Cyreenik Says

January 2018 issues

Split coming in the auto market: convenience vs. personal expression

Modern cars fill a variety of roles. As driverless cars become widespread two of those roles are going to split the car market: convenience and personal expression.

Convenience today is being able to get into your car, start it up, and head off to wherever you want to go. It has been a powerful motivator for owning a car for a century now. But times are changing and as driverless cars become more convenient they are going to change the meaning of convenience. Convenience will become telling your smartphone you're ready to travel and it will call up a driverless car. This change will change car ownership. These called-up driverless cars will be owned in a public ownership fashion rather than a personal ownership fashion. This will happen because that way they can stay busy all day rather than be parked and waiting for a single owner to come out and use them.

So, public ownership is going to get real common. But, private ownership is not going to disappear. Why not? Because cars are also powerful tools for personal expression. A person looks at a car they own, sighs inwardly with satisfaction and thinks, "Yes! That is my car." They are feeling strong personal expression.

This means that car styles are going to change -- there is going to be a fork in the road -- the public ownership car and the personal ownership car are going to diverge. The public ownership car is going to stay utilitarian, the personal ownership style car is going to become very customizable and much fancier. The fancy will be fashionable, perhaps changeable, and cost as much as the owner wants to spend on this object of personal expression.

This 30 Jan 18 WSJ article, Say Goodbye to Garages as Developers Imagine a Driverless Future Developers are starting to build parking garages that can be converted to office space or apartments down the road by Peter Grant, indicates that developers may be in for a surprise. There may still be lots of cars that want to park, those personal expression cars.

From the article, "Mass adoption of driverless cars is still years away, but architects, developers and planners already are designing new projects with autonomous vehicles in mind.

Developers are starting to build offices with internal parking structures that can be converted to office space if demand for private parking decreases. New master-planned projects in cities like Toronto, Los Angeles, Oslo, San Francisco and Boston are being designed with features like curbside drop-off areas for passengers and e-commerce deliveries that replace traditional parking lanes."

Update: This 7 Jun 18 Economist article, The market for driverless cars will head towards monopoly Economies of scale mean today’s fierce competition will probably be short-lived, talks about how driverless cars will be owned. It reflects my view that most will be owned by commercially-oriented companies not individuals. What it does not include is my Tattoos and T-Shirts twist -- that there will still be lots of private car ownership and these will be really fancy cars that reflect the owner's personal expression, but they won't be driven much for day-to-day activities.

Crypto currencies are still in their infancy

Crypto currencies are now a white-hot destination for get rich quick investing. But the concept is brand new and as a result is still filled with lots of live-and-learn glitches that will get corrected over the next few years. Will get corrected, but they aren't corrected yet.

This 23 Jan 18 WSJ article, The Programmer at the Center of a $100 Billion Crypto Storm How a top source of bitcoin data contributed to a sudden plunge in digital currencies by Paul Vigna and Jim Oberman, illustrates just how capricious they still are.

From the article, "The globe-rattling move can be traced to one address: An apartment in a new residential building across the street from a local union headquarters in a gentrifying section of Long Island City, Queens.

It is the workplace of Brandon Chez, the 31-year-old computer programmer behind, a website that is a top source for data on bitcoin and hundreds of other cryptocurrencies. Mr. Chez’s site, which went live in 2013, has become one of the most heavily trafficked websites in the world."

Crypto currencies are a wild and wooly place and at the center of the EOW Brexit investing mania that I think we are experiencing. If I'm right, the investing bust will come in the first quarter of 2019 as Brexit transforms from frightening into a non-issue, and crypto currencies will be the most memorable part. This will be following the pattern of the Hong Kong Turnover in 1997 and the Y2K in 1999.

Irrational exuberance is upon us

The US and world economies are booming, so are the stock markets. The booms in the US markets have been going on many years now. Is the end near? Are we in the mania phase?

There has been lots of discussion of this in the business media streams I read. Here is my forecast -- I base this on the patterns I see in history.

The dramatic rise in interest in bitcoin and other crypto currencies is an indicator that investing mania is upon us. With mania upon us, the big questions become how will this boom end and when? It will end as a bust, the details of which I can't forecast, but when I can.

I see this as an End of World mania that is being spawned by the Brexit issue. The pattern being followed here is the one that evolved around the Hong Kong Turnover to China back in 1997. The concerns about the turnover lead to an investing mania in office building that spread around the Pacific Rim from Vancouver to Calcutta -- "All those Hong Kongers will leave and need new places to carry on their businesses. Hmm... I can build one here for them." This mania was followed by the Asian Flu bust in 1998 when the turnover turned into a non-event. The Y2K mania --> dotcom bust also fits this pattern.

If the current mania follows the pattern it will continue into the first quarter of 2019. That's when Brexit will complete and transform into a non-event. As that happens the mania will end and the bust will come.

So, bust in 1Q 2019, this is my forecast based on the patterns of history.

A manifestation of mania in China, the rise of Ponzi schemes. This 3 Feb 18 Economst article, Pyramid schemes cause huge social harm in China Ponzi schemes cause huge social harm in China. Crackdowns may not be working, describes the current rise in their popularity.

From the article, "THE authorities call them “business cults”. Tens of millions of people are ensnared in these pyramid schemes that use cult-like techniques to brainwash their targets and bilk them out of their money."

Breaking a pattern of history: Dealing with returning jihadists

As I have pointed out before, the rise and fall of ISIS in the Middle East is following a pattern similar to that of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. In both cases lots of idealistic and enthusiastic outsiders came to participate in the conflict. In both cases lots of those outsiders were supporting the losing side. And in both cases lots of those losers came home as the conflict decisively ended in Spain, or slowly winds down in Syria and Iraq.

Now the countries of Europe are facing the issue of how to handle their returning losers. This 19 Dec 17 The Economist article, How Belgium copes with returning Islamic State fighters The caliphate’s foreign fighters are coming home to places that do not want them, talks about how one country, Belgium, is handling these returnees.

From the article, "Laura is one of about 5,000 residents of the European Union who have gone to Iraq and Syria since 2014 as jihadist fighters or supporters. Over the past six months, as IS has collapsed, Europe has braced for the prospect of more jihadists coming home, bringing their combat training (and combat trauma) with them. Whereas some may be disillusioned with radicalism, others are likely to engage in terrorism. Returned jihadists have already taken part in attacks in Belgium and France. Security services face the task of tracking them as they re-enter Europe. Courts must decide whether to lock them up. Social services must figure out how to reintegrate them into society."

This 13 Feb 18 WSJ article, Europe Balks at Taking Back ISIS Fighters A number of European militants have been captured as the U.S.-led coalition rolls back Islamic State by Stacy Meichtry in Paris and Julian E. Barnes in Brussels, is about the same issue. Basically the governments worry that these people are unreformed and will be causing lots of trouble at home. They are not taking discouragement into consideration.

From the article, "The U.S. is pressing for European Islamic State militants captured in Syria and Iraq to be sent back to their home countries in an effort to ensure they don’t return to the battlefield.

One problem: Europe doesn’t want them."

One big difference between Spain and ISIS is that the end of the Spanish Civil War was followed in six months by the beginning of World War Two, so those countries dealing with returnees soon faced a much bigger issue than worrying about what returnees would be doing.

This means dealing with ISIS returnees will no longer fit this part of the pattern. This will be brand new social territory to explore. We will get to see new solutions in this 2018 challenge. Where I anticipate the pattern continuing is that the returnees will be contributing new innovations to their community culture, as Hemingway did in the US.



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