Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Making Predictions & Looking for Trends

As we usher in the new year, I've pretty much always been one to think that the 'best is yet to come'. These are a few of the trends that I'm tracking that I think will change the world:

  • Dropping Commodity Prices: A somewhat contrarian prediction given the pundits talking about the growth of China and "peak oil" theories abound. Commodities are the closest things we have to efficient markets and in efficient markets, and in efficient markets, prices tend to revert back to the average cost of production. Though it can take a while... illustrating both points is a premature quote from Roger Lowestein in Fortune Magazine at the end of 2004: "developing and pumping a marginal barrel of oil in the U.S. today is $15.30. That is an indication of the theoretical floor, which is a fact to keep in mind when oil reverts to its natural state of surplus. "
  • The Profitable Poor and Growing Wealth: All segments of the population are getting wealthier - though clearly not at the same pace, this has broad implications for anyone who sells to consumers. While there will inevitably pressures to keep prices down, consumers will demand more and better quality. There is immense opportunity (and risk) for those who get in at the bottom of the curve of countries who begin to implement the proper conditions for growth (more in other posts). It takes less time now to develop than ever given leapfrog technologies their respective falling capital costs (think landlines versus cell phones).

    Primer(s): The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (The Wharton Press Paperback Series) by CK Prahalad
  • Dropping Barriers of Entry: Technology continues to be a great equalizer with each new technology exponentially better than the generation before, like compound interest rates, technology is now improving our lives at a continuing lower cost. This is good news for small businesses who can afford now more than ever to start up and more easily challenge better capitalized firms. The internet itself reduces the cost of initial contact and identifying potential leads. One caveat however: marrying yourself to any one particular technology could be suicide given rapidly changing standards and technology.
I don't think I've put myself out on a limb on any one of these though I suspect they also betray possibly excessive optimism. You never know when the "dead hand" will rear its ugly head (pardon the botched imagery)...

No comments: