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Apocalypse Now: Where to Escape

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Scared of the future? Argentina awaits.

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Peripatetic author and professional international investor Doug Casey has, by his count, traveled to 175 countries and lived in 12. One of the last places he thinks is fitting to live now is the United States.

Casey, 63, oversees the investment firm Casey Research, where he writes a monthly newsletter and has international investments in real estate and commodities. He wrote Crisis Investing in 1979, and the following year the book reached the top of The New York Times best-seller list.

A crisis connoisseur, he describes our current situation as the Greater Depression: Far from over, he predicts greater problems ahead, such as higher unemployment, additional government intervention, a lower standard of living, and civil unrest.

In part, this is the reason for his newest project: an expat development in northwest Argentina, in the small colonial village of Cafayate, nestled among wine vineyards in the mountains. Most of the residents will be American, though 11 other countries will be represented.

Casey calls it the best place in the world to live, and the website beckons one to discover the best kept secret. It's a unique escape for people who share his taste for fine living, distaste for government, and belief that a backup plan is necessary if the economic picture in America worsens.

"I wanted a place where a really civilized person could enjoy himself," Casey said by telephone last month from his home in Aspen, Colorado, where he spends part of what he calls "the Northern Hemisphere summer."

Casey also calls Argentina, Uruguay, and New Zealand home. What they have in common, he said, is that they're "all kind of end-of-the-road places." Those countries are also popular these days among other financial professionals who share the same grim outlook for the United States.

Casey conceived La Estancia de Cafayate about five years ago, at the same time he was pointing to warning signs brewing in the American economy. He considered Cafayate -- its temperate climate, proximity to the city of Salta, low costs, and untrammeled landscape -- to be the most unique place in the world. It's possible to ride on horseback in one direction for several days without seeing another person.

The soft opening for the development is scheduled for November 1, and by the following year, people will start building houses on the 350 lots. There will be a golf course, gymnasium, spa, library, riding and biking trails, plots for growing fruits and vegetables, wine vineyard, skeet shooting and boccie, and other assorted games and activities. It's like an oasis.

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