Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

My Thoughts

Five Big Ideas to Watch in 2020

There are five big ideas that could reshape the world in 2020. Every investor and observer needs to watch these ideas because they could bear fruit in the next 12 months.

Each of these ideas is theoretical at present. However, each idea; or concept has the potential to change the world.

There is no guarantee anything will happen with any of these concepts but there is sufficient activity in these spheres to justify scrutiny. 

Five Big Ideas that Could Change the World in 2020

1. Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear fusion is the holy grail of energy research. Theoretically, nuclear fusion could create unlimited amounts of heat while generating no radiation or greenhouse gases.

Nobody has achieved a sustainable fusion reaction yet but a lot of smart people are trying. However, the sun shows fusion is possible.

Thus researchers are all over the world are trying to develop it. In fact, Jack Ma, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos are investing in fusion companies.

Fusion experiments to watch include Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which spun out of MIT, General Fusion; associated with Bezos, and the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP).

Fusion reactors are hard to control because they could generate temperatures of 200 million Celsius or higher. Conversely, scientists have made progress towards fusion in recent years.

Researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) claim to have made a tokamak nuclear fusion reactor safer using boron powder,; for instance, Popular Mechanics claims. Meanwhile, General Fusion’s researchers think they can make fusion safer with pistons.

Fusion could be the ultimate disruptive energy technology because it could eliminate the need for coal, oil, and natural gas in electricity production. Commonwealth Fusion Systems; for example, claims its 100 megawatt reactor could power a city of 100,000 people.

Investors need to watch nuclear fusion because it could generate trillions of dollars in income – if it works. Unfortunately, nobody knows how long it will take to build a working fusion reactor or if one is possible.

2. Hyperloop 

In contrast to nuclear fusion, we know how to build a Hyperloop. We know Hyperloop is possible but we do not know if Hyperloop is practical.

In fact, several companies including HyperloopTT, Virgin Hyperloop One, and Elon Musk’s Space X, are trying to build Hpyerloops. Virgini Hyperloop One and HyperloopTT have built full-scale Hyperloop demonstration systems. HyperloopTT has built what it claims is the first full-scale Hyperloop capsule Quinterro 1.

First Hyperloop passenger capsule being prepared for testing at HyperloopTT’s facility in Toulouse, France

2020 could be a gigantic year for Hyperloop because actual human beings could ride in a Hyperloop pod for the first time. If it works, Hyperloop could usher in the biggest revolution in ground transportation since the automobile.

The Hyperloop is a simple idea, it is a giant tube from which they suck most of the air. The lack of air and resistance, allows vehicles to move at hundreds of of miles per hour on the surface of the Earth.

In fact, HyperloopTT claims its pods could travel at speeds of 760 miles per hour (MPH) one day. Conversely, the fastest speed achieved by today’s Hyperloops is around 300 MPH, or about the speed of the fastest high-speed trains.

Ultimately, Hyperloop could revolutionize ground travel just as jets revolutionized air travel. For example, you could get on a Hyperloop pod at Grand Central Station in Manhattan and arrive at La Street Station in Downtown Chicago in an hour.

The disruption from Hyperloop could be immense. For instance, people could live in Las Vegas, and commute to Los Angeles for work. Hyperloop could make such commutes practical by reducing commuting time to half an hour.

HyperloopTT reveals full-scale system in Toulouse, France

Consequently, Hyperloop’s effects on real estate values could be immense. Hyperloop could destroy property values in Brooklyn because proximity to Manhattan keeps real estate prices high in that borough. Nobody will spend $1 million on a brownstone in Brooklyn when they can commute to other cities where similar properties cost $200,000.

3. Geoengineering

Oxford University describes “Geoengineering is deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract Climate Change.”

Geoengineering is not as far-fetched as you think. In fact, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education; Oxford University, has a Geoengineering Program. Likewise, America’s top university; Harvard has a Geoengineering Research Program. 

Moreover, humans have been geoengineering Earth’s atmosphere for thousands of years. For instance, some scientists think the Romans caused climate change in Europe with air pollution from smelting, The Scientist claims . More recently both Native Americans and white settlers altered North America’s climate through deforestation.

Today, some climate scientists think we could control geoengineering and produce specific results. For example, we could reduce the Earth’s temperature through Solar Radiation Management, Sunlight Reflection, or Greenhouse Gas Removal. I will not into the details, you can find them at Oxford’s or Harvard’s geoengineering websites.

Geoengineering will be controversial because it will affect the entire the world. Thus the greatest dispute over geoengineering will be who controls it? Will governments, multinational organizations, or the United Nations control geoengineering?

The potential for geoengineering conflicts is vast. One obvious conflict is one powerful nation, such as the People’s Republic of China, trying to geonengineer the world on its own. Another conflict could be a billionaire or group of billionaires geoengineering on their own without government help.

4. Government-Issued Cryptocurrencies 

Cryptocurrencies have been around for a while; Bitcoin (BTC) is over 10 years old, however most people reject altcoins. The main reason for altcoin rejection is that governments do not issue cryptocurrency.

To explain, most people think only governments can issue money. Thus, those people will not touch Ethereum (ETH), EOS (EOS), or Ripple (XRP) no matter how much better those cryptocurrencies are than government money. People reject today’s cryptocurrencies because shadowy private organizations issue them.

Thus you will need the backing of a government; or central bank, to get most people to use a cryptocurrency. Notably, Tether (USDT) is the most traded cryptocurrency because it pays out in US dollars.

2020 could be the year in which cryptocurrency goes mainstream, because a major government could issue an altcoin. Media outlets speculate that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) could test a cryptocurrency in coming months, Market Mad House claims.  

The PBOC could test a Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) in some Chinese cities. I think the DCEP is bureaucratic speak for cryptocurrency.

The DCEP experiment could determine if ordinary people will accept cryptocurrency because the PBOC is China’s Central Bank. If the DCEP succeeds, it could take cryptocurrency global because China could be the world’s largest economy in 2020.

One result of a successful DCEP could be cryptocurrencies from the U.S. Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank (ECB). I think the Fed, the ECB, and the Reserve Bank of India will issue their own cryptocurrencies to counter the DCEP. Importantly, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis admits it is researching cryptocurrencies and Fintech.

I predict government-issued cryptocurrencies will completely disrupt the world’s currency market and economies. I anticipate one result of government-issued cryptocurrencies will be to destroy Bitcoin and Ripple’s value.

Another effect of a PBOC cryptocurrency could be to increase the marketability, value, and buying power of the Yuan. Hence, the DCEP could help the Yuan could become the world’s most popular trading mechanism, or reserve currency.

5. The Benedict Option 

The final big idea to watch in 2020 is a cultural and political survival strategy. The strategy’s creator, Rod Dreher calls the strategy; The Benedict Option.

Karen Swallow Prior calls the Benedict Option; “a proposal for how Christians might live in a post-Christian culture.” Dreher believes Europe, the United States, and other “Western” nations are becoming Post Christian.

Importantly, Dreher names option for St. Benedict of Nursia. Benedict was a Fifth and Sixth-Century A.D. monk who founded monasteries to help Christianity survive the Dark Ages.

Essentially, Dreher thinks Christianity will need new kinds of communities and social structures to survive in a post-Christian world. Dreher outlines some of his ideas in The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.

Discussion of The Benedict Option will grow in 2020 because of the rapid decline of American Christianity. For instance, only 43% of Americans identified as “Protestant” in 2018, Pew Research estimates. In contrast, 51% of Americans called themselves “Protestant in 2009.

Dramatically, the number of Americans identifying as Christians fell from 78% in 2009 to 65% in 2018, Pew calculates. Thus the number of American Christians fell by 13% in nine years.

If that trend continues I think America could have a Post-Christian majority by 2039. Based on Pew’s numbers I estimate the percentage of Christians in America could fall to 52% in 2029 and 39% in 2039. Consequently, 61% of Americans could be non-Christian by 2039.

Similarly, many Christians will examine the Benedict Option if Democrats win control of the U.S. Senate in next year’s elections. To explain, the Senate approves the appointment of Federal judges.

Many Christians think a friendly judiciary is the only thing protecting them from secularist terror. Dreher wants friendly judges because he fears oppression of Christians is coming.

Everybody interested in religion needs to examine the Benedict Option and Dreher’s writings because they show where cultural conservatism is going. In fact, I think Christians and cultural conservatives could withdraw from society. A Christian withdrawal could change our politics beyond recognition.

Watch these Five Big Ideas carefully because they could change the way we live in decades to come. 

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