Hackwriters Editorial: Greetings – January 22nd Jan:
Sell, sell, sell – oops. Slaughter in the stock exchange – madness grips investors. It’s 1928 all over again. (A period of deep falls, quick rallies and deep falls eventually leading to the crash of 1929). But history doesn’t have to repeat itself – does it? Probably. Meanwhile today as I write this oil has gone back to $31 (despite the exact same flood of oil awaiting markets as two days ago) the stock market has risen from the dead and gold fallen.Volatility be thy name – caveat emptor.
Just seen The Big Short (A great drama documentary about the great financial crash, essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand just how dishonest the financial system is and how it works against us. Something tells me it could all happen again.)
May you live in interesting times as the Chinese say. I’m not so sure about that. The Year of the Fire Monkey is soon upon us and with it a whole lot of mischief. Iran is free to sell oil again and buy and sell whatever it wants. It’s a good thing for Iran, but what if they only buy weapons from Russia? I am not sure this helps with ‘world peace’.
We had the UK Daily Telegraph at the beginning of the month saying dump all your shares and predicting there will be a housing crash in the UK to follow the commodities crash. I can see the logic of that – certainly in the London area – despite the urgent demand for housing. The banks will simply not have the money to lend as they are so overexposed elswhere. And that leads on to oil crashing to $20 a barrel (currently $31 steady). I have a very strong instinct it will overshoot in this price drop and companies such as BP, Shell, struggling with hundreds of thousands of layoffs. Think it can’t happen? Think again. The Frackers in the USA owe the banks around $200 Billion dollars. (Dump your Wells Fargo shares people) That ain’t chicken feed. And yes people the world over seem to have read that Daily Telegraph article and heeded it. The thing is, China may well be over optimistic about it’s GDP number for 2016, but they aren’t going to stop breathing, or eating or making stuff. Sure the oil price will overshoot, but so much oil production outside Opec is going to shut down, oil will shoot back up to $100 by the end of the year and we will all be crying buckets all over again and wondering what happened to our ability to make steel, oil platforms, and where all the manufacturuing has gone…
Maybe it isn’t time to renew the kitchen with borrowed money as I am planning to do. Interesting times indeed.
James Campion has written a piece on the death of David Bowie here – the reaction to his death has been pretty monumental. Right now his new album is number one in the USA. Shame about Glen Frey passing too – Hotel California was the great songs of my youth.
09.1.2016 Regret to say that our regular New York contributor Dean Borok passed away . He was the very definition of a wild and crazy guy but his opinions on the state of New York politics was throughly sound and he will be much missed by our readers. You can leave a memory at the NY Times Legacy page.
2016 began with floods here in the UK and much agonising about future insurance costs. Although my home was spared I did have one heart stopping moment driving my car down a hill in Lincolnshire and practically disappearing under a deep wave of water in a dip. Luckily my Fiat diesel engine didn’t even splutter and we emerged safe. But then got soaked helping a guy out of his stalled car behind me. It’s probably still floating there.
I read Sally Brompton’s stars for the year in The Globe and Mail and thoroughly depressed myself. Lots of surprises for Scorpios I won’t like ahead apparently. You could at least try to lie a little to us Sally. But then again I can’t actually recall a good year in living memory so nothing changed there. *On a special note for anyone interested in giving advice. My cholesterol reading was high again at 6.9 – my doctor sent me a letter to advise I go on a low fat diet. I have been a vegetarian for nearly two years now and not eaten any fat in all that time, or milk, or meat. I was was hoping that after reading Forks over Knives and other books that my levels would come down, not go up. So what the heck? I’d cut out red wine but my specialists insists on one glass a day. But that would be last thing to cut and life is pretty depressing enough without going teetotal. (As I was on New Year’s Eve because of driving). Sigh.
One hundred years ago Europe was at war and 1916 was one of the worst years ever. 37,500 English and Commonwealth men would die in one day at the Battle of the Somme. Hundreds of thousands would be dead by the end of the year and not a foot gained in battle. It would be the year that death technology advanced to poison gas, aerial bombardment, lethal machine guns, the first tanks. Australians would learn the bitter lessons of war and the hopelessness of the generals and politicians leading it. Canadians would learn horrible lessons too. But was anything gained from that war? Certainly we still live with the consequences of the peace. Namely the redrawing of the maps where Syria was carved out of Middle East. Now it is back to haunt us big time.
In 2016 hypocrisy rules. ISIS beheads five people and all the headlines scream murder. Saudi Arabia executes 47 people on the same day and no one says anything much at all, except to complain that one of them was a cleric and he should have been spared. Saudis behead or shoot around one person a day on average (Source: Aljazeera). So that’s at least 350 people a year! Iran is generally perceived as the greater evil, aiming for around 750 hangings a year (but their population at 80 million is larger). Competing as to who can be the greater evil is like a game show in the Middle East. ISIS has a lot to catch up on but is quickly moving up the rankings.
So I have a solution for all of this. We need some brave political leaders in the UK, Europe, USA (fat chance of that I guess) and China to make a law right now that says the petrol and diesel engine will be phased out by 2021. It will be mandatory for all cars, light trucks and SUV’s to be all-electric with a minimum range of 300 miles on one charge and a high speed recharge facility on all our highways and cities so that one can recharge in 20 mins max. Talk to Elon Musk at Tesla. This is possible now. Believe me, I was behind a Tesla the other day and it accelerated away from me at light speed. Very impressive. I realise we don’t have any politicians brave enough to do this at the moment, but perhaps the millennials will demand it? After all they have the vote. Yes, yes, we need more power stations and they too pollute, but let’s devote all the money that goes into weapon tech into battery tech and hey presto, we won’t need oil at all. Sorry frackers. Dictators and Kings in the Middle East won’t have us over a barrel; we won’t be buying their barrels. They will have to educate their people to make things and grow food instead of importing it and we can eventually forget about them.
All it requires is political will. Tell Trump he can make money out of electricity and maybe he’ll wake up and smell the coffee. Who knows?
I’m saving up for a Tesla. Only got £58,000 to go.
© Sam Hawksmoor – Joint Editor January 2016