Your letters

It’s that time again.

That time when I insist on calling emails letters because it sounds better.

It’s been a while since I last had a “your letters” edition. But I have been reading all the feedback you’ve sent.

Below you’ll find a selection of your opinions on the topics I’ve written about recently, with a link to the original article in case you missed it.

As usual, I’ve changed everyone’s names to initials to preserve their anonymity.

Your thoughts on: Subprime 2.0: this time it’s different… this time it’s crypto

Interesting article regarding Fluidity’s plans. Having worked in the investment banking industry through the 1987 Crash, the ERM debacle in 1992, the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990’s, the dotcom boom and crash and the 2008 crash, I am sure we have nothing to worry about as the regulators would never let it happen again would they?…

If the regulators do allow this company to go ahead with this plan, then surely the credit rating agencies, won’t make the same mistake twice, they will surely give the securities a junk rating.

And if the regulators and credit rating agencies, fail in their responsibilities then it doesn’t matter because governments will bail out the banks again and everything will be ok! 

Hope you have been building your gold position!

MF

Dear Harry,

The bank regulators for subprime 1.0’s normal dollar type mortgages were caught with their pants down together with the unfortunates in financial institutions who, for one blind reason or another, bought the securities based on them. That much we know. And democracy took a very severe and ongoing blow with no end still in sight. We may be the walking dead even now.

Presumably the regulators for subprime 2.0 crypto currencies are all clued-up this time and ready to step-in and address another potential catastrophe? And the likely buyers of the type 2.0 mortgage securities will not get the chance to make a similar mistake again?

Marx is purported to have said, give capitalists enough rope and they will hang themselves. He could one day be right, brought on by unbridled capitalist greed. A re-run of the 2008 financial catastrophe could effectively finish-off democracy.

It is not clear to me that there are people around who have the authority and courage to act to prevent another subprime mess, are able to spot things quickly enough before another immense destruction potentially occurs. The lack of leaders of substance, pace of modern life, the level of disrespect for authority, and the shear number of problems thrown up (helped by the electron – yes, it is true) might simply be too great for people in authority to handle today anyway. We may see democracy getting jettisoned before we realise it! By default if you will.

It seems to me there are too many democratic leaders pulling in too many directions, and perhaps with no great belief in democracy anyway. It effectively needs another Marshall type plan to pull the democratic world together and defend it but this time America is bankrupt. Anyway that is not possible with Trump and the rot might even be too advanced before he is replaced. For starters, we will need a “clean living” American individual who commands authority and can interest people in the views they hold. It has to be an American. The Truman type maybe.

DC

Your thoughts on: Elon Musk doesn’t want to sell you a self-driving car – but he does want you to pay for one

Hi Harry,

Interesting piece today; your line “So, is Musk really planning to hike Tesla prices so much they make no economical sense for consumers to buy…” reminded me of when we looked at installing solar panels some years ago now. The quote we got was almost exactly the price of the electric we’d save! And as the price of solar came down, so the rebate and subsidies dropped so that we’d only ever save as much as the installation cost! We sold the house long before the end of the projected installation life anyway, so we’d have lost out in any event.

As I say, that was some years ago now – I’ve stopped looking into it. Air-sourced heat-pumps are the same: the saving in gas cost the extra to drive those humongous fans! The ‘green’ aspect is the only thing that sells ‘green’ tech.

I enjoyed your piece on Libra vs the US ‘deepstate’ – as it turns out so far Libra can have as equally a good impact on cryptos as a bad one… you never say anything when things go wrong with crypto, yet you’re hugely optimistic at the slightest hint of a good run!

Best regards.

AH

Yes, it’s true, I do write many more positive than negative crypto articles. I guess that’s because I believe that in the mid-long term crypto is going have a truly life-changing impact on industries and institutions all around the world. And when I find evidence for that I want to share it with the world.

However, that’s not to say there isn’t a lot of shady, scammy and downright dangerous things happening with crypto. As I’ve said before, as with any new technology or tool, it can be used for both good and ill. I covered some of that in this article: ban this sick filth, and more recently in this article: I hear the voice of rage and ruin.

And, as you can see above, I think the idea of tokenising mortgages could be a dangerous one, if they all get bundled together and sold as an investment vehicle – a la the subprime disaster.

Harry

This strategy will only work if there is NO viable competition in Autonomous cars, or if ALL manufacturers collude and refuse to sell Retail.

No doubt Uber will set up their own network.

CH

Your thoughts on: 0-186 mph in nine seconds

Yes, and Audi have launched their range of electric cars this month. However, the supply of electricity to charge all these cars is conveniently submerged under the promotion and ‘climate emergency’ hype, not least, I suspect, because it is a very complex issue. In the UK, the National Grid does not have the capacity to deliver the energy required, I believe, if only 10% of the total car population is electric. With fleet buyers starting to invest in electric vehicles, 10% is easily achievable. Also, in the UK, the charging infrastructure is inadequate with proprietary networks creating inconvenience for drivers. Of course, most of the electricity comes from fossil fuel.

The second issue is that hydrogen power is emerging as a realistic option, technically and economically. Technically it is not a sensible option as fuel for internal combustion engines but certainly is to power fuel cells to produce electricity. One can see how this headlong rush into electric vehicles might end badly, with inadequate re-fuelling/charging infrastructure, fragmentation of markets, manufacturer uncertainty, and inconvenience and higher prices for buyers. Overlaying this mess with H2 infrastructure should be chaotic.

As I understand it, H2 holds much higher utility than electricity for all transport in terms of through life cost and convenience.

I would be interested in your comments.

Kind regards

CS

Your thoughts on: $17 billion is sitting at the bottom of the ocean and no one can agree who owns it

Hi Harry

For me it has to be gold, no contest!

I have held gold for over 40 years, typically around 20-25% or my portfolio, it’s never made me any money but has never lost me any either.  Bitcoin is great, I’ve held it for a couple of years and have already taken massive profits and fully expect to take some more but there are just too many variables to predict where it will be in 20 years’ time, it is just one manifestation of competing block chain technologies and exists in an ecosystem of miners, brokerages and exchanges all of which   can come and go or may find something better to do within the next 20 years.

On the other hand I have here a gold sovereign which has been around since 1907 and which I bought sometime in the 1970’s and I know that  if I wanted to I could go out tomorrow morning and sell it without any difficulty and I’ve no doubt it will be just as saleable in 20 years.  Now I know a £100,000 investment in gold would require storing in a vault which does level the playing field a bit, however, I’ll stick with some gold for the long run and have a bit of fun with cryptos while I can.

Regards

JL

Hi Harry

The quick answer to your question is gold, without any doubt. However, it’s probably not the optimal approach. Given £100k to invest long term, I would put £99k into gold and £1k into bitcoin. Speculating with 1% seems a prudent approach, perhaps 5% if you allow the option of cashing out a bitcoin gain before the 20 years is up.

Regards

GB

Hi Harry,

It’s got to be gold, just as bitcoin was the young energetic upstart alternative to fiat, there will undoubtedly be a similar fresh face as technology moves on.

Gold will always be the go to alternative for anyone wanting to protect their wealth, that “nugget” of wealth preservation will be passed down the generations.

Keep up the good work.

All the best.

SA

Your thoughts on: Humanity’s greatest achievement

Hi Harry,

 A couple of thoughts on recent articles.

  1. Fermi’s Paradox. Assume that there is life everywhere in the galaxy/universe (it seems improbable that we are unique!). Assume that the physical laws we know about prevent interstellar space flight.  Why don’t we “hear” of other civilisations? Perhaps because we are simply not listening the right way. (I understand the hydrogen spectrum frequency as a universal idea for transmission).  We are already investigating FTL comms on the subatomic level (I’ve read reports of paired quarks “communicating” properties instantly).  If it was possible to develop this into a comms system it would only work between paired systems, with which you could build an entire network – a hyperspace relay system.  You could only “hear” anything if you were part of the network.  An advanced civilisation would still have to be around for a long time to expand enough by non-FTL to create the network and contact others. Carl Sagan’s book Contact explores a comms only type of intergalactic civilisation and perhaps that is the most we can expect.
  2. I don’t hear anything about nanotech anymore. Theoretically it would revolutionise everything if you could actually build on an atomic/molecular scale. Think of how food production could be changed if you could take raw materials such as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and put the atoms together with a bit of energy to make sugar. Oh I forgot – that would be a chloroplast in a plant cell. So perhaps it can be done.  If it did become possible to have real nanotech, your question of Bitcoin vs Gold may become a “non question”.  With the ability to build what we want (including all sorts of renewable energy systems) “money” as such may become an anachronism and then neither would be worth more than their intrinsic value – nothing! (would we even have gold jewellery if gold was worthless). 

I agree with you that I would rather bet on gold still being a store of value in 20 years rather than bitcoin surviving that long.

Always find your articles interesting.

RS

Okay, that’s all for today.

I’d like to thank everyone who wrote in – especially those who picked up on my “idiosyncratic” (wrong) use of the word annex on my, You’ve been blocked piece.

I’ll let you all in on a little secret in regard to that. Not only did I think annex has the exact opposite meaning to what it actually does, but I’m absolutely hopeless at spelling, too. Sometimes my spelling is so bad, MS Word can’t even work out what word I was going for and just gives up.

And as for my handwriting… even I can’t read it back. I never got higher than a C in English at school because my teachers saw the state of my handwriting and assumed the content was just as useless. So I became a writer to spite them. Go figure.

Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor

PS Remember you can always write in if you have any thoughts on my articles, just email: harry@southbankresearch.com. As I say, I may not reply to your email, but I will read it.

Category: Cryptocurrency

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