Timing & trends

Time to Evict the ZOMBIES?

The average human life span is clearly on the increase, with the United Nations predicting there will be 3.7 million people over 100 (centenarians) by the year 2050.  Many developed countries are reporting more supercentenarians every year, they being people over the age of 110.  Since 1900 the average human life expectancy has risen from 31 years to 72 years, more than a twofold increase.  The oldest of all is in Japan – Kane Tanaka at 117 years old.  Japan is a standout country for supercentenarians, having well over 100 of them.  Given the increasing average life expectancy over the last century, and the development of life saving and life prolonging technology, is there truly a finite upper limit on how long a human can live?  There are some who claim that there are people alive today who could reach the age of…Click for complete article.

India’s crackdown on Chinese apps‘

‘Chinese firms are learning a painful lesson’: India’s app crackdown opens doors for U.S. tech giants.
  • On Wednesday, India banned 118 Chinese apps including major hit games from Tencent and NetEase as well as services from the likes of Baidu and Alibaba affiliate Ant Group.
  • The broader crackdown on Chinese technology opens opportunities for U.S. technology giants like Facebook and Apple in India.
  • One analyst said Washington and New Delhi “may foster one of the most important relationships in the 21st century.”

 

Do not buy tickets to Mars – it will disappoint.

Tesla’s taken a bit of spanking this week in 10% volatile up/down market. Maybe it was the $5 bln cheeky stock sale, or long-term holder Baillie Gifford taking profits? Does that mean it’s now a “buy”? If you think so – shouldn’t you have gone back to school this week? Its a bubble stock and at some point (I suspect sooner than later): the lower Tesla goes, the lower Tesla will go… 

Meanwhile… back in the real world…

Let me start by saying I’m not a Japan expert – just an observer. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fades into retirement, I wonder if the Japanese economy might provide some insights into what’s in store for Europe and the US?

Recently, a number of analysts have described Japan as a warning from history. Its an interesting perspective – but I suspect a somewhat flawed one. Japan has problems – Europe’s are likely to prove much worse.

The perception is Japan’s decades of lost growth since 1991 – despite negative real interest rates and the longest sustained period of monetary experimentation in the form of QE -highlights that artificially low rates and too much debt will repress economic growth.

Lessons from Japan

When Irrational is Rational

 

A bubble market is one where the “whatever-you-want-to-believe” forces overcome well-grounded common sense, causing story stocks to head off on ballistic parabolas. (The clue to how it usually ends is in the words ballistic and parabola.) Even the few stocks that reach escape velocity and go into orbit – eventually see that orbit decay. That decays is due to the gravitational forces called obsolescence and competition. Practically no stock ever remains in the top 10 for more than a decade or two. Creative destruction ensures new firms are constantly emerging to meet consumer demand.

At some point even Apple will just be (once more), something that falls from a tree – although it does look like pent-up lockdown frustrations mean the new iPhone (perhaps later this month) will become the most eagerly desired product in consumer history!

Some story stocks get a boost from events. The current market darling is Zoom – profits up by 3300% on the back of the pandemic. It’s achieved the remarkable accolade of becoming the verb for video-meetings – which gives it an incredible leg-up versus its many rival video-conferencing apps. Zoom was a cottage industry a year ago – making a $5mm profit. It made $186 mm in the last 3 months – and, yes, $186mm might seem a little insignificant to justify a $125 bln market cap – but relax… its Zoom. It’s so now… But I don’t know what it will be worth tomorrow.

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“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

 

We live in interesting, though not unprecedented, times. The Roaring 1920s could be a precedent for the Roaring 2020s.

The good news is that the bad news during the previous precedent was followed by the Roaring 20s. So far, the 2020s has started with the pandemic, but there are plenty of years left for the prosperous 1920s to become a precedent for the current decade.

The 1920s ended with a stock-market melt-up followed by a meltdown. The 2020s may already be seeing a melt-up, begun on March 23.”

1920 also marked the end of a 20-years of economic destruction. A series of events rocked the turn of the 20th century, which deeply suppressed financial markets. ((Imagine 20-years with negative total real returns.)

  • Panic of 1907
  • Recession in 1910-1911
  • Recession in 1913-1914
  • World War I ran from 1914-1918
  • Economic Depression in 1920-1921

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Yes, really

The Governor of Maine has ordered restaurant staff to wear anti-COVID visors upside down so they resemble dog cones in order to direct breath upwards.

Yes, really.

Governor Janet Mills’ decree states that “front-of-house staff in restaurants who choose to wear face shields must now wear them upside down so that they are attached at the collar instead of the forehead, so that their breath is directed up, not down,” reports Maine Public Radio.

Given that air conditioning units can facilitate the spread of coronavirus, Mills’ order looks like another ridiculous and pointless measure.

“As a symbol of submission, forcing us to obliterate our individuality by wearing masks was not explicit enough,” writes Dave Blount. “So they pushed the envelope even further. No one can miss the significance of making people wear dog cones.”

Last week, the CDC announced that masks with valves, which millions of people around the world have been wearing for months, do “not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.”

As we highlighted earlier, Sweden’s top expert on the coronavirus, Anders Tengell, warned that encouraging people to wear face masks is “very dangerous” because it gives a false sense of security but does not effectively stem the spread of the virus.