Perspectives on immigration and long-term economic and political forecasts from the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands

Some perspectives from reading the guidebooks and listening to tour guides in Portugal, the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands…

Low-skilled immigration makes a country poorer according to the Lonely Planet Portugal guidebook, otherwise filled with politically correct sentiments:

In 1974 and 1975 there was a massive influx of refugees from the former African colonies, changing the demographic of the city and culturally, if not financially, adding to its richness.

The fewer immigrants the better according to Lonely Planet Canary Islands:

Migration from Africa has also stabilized with just 288 migrants arriving here in 2014, compared to a staggering 32,000 in 2006 when some days several hundred Africans would reach the islands in their rickety wooden boats.

Guides in the Canaries told us that, in addition to using military force to resist immigration from Africa, they use police and regulations to resist immigrants from other parts of the EU. To stay in the Canaries one must have either a W-2 job or prove to authorities that one has sufficient savings and income to sustain oneself without collecting welfare.

The accepted narrative in guidebooks and among locals is that population growth historically led to unemployment and poverty for which the only relief was emigration. This is where the “tough to make predictions about the future” angle of the title comes in. During the last 120 years or so, the countries that seemed the most promising destinations for ambitious young Atlantic islanders: Cuba, South Africa, Venezuela. (A lot of folks ended up bouncing back, sometimes a couple of generations after emigrating.)

Separately, for those who didn’t emigrate you might ask what life is like. On the Azores the answer is “awesome.” The islands have fantastic roads, considering the mountainous terrain, which are never crowded. “All of these roads and tunnels were funded by the EU starting in the 1990s,” explained our guide. Every small town has a festival at least once per year and residents will party until sunrise. “There are a lot of little towns here,” explained our guide, “so we’re usually at a festival about once every week.” This prompted a Swiss tourist to mutter “When do these people work?” Locals stress the safety and security of their lives on the islands, the good schools for their children, and the strong connections to family and neighbors. The economy of the Azores is built on agriculture and some islands are just covered in dairy farms. The farther south you go to Madeira and the Canary Islands the more it feels like an artificial tourist outpost, but the locals express some of the same sentiments as do those in the Azores. One thing these folks love is transportation. Towns are clustered around harbors and airports are built absolutely as close to a town as possible. Nobody complains about overflight noise of inter-island turboprops or jets from the mainland.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Multiple perspectives on transgender-related medical costs

The Trumpenfuhrer’s pronouncement that he would like to get transgender-related medical costs off the military’s books has apparently changed the opinions of journalists:

  • CNN, July 31, 2015, “The high cost of being transgender”: “the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery posts cost estimates for different procedures. Its price list mentions estimates of $ 140,450 to transition from male to female, and $ 124,400 to transition from female to male.”
  • CNN, July 26, 2017: the cost to provide transgender-related services to active military personnel would amount to 0.004-0.017% of the Defense Department’s total health care spending

(I’m not sure that the accounting in the second article is correct, incidentally. The “total health care spending” may include retirees and not simply “active military personnel.” (Forbes provides a breakdown of the $ 52 billion total that was spent back in 2012; note that this number is in the same ballpark as the entire military budget of Russia.) Also, the military historically has rejected recruits based on the possibility of being on the hook for long-term medical costs. “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden” says that ” Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for … psychiatric inpatient care.” A Guardian article from 2004, “Sex changes are not effective, say researchers,” suggests that long-term psychiatry costs could be significant.)

[Since I’m not in the military and haven’t had gender-related surgery I don’t have a personal opinion on the merits of Trump’s proposed policy. I just think it is interesting that a statement by Trump has the power to effect such a dramatic change in point of view.]


Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

The Weekend Trader – Off the Grid Lessons, New Perspectives, and Trading After Dark

Today’s video explores lessons learned while off the grid, this week’s reinforcement of prime trading times (think Europe!), and the fast-moving evolution of the Trading After Dark community.

Links referenced in the video include the Deep Work book and the Trading After Dark overview datasheet.

Uplifting message for the day: Do what other traders won’t, can’t, or don’t know how to do!

Don Miller’s Trading Journal

2016-17 Retrospectives & Perspectives

Today’s video encourages all of us to consider the objective data provided by our 2016 trading results as both a candid performance review as well as guide for future improvement.  I also encourage all of us to consider joining a small trading (or life!) accountability group to further keep us on track.

Also, a reminder to please let me know if you’re interested in participating in the 2017 live Jellie trader trading effort, which will be held in either February or March depending on participant interest and schedule. If you’re interested, please email me at

Lastly, and as noted in the video, we are truly honored and humbled to have been selected as the flagship trading educational program at

Don Miller’s Trading Journal

Intergenerational perspectives on immigration (and Clinton v. Trump)

One bonus of spending two weeks on a cruise ship is that one meets a wide array of people. The roughly 2,400 guests on our Serenade of the Seas Baltic Sea cruise came from 52 different countries. Among these were Americans from every region of the U.S. and with a much wider range of political views than are typically aired in Massachusetts.

Due to the upcoming election and perhaps the media’s frenzied portrayal of the Clinton v. Trump decision as a momentous one that will affect all Americans’ daily lives, there was a lot of political discussion. On the immigration issue, one pattern that I noticed was that at least some people tend to vote their checkbook. Some older Americans expressed positive attitudes toward immigration. They were done working and therefore wouldn’t be competing with anyone for a job. They typically own property that will increase in value if the U.S. population is expanded to 600 million via immigration. Asked what the advantages of immigration were to an average existing American citizen they talked about how immigrants would do jobs that “Americans didn’t want to do,” such as prepare and serve food in senior citizens’ housing. In other words, prices for consumers of unskilled labor would be lower. On the other hand, some young people, including college students, were negative about immigration and therefore positive about Donald Trump. They cited traffic jams, competition for jobs, higher taxes to pay for welfare benefits and other handouts to immigrants, and costs and security hassles related to Islamic violence at public events or gatherings.

The ship itself is a good example of why working-age Americans might rationally vote to obstruct a free worldwide labor market (one method of obstruction being blocking immigration to the U.S.). There were workers from 64 different countries on the ship (flag parade video that I captured). The ship itself, a magnificent machine that has been kept in near-perfect condition, was built in Germany in 2001-2003. It is a floating town of about 3,500 passengers and crew and includes most of the businesses and municipal functions of a town: retail, restaurants, hotel, electricity generation, water desalinization, sewage treatment, legal and regulatory compliance, health care (doctor and two nurses), repairs and maintenance, cable TV, Internet, live entertainment, etc. All of this is accomplished to a higher-than-typical-American standard at a lower-than-typical-American cost by a crew that includes very few Americans. Americans would find work in a free labor market, of course, but we wouldn’t be sought-after. (Economists would say that in a truly free labor market the unemployment rate is always close to 0% because eventually the market will clear with workers accepting jobs at low wages, but this isn’t relevant in the modern welfare state because living on government handouts may yield a better material lifestyle than working at a market-clearing wage (and working at a market-clearing wage may be illegal due to minimum wage laws; see Puerto Rico)).

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

The Weekend Trader – Trading & Life Perspectives

This weekend’s thoughts focus on some of my strongest feelings about trading, life, and how they’re intertwined. I also stress the issue of pressing your bets when the time is right, which to my surprise remains a little-preached concept.

As I mention in the video, as was the case when I published my daily diary, I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone.

Have a blessed and productive week.

Don Miller’s S&P Trading Tank

The Weekend Trader – A Peek Inside the Book & Current Perspectives

After taking a brief hiatus to deal with some personal issues including the passing of my Dad, we’re back with high energy today to discuss book, market, and life perspectives.

As I mention, the Amazon site now includes previews of some of the book segments to give you a peek at some of the contents.

I also mention an upcoming online webcast scheduled for July 19, 2013, entitled Creating “Outliers” to Maximize Trade and Career Gains where I’ll briefly touch on what I believe is one of THE key principles of successful trading.

Finally, remember that “In the end, everything will be OK, and if it’s not OK, then it’s not the end.”

Don Miller’s S&P Trading Tank