Its fascinating how the mind works. It never ceases to amaze me after 10 years of devoutly trying to study it! I have had a couple of days where I have woken up in a not so great mood, and felt a bit jaded about everything. This morning it was strangely quite strong. I had no zest to do my morning meditation or daily wanderings in the mountains. I really couldnt get out of bed – and I refuse to take anti-depressants! But suddenly (!) I realised I had to put some trash out as they only collect the reclycables once per week. I leapt out of bed cleaned up the kitchen and prepared the trash. Well as I am up I should take the opportunity to just get out of the house I thought. So I grabbed a book and my lap top and went off to the cafe to work once I had delivered the trash.
2 hours later I realise that I am at the cafe, have finished one of the famous science fiction writer Isaac Asamimov books (yes this is the life of a futurist 😉 ) and done some of my morning reading on world events and news….and most importantly I am in a positive and proactive mood.! It really is amazing how just a small action can kick off everything else in a chain reaction. There’s a great talk by Navy Seal about how important it is to make your bed each day along similar lines and I recommend it to all. Making beds and putting out the trash can really change the world…
I recently wrote about the Guardian journalist who recently went to seek out Peter Thiel’s place in New Zealand . Its quite well known that many billionaires are purchasing homes there as a plan ‘b’ in case civilisation collapses. People pay me money to think out of the box, to consider the future and I am wondering whether New Zealand should be plan ‘b’….
The common mantra we hear is that the centre of the global economy is moving to the East. Being an ‘Asia expert’ in a former life, it would make sense for me to support that idea. But my reading of the tea leaves is that given the demographics, the emphasis within the education system, the impact of AI/robots etc , the likely direction of capital flows and many other factors, the prospects of the “East” , particularly China might at this juncture be overemphasised. That doesnt mean I am outright negative.
My job , however, is to look to the future and to find contrarian ideas and perspectives. For context, in 2004 I was laughed at for recommending Chinese stocks! Now I think one of the big surprises going forwards is that there is a move towards the Southern Hemisphere. This will be driven by the growth of India, which is outstripping China, as well as Africa, New Zealand, Australia and perhaps South America.
Short term some stars are aligned for investors. For example events in South Africa are very encouraging with President Zuma being replaced, and now possibly the country can start to live up to its huge potential again as the Hong Kong of Africa. If nothing else it just stabilises and takes advantage of mining as I also think that commodities are going to have another boom in prices. There is a huge gap at the moment between the performance of financial assets and commodities, and this gap will narrow going forwards due to a number of drivers. So if I were a global asset allocator at a large fund manager I would consider taking money out of stocks and bonds and putting them in to commodities. Precious metals are starting to look quite attractive now, especially as the crypto-currencies have shown that they aren’t really digital gold. They are behaving more like risk assets. So as inflationary pressures rise and/or faith in the financial system falls, gold is likely to rise. Some might say that it is already back in a bull market.
Silver is even more interesting longer term because of its properties that might be required in some of the energy technologies of the future , as well as its status as a precious metal and as a hedge to fiat currencies.
I have also noted on many occasions that many well-informed scientists and futurists who have advised me believe in global cooling in the norther hemisphere. So agricultural commodity prices are also likely to soar over the next decade. This will be to the comparative advantage of some of these Southern nations.
But the longer term backdrop is the most appealing. When you look at history, it is full off mass migrations and the shifting of economic centres. The epicentre moved from Egypt and the fertile crescent to Rome to the Italian states to London to Washington DC. Where are the new frontiers? Where is the new “New World?” I think that there is a good chance it will be the Southern hemisphere. One scenario which is plausible is that many Europeans start to flood to Australia and New Zealand, which decide to leverage off the vast space and resources they have to become major powers. The migration from Europe could be because of the worsening situation with migration from North Africa and the Middle East. It might be because of a collapse of the EU or the financial system. It might not even require a collapse at all.
There is also the wild card of Antartica where a lot of interest has been displayed by world leaders in recent times. Its not exactly clear whats going on there , but there are suggestions that there is a lot more usable space than some might have thought. If course the Germans had military bases there in WW2.
This is a very big topic. There’s a lot to be explored.
Now I want to get back to my Isaac Asimov book….
[The “Adventures of a Futurist” is a frequent blog and newsletter about my evolving thoughts on the future. It should not be seen as a comprehensive representation of our models. For those you need to reach out directly. My advice is to as much as possible just follow us each day.]
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