From the edi­tor

Finweek English Edition - - Contents - JANA MARAIS

for some es­capism from the dreary day-to-day news flow at the mo­ment, we take a ride to the fu­ture in this is­sue’s cover story on elec­tric cars. The grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of bat­tery-pow­ered ve­hi­cles can shake up a num­ber of in­dus­tries in the com­ing decades, no­tably min­ing. Glen­core es­ti­mates that 30% of all new ve­hi­cles sold glob­ally in 2030 will be elec­tric ve­hi­cles, up from about 1% in 2016. As it is a ma­jor player in the cop­per, nickel and cobalt mar­kets – com­modi­ties that are ex­pected to ben­e­fit mas­sively from a boom in bat­tery-pow­ered elec­tric ve­hi­cles (BEVs) – one can un­der­stand why the Swiss firm would be bet­ting heav­ily on the rise of the elec­tric car. (See page 37.)

Yet in­vestors would do well to ex­er­cise some cau­tion, es­pe­cially when con­sid­er­ing pre­dic­tions from play­ers with skin in the game.

The plat­inum in­dus­try – which is bet­ting on the rise of hy­dro­gen fuel cell pow­ered ve­hi­cles, as th­ese would re­quire more plat­inum than BEVs – for ex­am­ple only ex­pect 5% of new ve­hi­cle sales to be of BEVs by 2025. RMB Mor­gan Stan­ley, on the other hand, ex­pects a BEV mar­ket share of about 9% by 2025 and 16% by 2030. As the No­bel lau­re­ate Niels Bohr said: “Prediction is very dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially if it’s about the fu­ture.”

Mi­crosoft founder and bil­lion­aire phi­lan­thropist Bill Gates, who in his 1999 book Busi­ness @ the Speed of Thought ac­cu­rately pre­dicted the rise of the smart­phone, so­cial me­dia, on­line re­cruit­ing and in­stant pay­ments, among other things, last year fa­mously pre­dicted that wind, so­lar or some other re­new­able re­source will power the ma­jor­ity of the world within the next 15 years. Writ­ing in his an­nual let­ter ear­lier this year, Gates said he ex­pects a clean-en­ergy break­through by 2030 that will trans­form the lives of mil­lions of peo­ple.

Speak­ing to stu­dents at Columbia Univer­sity in Jan­uary, Gates, who dropped out of Har­vard to start Mi­crosoft, said there are three promis­ing ar­eas where he might pur­sue a ca­reer if he were start­ing out to­day: ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, the en­ergy sec­tor and biotech­nol­ogy.

If Gates is to be be­lieved, bet­ting on the rise of clean en­ergy will be the smart thing to do. Pick­ing the spe­cific com­mod­ity win­ners and losers may, how­ever, prove to be a lot trick­ier.

Mat­ter of fact

In our cover story on ex­change-traded funds in the 7-20 Septem­ber is­sue, we pub­lished a pic­ture of Mike Brown, CEO of Ned­bank, in­stead of Mike Brown, the CEO of et­fSA. We apol­o­gise for any in­con­ve­nience caused. ■

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