5 Things you need to know before the Markets open in Australia and around the world.

  1. 2020 US Elections – Who might be the next US president?

The 2020 elections are more than a year away, but the presidential race is heating up! While some are still thinking about the previous elections, new candidates and potential challengers have already started preparing for upcoming elections. Democrats currently have more potential candidates than ever, while Republicans are still to decide whether they are going to support Trump or a challenger from the party.

Many Americans are still trying to figure out what happened in the 2016 US elections, while some people are preparing for upcoming elections in 2020. Who are the possible contenders?

The current number of Democratic contenders, lining up to challenge Donald Trump in upcoming elections is said to be the biggest in the history of this party. Even though first primaries are more than a year away, five senators are already among the contenders, and there should be even more candidates declared in next weeks. There is one significant difference between the previous and the upcoming elections – in 2016 Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner, while for 2020 elections, there are many candidates, all coming with their strengths and weaknesses.

The multitude of candidates from the Democratic party shows that they strongly believe that they can beat Trump in the 2020 elections. If you take in account that Republicans suffered defeat in the last year’s midterms and the fact that Donald Trump never had an approval rating over 50 per cent, you can easily see why Republicans are optimistic that they can win elections next year.

Here are the current contenders, among some possible candidates for 2020 elections:

–    Cory Booker

Often compared with Barack Obama, because both Booker and Obama attended Ivy League College before politics and both were community organisers. Booker was the mayor of Newark, one of the poorest cities in New Jersey, before entering the Senate in 2013. One fact that you can often hear in his speeches is that his parents were one of the first black executives at IBM. Booker is among the candidates that inspire optimism – his favourite word is “love”, and he is known for criminal justice reform that reduced the number of people in prison.

Cody Booker is 49 years old, which means that he would be among the youngest presidents in US history. If elected, he would be the third unmarried president and also he would be the first president that is vegan. Booker compared himself with Spartacus during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, which made him appear arrogant to some voters.

–    Kamala Harris

Two constituencies that appeal to Harris are women and African-American voters. Harris, a daughter of a Jamaican father and Tamil Indian mother, is a former prosecutor from California, who highlights that she is a graduate of a black college and has started her campaign on Martin Luther King Jr day.

Her focus is the return to decency and national unity. She has managed to rally around 20,000 people at the start of her campaign in Oakland, California, which immediately put her in the front row for the nomination. However, unlike her rivals, Harris has been in Senate for just two years and some of her “tough on crime” stands from the past, when she was a prosecutor, might work against her in securing the nomination.

–    Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand is one of the contenders trying to make the most out of the significant growth of importance of female voters in the Democratic Party. The New York senator has decided to highlight two things at the start of her campaign – her work in preventing sexual harassment in the military and the fact that she is a working mother. She could appeal to the party’s left wing, because of the anti-Trump voting record.

The biggest problem for Gillibrand could be her role in the #MeToo movement. She had a leading role in ousting Al Franken, a popular senator, at the time of sexual harassment accusations. This is something that some Democrats haven’t forgiven her.

–    Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar is another prosecutor among the contenders, coming from the state of Minnesota. She tends to focus on her popularity there, especially in the rural areas that are usually voting for Republican candidates. She believes that she can defeat Trump in Wisconsin and Iowa, which are among the key swing states. Klobuchar is considered to be a hard-working and productive senator, who impressed during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings with her questioning.

However, Klobuchar needs to reach out to a bigger audience, because voters aren’t familiar with her profile, outside her home state. Furthermore, recent reports that have surfaced claim that she is treating her staff in a demeaning way, which hurts her image. Her appeal to minority and left-wing voters is still quite questionable.

–    Elizabeth Warren

Coming from the progressive wing of the party, Warren has centred her campaign around the idea of creating a new “ultra-millionaire” tax. She highlights her previous position as bankruptcy law expert at Harvard University, as well as her native American ancestry. The latter has earned her a nickname “Pocahontas” given by Trump.

Warren claims that Democrats have to do more than remove Trump from office, arguing that the current US president is a clear sign that the system is “badly broken”. Furthermore, a two-term senator from Massachusetts wants to introduce a new type of healthcare, make college more affordable for everyone and impose a new set of regulations on the banks.

Potential candidates who are yet to announce that they are running:

–    Bernie Sanders

The star of the 2016 campaign, Sanders managed to impress everyone during the primaries. It is believed that he is the main reason why the party is leaning more to the left in the past few years and why the party is now supporting single-player healthcare. Senator from Vermont had many great ideas during the campaign, like making college free for everyone.

What remains to be seen is how much of the support that Sanders got during the primaries was the result of him being the only real alternative to Hillary Clinton. Besides his age, Sanders is facing many difficulties in securing potential nomination – there are more rivals now that are left-wing orientated and the fact that he is an independent and not a Democrat.

–    Sherrod Brown

One of the biggest strengths of the senator coming from Ohio is that he is from Midwest, region that is believed to be crucial for securing a win in 2020 elections. Brown questioned globalisation and free trade long before Trump entered politics. Even though Ohio is becoming more conservative, he managed to win re-election there.

An economic populist, Brown aims to appeal to working class and moderate voters, just like Joe Biden. Furthermore, he is not going to be the first choice for voters looking for a female or non-white candidate in upcoming elections.

–    Beto O’Rourke

The star of the 2018 midterms, O’Rourke is a former congressman from El Paso, who managed to raise $70 million in donations to help him secure a Texas Senate seat. He managed to rally big crowds during his campaign and even though he lost to Ted Cruz, his vote share of 48.9 per cent is still more than any other Texan Democrat achieved.

However, O’Rourke has only spent three terms in the US House of Representatives, making him among the least experienced of all candidates. Since he didn’t win his last electoral contest, it would be unusual for the party to elevate him to the presidency.

–    Joe Biden

Biden, the former vice-president, is among the most experienced candidates – before Obama chose him as his running mate, he has served in Senate for 35 years. Biden is very popular with white working-class voters, who led Trump to victory in previous elections. Furthermore, thanks to his close friendship with Barack Obama, he will probably get strong support from African-American voters.

If Biden becomes president, he will be the oldest president in US history. His age might work against him, even though he brings much experience. Securing votes from young and progressive Democrats might prove to be very difficult.

Republican challengers

Trump has approval rating a little over 90 per cent among Republicans, and it is highly unlikely that he could lose the party’s nomination. However, if that happens, here are the potential Republican challengers:

–    Larry Hogan

While Hogan didn’t announce he might challenge Trump, when asked about it, he said – “never say never”. He managed to easily win re-election last year, even though most levels of government in his state is Democratic. Hogan is known to support same-sex marriage and gun restrictions.

–    John Kasich

Unlike Hogan, Kasich has stated that he is considering to run against Trump in the upcoming primaries. Even though he won only in Ohio in the 2016 Republican primaries, he is among the Republicans who are entirely against Trump. He is known as a supporter of low taxes, but also as an opponent of abortion.

He has traditional Republican views but has a different style than Trump.

–    Mitt Romney

Romney lost to Barack Obama in 2012, but he entered Senate last year as a representative from Utah. He openly criticised Trump on many occasions, and he might be able to challenge Trump on upcoming primaries.

What comes next?

First, the primaries begin in February 2020 in Iowa, and after that, the party’s presidential candidate should be announced at the convention in July. Assuming that the Republicans will again nominate Trump, there will be several debates between the two candidates, until the elections in November.

  1. 3 Technologies That Could Create Trillion Dollar Markets Over the Next Decade

Go back to the typical household in 1950, and you would see much that you would recognise: washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cars, TVs. But go back 50 years earlier, to 1900, and most of us would find a world that was utterly foreign, and exhausting. Daily chores like cooking and washing took hours of backbreaking labor. That’s because in the early 20th century, electricity and internal combustion completely changed how we live, transforming our cities, our homes, how we shop, eat, work and just about every other facet of daily existence.

We’re on the cusp of a similar point today, except it is not just two technologies that are poised to change the world, but three of them: gene editing, new computing architectures, and materials science are just beginning to make the leap from lab to market. Taken together, these could be as transformative as electricity and internal combustion, kicked off a 50-year productivity boom.

CRISPR

In 2006, Jennifer Doudna got a call from a colleague at the University of California at Berkeley, Jillian Banfield, whom she knew only by reputation. Banfield’s area of research interest, obscure bacteria living in extreme conditions, was only tangentially related to Doudna’s work, studying the biochemistry of RNA and other cell structures.

The purpose of the call was to interest Doudna in studying an emerging phenomenon that was recently discovered in microbiology, a strange sequence of DNA found in bacteria. Intrigued, Doudna began to research the sequences, called CRISPR, in her own lab and, in 2012, discovered that they could be used as a powerful new tool for editing genes. Today, CRISPR is creating a revolution in genomics, completely redefining what was considered to be possible in just a few short years.

In healthcare, CRISPR has the potential to cure diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and sickle cell anemia, just to name a few, and a number of therapies have already been approved for trial. Beyond that, the technology is also being used in agriculture to synthesize chemicals like plastics and fuels and even to store data.

Post-Digital Computing (Quantum and Neuromorphic)

Over the past few decades, we’ve been in the midst of a digital revolution, which has largely been driven by Moore’s Law, our ability to continually double the number of transistors we can cram onto a silicon wafer. Yet now Moore’s Law is slowing and soon will end. So figuring out a new way to compute things has long been a major area of study.

Today, we’re on the cusp of two architectures that can fill the gap. The first is quantum computing, which uses subatomic effects to create almost unimaginably large computing spaces. The second, called neuromorphic computing, mimics the design of the human brain.

Quantum computing is especially good at simulating physical systems, like materials and biological systems as well as for massive optimization processes, like in a large financial portfolio. Neuromorphic chips can be millions of times more efficient than conventional processors, which makes them ideal for tasks like edge computing.

Like early digital computers, both technologies have their challenges and it will take a decade or more for their full impact to be clear, however they are advancing extremely quickly. IBM recently unveiled the first integrated quantum computing system for commercial use and we can expect to see neuromorphic chips deployed in industrial environments in the next few years.

Materials Science

Think of just about any major challenge we face and materials are at the center of it. To build a new clean energy future, we need more-efficient solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries. Manufacturers need new materials to create more advanced products. We also need to replace materials subject to supply disruptions, such as rare earth elements.

Traditionally, developing new materials has been a slow, painstaking process. To find the properties they’re looking for, researchers would often have to test hundreds—or even thousands—of materials one by one. That made materials research prohibitively expensive for most industries.

Yet today, we’re in the midst of a materials revolution. Powerful simulation techniques, combined with increased computing power and machine learning, are enabling researchers to automate much of the discovery process, vastly accelerating the development of new materials, in some cases by a factor of more than a hundred.

To get a sense of the potential impact, consider the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In many ways its much like its predecessor, except that because of the advanced materials the company has developed it is 20% lighter and 20% more efficient. That’s a significant impact when you take into account the global market for aviation. The materials revolution promises to benefit a much wider range of industries the same way.

The new era of innovation we are entering is likely to be even more transformative than the digital revolution of the last 30 years. That’s hard for some to imagine, but the fact is, we still live in a physical world—and that’s where most value is created.

3.     Gold Prices Have Been Rising.

There are a few factors leading gold’s rally. For starters, investors are worried about a weakening global economy amid potential debt trouble in China and a slowing Europe. Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, are also backing off plans to tighten monetary policy, which could also benefit gold. Gold has even managed to gain despite a stubbornly strong U.S. dollar.

U.S. Dollar Index (DXY)Source: SIX

It isn’t just gold that’s doing well. G.Research also noted on Thursday that gold stocks have outperformed physical gold in recent months—since the end of September 2018, gold prices have risen 10%, while the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) has climbed 18%—as “miners benefit from the inherent leverage in their business models.” The research firm mentioned Detour Gold (DGC.Canada), Victoria Gold (VIT.Canada), and Barrick Gold(GOLD) as three examples of stocks which “have benefited from leverage in their business models.”

What could drive more upside for gold? A weaker dollar and less demand for risky assets could help, as would continue. If past trends are any indicators, investors should keep an eye on its recent high of$1325.40. If gold can clear that, more upside could be on the way.

4.     NASA’s New Nuclear Reactor Could Change Space Exploration

The Kilopower reactor is tiny, and it could power the spacecraft of the future.

Want to start a space colony? Even if you don’t, space agencies across the globe do. Whether it’s a moon base now, à la the Trump administration’s plans for NASA, or a Mars landing later, such a colony will need a lot of power. And given the possibility of light-obscuring dust storms on the Red Planet and the moon seeing an uneven amount of sunlight, solar panels may not cut it. But don’t worry — Los Alamos National Lab has a plan.

It hinges on nuclear power, which, at its most basic, consists of harnessing energy from radioactive elements. Often, this energy comes from a process called fission, when a neutron rams through an atom’s nucleus, splitting it. A nuclear reactor houses this chaos and uses the resulting heat to generate power.

5.     Why Can’t NASA’s Curiosity Rover Rescue Opportunity?

The Mars rover Opportunity has died, NASA announced Wednesday (Feb. 13). A layer of dust likely coated its solar panels, preventing it from juicing itself up after a 2018 sky-blackening dust storm on the Red Planet.

But why couldn’t NASA launch a rescue mission to get it working again? After all, Opportunity wasn’t the first rover to get to Mars, and it won’t be the last. It’s just been the hardiest. In its stunning 14-plus years of travel, enabled by Martian winds that periodically cleaned off its solar panels, it has covered an impressive 28 miles (40 kilometers) on the planet.

The most obvious candidate to rescue Opportunity is the Curiosity rover, Opportunity’s bigger, nuclear-powered younger sibling. Why not take some time out of Curiosity’s work, and send it to see what’s wrong with Opportunity and if it might be fixed? [Voyager to Mars Rover: NASA’s 10 Greatest Innovations]

The first problem, unfortunately, is distance. According to NASA’s Mars map, the Curiosity and Opportunity sites are about 5,200 miles (8,400 km) apart from one another. Curiosity’s a bit swifter-footed than Opportunity, but even so, the young sprite would just take way too long to cover that terrain. To navigate the Martian terrain, these rovers require constant guidance from Earth Combined with the long delay between message transmission and receipt, even a trek of a few feet can take days.

The second problem is that Curiosity is an explorer, not a repair bot. It would be a monumental challenge to repurpose its onboard instruments to even clear dust off of Opportunity’s solar panels. And there’s no guarantee that’s all that’s gone wrong with the rover sitting silently in the Martian cold and darkness.

The final problem is time. Even if Curiosity could take some express train to Opportunity’s location, Martian winter is setting in, and the conditions will likely compound any damage to Opportunity now that it’s no longer able to keep itself warm.

So Opportunity is toast. But who knows, maybe humans on Mars will find it someday and manage to switch it back on.

 

 

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