Friday, July 27, 2007

Beach Soccer

Beach soccer, or futbol, is extremely popular in Uruguay...especially on Pocitos beach. Wide, white-sand beaches that are relatively flat have several permanent goal posts setup up to facilitate the action.

While these fields, and Pocitos beach in general have been empty the last couple of months, recent daytime sunshine has brought out the footballers again.

Clear sunny skies give way to windy evenings and cold nights as the sun sets. In another couple of months, sunny weekends will bring the brave back to Pocitos beach. In four months, you won't even recognize it as the same place :)



Thursday, July 26, 2007

Montevideo Shopping's "twin towers"

In a "city" of 1.4 million, this is what passes for "twin towers".

The first time someone gave me walking directions to "Montevideo Shopping" (on of the malls) and told me to just walk towards the "twin towers" I got lost in the neighborhoods. These things don't exactly loom over everything in the immediate area.
During these colder months, and especially on the weekend, the malls are almost unnavegable as all manner of aimless citizens wander the halls like mindless robots as a way to get out of the cold. In the meantime, Montevideo's popular beaches are almost completely deserted.
The malls here aren't "vertical" like Hong Kong as you might imagine while looking at this picture. They are between 2 and 3 stories. These office towers were just constructed as part of the "complex". As you may be able to see, there has been some ongoing construction in front of the towers to create, what looks like, at least one more sibling for these twins.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Uruguayan Dryer

Electricy is not cheap and western style dryers are rare here. Many apartments in Uruguay have small rooms off to the side of the kitchen that often house a small washing machine and an area to hang clothes (to dry).

Most of the houses and top floor apartments have roof access for the express purpose of hanging wet laundry. Here you can see some clothes being hung out to dry in the dead of winter.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Exaptriates are HATERZ!!!

This post is going to probably piss a lot of people off, but the truth hurts.

The Expats here are Haterz! (If you don't know what a "hater" is, then you are out of touch. Google it).

Our first 4 months in Uruguay were spent with ZERO contact with North American expats. In fact, we weren't even aware of how many existed (they blend in quite well most of the time).

However, as fate would have it, we were introduced to a circle of expatriates through a good friend, Mikey, who has recently had to return to the US (please read about mikey's trials and tribulations here and check out his entrepreneurial endeavor in Uruguay here Lately, I've grown nostalgic for the days when I didn't know any expats. That can't be good.

Why, you ask?

(sarcasm) Since everyone likes to be put into a box and classified (/sarcasm) I'm going to describe five types of expats I've met here in Uruguay:
  1. actively working for a foreign govt (diplomatic corps) and are very well compensated by Uruguayan standards.
  2. actively working for foreign multinational profits or non-profit and very well paid by local standards
  3. retired and living off of big business or big govt pension or social security (common) or savings (more rare).
  4. young and has some savings but will run out of money eventually and have to go back to earning money someday.
  5. young (in spirit at least) and has an idea and enough cash to get something started here, but doesn't have infinite resources.
At various times I've heard some real negativity thrown around between each one of these sub-groups of people. To each and every person, of course, their source of income is honorable and beyond reproach. However, others' methods for trying to get by are questioned, demeaned, ridiculed, unsupported, negatively gossiped about, or somehow looked down times, I've even heard people demeaning the way that *I* chose to support Golden Lotus and myself without realizing what I do for a living without realizing what I do.

Personally, I have my own bias as well. I'd like to attract more entrepreneurs to come and create, work and thrive here...but....

If the expats can't even support each other, how in the world do they expect a bunch of semi-xenophobic south americans that think every North American is born independently wealthy to do it?

I don't know if the "hating" is being driven by ignorance or petty jealousy or what. However, I pledge to do my part to stop the "hating" by trying to treat each person, regardless their station in life or how they came to find Uruguay, with non-judgemental dignity and respect.

Whether or not the collective decides to follow suit, I can only hope.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Reprieve from the Freeze

Ok, it hasn't literally been freezing lately, but it has been cold and damp. Today was a very temperate 50 degrees (F) and brought some people out of hibernation. This is a shot at the end of the day of an old school fishing boat and someone getting some running in on the "rambla" -- the road and walk that lines the Rio Plata on the south side of Montevideo.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

People who Save are Frickin' Idiots!

This post could also be known as "The Genius of the Collective".

I know, I know....crazy, huh? FuBarrio spends a lot of time harping on the idiotic behaviour he believe he observes in the herd mentality of people at large.

However, it's time to propose a competing argument in favor of the sheeple.

The last couple of years I've been bewildered by the willingness of consumers to overpay for nearly everything in the "other" Americas (North America). It has truly been consumerism at its most grotesque for quite some time, however, I would like to put forward the competing viewpoint that perhaps these sheeple aren't the ones lining up for the slaughter.

There is a children's tale of some fame where an ant works through the summer and a grasshopper spends its time buying "louie" bags, pedicures, and bad hair-weave jobs. Of course, in the end the grasshopper, so wishes he had wasted his youth slaving away and ferreting away those tasty scraps for the long, hard winter.

But what if the food they ant was storing had some bacteria in it and would all be rotted away by the time winter arrived?

There was a "study" done (supposedly) back in the dot-com heyday to point out the brilliance of a bunch of independently acting, not incredibly brilliant, autonomous entities. When the actions of the collective are evened out, you get a very "intelligent" behaviour, supposedly.

Since the beginning of 2006 the USDX, the dollar index, has gone from around 92 to a whisker above 80 as I type this. When you compound on top of that, that the dollar index is just an index of how easy it is the for the dollar to buy OTHER fiat currencies -- or other paper that is just being printed at will -- you get a really ugly picture.

It's a breakneck race for the bottom.

Ok, so what?

Well, the a**holes like me who saved their money, with the vain hope that i would be able to use the value received for work performed in the past (my pay from a few years ago) to purchase goods and services in the future (now and in the next few years) was incredibly naive.

So far, it has seemed to be a silent tax (to the masses anyways). Not that many people are ranting about it in wild gesticulations and maniacal tirades (with a few notable exceptions). And yet, it seems that maybe...just maybe...the North American populace isn't just a bunch of greedy, stupid, undisciplined children (who want it "NOW") :)

Perhaps, in consuming like there is no tomorrow (negative savings rate), they are voting with their wallets. Why put off what will give you 10 minutes of consumerism pleasure to hold paper that is sure to bring even less pleasure a year or two from now.

As a side note, something I haven't blogged about a lot, but one of the reasons I moved to South America. I think food inflation, especially in meat, is getting ready to take off. Feed grains are getting scarce as the developing world starts eating more and more meat. When the meat producers' hedges come off (the only thing in my opinion that has allowed soy, wheat, corn, etc prices to SOAR while keeping meat prices in check), it could get ugly fast.

It will be interesting to see if the meat prices soaring will be blamed on a weather event, ethanol subsidies, greedy oil companies, war, population growth, or irresponsible creation of cash and credit. I guess it depends on whatever sells the most advertising time.

ciao ("chow" -- food inflation is goin to get worse)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Under the Weather in Uruguay

Warning: From what I've seen....if you have any kind of chronic respiratory problems, you do NOT want to be here for the June through August time period. You WILL catch the flu (unless you have ZERO human contact) and I know a few people who've been coughing and hacking for well over a month already. The flu, coupled with respiratory problems to begin with, coupled with the cold, damp weather this time of year is pretty tough on those who aren't accustomed.
Winter in Uruguay is decidedly nicer than the winters I spent growing up in Washington state. While there are certainly days in Uruguay that can be as nasty as any western Washington winter, Uruguay doesn't tend to string 30 or 40 of these days in a row.
Interspersed with the dreadful, wet, cold days that put Golden Lotus and much of the rest of the country into "deep cover" are the wonderfully bright, sunny, temperate days that are in the majority of my pictures.
That said, if you were born, grew up in, or have become acustomed to a temperate climate I would try my best to avoid Uruguay from the second half of May until about the second week of September. As (i think) I wrote earlier, the entire country's buildings seem dreadfully underbuilt/underinsulated for the kind of weather that hits between these months. Depending on your situation you might find yourself with a chill that lasts about three months.
I know, some New Englander or Minnesotan is laughing right now...after all it doesn't even freeze here. But have you ever been poorly clothed, in the woods for an extended period of time (especially at night) and gotten wet? That's how I would equate the situation in Uruguay....It's like the homes and apartment buildings went out in a light cotton hoody when they should have brought their polar fleece and gortex.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Commercialism in Uruguay

I came home this evening to see that the street to my apartment was blocked off with road cones and they were shooting a commerical on the corner.
Sorry the pic isn't so great. Really didn't want to stick around until I got a nicely framed/focused shot. :)


Sunday, July 15, 2007


i've been trying to catch this guy walking these beagles for about 8 months. finally, found him on the street and just went up and asked him to hold still for a minute. not as cool as a "candid" but trying to catch those pooches in focus and in one frame was proving tough.



Sunshine and Strawberries in Uruguay

Some pics of Montevideo from July. When you see the sunshine and palm trees and your July is so warm in the northern hemisphere, it can be deceiving. Look closely at the digital thermometer in the third picture down. 2 degrees above freezing (celcius) in the middle of the day. ugh.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How's that CD looking Now?, you read fuBarrio's chicken little, the sky really is falling proclamation and in fear you noticed that CD's and some treasuries had perked up to 5% returns.

Caution bein the better part of valor and all that, you decided to pack some away for a rainy day....Here's what has happened to the dollar in terms of its ability to buy other well traded currencies so far this year:

As you can see, if the dollar doesn't rebound, you will actually lose purchasing power this year on your CD or fixed income investment. I would go a step further to say that in terms of food and fuel and things you actually need and use, the real inflation in the dollar is bein masked in the USDX chart above by virtue of the fact that it is bein compared to other grossly inflating currencies.

As was discussed here, either the dollar, real estate, or BOTH will fall. I think we know which one of these three has happened by now.

In a bit of potential good news for the dollar, a good friend of mine who doesn't watch this stuff all that closely called me to discuss her concern over the fallin dollar. why is this good news? because either my brain washing is working, or the message that the dollar is a dead duck has filtered down to the masses. about the time these "known knowns" filter down to the masses in a meaningful way is about the time the trade is due for a countertrend rally. in other words maybe us long suffering dollar saving, dollar earning fools will get a short respite in our falling buck.

However, if you do get that respite, enjoy it. It won't last forever....maybe not even long. When I said last year "get your affairs in order" in regards to the dollar I was questioned, "who can predict the future?"

well, c'mon retrospect was it really all that complicated or suprising?

ciao for now,


A FUBAR'ed week in Review

well, the week began with a hopeful date -- 7-7-07 and then ended on a Friday the 13th. Gold ended the week up, at an even 666 and nat gas was 6.66.

it's enough to make superstitious traders like fuBarrio schizophrenic....if he believed in lucky numbers. however, the only "lucky" numbers in fuBarrio's twisted mind are the ones in fuBarrio's "gains" column, and the unlucky ones are in his "losses" column.
for the week in review i'd like to bring back some characters that you're probably gettin familiar with by now, and at least one that i don't talk about alot....
in this installment i'm goin to "say it with pictures"....then i'm gonna add a bunch of boring words that will confuse, distort, and mislead so that you don't think you can do this stuff without me! :)

i've spent a fair amount of time talking about momentum....favorable chart formations....not buying falling knives, not "top calling" things that are taking off, etc. i've even went so far as to document and dissect my stoopid trade of txm.v earlier this year. so let's revisit txm.v's chart:

as you can see, after a spectacular runup (that i caught a fair portion of) the stock cooled as Uranium hit 100/lb on the spot market. Although Uranium has continued to run up, the speculative furvor in junior miners cooled and a lot of people tooke money off the table. Around that time the predicted "unfavorable" period for miners started and TXM.V along with many other junior U miners went into a dive.

as the summer rolls on I am hoping to see a continuation of the "cup", a retest of highs, a slight pullback (smaller cup, aka handle) and a breakthrough of the highs on high volume the next time it retests the old high.
this has really been the hypothesis all year, however, the depth of the "cup" caught me offguard on txm.v and since i wasn't watchin the chart closely decided to impulse buy when it hit a target price i'd set in my head based on the "old" action.

so, you may ask, "if you're so sure that it'll retest and break through why not buy now?" well, i do hold some txm.v as a long term hold (not a trade right now), but for a true short term speculation buying at the time of breakout (some hypothesize) has a higher chance of returning greater gains over shorter periods.

when reading the economist style manuel this last week....ok, it was just the back cover....i noticed that it said not to brag when you were "right" it was "pedatntic" (?) (or some other big word i don't quite understand). frankly, i was just thrilled there was no negative comments about startin every other sentence with a lowercase letter and putting lots of "....'s" between independent clauses.

anyways, at the risk of bein pedantic here is the chart for which i showed a couple of weeks ago as being ready to breakout:
notice that it topped out at 4.18 on Friday, up over 39% in few days. if you were actually followin along it actually "gapped" up one of those days and after being up over 15 percent in a couple of days retraced to fill the gap before heading higher still. a more complete discussion of gaps, and filling gaps is worthy of another post....look for that later (or google it).
so, in reference to "why not buy txm.v as a trade now" in a big way....reference my third chart....

a couple of years ago i was buying goldcorp all the way up this big peak....unfortunately, just about the time that gold pulled back in may of '06, management pulled some really shady deals involving mergers/acquisitions and some potentially non-arms length transactions (in my mind).
i was stupid enough to buy some in my IRA in the mid thirties on the way down the back of this waterfall....there was no retest of highs....and after touching 45 it is lucky to be in the high 20's well over a year later.
now, goldcorp is still in a potentially very lucrative industry. but, i don't trust management any further than i can throw them and it's been laziness and apathy (and a thankfully small position) that has kept me from sellin to date for another player....of course, i can't even get a tax loss out of it in my ira :)

it just goes to show, that after a big parabolic runup....a pullback can be a healthy consolidation....or the beginnings of a multiyear's hard to know until it's all over.
in case you're sick of looking at all these mining companies, you should check out sndk's multiyear chart. the reason i'm familiar is that by shear/dumb luck i caught a big runup in 2005 with a majority of my networth invested in LEAPs (long dated options).

since that big runup it has consolidated pretty heavily for a year and a half and seems to have wrung a lot of the speculative excess out of the trading/attention/ and volumes -- if by some miracle we can stay in a neutral to bullish US market long enough for sandisk to complete it's basing....when that stock runs it can mint you big money.

ciao for now,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"I Blame the Public Education System"

To be fair, the public education system is "free" (paid for with footballers' taxes, ha ha ha) for all residents of Uruguay through PhD/MD, etc.
Since the govt has taken it on itself to educate the people I found the picture above I took on the way to work mildly amusing this a.m.

To those that don't speak Spanish, the following says, "738 for our government". If you're wondering what 738 means, the nearest i can make out is that it's like a subgroup of the ruling party (think like "teamsters local 39484") -- only problem, "nuestro" is mispelled "Nustro" :)

Of course, given that I haven't used my spellchecker once since starting this blog, and in my last entry i called "fubies" a "fubbies" maybe those who live in glass houses shouldn't find such humor in honest mistakes :)


Monday, July 09, 2007

First Ever "Fubbies"!

The last few weeks I've been looking around as time permits at some other Uruguay bloggers' work.

Ack!....Humbling I guess is about all I can say.

When I was first trying to research Uruguay in late 2005/early 2006 there really was very little in the way of information (especially in English and/or written from a Northerner's perspective).

I found a few random comments about ciudad vieja being packed with prostitutes (not especially so), cab travel being expensive (depends heavily on your version of "expensive" -- my 10 minute cab ride to work is 3 dollars) and Uruguay being a little bit boring (ok, 1 out of 3).

After arriving and discovering (being shown) the Southron's seminal blog, many others have either become known to me or sprouted up around the same time.

I'm going give a "shout out" to a few newer blogs (well newer to me) which I haven't talked about a lot here in the hopes that you can visit them and get something out of them. God knows, I don't have the energy or talent to write as completely and informatively as these bloggers. So, here is to hoping that there blogs will pick up where I've obviously "left off".

So, without further adieu, the first three "Fubbie" award winners!

Brazzie's Blog
Chuck Stull's Blog
Urufish's Blog

There are many others as well....These three blog's however blow me away in their depth and value and I haven't/don't talk about them enough. If for some reason you stumbled onto my blog and would like to know more about Uruguay and less about Uranium Miners (or whatever the Hell else I'm bloggin about) check these three out.



Wow....Uruguayan footballers are threatening to strike the new income tax....

This place gets more and more like the U.S. every day...Self important professional sports stars, and people with entitlement issues. Follow the link and get a load of the quotes.



Saturday, July 07, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Note about Commercialism on

Some of you may have noticed that my writing, while more frequently lately, isn't really full of the same rage and indignation that typically fuels my twinkie-filled meglamanical rants.

And yet, I seem to be post more often....Some kind of irrefutable proof that less *is* more?

Well, you may have also noticed that there are a bewildering number links, like the Benefits of Offshore Banking which really don't go into any great general detail about the "benefits of offshore banking" (yet). They are really links to sites that fuBarrio has a commercial interest in! (gasp!) "The horror (whore) or it all!"

Before you think that I'm trying to convince my Uruguayan readers to do business with my Banking compatriates (when we are forbidden to do by law) or trying to get my stateside readers to order OdeFusion authentic asian food in Montevideo, the reality is easier to explain -- and yet, no less sinister and mercenary!!! :)

Google has the interesting "issues" where its algorithm will weight a link with search terms in that link from a "trusted" site before it will a new site. So, effectively, I'm often times just tryin to get some new pages to index and link in the google (or other lesser) search engines for a search term that I feel accurately describes my website.

So, when you see things that look like blatant attempts to lure my 3 readers into a commercial relationship with fuBarrio, that's not exactly it.....though no less blatantly commerical! :)

ciao for now,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


just a quick note. Base metals are supposed to be dead again, right?

global copper, for whatever reason, looks like it is retesting its highs.

this looks a little bit like a cup and handle to me....however, one can't be sure until it breaks through that resistance to new highs....a pretty bullish sign for a speculative miner with the rest of the market looking so scary/wobbly/high.


Monday, July 02, 2007

The Tax-man Uruguay

What? I almost forgot some really big Uruguay News. Of course, not being total political nincompoops (sp?) the Uruguayan politicos lowered the VAT a "trifle" on some goods FIRST as a tradeoff for collecting an income tax.

One of the really nice things about being an Uruguayan citizen and resident - no personal income tax - is going away. It promises to encourage more gray-market activities, compliance headaches (especially for the small entrepreneurial business person) and expensive and complicated machination to avoid income taxes by many....

In case you are wondering "what kind of complicated machinations, fuBarrio?", have a look at some of the links on my sidebar.

Of course, the company I work for is licensed in Uruguay to deal with foreigners money, and as such, are precluded from taking on Uruguayans as clients.

Don't know if any studies have been done on this, but it seems that a quasi-socialist state like Uruguay attempts to level the playing field....But in order to do so, they believe, requires taxing income of ordinary working citizens.

Therefore, the very smart, wily, rich (enough to afford good tax advice), and of course the unscrupulous who just ignore or break the law, aren't effected. The "law abiding" middle class that hasn't enough money to pay for good/expensive advice and offshore vehicles pays a majority of the tax burden. The end result is a group of very wealthy tax avoiders who take more from the public trough -- which manifests itself in the form of access and political or economic "favors", and a bunch of formerly middle class citizens wonderin why it's harder and harder to keep up.

So in the end, perhaps the attempt at providing a social saftety net for the poorest of the poor creates a bifurcated social strata where only the super rich and the strugglin to pretend they are middle class survive.

Sound like any other countries we know?


"It's a 'Veterinario' Restaurant!"

Uruguayans love their animals.

Usually with a little bit of salt, slow cooked over a wood fire...har har har....

When I first arrived in Montevideo I spent the first 3 months or so in a deperate search for a vegetarian restaurant that had somehow escaped the discovery of any of the other bloggers.

Of course, veternarian offices are more common than mini-marts in the US, so everywhere I would go, I would catch a glimpse of a sign that said, "Veterinario" and for a fleeting instant hope it was a restaurant...HA!...maybe in Korea. I'd think I'd found the source of deep-fried tofu and Qorn "naked cutletts" -- Only to find it was just another vet's office when inspected closer.

Here at the office we have a couple of established dogs that terrorize the neighborhood by barking at each and every living being that dares walk across the front of the home anywhere between our sidewalk and the river, a good 75 meters away.

We have a new dog in the office these days. Luna, pictured above, is Santiago's beloved yellow lab puppy. She is amazingly cute in everything she does. And, it's a good thing because despite great progress, her house training still leaves a little bit to be desired. My coworker calls her a cute "poopy" - a latin mispronunciation of puppy, but apropos in this case. (As an aside, in case you've never been to montevideo or haven't read much, the sidewalks are covered in the evidence of Uruguayos love for their pets and their disdain for cleaning up after them).

If you come to Montevideo, bring your love of dogs. But, leave behind your hope for a good vegetarian restaurant. The only meaningful exceptions to this are the Italian Restaurants (and pick and choose off the menu, or OdeFusion's Montevideo Vegetarian Food. Luckily, I have a connection at OdeFusion. :)

ciao for now,