What to expect in 2016!

When I was a child and studying in primary school, the world population was estimated at 6 billion people.  That was 25 years ago. As we approach 2016, the estimated world population stands at 7.3 billion people.

What can 7.3 billion people expect in 2016?

Happy New Year 2016 replace 2015 concept on the sea beach

To start with, 2015 was not an easy year for the world. Conflicts in the Middle East have triggered the largest dislocation of people since World War II and we have witnessed major disagreements in the developed world regarding sensitive and humane issues.

We have seen the first interest rate hike from FED in the last eight years during the last days of 2015 and we experienced major government changes in Myanmar and South American countries including Argentina and Venezuela.

In 2016, we will witness the US presidential election taking place on 8 November 2016. The Obama administration will come to an end in 2016 and I hope a good leader will continue his legacy for the coming years. This will be the biggest major event in 2016 since the US can change the course of events substantially if there is a major policy shift. My own bet is on the Democrats continuing to run the presidency in the US.

According to The Economist, one percent of the world’s population will enjoy more wealth than 99% of the population for the first time in 2016. This worries me a lot since both World Wars began with disagreements regarding the division of resources. We have to solve this problem as soon as possible, otherwise we will all be dragged into this problem at some point and human history may talk about a third world war in the 21st century. I think the probability of a large scale war in the next 10-20 years is very high unless we do something fast.

Europe is expecting another 1.5 million refugees in 2016. The 1 million barrier has already been crossed in 2015 and more will follow in 2016. I believe developed countries in Western Europe cannot really manage this crisis properly and this is another big challenge we face.

The Olympics, Rio 2016, are just around the corner and the European Championship held in France will be another major event in 2016. I wish Turkey and England the best of luck in these tournaments.

We should prepare for another hectic year in the financial markets as well. A rate hike will very likely continue in the US and we will experience the effects of this new “normal” on the emerging markets. Europe will likely get better in 2016, but nothing really fantastic is expected from the European side.

The Chinese slowdown will continue to be the main theme in 2016 and I personally see no real upside on the commodity prices. This will very likely stretch to Middle Eastern countries and taxation policies could be on the way for many zero tax countries in 2016.

I am quite optimistic about Latin America as they have already started dealing with their problems quickly and major government shifts will very likely improve these economies since they have hit the bottom. The only exception could be Venezuela.  A moratorium from Venezuela would not be a surprise for me in 2016.

India is very likely to do well in 2016 just like 2015! Turkey is not an easy bet. Of course since I am originally from Turkey, I want Turkey to do well but the political situation in the nearby countries such as Iraq and Syria will make 2016 difficult for Turkey. In addition, the outflow from the emerging markets will be another challenge. I believe long term investment in Turkey will still have higher yield than many markets.

It will be interesting to watch the EU referendum in the UK – I hope the UK chooses to stay in the EU.

New technological “disruptions” in the Fintech and Virtual Reality spaces will be themes to watch in order to not be left behind.

On a personal note, I hope to witness my child’s one year birthday. Improving and expanding my knowledge and experience will be my main focus this year as well. I want to continue to develop my French language skills along with expanding my personal and business network.

I hope that I can visit five new countries in 2016. My agenda is New Zealand, South Korea, China, Georgia and Brunei. I hope I can achieve this!

Taking this opportunity, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Thank you for your reading my blog in 2015.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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A Birth Story, Henry Alp Haskan

 

What a week for my family and me!

My first kid, Henry Alp, arrived this week on 14 December at 17:08. We were quite worried since the baby was over 4 kg and he wasn’t engaged so there was no way to deliver him naturally and we were heading to the hospital like we going on a regular family holiday with the luggage and passports.

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I would call the period from arriving at the hospital to the surgery starting the most stressful time of the whole process.

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You just wait in your room like you are waiting for some kind of funeral (even though it is a birth!) and when the time arrives, you feel like it may be a good idea to delay the birth! Maybe the baby would engage soon! 🙂

And then, while my wife was in the operating theatre, the waiting exercise was not completed for me. I had been given a chair and a corner to wait and I had been told that they would call me.

At this point, I remember my primary school period where the teachers are the real masters and you have to obey whatever they say! I was really desperate!

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The minutes passed very slowly and I was called into the operating theatre. I am not a good person to be in an operating theatre since I feel like I might faint whenever I see somebody else’s blood but I was there!

I stayed in the surgery room for 15 minutes, but I can tell you that it felt like an hour. I tried my best not to look anywhere except my wife’s face. Even when Henry Alp born, the doctor was showing us the kid and I was hesitant about looking at him since I was not sure if I would see anything wrong!

Our paediatrician checked if the baby was healthy and then I carefully followed a bunch of nurses with my kid.

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I was out with the kid, but my wife was inside and the stress had not really gone anywhere! After an hour, she arrived and I was so relieved that I went straight to a nice bar next to the hospital to have some pints of beer to relax.

The first night was really sleepless! I really enjoyed it as my favourite football team, Besiktas, was playing against a rival club, Galatasaray. Defeating Galatasaray was a good coincidence since we haven’t been able to defeat them since 2011.

The second day was good fun since the stress replaces itself with joy. Being a dad is like being on a big learning S curve since I learned how to change my baby’s nappy and wip him clean.

Getting his birth certificate was another memorable experience on that day!

A glass of beer was still needed, but this time to celebrate that night.

On the third day I learned how to bathe him and that was an experience as well. Henry Alp managed to pee on myself. (Congratulations, my boy!)

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And, finally, we were discharged from the hospital day 4.

I have huge respect for women, and I respect all the mothers even more. It is not easy what a mother goes through and they all need to be congratulated for this.

I would like to thank all the North Bridge Road Raffles Hospital staff who helped us during this journey. Taking this opportunity, I especially would like to thank Dr. Lee I Wuen.

We have been seeing her for last 9 months and she has been fantastic from the start.

Finally, I should say this has been another great Singapore experience. From A to Z, everything was very well planned and executed. I am not sure if it would be the case in many other countries.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Is Declining Oil Price a good thing?

Absolutely, the declining oil price is a good thing!

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Not only oil, but a price plunge in all types of commodity is good in the long term…

In the short term, it may look dreadful. There may be difficulties in terms of keeping up with the debt repayments of oil rich countries and companies, expanding current account deficits and even bankruptcies.

All of this could be very painful—so why then is it a good thing?

Earning money from commodities is not like a having a proper manufacturing or service sector which you make money out of. A commodity is a natural resource and it is abundant there just out of pure luck.

In other words, there is no real hard work behind it.

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator - Wednesday December 3, 2014 Ontario benefits as oil prices plunge The steep drop in crude prices that continued Friday hurts oil-rich provinces like Alberta and Newfoundland, but Ontario comes out a winner thanks to increased demand for auto production and overall exports. ÒFor us, itÕs very good news, even if itÕs not so much for the rest of the country,Ó said Mike Moffatt, assistant professor at Western UniversityÕs Ivey School of Business.  ÒWe are a net importer of oil. Obviously, we use oil in our day-to-day lives, but itÕs a big input for our manufacturers as well,Ó he said. ÒItÕs always a good thing when the stuff you buy becomes relatively cheaper,Ó Moffatt said. ÒAnd lower oil prices drive down the Canadian dollar, which helps our exporters.Ó According to the 2014 Ontario budget, every $10 drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil results in a 0.1 to 0.3 percentage point in economic growth for the provincial economy. ÒIf you put it in dollar figures, thatÕs between $1 billion and $2 billion for OntarioÕs economy,Ó Moffatt said. The impact is expected to be even greater here, given that the price of oil has plunged since OPEC decided Thursday to leave its production targets of 30 million barrels a day unchanged despite an oversupply and falling prices. Western Canada Select, the Canadian benchmark, has lost more than a third of its value since June, in step with declines for West Texas Intermediate and the international gauge Brent. WCS spot prices traded Friday at $48.40 a barrel, the lowest in the world. (Source: Toronto Star) http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/11/28/ontario_benefits_as_oil_prices_plunge.html Ontario, Alberta, Canada, Oil, Stephen Harper, Kathleen Wynne, manufacturing, economy

In order to set up a manufacturing company, you need a lot of things to be in place and, most importantly, it needs hard work. The same goes for the service sector. For instance, let’s take the example of the financial sector.

This requires a wealth of knowledge that people acquire not just through education, but also through valuable experience.

Can you imagine how many years it took to build the New York or London financial centres to where they are now?

Just remember the wealth of experience and intellectual capacity that these financial centres are sitting on—like JP Morgan, the Rothschild family, the Warburg family, the Rockefellers, and many more…

When something is given and you know how to extract the natural resource, you are like a third generation rich kid whose parents had a lot of real estate which you inherited. You continue to receive the rent payments from your tenants, but how many of you will really think about how to improve or develop new skills?

There are always outliers who can take things further, but mainly it is fair to say that this is not the case.

Then, what happens most of the time to third generation companies/wealth?

Nearly 60% of the time, a family’s money is exhausted by the children of the person who created the wealth, according to Roy Williams, president of wealth consultancy The Williams Group. In 90% of cases, it’s gone by the time the grandchildren die.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/25/luxury/family-wealth/

A commodity price plunge will push countries and companies to reform themselves. More importantly, countries will need to adapt to the current environment to survive, and companies will try to be more innovative to survive.

The oil price decline will mean more reform, more innovation, more democracy and a better future!

Last but not least, there is a very nice article on Chatham House regarding commodity rich countries. The article talks about the resource curse. You can look at:

https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/resource-curse-revisited

p.s: This week will be a very important week for me and for my family. I will be a father for the first time! Wish me good luck!

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Social Mobility

 

If you are born in the Western world rather than Africa today, it is likely that you will not suffer famine in your lifetime. If you are born in England, your life expectancy will be higher than someone born in Mali. If you are born into a family where both your parents have university degrees, it is very likely that you will have access to higher education as well.

Small differences in life such as your place of birth, nationality, your name and your family make huge differences to how your life is lived.

It is very clear that not everybody is born with the same kind of opportunities and prospects. It is the balance of nature—and it is not very fair.

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Social mobility is a big challenge for every country today. A book written by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett concludes that more equal societies almost always do better than others. Their study discovers that there is an inverse relationship between income inequality and intergenerational mobility. Countries with less income inequality, such as Denmark, Sweden and Finland, have some of the greatest mobility, whereas countries with high income inequality, such as Chile and Brazil, have some of the lowest social mobility.

So much talent is wasted because they haven’t been given enough opportunity to show what they can achieve.

For example, George Soros would have been one of the wasted talents, but he was lucky enough to receive an education at LSE.

He subsequently tried his luck in securing employment in England, but was offered only simple jobs rather than his dream investment banking job. Because he did not come from a certain family or circle, he could not establish his dream in England, and so flew to the US to accomplish his dreams.

Today he is one of the greatest philanthropists.

Given that we cannot completely eliminate these inequalities, how can we help the underprivileged to move up the ladder?

No matter what, we have to subsidise education. Children who come from poor families have to make it to good schools if they have the right attitude and skills. Without allowing underprivileged kids access to education, it is almost impossible to speak about social mobility.

I think Singapore is a very good example. Everyone can go to a public school and the monthly fee varies from free to six Singapore dollars if you are a Singaporean citizen. More importantly, Singapore is one of the best countries for your child to be educated, according to the latest PISA results.

There is no guarantee that all kids can make it—but the probability of climbing the ladder significantly increases with a good education.

The legendary investor, Jim Rogers, lives in Singapore with his family and he chose for his daughter to study at a public school rather than a private school.

Social mobility is not only something that helps people climb the ladder, but it is also an insurance against rises in crime and is a bodyguard for a peaceful world.

It is not easy to subsidise a good level of education for everyone and it is very costly, but it is not more costly than the cost of rising crime, of unhappy communities and of pessimistic futures.

Finally, no matter how smart you are, if you are financially well off, it is very likely that you will take it easy. Social mobility is also good for innovation, competition and the promotion of growth.

Hamdi Ulukaya, owner of Chobani yoghurts, is a recent good example of social mobility. A Turkish citizen of Kurdish descent, he was lucky enough to study at Ankara University and lucky enough to go to the US for his English studies. He took a major risk in acquiring a large, defunct yoghurt factory in New York.

Ulukaya’s net worth is USD 1.4 billion as of 2014 and he has pledged USD 700 million to refugees of the Syrian civil war.

It is hard to prove, but I believe people whom you help to move up social ladder tend to help other people as well—just like George Soros and Hamdi Ulukaya.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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