Things keep on changing

Consider this; twenty years ago none of the following existed: iPhone, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Android, iPad, Gmail, Tesla, WhatsApp, Bitcoin, Netflix, Chrome, Messenger, Zoom, Google Maps, Amazon Prime, Airbnb, Uber, Skype, Spotify and SpaceX. If all of these are taken away again, how would your life be impacted? It is safe to say that none of us would be able to communicate effectively if iPhone and Android disappeared, and without them most of the others would be useless.

As far as investment is concerned, we have seen equity markets add value satisfactorily this year although they have become a bit more volatile of late. Gold is rather a disappointment and is down 6% in US dollar terms for the year. The rand is somewhat stronger against most currencies and oil is holding steady at around $65 per barrel.

It is interesting to note how new technology changes or creates the demand for certain commodities. Take, for example, electric vehicles: unlike existing automobiles, Tesla requires a lot of lithium as a percentage of global production, but little aluminium (see graph). This can play into the hands of countries who were left out in the cold in the past, but are now moving towards the front of the queue owing to some obscure commodity they mine. The new developments in space exploration will also benefit some companies or countries who are producing specific commodities.

On the Covid-19 front we see that the virus is mutating and booster shots may be required after the initial dose. It may also happen that annual shots will be required in future. All in all, South Africa is not doing too badly as regards daily new cases and we can only hope that this will continue until we have all been inoculated.

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