I think, Western nations will soon need to ask. That if there are individuals who are committed to murder and rape, do we need to allow them the same freedoms as we have? They have made their choice. And rehabilitation of such people may never succeed. And I know it’s a difficult question come to human rights and all that, but they are not killing them or anything, they’re just storing them away from disturbing society. And the change–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Isn’t that what the Bolsheviks said about people when they put them in camps?
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you have this, I understand, you have this. But this is a question we really need to ask. And they were not, like, okay, Bolsheviks they put all dissidents, which is quite different. But I know this is difficult issue but here, it has worked, and there would probably have been no other way.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So combining the macro elements and what you’re seeing on the ground, you feel that we could be approaching an inflection point here in El Salvador?
DR. MALINEN: Yes. When the crowd really picks up after it. So we are closing it. I think it’s just a few good moves away. And I actually I will publish probably tomorrow or today, I have a long Twitter post written of where, which includes the recommendations, which are basically sent to the ministers also, and issues that the El Salvador need to take–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Link below.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah. And then which will guarantee that they will get growth. I know small details, which I will not go into them here or explain them, which were kind of legal things relating to how to operate the business here and all that. But the main point is that they are fixing everything they see needs to be fixed. And they want people, professionals like me, when they come here, they want to hear what they have to say. And that’s the best sign for me that this government is doing its best. And like, you should not make friends with the government. That’s not how it goes. But if you have a good government, you can support it because it seems that it’s definitely for the people.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And what about asset prices? Because I’m here actually to go have a look at real estate, etc., to see if assets are still affordable. So if we’re in an inflection point, if assets are still affordable, it’s worth it, but maybe have they gone up yet?
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, in certain places, they have gone up really heavily. And unfortunately, the asset speculators have already arrived before. They can be really, well, heinous people, actually. It’s usually–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Are you talking about me? [laughs]
DR. MALINEN: No. No, no, no. No, I hope. [laughs] But you know, who they are not here to build, they’re here to reap the benefits. And that’s kind of the worst kind of people. And these always appear when a country opens up, at least that’s how it goes.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah.
DR. MALINEN: Human nature, you cannot help it. And maybe here the Bitcoiners, which some have become rich for doing absolutely nothing than buying a virtual asset that–
LADISLAS MAURICE: You sound bitter because you didn’t buy them.
DR. MALINEN: [laughs] No, no, no.
LADISLAS MAURICE: He’s bitter. He’s a bitter professor. He’s a bitter professor.
DR. MALINEN: [laughs] No. Okay? No. But if you can reach, like, people winning the lottery are the same, basically. Also, there is something like becoming quickly rich, it corrupts some people. And you, unfortunately, see examples of that here. So what I proposed to the ministers, for example, is that an incentive structure. I’m not keen of regulations, but something that if you invest here, you’d build the community, not just like buy a land and wait that it appreciates, and then sell it to Marriott or whatever, these hotel chains or whatever, you know, the thing.
And this is something, like, I hope that this is a trap El Salvador avoids so they are able to not lead to Americans and whoever are fleeing here just to make this as their own paradise in the Pacific, but so they can really develop the country. And that’s a bit of a challenge. But there is a lot of affordable property here now. And the time to come here is now because soon it will be gone, the opportunity.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Cool. All right. Fantastic. Look, Professor, thank you very much for your time today. I really appreciate it. If you’re interested in finding out more about Dr. Malinen’s services, and if you want to follow him, there is a Twitter link below. There’s also a link to his substack, which is really good, and a link to his research services.
DR. MALINEN: Yeah, thank you.
LADISLAS MAURICE: All right. Professor, real pleasure. Thank you.
DR. MALINEN: Likewise, thanks.