There are a few hot topics on the agenda that will require close monitoring over the next days and weeks. As always, president Trump ignited some fires. While it’s good news that apparently the meeting with North Korea will go ahead as per original plan, the troubles with China are less encouraging. The South China Sea dispute is heating up and it may very possibly end not well. I got to admit that I was not perfectly informed on that front, so I did some research and found this very useful map that illustrates it perfectly.
The “nine-dash-claim” is basically what China considers their territory. Safe to say that listening to Chinese rhetoric is one thing, but a brief look at this map says it pretty much all. The nine-dash-claim is “bold” to formulate it in the most diplomatic way. I got to be honest, as a Philippino, Vietnamese or Indonesian, I would have problems with accepting this claim. I don’t want to start a debate, but what I would like to show here is that it is a rather serious matter that could easily get out of hand.
Well, in Europe we have other matters to worry about but certainly not less significant. The European Union is showing strong signs of fragility, with Italy quickly moving to the brink of bankruptcy and a political change that could move it straight out of the European Union. Poland needs the EU budget but probably wouldn’t shed too many tears if they would have to leave the EU as well. Britain is on the final steps to finalize their exit, Spain is fighting internally against itself and while we didn’t hear much about Greece in recent days, the problems there are still very far away from having been solved. Nothing shows all these problems better than the valuation of the European currency. The Euro is down to a level that we haven’t seen for a very long time. We have conflicts wherever we look.
It is kind of funny and I mean it not in an entertaining way. It’s 2018. It has never been easier to travel to any place in the world. It has never been easier to communicate within seconds across the globe. There was never a time when so many people would be interacting with each other in real time with so many tools at hand for a true 2-way-real-time-exchange. What Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, Line, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc. offer is far beyond what my parents could have ever imagined possible.
And yet, it seems the world is more divided than ever.
We are increasingly connecting the world. Fast trains and planes, new routes and partnerships, new technologies for improved communications, instant translation tools and a stronger emphasis on inter-cultural sensitivity are growing at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up with all the developments. And yet, while everything would point towards a stronger connection among people worldwide, what we see is an increased rejection of these developments and rising conflicts across the globe.
In my professional life, I am a hotel manager and I get to meet people on a daily basis, whether it’s my employees, suppliers, business partners or hotel guests. I change the hotel, city and often country usually every 1-2 years and what I observe, hear and notice wherever I go, is a clear trend towards protectionism. There are complaints about immigrants, heated discussions about regional disputes, a lot of negative sentiment towards religions and yes, we even still have discussions about skin color and eye shapes. People are simply not keeping up with the developments, and they get overwhelmed by the effects. Namely: They get overwhelmed by other people. Other cultures. Other world-views. Other habits.
There are so many questions. Did we ever truly started to think about connecting with others? To become “one” world and “one” people? And another one: Does “social media” deserve its name? Is it truly social? Do tools like Facebook or LinkedIn really connect people? Is the possibility for everyone to raise their opinion to the worldwide public really a benefit to our society or does it only support the spread of false-information, prejudice and subjective opinions that get projected into the masses?
I could probably start a philosophical discourse about all the factors that play a role here without getting to a conclusion, thus to bring it back to the point and theme of this blog, let me say just one thing here.
What happens on the stock market, is nothing else but a mirror of human reactions and their assumptions on the shape of the world, mainly it’s economy. The economy depends on politics. So if you put it together, you always get back to the same point: People evaluate the success of global relations between people and measure it in the form of stock prices. When everybody is happy, peaceful and successful, markets go up and stock prices soar. When people get in trouble, get less peaceful and success is replaced by failure, markets go down. Watching the shape of the world today and where we are heading, it is safe to say that we can expect heavy turbulence on the stock markets across the globe for the next few months to come.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor, thus please don’t forget to do your own due diligence before making any investment decisions.