The Africa Boom

I contributed the following article to Dr Marc Faber’s Gloom, Boom, and Doom report in January 2014. It was an updated version of the argument my colleagues and I at ETM Analytics had been making to clients since around 2012. It was a warning to be careful of a coming bust in African economies and markets.

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Email me for the password. (The duplication of chart 2 & 3 in the report was the editor’s error).

At around the same time (December 2012), The Economist ran its Africa Rising cover;

And Renaissance Capital analysts published The Fastest Billion (November 2012).

If one invested in this Africa rising view in November 2012 by adding money to the Market Vectors Africa ETF, you’d  have wiped out 30% of your capital in USD. The exuberance had become a little irrational. If you bought in late 2012 and managed to sell at the 2014 peak you could have picked up at most 9% in USD.


The time you should have been buying Africa was back in 2000 (when Jim Rogers said the time was right in his book: “Adventure Capitalist”). Africa was an option on a developing commodity boom. Such a buying time will come again, but my sense is we’re not there yet. There are some opportunities across the continent, but they are few and far between.

Commodity bear market for another 15 years?

Interesting charts from commodity strategist John LaForge at Ned Davis Research. He looked at boom/bust cycles of commodities in the past 214 years, and found that the average commodity bull market lasted 16 years, and the average bear market following the ultimate peak 20 years. If this cycle repeats again today, general commodities could be in a bear market for another 15 years (if 2011 was this cycle’s peak). I recently wrote I don’t believe the bear market will last this long this time, and also believe that agriculture prices and gold could outperform general commodities even in a general commodity bear market.

commodities boom and bust

Sherry Turkle: “Connected, but alone?”

A very interesting TED Talk presented by Professor Sherry Turkle about how social media and technology are changing the way we connect in our relationships. Worth a watch, food for thought, it’s 19 minutes long.

From TED: “As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication — and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.”