Tuesday 21 October 2014

Walk of Life

As some luckily walk around oblivious to the darker side of current events, you really have to wonder just what exactly is wrong with parts of Western civilisation at the moment? - priorities, moral and ethical reasoning, recognition of truly life-changing and incredibly monumental discoveries are seemingly brushed aside and derogated for the fulgent machinations of the latest pretty-looking flavour of the month - fine..we all value beauty but should we allow talk of latest "celeb" flings to blind us to more meaningful and truly life-changing innovators, scientists and Noble prize winners - how many of you even paid attention to the clerisy of this year's Nobel awards ceremony?..what's that?..too busy watching the latest MTV music awards you say?..yeah..thought so!

Nicki Minaj gyrating on stage may well be a wonderful sight, but when it overshadows news so mind-bogglingly awesome in terms of what it means for humanity...the sheer endeavour that science, altruistic effort and raw genius of barrier-breaking procedures provide to all on this great Earth...one must pause and inspect their relative surroundings to appreciate what truly matters.

News of a "cure" for paralysis was broken this morning, incredibly pushed to the third or even fourth news item on many of the major media outlets, preferring to lead with the (does anyone really care that much?) sentencing of a convicted murderer (intended or not..Pistorius is still a killer) that happens to have once been a quite well-known international athlete. The irony of the cure for paralysis helping a man to walk once more (incredible!) coming alongside the sentencing of a runner known as the "bionic man"- for the use of his artificial legs replacing those he lost to a birth defect - not lost on the more attuned out there.

Let us all take a moment to think about what this breakthrough really says about us as a people? We have been able to bring back one of the simplest and often taken-for-granted pleasures of being human..the ability to walk and live an independent healthy life. Whenever this is taken from us, be it by natural defect or tragic accident, a fundamental aspect of our evolution from single-celled organism to the wonderful species that now occupies our developed towns and cities, esuriently shopping at WholeFoods, is cruelly expropriated from the realm of human possession. Despite the conversation that may be held centred on allegations of "playing God" and what it means to reverse subjectively viewed as divine occurrences, the sheer audacity of being able to reverse a paralysed person's condition by making use of their own regenerative olfactory cells is enough to lift the souls and capture the attention of even the most fervent two-seconds-attention-span Twitter user - before whoosh...on to the next subject they go. Well...those ingenious scientists and surgeons deserve to take a bow and be recognised for far longer than the attributed applause allowable within 140 characters. 

With tail-ends of storms reaching UK shores and blowing trees down all over leafy-London, volatility in global markets returning with a vengeance, no-clear-end in sight to the troubles across large swathes of western Africa grappling with a frighteningly spreading Ebola epidemic, the only calm port in the storm appears to be Apple's ongoing global..well, richer parts of the global world..iPhone domination. Where are all those profits going one must ask?..$42bn in revenue in three months..wow!..and that's before you even remember an iPhone 6's profit margin is almost 70%.

Yep, you calculated that right..70% of $42bn is indeed over $29bn in PROFIT. In THREE months. Three! Another win for a different type of tech pioneer...after all, who needs man's heroic and truly forever life-changing scientific breakthroughs when that is enough to make any fortunate Apple executive jump straight up out their chair and do a merry dance all the way to the bank! 

Tuesday 14 October 2014

and it goes....POP!

Seems the Bubblicious prediction has popped all too true!

Many major markets are down to their lowest levels since summer 2012, with the more telling fear gauge of the Vix..long slumbering through the peaceful rise of the global indices for the last 24mths..now reaching its highest levels not seen since worries dominated of the collapse of the EU!

My how things change so rapidly...Will Alibaba be remembered as the peak of the market (another prediction) where we trusted those wily central bankers and oh-so-trusting-looking financial "experts" that we were past the worst of the economic troubles and gliding towards a golden conclusion of fun, happiness and profitable investments. We will surely ponder the remarkably calm manner in which we dealt with stubbornly high unemployment numbers, fledgling recoveries across the major economies and stuttering growth of the emerging powerhouses (longingly looked at for some respite from the gloom of the OECD), naturally all now claiming to "have seen it all coming". Well guys, unless you wrote it down and published it, as well as stood by your prediction in the face of the naysayers..it does not count..so allow me the "I told you so!"

Volatility in markets is always welcome - it allows those that were not invested to take advantage of temporary mispricings and the swifter of foot to generate some decent returns with high-volume trading (brace yourselves for the fall-out of surely what has been some seriously risky trading by some hedge funds in the last couple of weeks..desperate to justify their infamous, increasingly exorbitant fees of 2 and 20) and all of us to remember just how incredibly important zees Germans really are!...major falls across the indices were accelerated to the now dangerous looking "correction" territory only when Germany's growth figures and export prowess came into question.

As we continue to battle ISIS, deal with the incredible ineptness shown by the powers that be in so far dealing with EBOLA (pray it does not mutate into an airborne contagion)..we will all continue to question whether we really should be shaking hands with someone that presents flu-like symptoms and - if like myself - you should find yourself sitting on a plane whilst sneezing and feeling a little under the weather..not be too insulted when the passenger seated to your right politely makes their way to the back of the plane..ouch. Little do they know of course that, unless you are flying in the hermetically sealed first class cabin on Etihad's new planes, we are all breathing the same air!

Given the state of the rapid fall in global markets, does not seem anyone is coming up far any air at all anytime soon. Yet, hold your breath, disinfect those hands at every opportunity, and get ready to enter a period that presents a fantastic market buying opportunity -  oh doesn’t it feel good to cleanse?!

Plenty more to discuss....

Thursday 2 October 2014

Big Talk, Small Action

Back from an eye-opening and more aptly ear-splitting trip across the U.S. - that happened to coincide with the circus that the UN World Assembly represents, bringing midtown Manhattan to an absolute standstill and making it very annoyingly difficult to grab a Shake Shack burger after dinner on your way home from Nobu on 57th - where a number of charismatic speeches (Obama sure can hit them out of the park) and some more errrmm shall we say..”interesting” presentations made by other leaders (funnily enough always seemed to be the unelected ones..go figure!?) melded into one maelstrom of terrorist bashing, Putin cornering and all-encompassing desire to bring the world together to fight the twin threats of climate change and China - or are those two the same thing?

There will be more to this in the next few days, jet-lag and a number of other dizzying events taking their toll at present, thoughts must be categorised, the peaceful (so far) demonstrations in Hong Kong are of particular concern and awaiting some further conclusive evidence to the effectiveness of the ISIS bombings before passing judgement - could not believe it when the BBC reported on the RAF bombing ONE truck belonging to the world’s most threatening terrorist group - all that parliamentary procedure and procrastination, high-tech weapons at your disposal and a SINGLE truck?..come on!