Today marks the New Year of lunar calendar. We turn the page on the Year of the Rooster and welcome the Year of the (Earth) Dog. Some famous dogs are Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, Elvis Presley, President Donald Trump, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Steven Spielberg. Clearly lots of creative people and powerful leaders, but that isn't important to us. We wonder what the Year of the Dog has in store for the stock market.
Companies from the United States doing business in China are becoming more optimistic about the China-US business environment despite fears of trade tariffs and political rhetoric. According to the 2018 China Business Climate Survey from the American Chamber of Commerce in China and Bain & Company, about 36 percent of respondents believe relations between the two major trading partners will improve this year, up substantially from just 17 percent in 2017. "Regarding the economy, there is cautious optimism that the 'new normal' rate of growth is sustainable for the foreseeable future, providing opportunities for business to expand," said William Zarit, chairman of AmCham in China.
Back in 2013, China's President Xi Jinping announced the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative to modernize infrastructure along the ancient Silk Road trading routes. This policy is poised to reshaped the 21st century economy. The project is a potential win win for China and its surrounding neighbors. For China, it seeks to create trade and investment opportunity in infrastructure and construction providing China with a new channel to broaden its export market. For its neighbors, they will benefit from modernized roads and power plants which will help their economies flourish and grow. This rising tide should lift all boats!
While the media is caught up in crpytocurrency mania, the true game changing technology that investors should be focused on is artificial intelligence. From self-driving cars to Dr. Robot, AI is going to change our lives in profound ways in the near future. Russian President Vladimir Putin says, “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russian, but for all of humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Many people worry about the risks like robots deciding to destroy humans like in the Terminator or the potential for huge job losses. But I love this quote from futurist Ray Kurzweil:
Starbucks is opening its biggest outlet ever on Wednesday in Shanghai and the company is expecting huge crowds to experience the 30,000 square foot store. The "Starbucks Reserve Roastery" is on Nanjing Road West, the city's most famous shopping street and has been heavily promoted for months on social media. Starbucks has big ambitions in China and this puts the exclamation point on its intentions.
In China, a robot has passed the written test of their national medical licensing exam, an essential entrance exam for doctors, making it the first robot in the world to pass such an exam. While many people will worry about how this will affect jobs in the future, the initial impact should be extremely positive in assisting doctors to analyze data faster and more comprehensively than ever before. This could also help to reduce healthcare cost while improving outcomes.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are famous in the US for the big discounts and therefore big spending. In China, they created their own version called Single's Day -- on November 11 or 11/11, which began as a protest of sorts against Valentine's Day, propelled by college students in the 1990s. To show the incredible buying power of the Chinese consumer, in just the first two minutes of shopping, over $1 billion was spent at Alibaba alone and by the end of the 24 hours, Alibaba's sales hit a record of $25.3 billion, more than 40 percent higher than Singles Day 2016. Yes 40 percent growth! JD.com, the #2 retailer in China, sold $19.1 billion!
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its global growth forecast for 2017 and 2018 due to a broad-based recovery around the world. In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF adjusted their forecast up 0.1 percentage point to 3.6 percent in 2017 and 3.7 percent in 2018.
Today almost all of the headlines are about Apple's iPhone launch and that is well deserved. I've been a iPhone user myself for 10 years and am excited for the new phone (but not the rumored $1000 price tag). Since the iPhone news will be covered by a million different sites, let's look at the other side of the globe where China is a very different market and one changing at breakneck pace. Did you know that last year, Chinese consumers spent $5.5 trillion (yes Trillion) through mobile payment platforms? To put that in perspective that's about 50 times more than their American counterparts where Apple pay just hasn't caught on. So why is China succeeding where Apple is not? Let's take a look at China's mobile payment market.
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