Copper is one of the most widely used industrial metals in the world because of its high ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion.
And, if you’ve read The Diary before, you know we are very bullish on copper. Not only is it critical to the EV revolution, it’s also critical to other green energy infrastructure such as wind turbines and solar panels. Copper is also needed to build many of the infrastructure that is necessary to support a healthy economy, such as homes, power grids, plumbing systems, and broadband networks.
The reason we’re so bullish on copper is because, coupled with rising global demand, copper is in considerably short supply – especially in the wake of the pandemic, which saw many mining operations shut down and investment into new projects dry up.
Back in 2011, I was convinced that gold was headed to $5,000 an ounce.
An easy $100.
So I bought eight 1-ounce American Gold Eagle coins and 160 American Silver Eagle coins.
All told I spent close to $20,000.
I was working in marketing for legendary contrarian investor Doug Casey at the time.
The guy was (and still is) a huge advocate of storing much of your wealth in physical gold and silver.
As I watched the face-tattooed young man work behind the counter of my local coffee shop, he thanked the woman in front of me for her order.
That’s when I realized, I recognized his voice.
He was Josh, the son of a good friend.
I hadn’t seen Josh in nearly 10 years, when he was just a shy teenager.
Now here he was, a late-20s something working as a barista.
“Hello, Josh,” I said. “It’s been a long time – how are you?”
“Mr. Fogel?” he said, almost sheepishly. “I’m good, I guess… yeah, it’s been awhile.”
Business was slow that morning, so we chatted a couple of minutes as he made my double cappuccino.
I couldn’t help but ask about his tattoo.
“I had it done in college,” he said. “I thought it was pretty cool back then.”
But now, he said, it was a major hindrance in his quest for a professional job.
“I’ve been on a bunch of interviews, but they never call me back,” he said, sounding flustered. “I’m sure it’s the tattoo… I wish I had the money to get rid of it.”
As they say, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and right now Bitcoin’s weakest link is China. About 65% of the world’s Bitcoin mining took place in China as of April 2020, according to an estimate by the University of Cambridge.
Given China’s dominance of Bitcoin mining and therefore its critical role in the stability of the Bitcoin network, the country has presented an enormous concentration risk that has been widely neglected by both crypto speculators and the media – until now.
The global real estate market took a hit in the months after the onset of the pandemic, but as with stocks, a depressed market presents fresh opportunities to “buy low”. Dear Retail chatted with BJ Turner, founder of private LA-based real estate investment and development firm Dunleer, to find out which market segments have the most potential in a recovering economy.
It was a warm October morning.
I was headed out for my daily caffeine fix, and as I drove I sensed something weird with the sky.
There was a strange, giant grey cloud on the horizon. At first I thought it was a thunderhead.
Then it hit me – that wasn’t a cloud.
It was a huge plume of smoke to the north.
I live in Northern California, where sadly we now get wildfires every year… especially in the fall, when the dreaded “Diablo” winds blow.
Thanks to the Diablo winds from the previous night, what had started as a small fire had now exploded in size, and was heading our way.
So I packed up some clothes and my laptop just in case.
The next morning my cell phone started screeching that it was time to evacuate… NOW.
I drove to a friend’s place outside the evacuation zone. The next few days were nerve wracking, as the winds did indeed turn hellacious and threatened area cities and towns.
Four days after being evacuated we were cleared to return home.
But when I got there I found we had no electricity or gas, as PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric, our power company) had pulled the plug on it.
Power shut-offs like this are the new normal for much of California during fire season (roughly May through October), as it’s easily the most effective way for PG&E to reduce the odds of wildfires caused by high winds.
Intermittent power shut-offs might also become the new normal for much of the rest of the US.
We’re now experiencing deadlier wildfires in California and the Western US… stronger hurricanes in Florida, the Eastern Seaboard, and the Gulf states… more destructive tornadoes in the Midwest…
The point is, we all take “on-demand” power for granted.
From our gas stoves… to the lights in our homes … to our air conditioning and heating systems… and every other modern convenience…
No one worries much about whether “juice” will be available the moment we need it.
But America’s power grids face some very serious threats.
Everything from wildfires, floods and hurricanes, to the political instability of energy producing countries, and the manipulation of energy supplies (as evidenced by the 2019 OPEC spat between Russia and Saudi Arabia).
Then there’s terrorists and foreign hackers.
This last threat is particularly worrying.
It was a scene straight out of Animal Planet.
There, 30 yards away, were legions of elephants, at least 150 of them… with more lumbering in.
Their destination was a giant man-made water tank, which dozens of elephants were now congregating around, dipping their massive trunks over the tank wall for a drink.
This majestic sight was happening at Kruger National Park in South Africa, a mammoth animal preserve about the size of New Jersey.
My three days at the park were a highlight of a one-month trip to this fascinating country.
But the most interesting experience I had in South Africa was a night my friends and I spent on a secluded ranch about three hours west of Johannesburg.
Our host was the ranch owner, Dennis, a burly member of a South African chapter of the Hells Angels.
Around the glowing embers of a braai (essentially the South African version of a barbecue), Dennis kept his guests entertained with fascinating stories about his property and the surrounding area.
My friends and I weren’t the only guests enjoying his gripping stories about his encounters with Africa’s deadliest animals and insects.
There were also three women who had worked in various capacities for the South African government.
Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide daily, making it one of the world’s most widely consumed
The US is the world’s largest consumer of coffee, at nearly 500 cups a day. In fact, the US consumed a total of 27,430,000 60 kg bags of coffee in 2019/2020.
If you look at the per capita consumption of coffee, the Netherlands is the world leader, coming in at 8.3 kg per capita (vs the US’ 3.5 kg per capita).
The point is, while more than 90% of the world’s coffee supply comes from developing countries, the top consumers of coffee are industrialized economies.
Because coffee can only grow in specific climates, the countries that consume the most coffee must import it from the places that can grow them naturally, such as Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam.
Looking for a surefire market play?
There’s no such thing, of course.
However, a metal the modern world can’t do without offers something pretty darn close.
I’m talking about copper.
China is largely responsible for this opportunity.
Thanks in large part to that country’s massive appetite for copper, the metal’s gone from about 79 cents a pound in 2001 to nearly $5 per pound today.
This bullish trend is likely to continue, thanks again to China.
Historically, the country has used 40% to 50% of the world’s copper ore a year.
And in 2019, China gobbled up 51% of the world’s refined copper.
What do California, Quebec and Great Britain have in common?
They’ve all banned the sale of new gas-powered cars.
While the bans don’t take effect until 2030 in Great Britain, and 2035 in Quebec and California, the trend is clear – the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered.
President Joe Biden is under pressure from the US Senate to set a date banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles
The European Union’s environment ministers struck a deal in 2020 to make the bloc’s 2050 net zero emissions target legally binding
China has stated it plans to ban the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars in the future, though it has yet to confirm when
India’s asked the country’s gas-powered scooter and motorbike makers to develop plans to switch to electric vehicles
In 2018, German cities started to introduce bans on older diesel trucks
Obviously, the trend to ban gas- and diesel-powered vehicles bodes well for the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
So it’s no surprise that the main metals that comprise EV batteries – lithium, nickel and cobalt – are in a bull market.