Investing In Cuba (Podcast)

February 14, 2019 | 0 | Investing , Podcast

(*)(**)Note: This podcast contains strong language and the transcript has been edited for clarity.(***) (**)(****)#(************************************************************): Eric Schleien & Brian Langis discuss Investing in Cuba(*****)(***) (**)In this episode, Eric Schleien and Brian Langis discuss the merits of investing in Cuba.(***) (******)(*******)Transcript(********)(*********) (**)Eric Schleien: Hi, this is Eric Schleien. You are listening to the Intelligent Investing Podcast. We have Brian Langis back on the show. Welcome, Brian.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Hi. Thank you for having me back on.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Absolutely, my pleasure. I should just get you to co-host with me at some point. Or at least, we should just do shows more often.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah, sure.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Because you’re a lot of fun to have come on. Not saying there haven’t been other people that are fun to come on, but I think we have a good time together.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I love doing it. I got great feedback. People love listening to it. And yeah, we have a good time. It’s great.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. And by the way, congratulations on getting all that notoriety on Seeking Alpha for some of these last few articles that you’ve done through the show. So, I think that was pretty cool.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yes. Yes. Well, the podcast, the blog, the post, everything. I think that was my most successful article published in terms of views. I think so. I mean, when we did the podcast and the article, it was at the peak of the marijuana industry. It was right before it became legal in Canada. And I think after it was published, like one or two days, it became legal. The stocks started tanking. All the marijuana stocks. Actually, all the stocks have been tanking for a while now. But the marijuana stocks, Canopy Growth went from (******************************************************) something to (*************************************************************). A lot of people starting selling. We should take credit for that.(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: I’m gonna take no credit for tanking Canopy Growth. Anyway, we’re gonna be doing an episode on Cuba today. You just came back from Cuba, Brian?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah. It was my second time, and this trip was a little different. It was with the family and some friends. We all had small kids. So, it wasn’t, when I used to travel, I used to travel a lot in the past, and we can talk about that in the next episode. I went to some crazy countries like Cambodia and Vietnam. But this one was Cuba.(***) (**)Brian Langis: It’s a very interesting place in the world, and there is a rich history there with the United States, two countries that took two totally different paths. Cuba’s at an interesting point right now because they have a new president. As you know, they had Fidel Castro for (**********************************************************) something years, and then his brother took over, Raul. Raul retired back in February (*******************************), and they have this new guy, Manuel Diaz-Canel, he’s the new president of Cuba since February. That should be interesting to see what happens next since you don’t have the Castro myth, mystique to keep the people together. Nobody knows who that guy is. So, we’ll see what happens.(***) (**)Brian Langis: He has a massive job ahead of him. Cuba has to do a lot of reforms. It’s not a rich place. They have a lot of issues. I think in the past it was the whole Castro clue. People were fixated with him because he had a lot of charisma and he could sell you anything. So, people just kind of believe him. So, now, this new guy comes in and he has to prove himself and he has to improve people’s lives. So, he has a plate full ahead of him.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I wouldn’t say that the Castros are out of it because the guy, I don’t know if you know how Cuba works, but they have the Cuban Communist party, so it’s a one-party state, and it’s like China. Raul is still the top communist guy. He’s the head of the communist party still, but he’s not in charge of the day to day operations or affairs of the country. So, that guy in charge right now, Miguel Diaz, he’s like third or fourth most important Communist member. So, there are still some senior members ahead of him. So, let’s see the kind of reforms he can take on.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: And also, he can’t be there forever like Fidel. They changed the constitution a couple weeks ago, or last year or this year, I don’t remember, to make sure that, I think he can only serve two terms or something like that, and then they have to change. But who knows what will happen?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Now, I used to live in the States for a while, and I know Cuba was always a fascination and there’s a rich history there. Well, rich not in the good sense. Mostly a crisis. You had the Bay of Pigs, which was when President Kennedy tried to invade the island, and then, you had the missile crisis, which was where there were nuclear missiles controlled by the Soviet Union pointing at the United States. And then, you have a couple things there. The kid in the late (***********************************)s, (**********************************). I mean, we were much younger back then, but it was all over the news. Elian. Do you remember that guy?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: I do very well, actually.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah. It became a big story. I think it cost Al Gore the presidency. I don’t know if you remember that, but Al Gore lost the election by (*******************************************) something votes. He lost Florida.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: I think Ralph Nader probably cost him the presidency.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah. Well, Ralph Nader too, right? But Al Gore lost Florida by (*******************************************) votes, and he lost the Cuban vote, the Cuban bloc, because the Cuban people in Miami, it’s a very big bloc of voters and they vote in a bloc. They were always more Republican than Democrats because Bush and Reagan, they had them in their pocket. The whole Elian kid situation when Bill Clinton had to send him back to Cuba, enraged the Cuban community, and they made sure that Al Gore paid for it because it was (**********************************), (*********************************) when that whole story happened. Anyway, not to get carried away here.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I just got back from a little vacation in Cuba. We had a great time. It’s a beautiful place, a beautiful island. But you can tell that this country has been for (**********************************************************) years have been under government control to some varying degree.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: I posted something on the blog. I think the point I want to make, look, we have a country where we have a simple here’s what happened for (**********************************************************) years, right? So, Fidel took over, and they had this massive social experiment, so they nationalized industries, the whole communist thing, and now we have a number cruncher where you can study to see if it works. That country is a survivor. I wouldn’t call it a success story. It’s not a success story, but it’s interesting.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I find that in today’s, what’s the right word I’m looking for? The political climate we are in right now is not very healthy, but you also have a rise of I would call it like socialism, you know, people that want to experiment with that. They want the government to have a greater role in people’s lives and free that, to a certain degree, depending on how you look at it. At the same time, while we went down that path in the past for (***********************************************) years.(***) (**)Brian Langis: If you start with the Russian Revolution in (************************************), you had (***********************************************) years of various countries that experimented with it starting with the Soviet Union, trickled down to different countries, to now Cuba and Venezuela, and none of them is a success story. You don’t have a country in (***********************************************) years that said you know what, that went well, that worked very well, we should try it. It did not.(***) (**)Brian Langis: The motive is good. The motive was let’s improve people’s lives. People are suffering, people are poor and you want to improve the quality of life. So, it’s noble. You think you’re doing the right thing, but in the end, you’re not. You’re actually not improving the quality of life. You’re making it worse. You’re oppressing people.(***) (**)Brian Langis: When I was there, like, people have a fascination with Cuba. They’re like look, they have free, okay, let’s do this, let’s see what is good about the places. Here are two things that I have taken away from Cuba that I think we should test more or learn from. So, they have, if you know how Cuba works, so everything is paid for. In a sense, everything is free.(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: I want to ask you something first before we get into all this. Do you see an investment opportunity in Cuba right now?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yes and no. Yes, of course. There’s a lot of opportunities. They recently introduced a new-(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Explain to me, because I’ve never been to Cuba, and I find this interesting. Explain to me where you see where there could be potential opportunities for actual intelligent investment, and then at the same time how that plays into reforms that might be coming up, or a lack of reforms if it doesn’t happen.(***) (**)Brian Langis: So, I was joking with my friends I went down there with.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Right. Because don’t a lot of these countries that are kind of poor, to say the least, they’ll have kind of interesting ways of trying to attract capital?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Right. First, yes, Cuba is poor, but not poor in the traditional sense. Not poor like Haiti, not poor like Cambodia.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. That’s why I wasn’t really sure what the world would be. Because it’s not England or the United States or Canada, but you’re right, it’s not Haiti.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah, it’s not Haiti. No, no. That’s poor. I’m sorry, Haiti, but there’s a lot of issues there. The Cuban have a strong, solid safety net. The people are highly educated. All the Cubans are educated. All the Cubans are professionals. They don’t do their professions anyway, but they’re all lawyers, they’re all doctors, they’re all pharmacists, they’re all dentists, they’re all engineers. They all know how to read. I think it’s almost (***********************************************)% literacy rate. And they have homes. So in a sense, they don’t have some of the problems that is flagging our society today. They don’t have the drug problem we have. They don’t have the crime. They don’t have the homeless people. They don’t have people dropping out of school. They’re dealing with depression.(***) (**)Brian Langis: So when I put it that way, I make it sound good, and I am making it sound good. It’s something that maybe we can learn from. But at the same time, nobody wants to trade places. There’s no Americans or Canadians or anybody in the world who wants to, you know what, I want to go to Cuba and live there. No. The Cubans are actually leaving Cuba because they want a better life. They actually want what we have, right? They want more freedom. They want more liberty. They want to be able to make money. They want something better for their family. So that’s really what’s going on. But that strong safety net is helping them, but that’s it. It doesn’t get better. Yeah, you get a little bit of food, you got a nice little home. Actually, I wouldn’t say nice. It’s not nice. But you’ve got a roof.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: Now, to go back to the second part of your question, or actually the first part, was the foreign investment opportunity since we are an investing podcast. So yes, there are a lot of opportunities, and I think you really need to -(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Can you give me some specifics of things that you would say?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Well, that’s it. I was joking with my friends who I went down there with. And you’re driving down and you see all the buildings. And I was joking. I’m like, do you know how I could get really, really rich here? He’s like, what. I should be selling paint because they really need paint. And then we’re driving around and we see all these buildings crumbling and their roads and all the reparations and infrastructure and the road and the bridges and everything needs to be repaired, everything needs to be up-key, you need some mass investments.(***) (**)Brian Langis: And I was joking, you know what, I know how I’m gonna get rich here. I should open a Home Depot. Open a Home Depot and I think you’ll have the best business in the world. I’m gonna sell paint. I’m gonna sell ladders. I’m gonna sell nails. I’m gonna sell hammers. And I think just that you’ll do very, very well. So, that was the joke. All these buildings are falling apart. If somebody wants to hustle down there, that would be something to do.(***) (**)Brian Langis: But that’s the issue, right? You need to import that stuff, and it’s so complicated to import anything in Cuba. It’s a mess. But they’re doing reforms. So they have a new foreign investment act in place because they’re desperate, they need money, and they want to attract foreign investment. So, that doesn’t mean that it’s attracting money. They haven’t attracted a lot of money. There are companies who are investing, but it’s not all the money they hope for.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Because you know how it is. Investing is an opportunity cost. I am a foreign company or I’m a foreign investor. I’m going to invest where I have the best opportunities. So Cuba is one option. But if I can invest let’s say in the Dominican or Jamaica or another Caribbean country or wherever in the world that’s offering me better conditions, I know less bureaucracy, I know the government is not gonna change the contract in one or two, three years, I have rule of law. My money, less capital control, so money can go in, money can leave the country. More liberty. These are all things that I will take into consideration.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: But there are companies that are investing in Cuba. You have a lot of resorts. So if somebody’s actually interested in investing in Cuba, the big resort companies, they’re publicly traded like Melia.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Go ahead.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Melia ((**********)OTCPK:SMIZF(*****)) is one of them. Actually, let me just type it in here. Melia resort, Melia something, Melia. It’s from Spain. Melia.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: They’re publicly traded?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah. It’s a Spanish company. Melia Hotels International. So, they have a bunch of resorts. I know Melia’s a big one. It’s in Spain. And it’s not a pure bet on Cuba. They have resorts all over Central America, like Mexico, Jamaica, whatever. Every island, there’s a Melia resort.(***) (**)Brian Langis: In Canada, we have Sherritt International ((***********)OTCPK:SHERF(*****)). They’re in Cuba. Now, I just want to make it clear. This is not an investment recommendation. Actually, I’m not even recommending investing in that company, but the name of it is Sherritt International. I’ve been following it for a couple years. Their symbol is S on the TSX, the Toronto Stock Exchange, Sherritt International.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Sheraton or Sherritt?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Sherritt, Sherritt, yes. And they do a little bit of everything in Cuba. They do a little bit of mining, oil, gas, electricity. They’re involved in a little bit of everything there. But big European companies like Total, they are investing in Cuba.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Let me bring it back to individuals investing in Cuba. You said you would open up a Home Depot kind of store. Is that even doable, though, with the way that the laws are and whatever restrictions are there now?(***) (**)Brian Langis: I don’t know. I don’t know as a foreign investor. I think everybody’s a little bit on the sideline. I don’t know if a foreign guy, especially let’s say American, can go to Cuban and open a business. I will say I doubt it. Or if it’s possible, obviously the government, see, the way a lot of these businesses are, like let’s say the big resort for tourism and all these things, the government owns them and they are leasing it back. So they put the money and they have a management contract. Now, I don’t know if the new foreign investment act allows this.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: What’s going on is that a lot of the Cubans are now turning to self-employment. So it’s allowed now. And there are about (*********************************************) trades that you can take up, you can do. You can be a mechanic, you can do this or be a real estate agent, whatever. You can decide to create a restaurant, a coffee shop. And I think this happened a week or two ago, they actually modified. Because when the changes came in effect a couple years ago, for example, I was allowed to have a restaurant but not eat with a Cuban person, but you couldn’t have more than (**********************************************************) people in it. Or I would have a bookshop and a coffee place together. That was illegal because that was two different trades. You were only allowed to have one trade. But now, you are allowed to have more than one trade. So that coffee shop with a bookstore in it is now legal as of two weeks ago. Before, it was illegal. You were not allowed to do that. And there are about (******************************************),(************************************************************************) self-employed Cubans, which is good.(***) (**)Brian Langis: And all these people used to be on the government payroll. Now they’re not. It’s about a couple percent of the number of employees. And you’re turning these people into taxpayers. So you’re creating a tiny base of people that are paying taxes and they’re off the government book. You can tell that these people, they all want a better life. For example, when I was at my hotel, the resort, my barista, the waiters, all these people, they’re all doctors, they’re all professionals, but they’re hustling. They all want the tourist job. They all want to work at a resort, just to give you an idea of the money they can make.(***) (**)Brian Langis: This is very complex and complicated, but Cuba has two different currencies. I’m not gonna go in details because it’s complex, but they have two different currencies. One of them is what the tourists like myself use. It’s called the Cuban convertible peso, and it’s pegged to the U.S. dollar one to one. Okay? So when I go there, I exchange my money and I get that peso that only tourists can use and it’s pegged to U.S. dollar one to one. Now, we can all agree that it’s currently overvalued and we can also agree that it’s pretty much monopoly money. Because if I bring back these pesos back home and I go to my bank with that, they’ll be like, I don’t know what that is. So that money is pretty much monopoly money. It’s nothing. Now the Cubans, the everyday Cubans use a different system. They have the Cuban pesos and the exchange rates about (*****************************************************************) to 1, the convertible pesos. Now again, it’s complicated and they have a different exchange rate for different industries. It’s a mess.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: So to answer your question, when I go over there and open a Home Depot, you have to understand what’s going on with the law, the different exchange rate. They’re talking about reforming and having one. This is interesting because the new guy, he’s in charge now, and he’s in charge of having maybe one currency system for everybody, one peso.(***) (**)Brian Langis: So here’s the issue with that, Eric, is you have these state-owned enterprises, right, which is like (**************************************************)% of the economy. They all have this giant balance sheet of these Cuban pesos that are pegged one to one to the U.S. dollar. So if they actually reform, that money it’s currently overvalued, so you’re gonna have this massive devaluation. So who knows what happens. It’s not gonna be good. These companies, they are gonna go bust when they find out that their money is not worth what it’s supposed to be worth. So, this is gonna be interesting to see what happens when the reforms are in place.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Long term, though, wouldn’t you think it might be some short term pain but long term would be better if you’re not keeping the currency overvalued?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yes. That’s where they’re debating, right? Reforms are required. So how are we gonna do it? Are we gonna do it fast and have some short term pain or are we gonna take our time and gradually open the economy, gradually liberate the economy, and with stretching the current pain over time? That’s the debate. And who’s gonna pay the cost?(***) (**)Brian Langis: The Cubans, when they had their revolution, they made a promise. Not a promise, but a covenant with the people. Support us. Support the revolution. Support the government, and we’ll supply you with housing, security, and food, education and healthcare. That was the covenant. They have to keep respecting that or the people will just overthrow the government. It doesn’t take much.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I can’t believe that country still survived. They managed to survive. The Soviet Union collapsed. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was (************************************************)% of Cuban exports. Cuba went through a severe recession. And naturally, you expect, okay, look, all these countries, all these communist countries, all these socialist countries are reforming, Cuba’s next. It’s just gonna be the next domino to fall. They did not.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: And then Venezuela came along and Cuba became a dependent of Venezuela. So every time Cuba needed oil, let’s say I need a million barrels of oil, Cuba would send, like, (****************************************************************),(************************************************************************) doctors and Venezuela would send the oil. Now Venezuela is just a basket case. I don’t know if you can call it a country it anymore. And they don’t support Cuba anymore because they can’t. So they got their back against the wall.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I think, yeah, long term there are gonna be opportunities, but I think you’re gonna have to be on the ground. If you want to make this work, you have to be on the ground.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Do you ever look at the website Cuba Culture,***) (**)Brian Langis: No. Cuba Culture? No.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah, Cuba-Culture. I was looking up a few of these things before the show. There are Cuban websites that are specifically targeted investing in Cuba by people who kind of know the lay of the land. It just looks so complicated. But the thing I guess, right, if you want to do the work, there may be opportunities. I think that’s with a lot of these countries, right? It’s like if you have the right connections and know how to navigate the minefield if you will, there’s the opportunity.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah, for sure. There’s so much bureaucracy.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah, it’s insane. It’s really insane the amount of bureaucracy. Just from reading all this, it’s actually overwhelming to learn about this.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Cuba is not there yet. In terms of investing, it’s not there yet. Now, if you want to be a wheeler-dealer on the ground and you love that stuff and the bureaucracy and knowing the people, there are gonna be opportunities anywhere.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Listen to this, right? This is one example. Let’s say you want to buy real estate and buy property in Cuba. This is what it says on the website. The reality is there are three main ways in which you can buy property or real estate in Cuba as a non-Cuban. These three ways are as follows.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Number one, marry a Cuban. This might be a little extreme, but it is one of the ways in which you would be eligible to purchase a home in Cuba from another local property owner. By being married, you can then apply for permanent residence, and this authorization would enable you to buy the local.(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: Number two, you can purchase a property from another foreigner. If you have no desire or intention to marry a Cuban and have no other direct ties with this country, there is the opportunity to buy from another foreigner. There was a period of time in the last (******************************************************************) years where a number of newly built holiday properties were built and sold to foreigners. These foreigners owned properties that can be sold to another foreigner. This is one of the easiest ways for you to buy property in Cuba if you are not Cuban.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: And then number three-(***) (**)Brian Langis: The easiest way?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah, right? That’s one of the easiest.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Three, through others, not necessarily a way that I would recommend, but if you want to ensure that you have full control over your own property, what you can do is what some people do is buy property in the name of your children, family, and sometimes even friends. Okay, I’m not gonna even advocate for that at all on my show, but if they’re Cuban nationals. Do be aware that this can turn into a nightmare such as when family members begin to disagree on certain things connected to the property. That sounds like a really horrible idea.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: There are other things too. There’s the Mariel Economic Development Zone project.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Right, that’s new. That’s new, right?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. And there’s also a guide to importing/exporting into Cuba. There are drug and biotechnical industry investment opportunities. You can buy Cuban domain names, dot CU. That’s interesting. That to me is enticing because there’s not much capital involved and if there are economic reforms open up where more businesses are gonna want websites, you could do that. See, that to me could be interesting.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Look up this company. CUV Ventures (CUV.V). Yeah, CUV Ventures. It’s a Canadian Stock Exchange company. The financials are terrible. I’m not saying buy it, but look it up. It’s CUV Ventures. It’s on the Venture in Canada. They do websites, blockchain, fintech, a market cap (******************************************************************) million. Let me look it up here. It’s something I ran into a while ago. Just let your listeners know, it’s not an investment recommendation.(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: How do you find this stuff? You find some of the weirdest stuff, man.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah, it’s kind of my thing. CUV Ventures Corp. That’s it. It’s on the TSX Venture. It’s a penny stock, .(*******************************************************************) cents, and it’s worth (******************************************************************), yeah, the market cap (******************************************************************) million. They’re crypto coin, online travel marketing, websites, blockchain, a mess of things. I think I was looking at it the other day when I was doing some research. It’s a real company, it’s a real business, but it’s not profitable. They’re losing a lot of money. It’s a mess.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Is that why you said that they have the single largest portfolio of Cuban focused websites?(***) (**)Brian Langis: They do? I didn’t know that.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Well, you brought up websites and I knew they were in this, but I didn’t know they were the big one.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. They generate over (**************************************************************) million page views annually, direct traffic to booking sites, websites, cover plus (***************************************************) Cuban travel destinations, hotels, resorts, car rentals, culture, music, sports, food, and more. Over (***********************************************)% annual revenue growth.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Right.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Founded in (********************************) by Steve Marshall with (******************************************************************) years of experience in Cuba, a sector rite for significant growth as Cuba opens up. Generally, U.S. tourist ban still in place but travel up (**********************************************************)% in the last year for U.S. travelers fitting into one of the (*********************************************************************) permitted categories. Their fact sheet is actually kind of interesting just in terms of learning about a business involved in Cuba. You know what? Maybe I can get Steve Marshall to come on the show. He’s the CEO of Cuban Ventures. I think that could be interesting.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you’ve got the blockchain, you’ve got the fintech.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: I’m more interested just in the fintech stuff in general. Let’s see if we can get Steve Marshall to come on the show. You’ll cohost that show with me.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Cool. I have to look it up, I have to learn more about the company.(***) (**)Brian Langis: One more thing. Do you know why doctors want to drive cabs in Cuba?(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. It makes more money.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Makes a lot more money. So they got state-(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. My dad’s a physician and he brought this up to me before.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Oh, yeah, cool. So just give you a number for the audience. The state wage per month is about $(****************************************************************) USD, so maybe (****************************************************************) pesos if you peg it one to one. Now, they start hustling for cash. A bad day is about 5 bucks in tips and a good day they’ll get $(********************************************************************) in tips. So they make in tips per day 5 to (********************************************************************) dollars, just one day. For us that’s much, but for them when you make (****************************************************************) bucks a day. I’m sorry. When you make $(****************************************************************) a month and now you start making let’s say (**********************************************************************) bucks a day, now you’ve got real money.(***) (**)Brian Langis: And I’m telling you why Cuba’s gonna get better over the years, because you have (******************************************),(************************************************************************) people now who are self-employed, so they’re working for themselves and they’re going to be responsible for their own success. Also the foreign investment act, so they’re going to bring more money in. Also, you got a new special economic zone. So they’re gonna get a taste, right? They’re gonna get a bit of sugar, they’re gonna get that sugar rush. They’re gonna taste. They’re gonna be like, the money that’s coming in, the lives are improving, we got more money, and it’s gonna be hard to turn that back down. You saw what China did. You saw what Vietnam did. So they’re all models to copy. I’m not saying it’s the model for the rest of the world, but for Cuba, it might be an idea.(***) (**)Brian Langis: And also what could really help Cuba in opportunities for investors is to make Cuba a friend, an ally. That will help a lot. Maybe do something about the embargo, because that is hurting them so much. That’s my opinion. Obviously, at the time when it was implemented, it makes sense. There were some serious issues. But today, do you still need that? You’re causing more harm than you’re helping.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Anyway, there’s a lot of things that have to be done. And in times of crisis, there are always opportunities. And obviously, it’s good to keep an eye on the island you guys have. It’d be fun if it’s back in the American fold instead of a China and Russia. They love that.(***)
(**)Brian Langis: I don’t know if you have questions for me or anything about Cuba in general.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Not really, no. I just thought this was an interesting overview and wanted to hear your view on it.(***) (**)Brian Langis: It’s a topic to keep an eye on, you know? It’s on the watch list.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. You think it’s a positive, though, overall that the Castros are not running the show at least directly anymore?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Oh, for sure, for sure, oh yeah, for sure. No, it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. The new guy, they know they got their back against the wall. Nobody is bailing them out this time. The Soviet Union’s gone. Venezuela’s about to be gone. So who’s gonna bail them out? They’re not even part, they’re not a member of the World Bank, they’re not a member of the IMF. That’s why it’s gonna make these currency reforms really, really hard. If they were members, well, they could get some assistance, but they’re not members. Who’s gonna loan money to Cuba? They know they have to do something and they’re responsible for it. It’s not the big, bad, evil United States. It’s not anybody else. No. They’re facing some serious problems, and they know the solutions. It’s gonna be hard. It’s not gonna be easy.(***) (**)Brian Langis: But it’s gonna be interesting to see the new generation of Cubans who weren’t born when the revolution happened. They have no idea now that Fidel passed away. They’re brainwashed over there, for sure. A lot of propaganda, you know, all the gift shops are all propaganda, Che Guevara, Fidel, the Revolucion, all that stuff. But eventually, they’ll catch on.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Look what happened in France with the Les Gilets Jaunes, the yellow vest, and that’s France. I’m like okay, these guys are burning everything in sight, they’re trashing the country because the French people have it bad. If these people are going to the square and hating the government in France, look, if Cuba, Cuba will have, I don’t see why they can’t take to the street and express themselves. But it is what it is. It’s funny, you know, what makes a country tick or not, what makes it tick. I mean, there’s no lacking of reason in Cuba to put on your yellow jacket and go burn a car or something.(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: Interesting. I’m looking up Cuban domain names at the moment.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Any nice websites?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: On, they go for (**************************************) pounds a year. It’s expensive. I don’t know why.(***) (**)Brian Langis: So the money in there is having the right to that name or they actually have websites with ads on it or something.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: No. It’s having a right to the name, like to own the domain.(***) (**)Brian Langis: You just own the name?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: So it looks like based off my very limited research, the annual fee is (**************************************) pounds with a (**************************************)-pound annual renewal fee, right? Yeah, to annual renewal fee (**************************************) pounds. There’s a (***********************************************) pound update fee, a (***********************************************)-pound transfer fee. It’s expensive. Interesting.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I just looked up It’s taken.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Dot com or dot CU?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Dot com. Let me see dot CU.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: It’s taken. is taken. But is available. Let’s see if is available. is available too. Maybe that’ll be worth something.(***) (**)Brian Langis: (**************************************) Euros a year? What?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: You know what? You know how much would probably be worth? I’m just saying.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Taken.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Actually, I know who a guy has a history of doing amazing shit with investing in domains. He could be another guy to have on the show too.(***) (**)Brian Langis: He’s like a squatter?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: But a very successful one.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: He’s made millions.(***) (**)Brian Langis: That’s an insider game. You just do all the time, every day. You know when the domains expire. You shift them.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. I had talked to him years ago and he was telling me the way he thought about things. It was very interesting. It’s totally out of my wheelhouse.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah. You have to be, it’s not something passive. It’s a full time, you buy, sell, flip, you keep track of things, beat people to it because everybody else is doing it. I don’t know. You have to watch for big, big names expiring and they forget to renew. It’s a different game. I’m sure you can make a lot of money on it. Or maybe spot trends. You know how you buy a name before the trend picks up and people are like yeah? Let’s see what happens.(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: Is there anything?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Quick note. Just to go back, do you remember when we did the Tesla (NASDAQ: (************)TSLA(*****)) website, the Tesla podcast?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yes. I designed Tesla’s website. Did you know?(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah. Did you see the (*******************************************************) Minutes interview with Elon Musk did a week or two ago?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: I didn’t, no. I heard about it.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Anyway, just a quick comment. When he started Tesla, he bought the name, Tesla. They didn’t have it, so they had to pay somebody for it. And at the time they have no money. They’re starting out. And the guy didn’t want to sell it to them. He’s like, no, I’m keeping the name, I’m keeping the name, I’m keeping the name. They actually had to like, look, we’ll give you money and they paid. Guess how much they paid the name Tesla for?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: I have no idea.(***) (**)Brian Langis: $(****************************************************),(************************************************************************).(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Wow.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I mean now it’s worth a lot more, but at the time it was just who knew that it would become what it is now? But at the time, $(****************************************************),(************************************************************************), you know? Another quick Elon Musk comment. I think it was from the (*******************************************************) Minutes interview he did, one before that lately. Do you remember everybody’s talking about they’re gonna run out of cash, they’re running out of cash, are they gonna bankrupt?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yes.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Well, did you see that comment he made where he said yeah, we were a couple weeks away from being bankrupt?(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.(***) (**)Brian Langis: And you see what the stock did? Nothing.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Right.(***) (**)Brian Langis: I have to say, yeah, we’re about to go bankrupt, we almost have no more cash, and the stock market didn’t react to it. So that’s the Tesla stock for you, man. It’s on a different orbit.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: And it’s also not being transparent or honest, if you will, when he talked about we’ll be fine, we’re fine.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah. Well, look, it didn’t take an expert to look at the financial and say how are they gonna pay for anything, right? Spend five minutes on it. Okay. You know they’re gonna have some kind of cash flow problem, they have some debt coming up, how are they gonna pay for all the things he’s saying they want to do? You ask legit questions. Where is their money? How are you gonna pay for it? You never got answers.(***)
(**)Eric Schleien: Yeah. Well, you know, I hope they’re massively successful and that’s all. That’s really my only skin in the game is that if they can make the world better, then it makes it better for everyone.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Yeah, for sure.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: That’s all I go for. Hey man, anyway, I think we should wrap it up.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Thanks. For sure.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Thanks for coming on, Brian.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Eric, it was a pleasure.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Absolutely.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Let’s do this again.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Sounds good. We’ll talk to you soon.(***) (**)Brian Langis: All right. Happy holidays to you and your family.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: You too. Take care.(***) (**)Brian Langis: Thanks.(***) (**)Eric Schleien: Yeah, bye.(***) (**)Thank you for listening to the Intelligent Investing Podcast with Eric Schleien. If you’d like to connect with Eric for questions, comments, feedback, ideas, or to inquire about being on the show, please contact Eric at So in the words of Charlie Munger, I have nothing to add.(***)
(*************)(**************)(***************)(****************)Disclosure: (*****************) (*************)I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next (*****************************************************) hours.(**************) (******************)I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.(**************)(***)(*******************)(********************)(*********************)(**********************)(*********************)(***********************)(*********************)(************************)(*************************)(**************************)(***************************)(****************************)(*****************************)Read More(*****)