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India

Sitting at the Planet’s Heart, India is set to deliver new Supply Systems and Distributive Technologies…The Economic Revolution starts here, right now

By COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

When Donald Trump told us, as he did a lot, that he was the greatest President in the history of the United States and a Genius into the bargain, we listened (to put it mildly) with some scepticism: quite a lot of scepticism actually. Who knows, however unlikely it seemed, he might have been right, but a palpable lack of any grip on reality made it all seem so much bluster and nonsense: not worth listening to. When Jeff Bezos tells us, on the other hand, that this is going to be India’s Century, it’s worth sitting up and paying attention …because, unlike Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos knows what he’s talking about. He knows that right here, right now tectonic economic change is taking place in India, and it’s nothing short of a revolution.

Under his leadership, Amazon had identified the subcontinent as a global powerhouse as long ago as 2013, and since then the company has invested $6.5 Billion in India (dramatically putting it’s money where Mr Bezos’ mouth is): because, like most informed commentators, Mr Bezos can see the roots of tectonic change unfolding, and he couldn’t be more enthusiastic about it’s raw potential: “I predict that the 21st century is going to be the Indian Century. The dynamism, the energy… everywhere I go here, I meet people who are working in self-improvement and growth. This country has something special”.

So what exactly has he seen, and what does it all mean?

Indian Retail Markets are Moving Online

Well, for a start, India has a $1.2 Trillion Retail Market, only 7% of which is currently online: driven by the ferocious consumer appetite of what will shortly be the most populous country on the planet: increasingly middle class, increasingly urbanised and more tech aware than ever. And now, on top of all that, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (www.weforum.org) has re-energised levels of online invention on the subcontinent, lifting it to third place in World rankings for capacity to attract investment in technology and opening up unprecedented potential for the future. All of which means that 7% figure is set to soar, and Amazon is eager to snap up its share of the remaining 93%, which accounts for its $6.5 Billion investment so far. From a base of $18 Billion in 2018, online commerce in India is now expected to grow to $200 Billion by 2028. So if ever there was a coiled spring…this is it.

Amazon, though, is facing some pretty stiff competition

Walmart bought Flipkart for $16 Billion in 2018 and Reliance owned JioMart is projected by Goldman Sachs to secure a 50% share of India’s lucrative online grocery market by 2024 (www.goldmansachs.com). Competitive, exponential growth is on the cards.

But it’s not just about retail …

Amazon is also investing in Indian Education (through the Amazon Academy (www.academy.amazon.in)), Digital Payment Systems, Video and Music Streaming as well as new infrastructure for delivery of food (watch out JioMart); and (Lord knows we need it) Medicines, with a new Amazon Pharmacy platform.

Sitting at the Heart of the World

India sits at the Heart of the World’s Supply Systems and Distributive Technologies, and Jeff Bezos knows that too. Last year he announced Amazon would invest a further $1 billion to support ten million traders and micro, small, and medium enterprises on the subcontinent, driving forward an expected $10 Billion in additional exports within the next four years: not to mention a further 1 Million jobs, which will inevitably further enhance that seismic demographic change still further and faster. Success, after all, tends to breed success…

So unlike Donald Trump, who now (so soon) already seems a distant memory, Jeff Bezos knows what he’s doing…this will be India’s Century.

Red Ribbon Asset Management (www.redribbon.co) has more than a decade’s experience of successfully investing in the subcontinent’s markets: delivering above market rate returns for investors whilst at the same time staying loyal and committed to its core values of Planet, People and Profit.

Executive Overview

We’re currently experiencing a radical restructuring of the world’s supply infrastructure. Those changes are set to put India at the very heart of a global revolution that will change the way we all do business.

 Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management 

Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: not only offering above market rate returns for investors but also protecting our Natural Capital.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

As the World Moves Forward, AI and Machine Learning have changed everything: quicker and more profoundly every day…So get ready for Tomorrow

By COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

Suddenly, almost in a heartbeat, Artificial Intelligence is changing our World: what seemed impossible a few short months ago is now possible…and not just possible, AI has become an everyday part of our workaday lives. And we’re not just talking about teenagers here, stuck in their rooms and locked to their mobile phones: emerging technologies have radically reshaped global commerce at every level of society. University students in lockdown can expect to have their exam papers assessed by AI predictive technologies, and their online tutoring is already driven by AI (forget Gavin Williamson, the future’s in the box). Retailers are using AI to improve customer engagement (goodbye call centres, hello Chatbots), Banks are using AI to reduce credit card fraud and your Uber driver uses it to get you home. Robotics powered by AI are delivering vaccines along hospital corridors as you read this, using real time updates to avoid obstacles and trollies along the way. When you apply for your next job, your application will be reviewed by AI. It’s everywhere…and it’s big business.

According to the influential market research agency Tractica (www.businesswire.com), global AI is expected to generate an astonishing $118 Billion annually by 2025: 37% of companies have already implemented AI in one form or another, and the percentage of businesses using AI has grown by 270% in the last four years…95% of customer interactions will be driven by AI within five years.

Deep Learning

Deep Learning is a key part of that process: from speech recognition to machine translation, language processing to vaccine design, deep learning technologies have matched and often exceeded expert human performance. And “deep” really does mean deep here, reconciling multiple layers within any given network and finding connections and links where there weren’t any before. Its why you can get a ticket for speeding when there isn’t a policeman within three miles…its why Google send you all those annoying “recommendations” for wedding rings when you announce your engagement on Facebook. 

And combined with the increasing traction of Deep Learning, the pull of Big Data and powerful Graphic Processing Units (or GPU’s to the over initiated) has placed the whole system into overdrive.

As John Smith, Manager of Multimedia and Vision at IBM Research (www.research.ibm.com) put it: “We’re seeing deep learning have a huge new impact, whether it’s in speech or vision or some problem in natural language processing. This is going to continue for some time”. 

You can say that again…

Doing New Things

So whenever a business wants to introduce a new way of doing things, whenever we need a new design solution, making the complex simple and turning commercial ambitions into a reality…that’s where you’ll find Artificial Intelligence (however scarce or otherwise the commodity might be in Gavin Williamson’s Office at the moment). In a world where anything can (and does) change so rapidly, you need an algorithm that allows for and anticipates change.

Machine based learning is part of the process, so we’d better get used to it: self-driving cars and speeding tickets by post…Get ready for tomorrow.

Executive Overview

AI and Machine Learning have had a huge impact on our lives over recent months: changing the way we all live, work and do business. It is, indeed, time to get ready for tomorrow…

 Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management 

Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: not only offering above market rate returns for investors but also protecting our Natural Capital.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

There’s Nothing New under the Sun…Modular Construction meets the Needs of Public Infrastructure

By Construction Technologies, COVID-19, Mainstream Impact Investment, Modular Construction, News, Productivity

In the Nineteenth Century our forebears used a wood based search engine, called a Catalogue: and, in the days before Amazon, it was surprising what you could get. Farmers in New Zealand (and anywhere else for that matter) could buy a Church in a crate from Isaac Dixon & Co, whose 1896 catalogue offered to box it all up, ship it over (in as little as four months (the Amazon Prime of its day)), and drop it off for collection “at your local railway station”. A top of the range, 500 seat church cost £875 in new money, but you had to dig your own foundations: and if you wanted lights and heat that was an extra £70.  For the more ambitious, you could also buy a School in a crate, a Clubhouse (gin and tonic extra) and even a Billiard Hall (cues and balls included)…all boxed up and delivered to your local station platform.

So there’s nothing new about prefabricating public infrastructure…its all about public need.

Schools and Hospitals

A hundred years ago colonists scattered across the British Empire didn’t have much if anything by way of local builders, never mind materials to build with, but they still needed Schools and Hospitals (perhaps not Billiard Halls but, hey, everyone needs a hobby): and today Public Infrastructure Projects have rarely been so important, think Nightingale Hospitals, COVID Vaccination Facilities and Schools. But, with such unprecedented public pressures currently created by the COVID pandemic, how can we hope to deliver to those needs at the pace required? 

Just Imagine you could construct a fully functioning Intensive Care Unit inside a month. It’s not science fiction… it’s science fact. Modular construction has never been so important as it is now… Building on more than a hundred years’ experience.

Facing up to the Future

Working through the Crown Commercial Service (www.crowncommercial.gov.uk) the UK Government has now introduced a Modular Building Service to provide public sector bodies with facilities to buy or lease pre-designed, pre-fabricated and ready to install modular buildings: everything from Schoolrooms to Hospital Wards as well as Housing, Defence Installations, Commercial Units and Retail Shops. So-called “Framework Prices” are fixed for two years with design minima to help ensure high product quality. Social value and sustainability are important too: customers can ask suppliers to tailor the product to match their individual priorities.

Just like other Governments and private construction companies across the globe, the UK is waking up (again) to the full potential of Modular Construction: a ready-made and more effective alternative to costly and drawn out traditional building techniques.

Low Cost, High Quality

Public Buildings and Facilities created using advanced Modular systems are 30% lower in price than conventional equivalents, delivering space, people and technology at the core of the asset itself: with added inbuilt digital technologies, think life support systems in those new Nightingale Hospitals put together in less than a month. And Modular Construction also typically re-uses 80% of its components, which fits in perfectly with the demands of the Circular Economy (www.oecd.org): prolonging the useful lifespan of materials by combining modularity with durability and reducing embodied energy. 

Executive Overview

To secure the public services we all need in these difficult times, we have to learn to build better, faster and smarter: and that has inevitably increased reliance on Modular Construction technologies by public bodies across the planet. The latest UK design initiative is just part of a much larger process.


Find out more about Modulex

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Modulex-Logo-300x77.jpg

Modulex is setting up the world’s largest steel modular buildings factory based in India. It was established by Red Ribbon to harness the full potential of fast-evolving technologies and deliver at pace to meet the evolving needs of the community.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

A Distribution Hub for the World… India will be a Global Focus for Change as we emerge from COVID

By Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

As the Subcontinent emerges from lockdown, it is also spearheading a long term, tectonic change in the way the World does business. For the last decade (at least) China has been the leading distribution hub for global commerce, but with COVID’s suffocating grip gradually relaxing, India is set to challenge that primacy. Even before COVID, this was increasingly apparent but, as with so much else, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change: forcing manufactures to shake off their dependence on China and seek out more secure and resilient supply chains. No surprises there. In the light of international restrictions that saw container traffic backing up from Felixstowe to San Francisco, they had no choice. And their search for a solution has now trained an unremitting spotlight on India. So it’s time to come to terms with the future…it’s time for China Plus One.

India and China: Macroeconomic Trends

But first, to understand the macro economic factors at play here, it’s worth stepping back for a moment and looking at the drivers for long-term change beyond COVID: let’s take a look at historic patterns of trade between the Subcontinent and China, and what they mean for India’s economy.

By 2019 India was importing a staggering $70 Billion worth of goods and services from China (double the figure from ten years previously); much of it sourced from products manufactured in India, exported to China for assembly and then re-imported back as part of a complex supply structure. China was effectively acting as a magnet for domestic production because of its immense pool of skilled, low cost labour and advanced technology. But India was then pulling the finished products back home to meet the needs of a rapidly burgeoning and increasingly wealthy population: one of strongest consumer markets in the world. The result was a curious cross border “dog leg” of trade: cheaper to assemble in China, but ultimately corrosive of India’s ambition to build up its own home grown pool of skilled labour and technology. Taking more from China meant making less in India, and that had consequences. It’s why Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India Programme was launched in 2014 (www.makeinindia.com): to encourage increased manufacturing at a domestic level, and since then the Subcontinent has seen its manufacturing output grow by 6.9% year on year.

That’s why the Subcontinent now has the ideal platform to create a dynamic centre of gravity for global trade…a new normal to flatten down the old dogleg.

India since 2010: a Powerhouse for Growth

GDP on the Subcontinent grew by an astonishing 257% in the period up to 2019. A significant relaxation of administrative restrictions reduced the lead-time for starting up a new business from 28.4 days in 2015 to just 18 days in 2019, and the value of Intelligence Enterprise Capital (think Bangalore and Chennai, basically Silicone Ghaatee) more than doubled to $39 Billion. And that demographic change we mentioned earlier matters too: India is now home to 18% of the world’s population, increasingly middle class, urbanised and hungry for new products: projected to become the world’s third largest consumer market within the next decade, spending $6 Trillion annually. India also has the second largest road network on the planet, the fourth largest rail network, more than 200 ports, the world’s third largest iron ore reserves and the largest reserves of copper and thorium (a key component of electronic devices, in case you’re wondering), as well as being home to more than 1,140 Research and Development Centres (Bangalore and Chennai again).

Making More and Selling More

So as businesses across the globe are looking for new, diversified sourcing and supply structures, India’s re-energised production capacity is perfectly placed to deliver a fuller, more diversified supply chain: that’s what China Plus 1 is all about, hedging against over dependence on a primary location (China) by seeking out territories with large, domestic markets and cost efficient production systems (India): enabling at one and the same time both a scaling up and opening up of new markets. In other words, selling more where you make it, and making more to sell elsewhere.

Nowhere on the planet ticks those boxes better than India.

CBRE (www.cbre.co.in) has forecast India will reverse the current 13.3% /1.7% imbalance in its share of world exports with China, which would add $1 Trillion manufacturing gross value in the subcontinent by 2025. As Anshuman Magazine (Chairman and CEO (ISMEA) of CBRE) put it: “The lockdown restrictions will further propel the use of automation, robotics and digitised operations in warehouses and increase the use of e-commerce channels to move India forward…market dynamics will change”.

He couldn’t be more right…

Executive Overview

COVID changed everything, but it accelerated change too: and right now we’re seeing a radical restructuring of the world’s supply infrastructure. Those changes are set to put India at the very heart of a global revolution that will change the way we all do business. I can’t wait to see what happens next…


 Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management 

Ribbon Asset Management has more than a decade’s experience of successfully investing in the subcontinent’s markets: delivering above market rate returns for investors whilst at the same time staying loyal and committed to its core values of Planet, People and Profit.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

2021 is Blockchain’s Year … Starting here and right now, with Emerging Technologies in India

By Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

We can already see the future…According to Accenture’s Technology Vision Consumer Survey (www.accenture.com), 52% of us now have a daily dependency on technology, and we spend an average of 6.4 hours a day locked to our screens and phones: over the course of a lifetime that’s 21 years four months, which is nearly as long as we spend sleeping.

And, unsurprisingly, this trend has been turbo charged by the disruptions of COVID. Over the course of ten short months in 2020, Digital Technologies advanced by a decade, which didn’t just make it harder to tear teenagers away from their iPhones (although it did that too): unprecedented times have also profoundly changed the way we do business, intensifying digitisation of global supply chains and innovating a slew of new products and services. Think Zoom, Amazon and Netflix. 

So emerging technologies in India are no longer an optional extra to reduce costs: according to McKinsey (www.mckinsey.com) they have become a “critical component” of businesses and economies across the world… McKinsey are right, and at the heart of this maelstrom of change India has become a trailblazer in the Brave New World of innovation.

Emerging Technologies in India – AI For All

The subcontinent launched its “AI for All” Strategy as long ago as 2018 (www.niti.gov.in), recognising the key stake the fastest growing large economy in the world has in the AI revolution as well as the seismic potential of AI itself to transform economies across the planet. The programme sets out a solid foundation for research and development in emerging technologies, a basis for creation of a successful AI ecosystem and a collaborative network of experts and stakeholders across all four corners of India. 

All of which has started to bear fruit in the intervening three years.

In Bangalore (predictably) AI enabled technology has been developed to screen for early signs of breast cancer; hospitals in Tamil Nadu are using Machine Learning algorithms to scan for diabetic retinopathy as a response to a local shortage of ophthalmic specialists and, COVID again, MyGov (www.mygov.in) has been using an AI enabled Chatbot to enhance communications across the countrywide Citizen Engagement Platform.

In collaboration with businesses and service providers, Machine Learning and AI are giving key insights to help predict user events and future behaviour: disease prevention becomes better (immeasurably better) by tapping into lifestyle decisions and core demographic features.

The subcontinent also now has AI based solutions in crucial water management strategies, crop insurance and pest control: using image recognition drones and intelligent monitoring of irrigation systems to increase yields and improve harvest quality, so India’s rural poor can expect to benefit immeasurably. ICRISAT (www.icrisat.org) has developed an AI based power sowing app that can increase yields by up to 30%.

And that’s not all…

Blockchain

A Joint Report issued last month by the World Economic Forum and Chainlink found Blockchain has the power to “unlock the hidden values of legacy digital systems” and highlighted in particular the success of India’s Crop Insurance Scheme: providing coverage and financial support for farmers affected by natural disasters, Blockchain is enabling greater scheme transparency and accountability, as well as essential security of information. Smart Contracts have become a ready-made answer to age-old problems, and that’s not something that’s been lost on the Indian Government.

Earlier in 2020 the National Institution for Transforming India (a Government body) released its report examining the role and potential of Blockchain across a full spectrum of public activities, including commerce, social engagement and public sector initiatives. The paper seems set to have the same impact on the future of Blockchain (not just in India but worldwide) as “AI for All” had on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

A Vital Agent for Change

So all in all, this looks like being Blockchain’s year and it’s starting up: not just because emerging technologies in India do things faster there and more reliably, but because they are a vital agent for change…rethinking and reimagining our future across the board.

Executive Overview

There are times when the World suddenly takes a new direction, and that’s true too in the uncertain times we’re living through at the moment: emerging technologies are rapidly evolving to change the way we all live, work and do business.


 Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management 

Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: not only offering above market rate returns for investors but also protecting our Natural Capital.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

All Set and Ready to Lead…India will be at the Head of the Pack for Post-COVID Growth

By COVID-19, Housing Need, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

In last month’s Asia 2021 Outlook (www.nomuraconnects.com), Nomura forecast a 9.9% growth in Indian GDP by the end of 2021: that’s more than China (9%), and way more than the UK (5.5%) and the United States (4.7%), all of which are running off historically low recovery platforms as a result of the Pandemic.

The UK’s forecast, for example, may be the highest since the 1980’s, but according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (“OBR”) the economy will not return to pre-Pandemic levels until the last quarter of 2022. Investors would do well to remember that even a dead cat bounces…

On the other hand, India is expected to go on to deliver GDP growth of 11.9% by the first quarter of 2022, far higher than pre-Pandemic levels.

None of which should come as any surprise.

Post-COVID Growth

Before COVID gripped its chill hand on economies across the planet, GDP on the subcontinent was growing at a rate of 5.02% annually, barely half of the figure now being forecast by Nomura for the coming year. So unlike the UK there’s certainly something more than bouncing back at work here. Just look at the underlying data…in the second quarter alone, Nomura expects Indian GDP to grow by 32.4%, which means the so-called “base effect” of COVID will be completely eliminated on the subcontinent within six months (as opposed to two years in the UK).

Ten years ago the comparable (World Bank) figure for growth on the subcontinent was 8.5%, and in 2016 it was 8.26% (www.worldbank.org). So the latest Nomura forecast is well within the parameters of an already established, upwards growth trajectory. In fact, at 9.9%, it even foreshadows a sharp(ish) upwards tick over the near term.

And once again, that can be usefully contrasted with comparable trends for the UK economy over the same period. In 2010 GDP grew in the UK by 1.95%, but by 2016 it had fallen back to 1.92%. And before COVID struck, it had fallen back again to 1.41%. That’s why even on the basis of the latest OBR data (www.obr.uk), any UK recovery will still be two years behind India, heading for a downturn on what are already historically low figures. There’s no sign of an upward tick any time soon in the UK, sharp(ish) or otherwise.

So what’s the reason for those stark differences, and what does COVID have to do with it?

Well, there are three key indicators.

First of all, the UK has built up a staggering Budget Deficit of £394 Billion for the year to March 2021: struggling to balance massive recovery spending with dwindling tax receipts.

As a whole, UK national debt currently exceeds £2 Trillion, which is more than 100% of GDP, and its expected to stay that way for at least the next five years. Putting it mildly, none of this is a healthy foundation for future economic growth.

But even allowing for post COVID growth and recovery programmes on the subcontinent and an unprecedented level of public infrastructure spending, India’s deficit is only 17.9% of projected GDP (less than a fifth of the UK figure), so it has vastly more headroom for growth.

And then, secondly, there’s that tried and trusted bellwether of growth: Inflation.

As Keynes once said, there’s no inflation in a junkyard: upward pressure on prices is usually a reliable indicator of healthy levels of consumer demand, and demand is a significant driver for growth.

In 2020 the UK inflation rate slumped to 0.3%, which is the lowest level on record. And there’s a double whammy too: as the economic strictures of COVID are eased, inflation is likely to rise with a parallel increase in interest rates: so it’s not a good time to be holding £2 Trillion in debt (see above). On the other hand, inflation on the subcontinent is currently 4.95%, which is slightly higher (but not disturbingly so) than the midpoint 4% target maintained by the Reserve Bank of India since 2016, and in turn that reflects a robust level of consumer demand as a result of a burgeoning, increasingly wealthy and product hungry population.

And then, finally, there’s Housing: an Englishman’s home isn’t just his castle, over the years it’s been a pretty good investment too.

Despite the shocks of COVID and the worst recession for three hundred years, house prices in the UK rose to a six-year high at the end of 2020, which speaks to a certain confidence in the future…or does it? Across the board, analysts in the UK are now predicting a sharp decline in house prices.

Halifax (the country’s biggest mortgage lender) expects a fall of between 2% and 5% over the coming year, and the OBR is even more of a Cassandra: forecasting an 8% drop in prices during 2021. That’s certainly not a trend reflected on the subcontinent…house prices are going through the roof from Mumbai to Chennai.

So with strong fundamentals in Housing, Monetary and Macro Economic policy, India seems all set for further growth; and despite the fact that the traumatic impact of COVID must induce a necessary caution into any forward looking analysis, there’s little reason to doubt Nomura’s figures. After all, history has given us the compelling lesson of Spanish Flu: a hundred years ago we were also socially distancing, wearing masks and watching fearfully as old certainties crumbled away. But within two years global economies had bounced back with a vengeance… there’s no reason to doubt that they can (and will) do it again.

Expect India to be at the head of the pack when they do.

Executive Overview

The World has come a long way since March 2020, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way: but with effective vaccines now on the horizon, and signs of economic recovery emerging across the Planet, it’s time to look to the future. All of the data now suggests India will be playing a leading part.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

The Future is Already Here… Bitcoin’s Surge in Value is Proof of a Connected Global Economy and India is Crucial to its Development

By Blackstone, COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

Suppose you live in the South of France: the Boulangerie (and every other shop for that matter) is Brexit sceptic, but you’re being paid in Pounds. Naturally you convert to Euros. It makes life easier. It makes sense. But why would anyone convert Sterling, or any other currency for that matter, into Bitcoin? You can’t buy bread with Bitcoin, it won’t get you a ticket on the Underground and Amazon doesn’t take it for any kind of lockdown delivery. As a non-fiat cryptocurrency, it’s about as much use in your purse or wallet as an IOU signed by Donald Trump.

So why is the value of Bitcoin skyrocketing?

Last week it was trading against the US Dollar at a staggering $27,000 …and there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon. The aggregate value of Bitcoin is now more than $500 Billion, which exceeds the market capitalisation of MasterCard and it’s twice as much as IBM. Over the last ten years a single dollar invested in Bitcoin has consistently returned more than $100 invested in the S&P 500.

BlackRock (www.blackrock.com) now predicts Bitcoin will replace gold as a reserve of last resort. 

What’s that all about then?

Part of the reason, for sure, is the limited number of Bitcoin in circulation: when the cryptocurrency was launched in 2009 (we still don’t know who did it) the number of “wallets” was restricted to 21 Million, and latest estimates suggest the number of unique users is now hovering at something in the order of 18 Million. The rate at which new Bitcoin reserves are released decreases by half every four years, so naturally investors believe its value can only go up as demand increases. Economists call it Says Law (www.investopedia.com), where increased demand combined with limited supply means a higher price. And functioning as it does through a decentralised Blockchain ledger, the Bitcoins in this restricted wallet can be converted into other currencies, products and services on the Internet, so it gives them “real” market value.

Trust comes into it too…

Those same Blockchain ledgers that act as the locked vault of the currency have proved to be highly safe and reliable, like…well, just like a locked vault. Exactly like a Pound coin (or a Euro for the man in the Tabac and the lady in the Boulangerie with flour up to her elbows), it doesn’t require either party to a transaction to trust in the good faith of the other. It’s the coin itself, or the Bitcoin in this case, that makes the transaction work. Just like fiat currencies (issued by Governments), Blockchain gives Bitcoin an elaborate system of checks and verification systems to make sure the payment will actually go through. And because there are no intermediaries it costs less too, as well as being exceptionally difficult to counterfeit.

With that substructure of trust and certainty, and with all 21 Million Bitcoins in circulation, the price of one Bitcoin would be $514,000 (adopting traditional monetarist M3 (store of value) modelling), and that’s more than twenty times higher than its current market value of $27,000. Small wonder then that the market price is so resurgent at the moment…it has a lot of headroom to catch up on.

It’s not something that’s been lost on the world’s most vibrant distribution hub either. Sitting at the very heart of the planet’s trading networks, India is making the most of Blockchain technologies to turbo charge future economic development, not just across the subcontinent but in global markets too.

You can expect Bitcoin to be a key part of the process…

Executive Overview

Economic commentators have concluded that the pandemic has brought ten years of technological innovation in six months, and looking at the exponential changes brought about by Zoom and Amazon, Bitcoin and Blockchain, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was right.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

The Lessons of History…Indian Real Estate and Equity Markets still go Hand in Hand

By COVID-19, Housing policy, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News, Real Estate Markets

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction: that’s why you can expect a reaction (quite a powerful one actually) if you present your loved one with last minute flowers from the service station. But not so fast, not every action produces pushback: some move together, following the same trend in lockstep. And nowhere is that more true than economic markets. Take equity and real estate for example: history tells us that in the long term, stock and property prices will tend to move together in the same direction (up or down), and in the short term an increase in residential property prices will also push stock prices up.

But before you get on the phone to your broker, a word of warning about what history can tell us about the future…

Although the 1960’s were written in Technicolor, the 1970’s were distinctly beige: the sixties swung, landed a man on the moon and gave us the Beatles, but the seventies limped through Watergate to the music of the Osmonds (I’m using the word “music” loosely here)…and they also gave us Stagflation. Anyone who studied economics in the dark days before Kylie Minogue recorded “I should be so lucky” will be familiar with the Phillips Curve: the theory that high rates of unemployment couldn’t co-exist with high inflation, because higher unemployment meant less earned income, and less earned income meant lower inflation. It all made sense on paper and for a while it worked in practice too, but there was a small flaw in the theory…it was nonsense. Stagflation reminded us that unemployment and inflation could be delivered together, at unprecedentedly high levels as part a beige coloured double whammy. The Phillips Curve said it couldn’t happen…but it did.

So is economic orthodoxy equally flawed when it comes to that important correlation between short-term housing and equity markets?

Well, to test the theory, let’s take a look at trends in Indian markets over the last six months (which, as the short term goes, is pretty short term).

After the initial shocks of COVID 19 had been absorbed and lockdown measures eased, there has been a marked increase in confidence across the subcontinent’s real estate sector, driven in substantial part by the Indian Reserve Bank’s fiscal stimulus package and interest rate reductions, as well as tax breaks and incentives introduced by Prime Minister Modi’s Government. And that old perennial was helping too: moving into your new home by Christmas. Knight Frank India reported “improved sentiment” (www.knightfrank.co.in) and the mid (affordable) segment saw bellwether rental prices increase sharply by up to 9% year on year. After the COVID enforced lull, developers are also resuming and accelerating construction projects to pick up the slack, with 90% of the labour force now back on site. Property prices are rising across the board.

That’s all well and good, but what about India’s Equity Markets? What were they doing over that same six-month period?

The answer is that since June of this year 95% of BSE500 stocks have risen in price, with the benchmark BSE Sensex Index surging by 37% (after hitting a 52 week COVID low in March). And tellingly for present purposes, Indiabulls Housing Finance more than doubled returns for investors in Q4 (www.indiabullshomeloans.com), further fuelling demand for India’s burgeoning demographic and bringing closer the dream of owning a home of their own.

All of which means that when it comes to Indian Real Estate, it looks like economic orthodoxy still holds good after all: Property Markets and Equity Markets are moving upwards together. But even so, think twice before bringing home those service station flowers for Christmas…you might not get the reaction you were expecting.

Executive Overview

As someone who works on a daily basis in financial markets, I know economic theory can go wrong as often as it sets us right: but keep an eye on that key variable between property and equity markets, it’ has to be a core part of our forward planning.

And the variable is working better than ever in India.

Have a great Christmas and a prosperous new year from all of us at Red Ribbon.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

Housing Markets are Broken…We can fix them with Modular Technologies

By COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

Our Broken Housing Market is one of the greatest barriers to progress”: that’s not Jeremy Corby or Bernie Sanders, or even some green haired social agitator…that’s the Conservative MP for Maidenhead, Theresa May (remember her).

And to drive the message home for those with a short attention span, her Government even called its 2017 Housing Policy “Fixing our Broken Housing Market”: but no matter how clear the message, it was eventually overwhelmed by Brexit, and Brexit did for Theresa May too. The Policy Paper was consigned to the waste paper basket and a commitment to build 300,000 new homes every year by the middle of the decade died on its knees: last year fewer than 60,000 new affordable homes were built in Britain …But Modular Construction can fix all that.

The housing market is broken

Like her or loathe her (and plenty do both), Theresa May got that one right…the housing market is broken. Not just in the United Kingdom but across the globe, with rising levels of homelessness and housing need. So if it’s broken why aren’t we fixing it? Why are dinosaur developers still struggling with bricks in the mud, like a mediaeval crofter fumbling with wattle and daub?

Some of the of the key answers are in that discarded Policy Paper, so it’s worth fishing it out of the bin, and when you do, take a look at one section in particular: “Supporting Developers to build out more quickly”.

Skip over the unpalatable reference for a “strategic licensing of protected species” (basically allowing building on nature reserves, so tough luck on the ducks), that one can stay in the waste paper basket: focus instead on the all important key word: “quickly”. Construction has been doing anything but for years, with an overall slowdown of 15% in UK delivery rates in the decade up to 2018: a trend that is sadly reflected across the planet (www.ourworldindata.org).

A commitment to modular construction

That’s why Theresa May’s Government committed itself to Modular Construction: because it can produce affordable homes 30% faster than conventional technologies, maximising design efficiencies through production of basic components in a climate controlled environment (without sloshing about in the mud), as well as reducing the disruptions anyone who has ever set foot on a building site will be all too familiar with.

And it’s not just a question of speed of delivery. The average cost of building a traditional housing unit is £150,000, but by adopting modular technologies the bottom line spend is reduced by securing optimal delivery times and minimal labour costs.

The UK Policy Paper estimated that by prefabricating units offsite overall construction budgets could be reduced by as much as 25%. And they’re more environmentally friendly too…reducing waste levels by up to 50%, so that means less trucks chugging painfully to the landfill site as well. Modular buildings are better designed, better insulated and greener, reducing energy consumption by up to 20%. 

History may look kindly yet on Theresa May…

Modulex Construction (www.modulexglobal.com) is the World’s largest Steel Modular Building Company. It was established by Red Ribbon (www.redribbon.co) to harness the full potential of fast evolving technologies and deliver at pace to meet the evolving needs of the community.

Executive Overview

Especially in these testing times, we need to learn to make the most of what we already have: and when it comes to housing need across the Planet, that means Modular Construction.

We need to build better on pre COVID policies and do our best for the future…

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

Artificial Intelligence

Who the Hell is Geoffrey Hinton…How a Man in Hush Puppies Changed the World with Machine Learning

By COVID-19, Emerging Technologies, India, Mainstream Impact Investment, News

Chances are you’ve never heard of Geoffrey Hinton, but humble as he is, Geoffrey changed the world forever. Most likely you haven’t heard of Backpropogation either (www.neuralnetworksanddeeplearning.com), but that’s the algorithm that powers Machine Learning, and it’s radically reshaping all our lives on a minute-by-minute basis.

Backpropagation and Machine Learning

Geoffrey Hinton is the father of Backpropogation, so it’s thanks to him that within minutes of Googling up a wedding venue, your screen pings full of adverts for top hats and tails. And it was Geoffrey who made sure speeding motorists are caught and fined, because Geoffrey’s behind number plate recognition too: no matter how complex the data, no matter how fast you try to dash away from the camera, Geoffrey’s always there. This unassuming, gangling man in a dubious sweater and hush puppies has changed the world forever…and, unsurprisingly, Geoffrey works for Google.

Perhaps alarmingly for some (and despite the avuncular air created by those hush puppies and sweaters) Geoffrey Hinton is also a Terminator 2 man. He doesn’t rule out ever more expansive decision-making by all those supercomputers, because, as he dryly puts it: there isn’t a good track record of less intelligent things controlling things of greater intelligence“.

He might have a point there…

But fundamentally Machine Learning isn’t about science fiction at all, it’s about science fact. Geoffrey Hinton’s algorithm already enables huge swathes of complex data to be gathered together (including who you are, where you live, what you buy, where you bought it and how); and then (this is the crucial bit), to enable computers make an educated guess (albeit a very good one) about what you’re going to do next. Hence all those pop up adverts for top hats and tails…

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence is the next step forward: using Machine Learning technologies the supercomputer takes note of its “environment” and maximises the chances of delivering on a set of predetermined goals, mimicking human cognitive functions including “learning” and “problem solving” capabilities. That’s how the machine can issue you with a speeding fine, but it’s also why it can already understand human speech (thank you Alexa) and why, in the fullness of time, we are likely to see driverless cars tootling up Streatham High Road (www.ucsusa.org/resources/self-driving-cars). 

The economic consequences of all that should be obvious to anyone not currently living in a cave: Blockchain is already a big thing, but its future development will inevitably be turbocharged by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. The decentralised ledger systems at the heart of Blockchain will become faster and more efficient, matching up buyers and sellers more effectively and cutting out intermediaries to make worldwide markets super efficient too. 

The Internet of Things

And The Internet of Things is also already on the horizon: physical objects from toasters to climate control systems will be embedded in future with sensors and software to connect and exchange data over the Internet, making the “smart home” a practical reality. As soon as you wake up your iPhone will put the kettle on, and when you take the train home, the Oyster reader at the station will turn on your central heating. And if that sounds a little frivolous, think about this…if you have a heart attack, the on board radio in the ambulance can prep the intensive care facility in the hospital. So the Internet of Things might just save your life as well.

And we’ve got Geoffrey Hinton to thank for that. 

Executive Overview

Especially at the moment, emerging technologies are changing all our lives: think Zoom and Amazon, Ocado and Netflix. So it’s more important than ever to keep a keen eye on the future, if only because that’s where we’re all heading.

If you would like to know more about joining our Mainstream Impact Investment journey click here

Red Ribbon

At Red Ribbon we understand that the transition towards a resilient global economy will be led by well-governed businesses in mainstream markets, striving to reduce the environmental impact of their production processes on society at large and on the environment as well.

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