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Mainstream Impact Investment

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

modular

Closing the Loop…It’s all About Time and Modular Construction is part of the process

By Climate Change, Eco Hotels, Environmental Policy, Mainstream Impact Investment, Sustainable Growth

You wouldn’t buy a new book, take it home and throw it straight on the fire: well you might if it was “The Art of The Deal”, but let’s agree to make this is a Trump free zone for a moment. And it really is all about time, because that book you bought will eventually end up in a fire, adding to a landfill or being recycled. It’s just a question of when it happens, but where it happens couldn’t be more important at the moment. Burning it as waste poisons the air, burying it pollutes the earth but recycling will bring it back as something else (perhaps, who knows, another book). That’s what we mean by the Circular Economy: creating sustainable growth by using our finite resources to bring resources back. It’s all about closing the loop and thinking ahead…and it’s all about time.

Now more than ever there is a compelling need for waste and pollution to be designed out of our economic activities, preserving scarce resources in an effort to protect our environment.

And that applies in particular to the Construction Sector: more than a third of landfill waste can be sourced to building and demolition projects, with an average new build producing 1.8 kg of unrecycled waste for every square foot of floor space created. A 50,000 square foot office block will produce an average 100 tonnes of waste during construction, only 20% of which is recycled. And another 4,000 tonnes when it is demolished: steel, glass and wood that could ordinarily be recycled is impossible to recover because of cross contamination with other (non recyclable) waste products: so it all goes to landfill. It is appallingly wasteful and given the life expectancy of that office block is 50 years, waste on such a scale couldn’t be more significant for the life of our planet.

Modular Construction closes the loop on such a destructive cycle: individual components are manufactured indoors in controlled conditions, so the quality of the build is higher and waste levels inherently lower. Cyclical production to standard models also means materials left over after one project aren’t discarded at all, but used on the next development. Site assembly is three times faster than conventional methods because modular units are 80% complete when they get to site, meaning there’s less time for waste to build up. And taking all those factors together, that adds up to 90% less waste on site with modular than its conventional alternatives: no broken bricks, shredded plasterboard and rusting steel left behind, waiting to be carted off for burial in a landfill.

Because the final assembly on site is so much quicker, modular construction also creates less site traffic over a much shorter period (70% less in fact): and that means less diesel fumes polluting our air and less energy consumed in delivering the finished building.

And that’s not all: when a modular building comes to the end of its useful life, the individual components can be reused or recycled. There is no cross contamination with other non-recyclable materials, because for all practical purposes there is no demolition at all… no need to hammer the building down brick by brick because, module by module, it can be moved to a new location and re-assembled or individual modules re-used elsewhere.

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.

Modulex is setting up the world’s largest steel modular buildings factory in India.

Executive Overview

Global Housing needs have been driving an unprecedented move towards Modular Construction technologies, because they offer an opportunity to deliver at the speed, cost and quality required. But that’s only half the story…

Modular Construction is also more energy efficient and better aligned to the closed loop production methods that are proving so important for the preservation of limited resources. That’s why it will be so important for all our futures.

sunset

Hard to See it, When You’re in it…COVID might obscure the future, but it will also speed it up: The Lessons for Indian Real Estate

By Climate Change, Eco Hotels, Environmental Policy, Mainstream Impact Investment, Sustainable Growth

Guy de Maupassant was a straight talker: the French novelist used to eat lunch every day in the restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, because it was the only place in Paris he couldn’t see the Eiffel Tower from: he couldn’t see it because he was in it. And that’s pretty much where we are at the moment with COVID: looking out from the dark tunnel of the pandemic, it can sometimes be hard to see where all this is going. History, though, has some pointers for us. In 1919 San Francisco had a powerful Anti Face Mask League: mobilising public protests against the compulsory wearing of face masks. Does that ring a bell? And the year before, in 1918, most US States had introduced Social Distancing measures, closed schools and theatres and banned mass gatherings, all of which also has a familiar resonance. Because back then they were dealing with Spanish Flu, there was no vaccine in sight and lockdowns were destabilising economies across the globe.

And that certainly rings a bell…

Between 1918 and 1920 Spanish Flu infected some 500 Million people, more than a third of the world’s population, and of those 17 Million subsequently died. So as anguishing as COVID 19 might be (and is), the social and economic impact of Spanish Flu was far worse than COVID: in large part because of the gruesome success of bodies like the Anti Face Mask League, something Donald Trump and his red faced “freedom” followers might want to bear in mind.

And just like today, back in 1920, it was difficult to see what the future would look like, because just like us, they were living in the heart of the disruption. So how did things turn out then?

Well, just five short years later, by 1925, the cinemas had all re-opened: audiences were packed to the rafters and, appropriately enough, watching Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush because the world’s economies were soaring too and construction projects were getting underway at unprecedented rates…the World had entered the Jazz Age and the Anti Face Mask League was rapidly forgotten. So there in a nutshell is the lesson of history, something we ought to keep front and centre of our thinking in these troubled times: a pandemic won’t change the future, it just brings it about quicker…

Take Indian Real Estate for example.

As a result of COVID the subcontinent’s residential sector had predictably slumped in the second quarter of this year, but in the third quarter (to September) sales in India’s top seven property markets (including Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai) had shot up by 34%, with 14,415 new builds. A powerful market mix of low interest rates, ongoing government growth initiatives and an increasing level of involvement on the part of Non Resident Investors (NRIs) had been supressed and concealed by COVID, but has now irresistibly re-emerged as lockdown measures start to be eased. We just couldn’t see it at the time…because we were in it.

And then there’s that reliable old bellwether of construction on the subcontinent, Cement Production, which is also picking up from a six-month slump: driven forward in particular by pent-up demand for new building and increased rates of rural residential building. India Cements held its (predictably virtual) AGM on Monday this week and forecasts quarter on quarter growth over the foreseeable future, as well it might.

These are precisely the sort of trends and signals that the immediate impact of COVID has tended to conceal… but at the same time COVID itself is a disrupter of (almost) unparalleled magnitude, so it’s just as likely to accelerate development of those trends. You just need to look for the signals…

Find out more about 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 through innovative programmes like the Eco Hotels Project.

Executive Overview

As I’ve said in the past, near and long term economic trends are likely to be a lot more important than any of our current fixations: and goodness knows we have enough of those at the moment.

So it’s certainly interesting that just as COVID has suppressed some key trends over the last six months, it may well also be acting act as a classic disrupter: accelerating core developments that may otherwise have taken a lot longer to emerge. All of which makes it all the more important that we keep our focus on the future.

Energy saving lamps and planting trees on the soil ground Electric energy saving concept

Is Donald Ducking Out?…Setting the Restart Button for Sustainable Growth

By Climate Change, Eco Hotels, Economic Growth, Environmental Policy, Mainstream Impact Investment

Whatever the outcome of November’s election, Donald Trump has already made his mark on history: more carbon dioxide in the skies above Delaware, rivers more polluted than they’ve been for decades (think Flint) and wildlife reserves destroyed to make way for ever more drilling gantries. The fact is most environmental regulations dating from Obama’s era have either been abolished or fatally weakened in the last three years and with what, even for him, amounts to a depressing lack of perspective, Donald Trump justified dismantling no less than seventy key regulations by claiming they were “unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel industry”. And despite the ravages of COVID 19 (with more than 176,000 deaths in the United States, by far the worst fatality figure in the World), Trump has still found sufficient time since March to scrap thirty more regulations …Thanks a lot, Donald.

So is this really the sort of freedom most Americans are yearning for?

Freedom for coal-fired power stations to start discharging mercury emissions into the atmosphere and dump mining debris in rivers; freedom for oil companies to ignore “burdensome” wildlife protection measures and liberated to drill across nine million acres of previously protected heritage land (including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge): free to forget those tedious methane emission reports that aren’t needed anymore. And fracking can start up again on federal and Indian lands (let freedom ring); in California, farmers are free to drain rivers without worrying about killing (endangered) salmon and smelt and protected migratory birds are once again fair game: free to be to shot from the skies and their “parts” used to make novelty gifts for tourists stopping over in Juneau (I’m not making that up).

But the three years of the Trump Administration (maybe eight all told, who knows), these three years are a fleeting moment in the long life of our planet: no more profound in the greater scheme of things than the blinking of an eye, and the shocks caused by COVID 19 on existing social and environmental policymaking across the globe are likely to be around a good deal longer than Donald Trump, especially when it comes to climate policy. Because traumatic as it might have been (and is), written off and misunderstood by Trump on a weekly basis, this pandemic has presented us with a series of challenges and opportunities from which to plan a better and more focussed climate change policy in the future, policies that are capable of delivering genuine sustainable growth.

Dr Tara Shine (author of “How to Save your Planet One Object at a Time” and co-founder of the influential Change by Degrees Group) has described the Pandemic as a “restart button”, clearing the way for developments including the new EU Green Deal as well as the UK Government’s own Environmental Programme (launched in June): in her own words, “To be resilient to the next pandemic we have to build some of the same core skills and capabilities that we need to be resilient to climate changeThe point is this is what societal change looks like when something changes”: traumatic, pervasive and long lasting.

In other words, Donald Trump has merely been traumatic…but the perfect storm of social and economic shocks we are experiencing at the moment might well bring pervasive and far-reaching change finally within our grasp, and that has potential to change all our lives for the better.

 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 through innovative programmes like the Eco Hotels Project.

Executive Overview

So much is happening to divert our attention at the moment, socially and economically, with rolling news accumulating on an increasingly pressing and hour by hour basis: it’s all too easy to lose sight of the importance of thoughtful environmental planning, not to mention the need for short and medium term policies capable of supporting sustainable growth. 

And that, in a nutshell, is why we need to put Planet, People and Profit at the heart of our common vision for the future, and we need to do it now: that’s not a lesson any of us can afford to lose sight of, least of all now.

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The Prospect Theory of Gain… Why Climate Change isn’t a Single Issue Matter

By Climate Change, Eco Hotels, Environmental Policy, Mainstream Impact Investment, Sustainable Growth

Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for his “Prospect Theory of Gain”, the theory that losing a benefit and ending up better off is still worse than winning in the first place. Take a prosaic example: the National Lottery call you up to say they made a mistake yesterday and you’ve won £2 Million, not £3 Million. But you’re still £2 Million better off right? And then you find out the fellow down the road got a call too, and he won £2 Million: not the £1 Million he was told yesterday. Who feels happier? Both of you have £2 Million you never had before, the exact same sum down to the last penny: but, of course, it’s you that’s unhappier. Economists call this the Endowment Effect: precisely the same economic outcome can produce radically different reactions for purely emotional reasons. After all, the fellow down the road is probably cock-a-hoop with joy…

And all this is way more than a light-hearted parlour game: the angst of meeting a (purely relative) loss, animated by the green-eyed envy of seeing another’s (relative) gain, can have drastic consequences on how we go about dealing with some of the major challenges facing us across the planet today.

Take Climate Change for example…

The UK is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050: there are no deep coal mines left in Britain and only four functioning coal-fired power stations all of which went offline for various periods this year and last, meaning that for the first time since the industrial revolution there was no coal-fired generation at all. All well and good you might say, unless you’re a coal miner or work in a coal-fired power station. But over in China, they’re still mining and burning coal like it’s going out of fashion (which in fairness, it is), and China’s emission rates are still going up from a 2016 base of 20.09%, compared with the UK’s more modest 1.55%, which isn’t such good news at all. But, unlike Trump’s America, China and the UK are both signatories to the Paris Climate Change Accords so, despite such variances, they’re still working to a common objective that can be expected to benefit them both (and Trump’s America too come to that).

So, here’s the question: who’s left feeling worse off between China and the UK? Daniel Kaheman would say it was the UK, because the UK suffered a loss in mining revenues, and the gain of cleaner air starts to look a bit tarnished as a result. On the other hand, China made a gain, so despite the fact, both are working towards a common beneficial objective, the irritating angst of relativism starts to kick in, meaning China must be to blame for the problem, which it just so happens is another of Donald Trump’s sound bites…the Planet just happened to get in the way of the angst.

That may all sound familiar in an increasingly polarised world, but does any of it really make sense?

Of course it doesn’t…and that’s because dealing with the challenges of climate change isn’t just a single-issue policy. One competing issue can’t be discounted against another: its not like someone setting out on a drinking spree, determined not to think about the hangover until it hits him tomorrow morning. The common purpose is everything and there’s no discounting to be done when it comes to the future of our planet: either everyone wins, or everyone loses. It’s as simple (and as complicated) as that.

Or to put it another way…burning coal is just the flip side of cleaner air: land on one side and you start to lose the other. So why focus on just one side at all? Burning less coal means breathing more clean air, so in the UK we’ve just had the equivalent of a call from the Environmental Lottery telling us we haven’t won small after all (as we may have thought), we’ve won pretty big. China’s news, at least for the short term, is not so good: but there’s no need to think of it as a trade-off, not when both countries (and many more) are moving forward to meet the challenges of climate change together.

If we can just raise our eyes from the complex politics of relativism, we might just find we’ve all won big.

 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 through innovative programmes like the Eco Hotels Project.

Executive Overview

We certainly need to raise our eyes from the short term and often highly political tangles of day-to-day politics, creating short-term obsessions that can so often blind us to the importance of longer-term strategic planning.

That’s why at Red Ribbon we’ve put Planet, People and Profit at the heart of our common vision for the future, and it’s not a lesson any of us are going to lose sight of.

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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