In a world where the flow of goods, capital, and ideas defines prosperity, a handful of places stand out as pivotal hubs.

These few places are characterized by their strategic locations. They are usually very small, yet global trade, travel, finance, and business converge there. They are places central to the movement of goods and services across the world, serving as the backbone of international exchange.

They attract talent and wealth. These places are magnets for foreign investment and people. They foster dynamic business ecosystems that help drive global growth and connectivity.

But let’s be clear…

It’s not enough to be strategically located on global trade routes. You need the right policies and advanced infrastructure to become an indispensable engine of world economic growth and connectivity.

That’s how Singapore of the 1970s went from being one of the poorest countries in the world to the fourth richest today.

On Singapore’s waterfront, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is one of the world’s iconic buildings.

Under the rule of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore leveraged its strategic location by pursuing business-friendly policies and flinging open the doors to foreign talent and businesses.

Singapore’s port is now one of the busiest in the world. It’s Changi airport is the fifth busiest in the world, and is the busiest in Asia for international passengers. (It also happens to be one of the most pleasant airports I’ve ever passed through.)

An estimated 40% of world maritime trade passes through the Straits of Malacca right past Singapore.

But it was never a sure thing that Singapore would make it to the top. In a parallel universe Malacca or any other port on the straits could have become the global hub. But it was Singapore that took the smartest path, with wise policies and visionary investment in infrastructure.

On the shores of the Persian Gulf, the tiny village of Dubai was a backwater surrounded by the vast expanse of the Arabian Desert…

Dubai’s far-sighted journey to global hub began in 1901 when its leader established Dubai as a free port with no taxation on imports or exports. He gave merchants land and guaranteed them freedoms. Dubai grew and leveraged its location to become the preferred trading hub of the region, serving as a bridge between Europe, Africa and Asia.

The Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai is built to represent the sail of a ship. A major portion of the world’s trade and wealth passes through Dubai.

In the 1960s, Dubai’s city fathers pushed for the building of an airport. We at RETA know what a new airport can mean…

“Many new houses and blocks of offices and flats are being built,” reported one British observer. “The ruler is determined to press on with the construction of a jet airport… More and more European and Arab firms are opening up and the future looks bright.”

And then oil was discovered…

Between 1968 and 1975 Dubai’s population grew by over 300% as oil money was poured into infrastructure…

Today Dubai’s airport is the busiest in the world by passenger traffic. It’s the sixth busiest for cargo. Dubai’s seaport of Jebel Ali is the world’s ninth busiest, the largest man-made harbor, and the biggest and busiest port in the Middle East.

Dubai pulls in businesses and entrepreneurs from all over. It’s a world-class haven with tax advantages and free trade zones. It’s called “the Shopping Capital of the Middle East” and just like Singapore, Dubai is world-renowned for cutting-edge architecture…iconic buildings that make a statement, instantly recognizable to people all over the world.

You see where I’m going with this?

On the left Jebel Ali, Dubai’s main port. On the right the spectacular Changi Airport, Singapore. Major global hubs of trade and travel.

There are only a few true global hubs like these.

Hong Kong is another. It’s a gateway to China. We could put the Netherlands in the same category perhaps, with Rotterdam port a gateway to Europe. New York we know all about…and Busan in South Korea is a vital trade hub of northeast Asia…then we have Shanghai on the Yangtze River…

But I believe the true mark of a global hub is the ability to diversify its economy, not merely relying on the winds of international trade, but to attract multinational business and the people who work in those businesses.

The most successful global hubs do well in an uncertain and scary world…

They offer safe haven and are always positioned for the bounce back. They invest heavily in infrastructure and stay the course for generations with business-friendly policies that don’t get rolled back with every puff of political wind.

Singapore has been playing this game for more than five decades. Dubai has shown itself resilient to various global crises.

These are global cities trading in the wealth of the world…

They look it too…their skylines soar and glitter. Their ports heave…their airports serve millions of people flying to thousands of destinations…

And, on our RETA beat there’s just one such place…only one true global safe-haven hub of commerce that we’re interested in.

It’s a city at the sweet spot in its multi-decade transformation for investors like us…a place we can make the kind of deals where we’ll double our money when we buy the right real estate and do our RETA-only deals.

It’s earlier in its growth trajectory than Singapore or Dubai, only two decades in.

It’s a city I first came to know because I was the sort person who needed a global hub! I sought a place from which I could scout and explore the world and do my business.

I first went there in January 2004 Since then I’ve brought RETA members deals ahead of the big transformation there that have seen six-figure uplifts and handsome income…

But our upcoming deal is something altogether new…a total landmark, both for us and for the city I’m talking about…

We’re about to land a RETA-only deal there that offers us potential gains of nearly $300,000 eight years after delivery.

It’s truly incredible we have this opportunity. We’ll own in a community built on the last prime waterfront land in this emerging global city…

That city is Panama…

Like Dubai and Singapore, Panama City sits at a key crossroads of global trade and finance.

Digging the Big Ditch

Today, Panama City is one of the wealthiest cities in the Americas, sporting the world’s 25th biggest skyline, beating out LA, Miami, and Beijing to name just a few.

In fact this is the biggest skyline in Latin America, and 45 of its 50 tallest towers were built after 2000, speaking to the phenomenal rate of growth and development of this small global safe haven in the last two decades.

At RETA we find major transformations and we buy ahead of those transformations…

Panama’s transformation is as big as you can imagine…and it has some way to run yet…

But let’s briefly look back…

Panama City boasts one of the world’s most impressive skylines…and the biggest in Latin America.

Long before there was the canal, Panama was a crossroads. A narrow isthmus dividing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

In the era of the conquistadors, the Spanish used this isthmus to transport the riches of their South American empire back to Spain. Gold and silver was sent from Spanish colonies in South America to Panama and then shipped across country on mules to the Caribbean coast, where great treasure fleets plied the Atlantic to Spain.

In the mid-19th century, Americans began to use the isthmus in big numbers…moving in the opposite direction.

Before the transcontinental railroads, Panama’s isthmus was the fastest way to travel between the U.S. east and west coasts.

When the California Gold Rush started in 1849, people took steamships down to Panama, trekked across its narrow isthmus to the Pacific coast, and then sailed north again to San Francisco.

So many came that a railway was built to ferry people and goods across the isthmus. Opened in 1855, this was the world’s first transcontinental railroad.

For centuries, men dreamed of building a canal across the isthmus to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In the late 19th century, French diplomat and entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps was able to gather enough money to try.

De Lesseps had constructed the Suez Canal in Egypt, but he underestimated the engineering and environmental challenges of building in tropical Panama. The project started in 1881, but was beset by challenges and had run out of money by 1889.

In 1904, the U.S. government stepped in to finish the project.

Completing the canal was a monumental undertaking. By the time it was finished in 1914, the U.S. had spent more than $375 million on the canal, the equivalent of about $10.7 billion in today’s dollars. But what was achieved is an engineering marvel.

Spanning 51 miles, the Panama Canal is recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. By connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it saves ships thousands of miles in journey time.

The Panama Canal cuts across the Panama isthmus, providing a conduit for trade between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The canal helped transform global trade, connecting east and west.

It transformed Panama too, but not at the pace you might imagine. For most of the 20th century Panama City remained a sleepy backwater…

You see, while Panama’s economy was dependent almost entirely on the canal, the country did not oversee the waterway or its revenues. The U.S., as builder of the canal, retained control for many decades.

But in 1977, the U.S. agreed to a phased handover of the canal, with Panama assuming sole control in 1999.

This presented an incredible economic opportunity for Panama…the chance to transform the country into a Singapore or Dubai for Latin America.

Panama has seized this opportunity with both hands.

Panama’s Rebirth

In the mid-1990s, as the country was preparing for the canal handover, Panama’s government set about turning the country into a magnet for foreign investment.

As in Singapore and Dubai before it, this would be accomplished through wise policies and visionary infrastructure investment.

The government started with a series of reforms to make the economy more competitive and less dependent on the canal…and to turn the country into a safe haven.

To achieve this, a new anti-monopoly law was enacted. A host of state assets were privatized, including water and electricity companies and major ports. The military was entirely disbanded, and the banking sector was reformed.

These efforts proved remarkably successful. Average annual economic growth in Panama exceeded 5.5% in the 1990s.

Then the canal was handed over…and Panama City started to experience a major development boom.

The Panama Canal is a stunning engineering achievement…a wonder of the modern world…

Due to the presence of the canal, Panama had been a financial hub for decades. But with the handover of the canal and the reform of its banking laws, more global banks came…and more capital.

The banks were followed by major multinationals…

In the 2000s, Panama enacted a law offering big incentives such as tax breaks to any major company that made the country its regional headquarters for Latin America.

Scores of major global corporations rushed in to take advantage. Panama City’s skyline was transformed, with skyscrapers shooting up at a dizzying pace.

Panama City was transformed beginning in the mid-2000s as multinationals flocked to open regional headquarters in the city.

At the same time, Panama launched a host of major infrastructure initiatives, chief among them the expansion of the canal.

In 2007, the country began a massive project to add a new wider, deeper traffic lane to the canal to allow larger ships to pass through. Completed in 2016, the $5.25 billion project doubled the canal’s cargo capacity.

The expansion of the canal has been an economic boom for Panama. Ships passing through must pay tolls. Today, around $270 billion worth of cargo passes through the canal every year—it’s the trade route taken by around 40% of all U.S. container traffic. In 2023, the Panama Canal’s toll revenue increased by 14.9% from 2022 to around $5 billion.

Panama’s infrastructure investment was by no means limited to the canal expansion…

A metro system was built in Panama City, opening in 2014 as the first urban rail system in Central America. Vast amounts of new highways were constructed. In 2021, the biggest convention center in Central America was unveiled in Panama City. And just earlier this year, the country launched a new $200 million cruise ship port near the Panama Canal entrance…part of the country’s efforts to further diversify into tourism.

There have also been constant efforts to upgrade Panama City’s airport, Tocumen International Airport. The most recent, completed in 2022, added a new terminal and 20 new gates at a cost of $917 million. This has cemented the airport’s role as the transit hub for the region.

The airport now maintains direct connections to 82 destinations, operated by 18 airlines, and that’s set to increase. Last year, the airport handled almost 18 million passengers, a new record high.

This year it’s already on track to beat that record…

RETA Stays Ahead of the Boom

Panama City is now three times the size it was in 1990. Almost half of the country’s population lives in the Panama City metropolitan area.

The city has not only grown in size, it has become modern, chic, cosmopolitan…

When I first scouted the city two decades ago, it was edgy, with crumbling colonial buildings and untended parks.

Walk the streets of Panama City today and you’ll pass trendy cafés…craft beer bars…fine-dining restaurants…designer clothing boutiques…expansive shopping malls… All the hallmarks of an population with money in their pockets.

The tastemakers of luxury travel are here, too. In the historic district of the city, Casco Viejo, you can stay in a Sofitel hotel, which opened its doors last year for just under $1,000 a night.

Downtown Panama City has become trendy and affluent. Nestled amid its colonial buildings, you’ll find high-end boutiques…luxury hotels…world-class restaurants…

This is a city, and a country, on an incredible growth trajectory…

Panama’s economy expanded 4.3% in 2023—rates well beyond those seen in the U.S. and most other major Western economies.

At RETA, we’ve been well ahead of this boom…using our insider contacts here to own the kind of luxury real estate that the wealthy executives flocking to Panama City want to rent and buy. And we’ve seen big gains as a result.

For instance, I’ve brought members of our group several deals to own in Santa Maria Golf and Country Club. This exclusive master-planned community just outside the city’s downtown core covers 692 acres, every inch set apart from the outside world.

Santa Maria is exclusive and luxurious… It boasts a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. A Marriott Luxury Collection hotel (with a chic café and great restaurant). There’s lots of landscaping and green space. And plans call for a top-notch country club, at a level that has not been seen in Panama before, with an Olympic-sized pool, bowling alley, spa, gym, running track, yoga, squash, and tennis…

And yet, thanks to our connections with the developer, whom I consider the best in Panama, members of our group were able to buy here at incredible, RETA-only prices.

  • In April 2019, RETA members were able to buy two-bedroom condos in Ocean House in Santa Maria for $238,200. Prices in this phase later started at $305,350…an increase of $67,150.
  • In September 2021, only six RETA members were able to buy spacious three-bedroom condos from $540,020 in a community within Santa Maria called Pinnacle. The retail list price for similar condos in the same community was $736,629—that’s $196,609 more.

Santa Maria boasts 5-star amenities…a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, the city’s top country club, a luxury hotel…and much more.

Or take our deal in Ocean Reef…

In June 2019 and June 2021 I brought RETA members a chance to own condos on Ocean
Reef, an exclusive man-made island community off downtown Panama City, made up of two islands with a marina in between.

This will be one of the globe’s sought-after addresses. A home on Ocean Reef islands is for the kind of person that international CEOs report to.

The marina is for the mega-yachts of the super-wealthy. Everything on the islands has 5-star luxury built in, the Yacht Club, the gyms, the planned Wellness Center, restaurants, retail area, spa, tennis courts…

Yet, once again, because of our connections to the best-in-class developer and our group-buying power, RETA members could lock in sweeping ocean-view condos starting at $783,000. Resales are rare on Ocean Reef, but in 2022 a condo in Seascape listed for $995,000. That’s a boost of $212,000.

Ocean Reef is a stunning man-made island community off downtown Panama City…and proof that the city is running out of prime land for development.

The “Big Squeeze”

All our RETA deals have been plays on Panama City’s growth and on what I call the “big squeeze.”

Panama City is increasingly attracting highly skilled professionals and entrepreneurs from around the world. The country is now home to 80 banks at last count. And it’s a major regional base of big multinationals like Dell, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble.

The population is constantly rising, as is demand for housing in the city center.

But there’s almost no prime land left…

To the south of the city is the Ocean. To the north are lots of protected forests around the canal. (Panama City is the only capital city in the world that holds a rainforest within its city limits.) So the city cannot expand in those directions.

To the west is the canal. On the far side of the canal from the city, a huge Path of Progress is pushing out, facilitated by vast new infrastructure investment. For instance, a fourth bridge is set to rise across the canal—a project set to cost $1.5 billion, with various plans calling for it to have six lanes, two soaring towers, and even a high-end restaurant.

But those areas are not in the city. They are beyond the city and the canal.
The only way the city can expand is to the east toward the airport. This moat on new development means that real estate in and around Panama City is locked in a long-term uptrend.

Ocean Reef, by its very existence, is proof that prime land is at a major premium in Panama City. I mean, a developer built two man-made islands in the heart of the city! For this sort of project to be even remotely economically feasible, there has to be a big squeeze.

In fact, such is the squeeze that Panama has been reclaiming land from the ocean for decades.

Panama City is squeezed between the rainforest, ocean and canal. The only direction for the city to grow is east toward the airport…

Back in the mid-1990s, before Panama launched its big appeal to multinationals, it laid the groundwork for their arrival by developing a brand-new region of the city, known as Costa del Este.

Proposed in 1995 and launched in 2002, the vast, 310-hectare district included reclaimed land and offered a blank canvas…allowing urban planners to develop a “city within a city.”

This district was designed, from the ground up, to be the primary business distinct of Central and South America…with wide, modern boulevards, space for skyscrapers, and a marine bridge connecting with a direct roadway to the city’s Tocumen International Airport.

It has been an unqualified success…

This is where the many international firms driving Panama’s phenomenal growth story have their offices…and their staff! I lost count of the major multinational companies in this district at 50.

Costa del Este in Panama City, the premier business district in Latin America.

With Costa del Este, Panama is also following a path well trodden by the world’s great hubs of finance, trade, and commerce.

Take Union Square in Hong Kong…

In the early 1990s, Hong Kong’s government reclaimed 340 hectares of land from the harbor to create a vast new area of commercial, residential and transportation development. Today, this area is home to some of the city’s most impressive structures and expensive homes, including the 118-story International Commerce Centre, the fourth-tallest building in the world.

The International Commerce Centre towers above Union Square in Hong Kong.

Dubai built something similar…

Launched in 2003, the $30-billion Business Bay project covers an area where the Dubai Creek was dredged and extended.

Immediately south of downtown Dubai, it established a new central business district for the city. Today, this area is a cluster of well over 100 corporate skyscrapers and residential towers. Many more are planned or under construction.

Dubai’s Business Bay district as seen from the city’s famed marina area.

These district were meticulously designed and planned.

So too was Costa del Este…a purpose-built ultra-modern business hub, not just for Panama City, but for Latin America.

As you can imagine, land there is at a premium. Today, there’s almost no prime land left anywhere in or around this district…which is what makes our new RETA members-only deal so astonishing.

The same developer behind the incredible Santa Maria and Ocean Reef communities has managed to get a last perfect piece of land amid Panama City’s “big squeeze,” and he’s using it to build an iconic new landmark.

This landmark residential community will be waterfront, in the ideal location on the edge of Costa del Este.

The level of luxury you’ll get with ownership is second-to-none. The plush amenities area will be huge, lushly landscaped and offer the perfect retreat within the city…the views are going to be outstanding…of the city and the ocean…

Yet, because of our long-standing connections to this developer, we’re about to get the chance to snap up a luxury condo in this landmark building in one of the world’s great international cities at truly unbelievable pricing.

The potentials gains here are enormous…

I expect us to lock in gains of nearly $300,000 eight years after delivery.

I also expect rental income of $36,000 a year renting long term. After all, we’ll own right next to the most sought-after and expensive neighborhood of Panama City. This is where the many international firms driving Panama’s phenomenal growth story have their offices…and their staff. Everyone wants to be here!

This is going to be an incredible deal…a chance to buy into Panama’s phenomenal growth story at the perfect moment in its development…

The Dubai or Singapore of the Americas?

Panama always had immense potential. For centuries, it has sat at one of the world’s great geostrategic crossroads…

It links North America with South America…the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic.

With the handover of the canal, that potential was unleashed. Panama was reborn as a new nation….and Panama City as an economic powerhouse for Latin America.

As I say, this outcome was not guaranteed. It required visionary policymaking and vast infrastructure investment.

But now the die is cast. The investments have been made. The perfect environment has been created. The global banks and multinationals have arrived. The world is coming to Panama.

And yet, people forget how recently this transformation began…

Singapore’s cycle started in 1970s. Dubai’s modern chapter began in the 1960s with the discovery of oil.

But the canal was only handed back to Panama in 1999, a mere two-and-a-half decades ago.

Panama City has been utterly transformed in just 25 years. The city’s growth trajectory still has decades to run…

In 2010, there were 3.3 million residents in Panama. That number is now at more than 4.4 million. And it’s projected to hit 5.8 million by 2050, with more than half of the population living in and around Panama City. This is a massive increase in a relatively short period.

Panama City has decades of growth yet to run…and by buying the right real estate in the right location at the right price (the RETA-only price), we can profit from the massive growth to come.

Not of this is to say Panama will reach the level of a Singapore or Dubai or Hong Kong…

But then, it doesn’t have to.

In comparison to other global hub cities, Panama City is silly cheap. Incredibly undervalued.

And we can own real estate on virtually the last prime waterfront land in the city. And we can do it at a killer RETA-only price and get luxury resort-style amenities.

This is the sort of real estate in huge demand today.

And it will be even more so in the future as Panama City cements its place among the world’s great hubs of trade, commerce, and finance.