5 things you need to know before markets open in Australia and around the world.

Good morning and happy Monday. Well, Monday was actually cancelled, so after reading this you can go back to sleep. But just before you go back to enjoying your Easter break, here’s what you need to know today.

1. We can see it happening again. Any wavering in the stock markets due to events around the world, and gold becomes the ‘go to’ commodity. There are a number of reasons that the gold price can rise apart from political upheavals and war. Banks buy gold, jewellery needs gold and a strong USD keeps the price of gold down. But there’s a bit of danger in that, because US debt sits at $20 Trillion and President Nixon cut the connection between currency and gold. Currencies that are not connected to gold or silver are a bit like the dot.coms a few years ago. The question is: How high can gold go? Wait and see.

2. BHP has been advised to demerge its petroleum interests so as to provide a higher value for that side of their business. It makes sense in a way because the existing petroleum businesses held by BHP – Gulf of Mexico Oil Fields and some onshore areas in the USA – are, in a way, swallowed up in the whole BHP conglomerate and may be performing better than other subsidiaries. It goes something like this:

“I want to invest in oil. I like the strength of BHP. I don’t like the direction of some of the other BHP businesses. Why can’t I invest in oil and stay with BHP?”
Does it make sense? New York based firm Elliot Associates says ‘yes’. BHP says ‘no, they already thought of it and rejected the idea’. One wonders what the shareholders think.

3. Have you ever wondered just how thin you can make an integrated circuit? Well, the answer is you can have them just atoms thin. A material called Graphene is the star performer in ultra-thin materials. At the Technical University of Vienna, they are working on creating an integrated circuit made from molybdenum sulphide and the trick is to see just how many low voltage transistors they can get into one of these chips. They are talking tens of thousands but that’s still a long way from being a ‘chip off the old block’ to silicon microchips that are currently able to have billions. However, the possibility exists for the application to be used in computing, an area in which ‘wow’ type technical advances are currently a little stagnant.

4. We’re not usually into reporting celebrity-type news but this particular dating couple are two people that most observers and commentators would describe as being ‘poles apart’. Julian Assange, speaker for the free world and whistle blower of deep government secrets, is courting Pamela Anderson, she of the red swimsuit in the TV series Baywatch. In fact, because Julian is restricted to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, it’s Pammie who is doing the courting, as it’s she who has to do the calling. Some of her writing on her website indicates that Ms Anderson has as good a mind as a couple of her other, better known assets.

They will have something in common soon, though, when the story of Julian Assange is portrayed on the big screen in a movie about his life called, . When you combine the stuff he has revealed in his Wikileaks, his long stint in the Ecuadorian Embassy hiding from rape charges in Sweden, and the way in which he supposedly helped Donald Trump become President of the Unites States, there has to be a great story in there somewhere! Not quite running along the beach in a pair of Speedos next to Pamela Anderson, but perhaps a tad more interesting!

5. Gold, silver, lithium, and cobalt are consistently heading the news on investments, but not since the introduction of the internet has there been an industrial trend that is likely to be classified as a game-changer. It might sound a little over dramatic to compare the legalisation of the cannabis industry to the birth of the internet, but the implications look much the same.

For the internet to be such a huge overnight success, it needed millions of users and it’s the same with cannabis – millions of users. Keep your eye on stocks that are involved in this crop because Australia has a habit of riding on the coat tails of the USA and that country now has legalized cannabis crops in 25 of the 50 states.

Initially, cannabis was synonymous with recreational drug use, but today its applications range from potentially curing Alzheimer’s and Tourette’s to being used as dietary supplements, materials and fabrics.

Sometimes charities get a tough deal from the public or the government so we’d like to take the opportunity to provide some positive info on a couple of notable ones.

Good360.org.au works to provide unsold new products to the needy. If there’s one aspect of reading about charities that is sure to make you think twice about Australia being the ‘Lucky Country’, then it’s stats that tell you that 2.2 million Aussies are currently living in poverty and that 12% of those are children.

This charity has some awesome goals, one of which is to reach $1 billion worth of goods to be donated to the poor and needy. Check the link, find out more. You might be shocked into some action.

Ozharvest.org is another worthwhile cause for which we would like to see more support. This organisation collects perishable food from over 2000 outlets and distributes it for free to over 900 charities. They have some clever acronyms in their bag such as REAP, which is their food rescue program. They operate on the basis of Rescue, Educate, Engage, and Innovate.

This charity has had to jump through a number of legal and bureaucratic hoops to get up and running. If you can see the logic in what they do, then by all means, help them.

Don’t adjust your set, we will be back to normal transmission next week!

Andrew Mortimer
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