“Life is a Gamble”

, Cape Town

Whilst many of my friends are trying to be seen in Davos, I am very excited to be in Africa and following my own path. I felt so alive listening to the music at the Waterfront with the backdrop of Table Mountain on my first day.  Rather appropriately, I captured some of a song called “Life is a Gamble.”

 

Life is meant to be an adventure. One is meant to take risks in order to grow. I felt incredibly free after revealing some struggles I have had in my life earlier in the week in this article https://emergingfuture.com/rehabinadesert/.

Part of liberating myself – so I can truly be me – is not caring what others think of me. I have helped many others dealing with addiction, and as per my article, suffered myself. It turns out that perhaps the addiction that most suffer from is for others’ approval and validation. And this might well be the largest cause of broken dreams and unwalked adventures.  I believe we all have an odyssey within us and we will regret not following it at our deathbed.

Cape Town

Earlier in the week, I travelled 6 or 7 hours across the Karoo desert to arrive in Cape Town. In the last few days being in the desert we were abruptly told that the town had run out of water so no toilets, showers or drinking water! When the temperatures were hitting 40C and above, it was a little frightening. Thankfully there was a bore hole with some water in in.

So after that it was so nice to see Cape Town surrounded by the ocean That said – Cape Town is also suffering from a drought and all the talk is about “Day Zero” when they will run out of water in April:

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/day-zero-now-on-april-12-for-cape-town-20180123

Its utterly bizarre though given all the advances in technology. Cape Town is surrounded by water – the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and every day the mountains are covered in thick mist. On a hike a few days ago around Table Mountain my boot and trousers were soaking wet because of the mist and the damp undergrowth.

Aside from the obvious catalyst for coming to Africa, I believe there are other reasons why I was guided here. First, I believe that after India, Africa could be the next epicentre of global growth. And second, in writing about the future I think one needs to look at the past. And it seems that the earliest human civilisations might have lived in South Africa. I intend to go and see ancient ruins at Adam’s Calendar which are said to be older than Stone Henge. More on this later.

Davos World Economic Forum

Its the Davos World Economic Forum this week and in the run up to this the IMF has upgraded all its economic forecast, stating that this is the broadest rise in global growth since 2010. There is going to be a to of hot topics at this year’s event and I am a little jealous of my many friends who will be in the Swiss ski town.

With stock markets rising there is a lot of euphoria.  One of my favourite interviews at Davos each year is Ray Dalio as he is a fellow macro thinker and understands the linkages between markets and between various megatrends. He is suggesting that markets might have a last blow up top. I concur , there are all the hallmarks of this happening. Whilst this is late in the business cycle, the mixture of relatively benign inflation data, the monetary policy not being too hawkish yet,  and the economic data rolling in (see the IMF data above)  combined with cash on the sidelines means we could easily see things have a last meaningful move up. This would actually fit in with a ae case we established last January when Trump was coming in to office.

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/01/23/ray-dalio-says-market-surge-may-be-ahead-if-youre-holding-cash-youre-going-to-feel-pretty-stupid.html

Bloomberg speaks with other movers and shakers going in to the forum and many are worried:

“If things seem too good to be true in the global economy, they probably are. That’s according to some of the investors, Nobel laureates and academics attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which kicks off on Monday.

“Historically the stock market tends to affect the mood in Davos,’’ said BlackRock Inc. Vice Chairman Philipp Hildebrand, who will be among the 3,000 visitors to the Alpine ski resort. “So if things stay as they are, I expect the mood will be good.’’

But many are concerned including well known economists Shiller and Rogoff:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/what-shiller-stiglitz-and-rogoff-are-worrying-about-at-davos

On the official World Economic Forum page they highlight the rising geopolitical risks: “the latest results of our annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) suggest respondents are pessimistic about the year ahead: in a new question gauging expectations for 2018, only 7% of responses point to a reduction of risk, compared with 59% pointing to an increase.1 In the sections that follow, we highlight four concerns: (1) persistent inequality and unfairness, (2) domestic and international political tensions, (3) environmental dangers and (4) cyber vulnerabilities.”

 

Bit Coin

Whilst I have been ‘out of action’ we have also witnessed a meltdown in the crypto world. I have been tweeting that things were getting very bubbly and technically we were ripe for a major correction. In December I was bombarded by anecdotal evidence that we were in serious bubble territory. At one point someone in Hong Kong showed me their Bitcoin wallet which had $500 million in it! Then I got to the desert in Africa and was lectured by a 50 year old woman about how Bitcoin in a no brainer and she was going to join the speaking circuit!

That all said, a decentralised currency has huge merits. So I enjoyed Nassim Taleb’s article this week. He highlights

“Which is why Bitcoin is an excellent idea. It fulfills the needs of the complex system, not because it is a cryptocurrency, but precisely because it has no owner, no authority that can decide on its fate. It is owned by the crowd, its users. And it has now a track record of several years, enough for it to be an animal in its own right.”

And on a positive note even if it collapses we have proven we can do it:

“Finally, Bitcoin will go through hick-ups (hiccups). It may fail; but then it will be easily reinvented as we now know how it works. In its present state, it may not be convenient for transactions, not good enough to buy your decaffeinated expresso macchiato at your local virtue-signaling coffee chain. It may be too volatile to be a currency, for now. But it is the first organic currency.

But its mere existence is an insurance policy that will remind governments that the last object establishment could control, namely, the currency, is no longer their monopoly. This gives us, the crowd, an insurance policy against an Orwellian future.”

https://medium.com/opacity/bitcoin-1537e616a074

I will write more tomorrow. I am hoping to go to the South African National Library and also the main museum in order to get more context about this amazing nation.

 

 

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