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Do these 2 words keep you awake every night?

By Mudar Patherya
Last updated on: August 14, 2017 19:30 IST
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'And what if all this happened so fast and so extensively that we never quite had the opportunity to call the broker and say 'Sell'?' asks Mudar Patherya.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/

The two words keeping me awake are 'What if?'

  • What if most people stopped buying cars in a decade-and-a-half (prediction that 95 per cent of all US passenger miles travelled will be addressed by fleets, not individuals, by 2030)?
  • What if the productivity gains arising out of reclaimed driving hours put more money into people's pockets so that they could buy different experiences over assets?
  • What if people increased renting of assets (over buying these) because they were never sure of where they would be living a few years hence?
  • What if the cost of commute became the 'next telecom' (virtually free, that is)?
  • What if most cars were made from recycled steel, as a result of which ore companies went belly-up?
  • What if the large steel sector debt could not be returned to banks?
  • What if most people moved to electric cars by 2030?
  • What if electric cars, with around 18 moving parts compared with 10,000 for the usual petrol-driven variety, accelerated the death of the automobile components industry?
  • What if the demise of the auto component industry affected the global alloys steel sector (including ore and ferro alloys)?
  • What if, in line with the Indian government's indication, every new vehicle sold in India would be electric by 2030?
  • What if oil behemoths could not repay their loans if oil consumption declined (elimination unlikely)?
  • What if electric vehicles came with unlimited warranty? Which means that after you had once bought a vehicle, you would not need to buy another, ever?
  • What if oil-based economies (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Nigeria etc) went into a crisis?
  • What if some of the funding coming out of these countries (read what you will into this) disappeared and the world became a more peaceful place?
  • What if cash-rich automotive lubricant companies suddenly discovered there was nothing to really lubricate?
  • What if 3D printing evened out the wage arbitrage between developed and developing nations?
  • What if robotisation (or artificial intelligence) cleaned out jobs (as it has in the banking sector, where business has grown disproportionately faster than recruitment)?
  • What if a number of skills became obsolete (micro surgical, for instance) because a robot could do it better?
  • What if renewable energy kickstarted a long-term coal decline?
  • What if the need for rakes required to transport coal from pit-head to factories declined?
  • What if large coal behemoths employing thousands filed for bankruptcy (already happening)?
  • What if banks became a concept rather than a place; what if banks became more about systems than people?
  • What if the world moved toward deflation arising out of an abundance of money and relatively limited spending?
  • What if most things we pay for today became near free (like in music, films, information, net search and news, etc)?
  • What if the new retirement age became 50?
  • What if people started losing their marbles because they had more money and time at their disposal than ever in the history of humankind?
  • And what if all this happened so fast and so extensively that we never quite had the opportunity to call the broker and say 'Sell'?

Mudar Patherya is a stock market writer, tracking corporate earnings and investor psychology to gauge where markets are not headed.

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