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Buy Local. Build North Korea.

Merry Christmas! Kim is dead, Long Live Kim. The dictator of North Korea, is dead. Christmas time can be a bad time for dictators. Romania’s Ceausescue came to an end on Christmas Day 1989, and just five days prior Panama’s Noriega got a heavy metal serenade on his way to the clink.

Kim Jong-Il in happier days.

Captain Kirk once said “Space, the final frontier”.  I disagree.  Its actually right here, on Earth.  Its all about those marketplaces which are found beyond the frontier.

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My wife woke me up at 3am this morning to tell me that Kim Jong-Il died.  She is Indonesian, and I am a self hating Canadian, but we were both “interested” enough to take note of this news when we should have been fast asleep. Why so? Perhaps because the North Korean regime has been such an oddity for such a long time, and is armed with nukes.  But also perhaps because North Korea is an extreme example of the blue sky markets which are beginning to open up to the global economy.

How extreme an example?

The National Post’s Peter Goodspeed wrote the below of the absurd nature of Kim Jong-il’s rule

“For 69 years, Kim Jong-il, a ruthless pudgy demigod, has been one of the most idolized men in the world. To most North Koreans the mere presence of “Dear Leader” could cause fruit trees to bloom in winter and make snow melt. A “genius of 10,000 talents,” he allegedly wrote 1,500 books during four years at university; shot 11 holes-in-one the first time he played golf and is “praised by mankind as the most outstanding political elder and a peerlessly brilliant commander.” He was a totalitarian tyrant, who enslaved and starved his people, ran a political gulag as ruthless as Stalin’s and taunted the world with nuclear weapons. A fat man in a country frequented by famine, Kim reportedly bought more top-of-the-line cognac than anyone else in the world; imported “pleasure squads” of Swedish blondes to satisfy his lust; and, supposedly, injected himself with the blood of virgins to stay young and healthy.”

Kim Jong-Il would have made a good bad guy in a Star Trek movie, as would have Qaddafi in Libya, Egypt’s Mubarak, Duvalier of that Caribbean isle Haiti, Cambodia’s own Pol Pot, world terror chief formerly holed up in Afghanistan (Osama bin Laden), Charles Taylor of Liberia, and others.

Then again one should not forget those that remain in place in Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia etc etc.  But times are changing. Gbagbo is in a jail cell, and even George W. Bush is having to change travel plans to avoid the cuffs.

While the future of North Korea may still be a huge question mark, the changing of the guard in the world’s off limits areas is now an historical fact. The Arab Spring (summer and fall too) as well as the Russian winter, are creating the ways and means for new markets to emerge. Many of these are not yet called emerging markets. Oddly enough according to MSCI and Standard and Poor they are not yet even known as frontier markets.  Lets call them blue sky markets, places beyond the horizon.

Would you call Liberia, Haiti, and Afghanistan emerging markets? Places to do business? Probably not, but doing business is exactly what they are doing.

Our Republican friends used to talk of the “Axis of Evil”, “Beyond the Axis of Evil”, and even “Outposts of Tyranny”.  Well a few tyrants have reached the end of the road this year. Their countries now represent new markets. 2012 has long been touted as the Year the World will End but for some of these tough places its all blue sky.

So let us not mourn Kim Jong-Il overly much. Tears of grief or tears of joy? This blue sky market may result in a place that does not need food aid in the future.

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Blue sky markets are appearing all across the planet.  They may be beyond the frontier marketplaces of some big funds, the IFC and Worldbank, but they are opening up, and opening up fast.

Anyone going to come with me to blue sky marketplaces in Kigali, Juba, Kinshasa, Conakry, Harare, Rangoon, and Phnom Penh next year?

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