The key to your personal chauffeur
Monday, 8 April 2019
By Bernd Struben
- Crypto rebound…
- Resource & energy conference
- ‘Democrats Beg for Trump’s Tax Returns in New “Political Stunt”’
Living in Jakarta in 1988 was as close to living on another planet as you could get.
At least, that’s how I viewed it arriving in the sweltering Indonesian capital from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
I was in university there at the time — Ann Arbor, not Jakarta. My parents had just moved to Indonesia for my father’s work with the World Bank. They ended up spending three years there. During that stint I spent more than a year in Jakarta myself.
If I had to sum up my early impression of life in the city in two words it would be ‘organised chaos’.
And when it came to the traffic, you could pretty much leave the ‘organised’ bit out.
You know those quaint lines they paint on the roads in Australia? The ones that are meant to indicate distinct lanes you should drive within and specific places you should stop for red lights.
Well they had those in Jakarta, too. Except no one paid the slightest attention to them.
Two lane roads would see three or even four cars abreast. Though the cars were crammed just centimetres apart, intrepid motorcyclists — often with mom, dad, and three kids on one bike — somehow managed to wind their way through the madness.
My sister, three years my senior, refused to get behind the wheel. Fuelled by the invincibility that comes with being 19, I rather enjoyed the challenge. Not to mention driving around with diplomatic license plates courtesy of the World Bank. But I didn’t get the chance to drive very often.
You see, our family had two cars. And two full time drivers.
One chauffeured my dad back and forth through the daily gridlock to his work. The other was on the clock 12 hours per day, six days a week to drive my mom around.
It wasn’t that my parents were particularly rich. At least not by first world standards.
The drivers earned the princely sum of US$120 per month. Taking inflation into account, today that would be around US$250 (AU$355) per month. For six 12-hour days of work.
And the city was set up for a world of chauffeur driven citizens.
All the major stores and hotels had car calls.
If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a decades’ old system that puts Uber and smartphone apps to shame.
This is how it works…
Your driver drops you off in your airconditioned car at the front door of a restaurant. When you’re ready to leave you let the restaurant’s doorman know. He then pages your driver (parked behind the establishment with dozens of other drivers) over a loudspeaker.
Bang, one minute later your car is back in front, aircon running, passenger door open, waiting for your next destination.
I don’t bring this up to take you on a trip down memory lane.
You see, over the coming years this same level of ultra-convenience is coming Down Under.
Not in the form of human chauffeurs. In Australia that would cost you more like $355 per day than $355 per month.
But in the form of self-driving cars.
Self-driving cars have received a lot of publicity recently. Unfortunately, much of that’s been bad. And unlike Hollywood, when it comes to the car market, there is such a thing as bad publicity.
As you probably know, autonomous vehicles have been involved in a number of accidents over the past months. Tesla and Uber were both at the centre of fatal crashes.
But there’s a crucial piece of technology coming online this year that could make them much safer.
That technology is 5G…or fifth generation wireless communication. And it has the potential to impact far more than the coming fleets of self-driving cars.
MIT Technology Review calls 5G a ‘paradigm shift, akin to the shift from the typewriter to the computer’.
And when you’re talking about these kinds of massive shifts, you know some companies are going to make fistfuls of money. Along with their shareholders.
Over at Wealth Eruption, small-cap and tech analyst Harje Ronngard has researched the potential opportunities…and pitfalls…offered by the pending arrival of 5G in Australia.
After many weeks he finally narrowed his list down to two ASX listed companies he believes could see gains of 300–400% from what he calls the ‘5G invasion’.
Now a look at the markets…
Over the weekend, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 40.36 points, or 0.15%.
The S&P 500 closed up 13.35 points, or 0.46%.
In Europe the Euro Stoxx 50 index finished up 5.54 points, or 0.16%. Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 gained 0.61%, and Germany’s DAX closed up 21.74 points, or 0.18%.
In Asian markets Japan’s Nikkei 225 is down 42.95 points, or 0.20%. China’s CSI 300 is down 0.09%.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 is up 36.94 points, or 0.6o%.
On the commodities markets, West Texas Intermediate crude oil is US$63.43 per barrel. Brent crude is US$70.61 per barrel.
That puts both crude benchmarks well above where I expect they’ll be trading in the second half of the year. But oil’s rally, which has seen it reach five month highs, may have some room to run higher yet.
The latest price bump comes as fighting in Libya threatens to impact the nation’s oil production. However, it’s worth noting that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, according to data from Bloomberg, Libya’s biggest oil field, Sharara, actually increased production to reach 293,000 barrels a day.
It’s also worth noting that eight new rigs came into service in the Permian Basin last week. That’s the biggest weekly increase in 11 months.
Connecting the dots, you could potentially still make money betting on further rises in crude prices. But I think the better bet is to wait out the ageing bull run and bet against oil when the supply once again begins to outpace demand.
With a flood of US crude in the midterm pipeline, and OPEC+ having yet to agree to further cuts for the second half of 2019, crude’s next move down could be sharp deep.
Turning to gold, the yellow metal is trading for US$1,293.85 (AU$1,823.61) per troy ounce. Silver is US$15.16 (AU$21.37) per troy ounce.
One bitcoin is worth US$5,252.75. That’s up 6.4% since I last wrote to you on Wednesday.
(More on bitcoin below…)
In the world of fiat currencies, the Aussie dollar is worth 70.95 US cents.
Getting back to bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap is on a tear.
Just have a look at the one month price chart (in US dollars) below:
Click to enlarge
April’s price surge has seen bitcoin gain 35.0% over the last month…and counting.
As you can see from the number of Google search hits in the following chart, the big price spike on 2 April saw interest in all things bitcoin rise right along with it.
Source: CoinDesk / Google Trends
Click to enlarge
As I’ve written before, bitcoin, even more than most assets, is highly influenced by investor sentiment. This sentiment saw the price rocket to roughly US$19,500 in December 2017. And it saw the price plunge to some US$3,600 in December 2018.
If investor sentiment is again turning positive, as the Google search spike appears to indicate, bitcoin could be in for some additional hefty gains.
And it’s not just bitcoin.
Here’s the one month chart of ether:
Click to enlarge
Ether is up 39.7% since 14 March.
Though at US$183.16, it’s still a long way off it 10 January 2018 peak of US$1,405.
Then there’s litecoin. It’s up 51.5% just since last Tuesday.
These are impressive gains by any standards. And they come as no surprise to our in-house crypto pros, Sam Volkering and Ryan Dinse.
They’re both convinced that bitcoin and a handful of other critical virtual tokens will not only revisit the lofty highs of late 2017 and early 2018…but will leave those highs in the dust.
Of course, in the notoriously volatile world of cryptocurrencies there are no guarantees the run higher will continue immediately.
You can stay atop all of Sam and Ryan’s latest crypto investing advice in their entry level service, Secret Crypto Network.
Or, if you’re already comfortable buying, selling and storing bitcoin and want to take things to the next level, have a look at the ‘flip trading’ Ryan is doing over at Extreme Crypto Trader.
Resource & energy conference
As a reminder, tomorrow and Wednesday I’ll be attending the South Australian Resources & Investment Conference (SAREIC).
It takes place at the Hilton in Adelaide and is bringing in some top notch speakers from around the country. If you’re attending, pop over and say hi. I always enjoy the chance to meet our readers in person.
If you can’t make it, don’t worry. I’ll bring you some of the highlights here in Port Phillip Insider on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Tomorrow you’ll hear from Sam Volkering. Be sure to tune in for his latest missives then.
Finally, here’s the latest in politics from The Australian Tribune:
‘Democrats Beg for Trump’s Tax Returns in New “Political Stunt”’
‘Left wing politicians in the US are grasping at straws in increasingly desperate efforts to tar US President Donald Trump following the collapse of the Mueller probe.
‘Lacking vote winning policies of their own to pursue, US Democrats are instead spending their taxpayer funded time and effort pursuing Trump’s tax return history.
‘But like their failed probe into...’
If you’re fed up with sanitised, politically correct dogma cut and pasted from one mainstream source to another then The Australian Tribune is for you.
And it’s absolutely free.
Sign up here to get The Australian Tribune delivered free to your inbox five days per week.
You can visit our website at https://www.theaustraliantribune.com.au/ to read the complete article above now.