Back to the past

You may also recall reading a newsletter with information on who the world’s biggest oil companies were (refer to “Invest News” August 2005) and how they spent their money diversifying into other industries. The “common sense” belief that higher oil prices would make oil companies go broke, may be commonly held… this doesn’t mean that it is true….

Oil goes up, buy more oil…

Huh? Since the article was written, the price of oil (and petrol) has continued to rise at a massive rate. The profits of oil companies have increased dramatically, as has their share price. Did you buy into any oil companies? Prices on fuels and lubricants have risen by 21%, so did we all buy 20% less oil? Nope, we bought 18% MORE.

The oil companies don’t just have us over a barrel; they have us over millions of barrels a day… Did you buy into oil companies yet?

See the Past, now look at the Now

OK, so you’ve got the message about the oil companies. Like the dinosaurs that they dig up, these huge juggernauts* will rule the world for a long time. Don’t fight it, get used to it, and learn to profit from it. If you don’t take my word for it, look at what the major investment managers are doing with their money.

Which fund managers are buying into oil companies, and how much are they buying? Are they hoping to make more money in the future than they did this year? The fund manager’s job is to make money in the future, so what are they doing now?

Fund Manager —–

What is in their Top Ten? (as at June 30th 2005)

Credit Suisse—- Mortgages, phone companies and finance companies.

Barclays: —–Total Fina Elf is number two, Exxon Mobil at seven.

Merril Lynch —–Total Fina Elf is number two stock on their list also Platinum Royal Dutch Shell is number ten stock

UBS Global —-Total Fina Elf is number 3, BP at number 10

Westpac Intl —-Exxon Mobil number 1 stock held

BT USA —-Exxon Mobil number 2

BT Global —-Exxon Mobil number 1

BT European —-Royal Dutch Shell number 1, Total Fina Elf number 3

Oil = Money

If the oil companies are NOT going to make massive billions of dollars worth of profits in future years, then why are the biggest and smartest fund managers investing into the oil companies? Perhaps with all their money and all their research, the major oil companies know that major oil companies will continue to turn gargantuan profits. Perhaps with the largest fund managers’ money and research, the fund managers have also come to the same conclusion: oil equals money.

Save the trees: shoot a beaver…

Sure, you can buck the trend against the juggernauts*. You can invest all of your money into stocks other than mining and oil. You can invest into “new” areas such internet stocks and bio-technology. You can invest into mortgages and finance companies like Credit Suisse. You can invest into eco-responsible, genetically unmodified, environmentally-sustainable alfalfa-eating, alpaca-friendly, tree-hugging hippy stocks**.

It may make you feel good. It may even make you a dollar or two. A good idea is to diversify your money: — have some smiley, care-bear investments** and also have a little bit of investment into some of the “smash, pillage and wreck the environment” stocks.

Exxon/Mobil hurt some penguins with a leaking oil-tanker. Fine, sell their shares, punch the CEO, or volunteer at Greenpeace.

Union Carbide upset some people with dodgy battery acid. Throw out your torches, toys and computers or choose to make a positive difference.

When I discovered that a subsidiary of BHP was mining uranium, I felt so bad about it that I donated some of my BHP dividends to my favourite charity***. Now, BHP were not making uranium nuclear weapons, it was for nuclear energy; and it was not BHP, just one of their connections.

I am not crazy enough to sell all of my BHP shares just because some of their friends are a little environmentally unfriendly: — that would be silly. Besides, I can do a lot more for the environment by gifting thousands of dollars to good causes, than I can by chaining myself to a bulldozer… Bulldozer. Hmm, that gives me another excuse to use the term “juggernaut”… ☺

Speaking of big powerful, heavy things without restraint or social conscience, let’s have a look at the world’s biggest super power and largest economy. Do you know who it is? Do you think that the answer may change in future?

Live in the Now, Look to the future

Hey, I don’t wish to be an alarmist; you have the newspapers and horror movies to make you frightened. I just wish to point out a few things and make you “alert but not alarmed”.

Question 1 Who in the world uses the most oil?

Question 2 Where do the oil users get the oil from?

Question 3 What are they prepared to do to keep it this way?

If you answered, “USA”, “The Middle East” and “start wars”, you would be fairly close to the truth… or the truth, as it was, for most of the last century. In the last few decades we have seen the USA using most of the world’s oil, and sourcing it from the Middle Eastern countries. We have seen the USA involved in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq (part two).

In more recent years, the amount of oil being used by China is on the rise. Soon, your answers to the above three questions will be “China”, “Africa”, and “anything”.

Be prepared for a world-wide shifting of the scales. Why does China source their oil from African countries and not Middle Eastern countries? Does the oil taste nicer? Does it last longer? Is it cheaper? Or does it simply not raise the ire of the US government, as Africa is not seen as de-facto US soil?

Anyone stomping around in the Kuwaiti oil-fields for long enough would eventually upset the USA: look at what happened to poor old Saddam Hussein in 1991. Oops, it happened again in 2003. The USA sees the Middle East as their own little vegetable patch. They let the gardeners have a few carrots to keep them happy, but they don’t like any rogue rabbits intruding, or any sign that someone else wants to dictate gardening terms or market conditions.

Prepare for War….again….ho-hum

Will there be more wars in the Gulf? Probably. Will things change? Not much. Sometimes the US sells arms to the left side (“allies”) and sometimes the US sells arms to the right side (“axis of evil”). Sometimes they sell weapons to both sides (“Iran-contra”) and blame it on Oliver North. So long as one side wins and agrees to sell oil to the USA at a fair price, they are happy.

In the style of true diversity, the US doesn’t really care who wins: the winner will sell them oil, and the loser will come back and buy more weapons for next time. The USA is a business. They sell guns and buy oil in the same way that Australia sells steel and buys DVD players. War is a business activity for some countries. It is good for their economy. Realise this, and thank God if you are smart enough to stay out of the firing line and in front of the check-out queue.

So the wars in the Middle East will continue, much like the war between Coke and Pepsi, or McDonalds and Burger King. It’s just business. It’s just money. It’s nothing personal. The “War on Terror” will be never-ending; it will just ebb and flow, like the tides. America makes weapons and needs to sell them. They use oil and need to buy it. What are you gonna do? They are the biggest economy in the world and they need to protect their economy from anything that would threaten it. God bless America…

In all probability, the pugilistic Americans are a threat to world peace, inasmuch as they believe that it is their duty to police the world (“finish the wars that others start”) and supply arms to the highest bidder. By the same token, we are probably lucky to have them. Without the massive power of the world’s “school bully”, there could be complete anarchy.

As much as the US Marshall Plan is objectionable, it (and its clones) can be seen to have helped the world at large. It is arguable that victory in World War One could have gone to Germans, or eluded the British a lot longer without the help of the USA. World War Two was also largely decided by the entry of the good old USA. The US involvement in Korea, Vietnam and Kuwait were possibly self-serving, but did have some positive impact on the rest of the world.

Where does this leave us? And what about China? Hmm, glad you asked. China is not even going near the Middle East. No need to. Why fight over something that has been fought over for centuries, against an enemy that has lots of money and plenty of guns? The Chinese are not into suicide, Hare Kari was a Japanese trait…

While Americans fight Arabs in the Middle East (and anybody else who enters), China is quietly and diligently drilling for oil in Africa… Shh!

Will China fight to survive, or will they buy friends? The Chinese are making friends in Africa, building infrastructure, creating jobs, buying oil. They are sourcing blood to infuse into their economy. Far from sucking Sudan and Zimbabwe dry of oil to feed the Chinese machine; it is more of a symbiotic relationship.

You are unlikely to find Africans hating Chinese in the same way that the Arabs can hate the Americans. For every Chinese oil-well in Africa, there are thousands more schools and jobs. African people who used to till the soil are now drilling for oil, on larger wages. Their once uneducated children, who were destined to work farms, are now studying to become geologists and engineers for the oilfields.

The Chinese do not need to sell weapons to the Africans or the African’s enemies; instead, the Chinese do a nice sideline in selling cheap DVD players, laptop computers, cameras, T-shirts and the like. Just as the Chinese bought plenty of Australian steel and coal, then gave Aussies cheap plasma screen televisions, they are now doing similar things with the African nations to get oil. Can we blame them? Of course not, it’s a free world, isn’t it? Well, maybe it’s not free; it’s just not so tightly controlled as it once was…

Who’s the Boss?

It is certainly interesting to live in a generation where we have seen the Japanese economy and the American fire-power dominate the world for almost 50 years. The Japanese economy has since stalled, the Indians and Chinese are spending more on their armies than the USA and with all this strutting and chest-puffing, I am glad to live in Australia…

OK, so some researchologist is going to check my facts, do a Google search and claim that the Asians are NOT putting more money into military spending than the USA…

Think again. With the same $100 note, I can pay an American man for four hour’s labour, or one Chinese man for more than a week… The wages in Asia are minuscule when compared to average wages in America. The American-made TV costs ten times as much as the Chinese one. Do you think that armaments, tanks, guns and bombs are any different? They are all just products. It is all just labour. When you read that China spent $15 Million on their army, the Americans would have to spend over $200 Million to have the same impact…

If all armies were mercenary, you could pay both sides to fight each other. A million dollar investment on each side could see 25 US Marines fighting against over 300 Chinese soldiers. Both sides will have the same training and equipment; it’s just that one side paid a lot more for their boots than the ones that were “Made in China”.

If 300 men fought 25 men, which side do you think would win?

There is no need to panic, just watch the economy.

Again, I will say it again. Be alert and not alarmed. We are NOT facing the “yellow peril” that grandma feared. Australia will not be invaded by masses of hungry Asians who want to take your life. Just as the Japanese didn’t take your money at the point of a gun; you gave it to them! After Japan lost the war in 1945, the Japanese battled to get their country back onto its feet, and then made a success of their economy and their people.

Economically-empowered Japanese businessmen started buying up Australian soil on the Gold Coast, they were not stealing it. They could not have taken our houses and land if we didn’t first take their money. We gave up our territory willingly.

The Chinese will not invade your back yard, because that will result in a war. As we have seen previously, the only winners in a war are the Americans…and nobody wants that to happen… The Chinese will simply continue to make products to offer you, and you will continue to give them money. Eventually, neauvo-riche Chinese businessmen will buy all of the Australian land from the Japanese and the Aussies.

The Chinese will become our new land-lords and we will all live in harmony without a shot being fired. Some of you may not believe my forecast of Australia becoming “little China”. You are entitled to your opinion. No-one thought that that war-torn Japan would go from wasteland to dreamland within a few short decades. Quick tip: learn to nod and bow.

Thank God and watch the destination of your dollar.

There will be no use complaining once the Chinese own half of Australia: the time to protest was last week when you went shopping… People complained when the Japanese bought the Gold Coast, but these whingers were the same people who had spent half a generation and half their wages on buying Japanese watches, Japanese TVs and Japanese portable stereos. Be thankful that the Japanese actually injected their money back into Australia. Without them, we may have been broke and stuck with owning the Gold Coast ourselves…

Hmmm, maybe we should send the Japanese a Thank You card… Or a Thank God card. Can you send God a Thank You card?

Thank God that the Chinese are buying Aussie steel and coal. If we sent all our money to China to buy appliances and T-shirts, and if the Chinese sent that money to Ecuador to buy raw materials, Ecuador would prosper and Australia would go broke!

The Chinese economy is booming, India is coming second, and Australia is coming along for a ride on the coat-tails of our Asian neighbours. We are making money, creating jobs and things are looking good. Our old buddies, the British and the Americans are on the ropes and have been for some time. Their economies are sick and may not recover. The question is, will you offer to help our old imperial friends or will you switch camps and learn Mandarin?

Shé Shé is Chinese for Thankyou

Next time I go shopping, I may make a conscious effort to “Buy Australian” to keep jobs here and to support my immediate neighbours inside of my country. There is a very strong chance that I will “Buy Asian” if the price is fair and the quality is good. There is an extremely low chance that I will buy products from the UK or the USA. It’s not just that I have zero respect for the leaders of both countries, their economic policy, war-mongering antics and education systems… the citizens also talk funny! ☺

Thank God I live in a country where I can openly criticise not only my own political leader, but the leaders in other countries as well. I can also criticise the popular media and choose to disbelieve most of what they say.

Thank God the economy of my country is more closely aligned with selling “good” things that people need, such as steel, coal, gas, wheat and wool; not selling things that people just want, like stereos (China), drugs (South America) and guns (USA).

She’ll be right, mate

If a world-wide recession happens, people will still need to trade with Australia to get our wonderful and essential raw materials and agricultural items. There will be less demand for baseball caps and more demand for minerals and food. We will be OK.

Australia is an English-speaking nation in the middle of Asia, giving us license to trade with other English speakers on the other side of the world, or trade with our closest neighbours in our region. We can make our own terms of trade and create our own destiny. We do not have arranged marriages and starving citizens like those in India, nor do we experience government control and internet censorship like the Chinese. There is no over-crowding in our country and you can have as many children as you can afford to feed. Our children can have religious education at school and do not get frisked for weapons on the way into class. We truly are the lucky country.

If you are Australian, take a deep breath and allow your chest to swell with pride. Chances are, this is the lucky country because your fore-fathers (and fore-mothers) were convicts who fought with the Imperial British task-masters and built infrastructure for the new colony. Their offspring (and your ancestors) were probably free settlers who fought against invasion by foreign powers in several wars. You don’t have to fight for your country now, just invest into it.

Think Global, Act Local

Buy Australian when you can and when you want to.

Buy Asian sometimes without feeling guilty. After all, they are our neighbours and they buy our stuff too! It is possible that your job ultimately depends on a product, service or raw material being sold in Asia.

Do some research on the internet or at the library. Read about US economic policy, read about the Marshall Plan, watch “Bowling for Columbine” or “Fahrenheit 911” on DVD. Realise that sometimes politicians lie, and the bigger the economy, the bigger the lie has to be in order to protect it.

Know that the media is used by governments and corporations to sell you things that you didn’t know that you needed; not all the time, but often. Realise why Derryn Hinch spent a lot of time in jail, and why John Laws lied about the banks paying him. Look for the story behind the story. Be alert and not alarmed. Know the “destination of your dollar” and find out “who’s taking your money”. Look long-term. Then hold your breath and invest.

Jeremy

*A juggernaut is an “irresistible force that destroys everything in its path” (named from the Indian “Jagganauth”, a Hindu deity who is carried on a large float during religious festivals. Other examples may include tyrannosaurs, arrogant corporations and American presidents. ☺

**You can find eco-friendly, tree-hugging, smiley care-bear investments with many fund managers these days. Yes, I do tease them, but with a big wink. Many “sustainable resource managed funds” out-performed benchmarks, with some returning over 20% in 2004-2005. Ask your financial planner for more details.

***To discover my favourite charities, you will have to read Invest News September 2005 “Keep me for Free” or donate money to INVEST to see the hidden webpage. Thanks to the person who donated $15 anonymously last month. This helps to keep the website going and enables us to offer you free education, free mp3’s and free books.

This article, e-mail and its attachments are not intended to constitute any form of financial advice or recommendation of, or an offer to buy or offer to sell, any security or other financial product. This advice is general in nature and does not take into account any of your unique circumstances. We recommend that you seek your own independent legal or financial advice before proceeding with any investment decision. Remember to send this on to your friends if you learned something. If you can read this then you probably do not need glasses, contact lenses or shares in OPSM.



Source by Jeremy Britton