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Panama's Perpetual Revolution

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Written by Matt   
Monday, 13 October 2008 15:12
Panama RevolutionI recently came across an article in New York Magazine that started by recounting the year of 1968, ask which marked the rise of Wall Street, a money machine that would eventually pump more dollars and life into New York City than ever before. The article went on to describe a time soon thereafter, in the 1970s, when New York and the market went into a proverbial tailspin: neighborhoods torched, factories shut down, crime soared. It was a decade of tumultuous change for New York City, but a natural one that the author pinned as a typical catalyst for reconstitution. "A perpetual revolution" were the words he used. Great cities change over time, for better or worse. There are booms and busts, peaks and valleys, good times and bad.

With the current worldly crises threatening Panama City's full potential in many regards, it's easy for pessimists to say this place will fall apart just as fast as it rose up in the first place: that Panama City might just be content to return to the way things were before all the madness began.

Starting with the completion to the handing over of the Canal, then into the rise of Panama as an international banking hub, the isthmus has seen momentum in development over a large time span.

The years surrounding the turn of the century brought even more momentous change to Panama City. Tourism businesses began to emerge, foreigners in masses began to consider visiting, and lucrative real estate projects started to rear their heads. It was a time period that saw everything rosy in the capital city: with limitless pockets of promise not unlike the skyscrapers that begin to reach symbolically into the air.

Government offices for building permits and immigration services became happily overwhelmed. The international airport began a process of renovation, new domestic airstrips opened, and grand proposals for worldwide tourism publicity were slated. There was the awarding of a seat on the UN Security Council, the announcement of the widening of the Canal, as well as various oil refineries and mines setting up shop, all of which read like a billboard "Come to Panama Now."

From entrepreneurs to retirees to travelers passing through: everyone had the same curious twinkle in their eye, as if an insider secret had yet to be released to the masses.

Since, growth in Panama City has not been all flowers and cupcakes. It has become an increasingly expensive place to live that, while nothing by New York City standards, is starting to price many middle-class locals out. Pollution has increased, traffic has gotten bad, and crime is hazardously on the rise. Real estate prices and rentals rates have increased dramatically, banks are hesitant with loans, and the only places to find truly cheap housing present the threat of getting beaten up. Income disparity is worsening and immigration laws are in flux: many markets that rely solely on foreigners are now in danger due to outside influences.

With an abnormal influx in foreigners and media hype over the past 10 years, some would argue Panama City to be near its breaking point. Granted, Panama City's not faced with a depression, nor is it terribly interconnected with the remainder of the world. The economy is strong, infrastructure is actively on the rise, and people still seem to be happy. Eager and dreamy emigrants still enter the country by the planeload sold on the dream. But how will a stress on Panama City's capacities truly play out in the near future? What can be said to those who ask whether the melting pot of Panama City will make it or not? And what will a virtual depression mean for the poster child of real estate boomtowns in Central America?



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You need to smile more
written by Alexander Gershfeld , October 14, 2008
Dear Matt, although your writing skills are well developed, I do recommend your cheer up just a bit. Lately most of your articles are overly morbid. Most people do understand that generally all in life is cyclical, except life itself, of course. It seems to me you are waiting for your turn to be able to say “See, I told you!”
Panama is a great little country, with fantastic future. Yes, much must be learned and improved upon but never the less all is know by comparisons. We could be living in Venezuela or Nicaragua………
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Thanks for the comment
written by Mateo , October 14, 2008
Thanks Alexander for your comment. I don't think this piece was terribly negative: I was instead going for the opposite. The whole "all great cities have cycles and whether or not real estate is selling, Panama City will stay an interesting place".

Most of my articles lately have been negative huh? I'll try to do some uplifting in the coming weeks for sure smilies/smiley.gif
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Hookers!
written by JeffB , October 20, 2008
Hi Matt - you do need to lighten up a bit. I suggest a nice, lively article about hookers! You could do a comparison piece about how the hooker economy seems to go up when the financial market seems to go down. smilies/smiley.gif
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Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2008 15:30
 
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