2020: Looking Ahead To Greater Uncertainty

I want to share my thoughts on what the new year may have in store as it applies to small startup companies, and entrepreneurs. This is the time of year to consider macroeconomic issues and your company’s potential exposure. Salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff in November warned of global trade and recession fears among CEO’s.

In July of 2014 I wrote a blog post on this site, reporting the growing controversy and debate within the Internet community about the rise of a balkanized Internet, typified by the Chinese “Great Firewall.” Bill Gates and Vin Cerf argued that the Internet was too expansive and pervasive for government restrictions on the Internet to succeed. On the other side, Eric Schmidt and John Chamber of Cisco railed against the NSA metadata snooping as a contributing factor in the development of the “Splinternet,” that would severely harm American technology leadership.

A detailed report, prepared by Finite State, a Columbus, Ohio-based cybersecurity firm, concludes that Huawei telecom switching gear is far more vulnerable to hacking than other vendors’ hardware due to firmware flaws and inadvertent “back doors” that were discovered. The report has been circulated widely among cybersecurity experts in the U.S. and UK, and it is considered credible.

NOTE: My original post, originally published in January 2013, continues to be one of the most viewed on the site.  Android and Apple have enjoyed an estimated 98% market share between the two, and many of my earlier projections regarding this market appear to have been borne out. However, the smartphone market has now matured to the point that it is at a strategic inflection point which has major implications for the future of this market and the major competitors. The rapid maturation of the smartphone market should have been foreseen: the rise of domestic Chinese competition combined with the predictable end of the Western consumer fascination with “the next smartphone”

From The Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/grouse-mountain-acquisition-just-the-start-for-chinese-investment-firm-banker-says/article35699906/ Via The Globe and Mail’s Android app

As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out this week in the Washington Post and on CNN GPS, we now have a Trump foreign policy doctrine, and it is not reassuring for the World. Obviously heavily influenced by Bannon, who many had thought had been relegated to backseat status by McMaster, we have been fooled again. As Trump demonstrates his RealPolitik admiration for authoritarians like Putin, Xi Jinping, Erdogan, and Duterte, more sinister scenarios begin to crystallize.  Trump’s speech justifying the withdrawal of the United States from the COP21 Paris Climate Change Agreement is a frightening exposition of this new Trump Doctrine. It is Trump thumbing his nose at the World. It is the United States against the World, led by a coterie of plutocrats and their money.  The reality is that the evidence points to an ongoing seizure of executive power by Trump that destroys our Constitution in the name of our national security.  The question is what we can do about it. 

The truth is that for all of the tough talk from Li Xinping about stopping the massive outflows of capital from China, some of it probably dark money obtained from dubious enterprises and kickbacks, nothing has changed in China or in the Western cities eager to share in the wealth. Rich, Young “Fuerdai” Chinese Are Buying Overseas Properties on Their Smartphones. Millennials acquire real estate in other countries as hedge against a weakening currency, homes for their own children when they study abroad

Wall Street is currently basking in a vigorous “Trump rally,” with the Dow rising more than 1000 points since the election. The rally is driven by analysts who are salivating over the future prospect of sweeping deregulation of many markets. But there is also chorus of concern from dozens of financial experts, that the global financial markets are “whistling in the graveyard,” acting in a classicly irrational manner. Experts cite a host of issues both financial and geopolitical, among them Trump’s intention to exit TPP, NAFTA, and the COP21 Climate Agreement. Combined with rising geopolitical tensions with China, North Korea, and Iran, a perfect storm of global uncertainty and instability is forming.

Reading this article today, I am dumbfounded that Anbang managed to get this far in the purchase of B.C. commercial real-estate without red flags going up. This mysterious Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group has attracted the attention of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and government authorities in the United States and other countries. A months-long investigation by the New York Times revealed an extremely opaque structure, empty offices, obscure shareholders, and extensive political connections to the Chinese elite. Anbang has all the earmarks of Chinese money laundering, corruption at the highest levels, and mysterious shell companies. It is a cautionary tale for Canadian authorities fretting over foreign real-estate buyers and skyrocketing real-estate prices.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership began modestly years ago with New Zealand and a few other southeast Asian countries and mushroomed into a Pacific regional plan as the cornerstone of Obama’s pivot towards Asia. It has attracted the ire of both left-wing progressives and now Donald Trump, who has announced his intention to cancel U.S. participation in TPP. The criticism has ranged from it being part of the New World Order conspiracy to loss of jobs, damage to the global environment, and a host of other issues. It is considered to be a crucial factor in the populist revolt against so-called “free” international trade, and the rise of protectionism. Regrettably, it will likely go ahead in some form, regardless, with China in the leadership role, not the United States. The probable consequences of this are grave