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In today’s look back at 2012, there is a bit about the Shard.  The Skyscraper index, bubbles oil, China, Japan and Argentina come into focus.


Oil

6 September:  Saudi could be an oil importer by 2030. According to a report from Citigroup produced by Heidy Rehman, Saudi Arabia – which currently produces 13 per cent of the world’s supply of oil and natural liquid gases – could be a net importer of black gold by 2030.

22 Oct: British company claims to make energy from air.

A British company called Air Fuel Synthesis states on its web site: “Oil is basically made from carbon and hydrogen. Carbon is in the air in the form of carbon dioxide and hydrogen can be found in water. Air Fuel Synthesis is the process of turning carbon dioxide and hydrogen in water into a sustainable fuel.” The company says that its system uses “renewable energy to capture carbon dioxide and water from CO2 point sources”. It says: “We electrolyse the water to make hydrogen and react the carbon dioxide and hydrogen together to make liquid hydrocarbon fuels.”

13 November: The changing axis: is US set to become world’s largest oil producer again? The International Energy Agency, or IEA, has predicted that the US will be the largest producer of oil in the world by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia that year. It also reckons that the US will be the world’s largest producer of natural gas by 2015 – overtaking Russia.

China and Japan

12 Jan: According to Chinese property web site SouFun Holdings Ltd,house prices fell in 60 of China’s top 100 cities in December. Apparently, average prices have fallen four months in a row.

Also in January, theShard was opened. The world’s tallest buildings are often completed on the eve of major stock market crashes. So there was the Singer Building just before the panic of 1907, and most famously the Empire State in 1929. More recently, we have the Petronas Twin Towers completed at about the time of the Asian crisis of 1997, and, most recently of all, there was the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai. This is what a recent Skyscraper index report stated: “China will complete 53 per cent of the 124 skyscrapers under construction over the next six years, expanding the number of skyscrapers in Chinese cities by a staggering 87 per cent. China’s skyscrapers are not only increasing in number – it now has 75 completed skyscrapers above 240m in height – but the average height of the skyscrapers that it is building is also increasing as past liquidity fuels the construction boom.”

25 January: Japan sees first annual trade deficit since 1980.

Also in January

According to data released yesterday by Japan’s wealth and welfare ministry, its population is set to decline by around 41 million between now and 2060.

March: The beginning of the end of the career aspirations of Bo Xilai.

18 April: Anthony Bolton says of the performance of the Fidelity China Special Situations Investment Trust: “I’ve been disappointed with the performance but I still very much believe in the fund and what I am trying to do with it.” He then admitted that things have been tough and blamed the fund’s poor performance on certain Chinese companies that engineered reverse takeovers into US companies to obtain a listing on the US stock market. “I thought that perhaps 20 per cent of these reverse merger companies were questionable,” he said, “but now I think the number is probably much higher than that.” He said he now uses four or five firms to carry out “deep due diligence” about a company before he invests.

September: China and Japan clash over Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

November:  New make-up of the Standing committee of Chinas politburo is announced. Xi Jinping is to be the next President.

December: PMIs covering China’s manufacturing lift suggesting recovery may be taking place.

Also in December Shinzo Abe, re-elected Prime Minister of Japan, he wants to see Japan ditch its pacifist constitution.

Tax

22 March: Budget cut income tax from 50 to 45 per cent.

According to ex McKinsay man James Henry, who has penned a report for the Tax Justice League: “No less than $21 trillion is sitting in secret tax havens, and that is worth the roughly the same as the combined GDP of the US and Japan.”

New age banking

June: Andrew Haldane, who is the executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England, reckons peer to peer lending could eventually replace High Street banks. The FSA, however, is worried about peer to peer lending and crowd source funding: will it quash the most exciting revolution in finance since 1694 when the Bank of England was formed?

Argentina

6 April: Argentina re-nationalised its biggest oil company YPF, effectively kicking the company’s biggest shareholder – the Spanish giant Repsol – over the border and back across the Atlantic. The Spanish government is fuming and claims that Argentina has turned itself into a pariah state. It’s a serious development in the story of our times and the repercussions are many. There is another point too. Argentina’s devaluation of 2002 is cited as a justification for certain countries to exit the euro. It just goes to show that there are never easy fixes. “I am head of state and not a hoodlum,” said Argentinean President Christina Fernandez yesterday. According to the ‘FT’, she was ‘visibly angry’, but then again Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo didn’t sound too happy either when he said Argentina had “broken the climate of friendship.” And his boss, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is likely to appear pretty cross, as he embarks on a tour of Latin America tomorrow and tries to elicit support from Argentina’s neighbours.

Markets in 2013

Infamous contrarian investor Marc Faber was talking on CNBC a couple of days ago. His prediction is a tad scary.

He said: “I don’t think markets are going down because of Greece, I don’t think markets are going down because of the ‘fiscal cliff’ – because there won’t be a fiscal cliff. The market is going down because corporate profits will begin to disappoint, the global economy will hardly grow next year or even contract, and that is the reason why stocks, from the highs of September of 1,470 on the S&P, will drop at least 20 per cent, in my view.”

 

These views and comments are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of The Share Centre, its officers and employeeshese views and comments are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of The Share Centre, its officers and employees


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