Wednesday, 10 September 2014

It's boom time - again


After an engaging and drama-filled election season in Indonesia, we’re not far off from everything settling down and plans being put into action – and there’s a LOT of plans.

I’m not just referring to plans of the President-elect either. For many businesses (both domestic and international), the main issue wasn’t actually who won (although many had a strong preference), it was more about stability – politically, socially, and economically.

In the last few months, not much has actually happened in Indonesia – at least in terms of business. Afraid to end up in an unknown situation, most projects have waited, and are still waiting, for the new President to officially take up office and get through a full week without incident before signing off on their plans.

Throughout this time though, they haven’t stopped planning. As it’s turned out, I think it’s accurate to say that due to the long wait, a lot of projects are actually a lot better prepared than they otherwise would have been – and that will be evident from October through to the end of the year by the sheer number of plans which are ready to implement at the point of announcement – which previously was something of a rarity.

Expect to hear a lot of IPO announcements (companies listing on the Indonesian stock exchange), a lot of M&A announcements (mergers and acquisitions), and a lot of development projects (predominantly construction, agriculture, infrastructure, and large resources/energy projects).

But a word of caution – there’s a strong likelihood that it’s not going to be automatic wealth creation for all – there’s going to be losers.

Change, generally, benefits companies who are good at adapting and innovating – and most certainly doesn’t benefit companies who are looking back to the past rather than to the future. There are plenty of very strong Indonesian companies, but also plenty of not-so-strong ones, which might run into problems in the next two or three years.

For this reason, I don’t expect the Jakarta Composite Index to dramatically increase, although a few quick wins with IPO’s will help. And whilst there’s a huge amount of “foreign money” waiting to invest in Indonesia (a large part of that being money controlled by wealthy Indonesians but currently held offshore), most of that will be put into ground-level business, rather than investing into stocks.

President Jokowi’s much-publicised plan to gradually remove fuel subsidies (which is entirely necessary) will almost certainly be accompanied by a raft of “populist” measures to prevent the poorest Indonesians being disadvantaged. He’s made no secret of his intention to build Indonesia from the bottom up – focussing on the needs of the poor, not the rich – and whilst nothing will change overnight when he becomes President, it’s worth noting that one of his first major acts as Governor of Jakarta  was to raise the minimum wage by 44%... I’d be very surprised if he didn’t attempt something similar at a national level.

Both of these will have an impact on the rate of inflation, as businesses would immediately take the opportunity to raise prices, which in turn would have an impact on the Rupiah currency exchange rates. But on the other hand, taking millions of Indonesians out of poverty, and making millions of Indonesians slightly richer, immediately creates millions of new consumers, which in turn benefits the wealthy people who own the companies which make and sell things to these consumers. Good, adaptive companies will do very well; others will do badly. Quick tip: Steer clear of companies and/or projects which aren’t embracing the changes, they’re the ones at risk of doing badly.

Some of these upcoming projects are open to investment – we’ve got some great opportunities coming up soon that we’re involved in, including some very cleverly structured investment property, some fully insured project finance deals (insured with a global A-rated insurer), as well as IPO financing and other investment banking projects. If you’d like to hear about them as soon as we’re able to go public, let me know, and I’ll make sure you’re among the first to hear about them.

I’d also love to hear from business owners and/or senior management who are interested in giving their staff (of all levels, including the very lowest paid) the option of accessing some of the higher-end investment opportunities as a collective (particularly the fully insured ones), perhaps through a bespoke company pension or optional savings scheme – it would be a shame if it’s only those who are already relatively wealthy who benefit from this sort of thing.


Until next time – thanks for reading :)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Protect yourself - for FREE

There are plenty of insurance products on the market – and many of them are definitely worth having, even at a cost. Any sort of extra protection is worth having, but when it’s free, it makes it even more worthwhile.

Actually, this also relates to protecting your whole family – not just yourself. Whilst some would argue that it’s not “free” in the traditional sense of the word, from an accountancy perspective, it is. Confused? I’ll explain.

Most insurance products offer a fixed payout, IF something happens, in return for a payment which is non-refundable. You’ll definitely pay the premium, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get anything back.

I’m not knocking these types of insurance at all – they’re an essential part of proper financial planning for most people, and in most cases a very cheap way of preventing a financial disaster. But there is another way, where you can get these benefits – for free.

I’m talking about a product from AXA’s Hong Kong business – one of our key partners – which guarantees that if you don’t claim on the insurance element of it, you’ll get your money back – plus interest.

As you may be aware, AXA is a conglomerate of international businesses – for example, AXA Indonesia is an entirely separate business from AXA Malaysia. Whilst they all report to the French head office and repatriate some profits there, each business unit offers different products, and different pricing levels, to reflect the different market places in which they operate. And we’re consistently finding that its Hong Kong business is delivering some great financial innovations.

How does this product work?

As soon as it’s issued, you’ll have life cover AND critical illness cover. A critical illness is any illness or injury that could kill you – such as cancer, heart attack etc. If you get diagnosed with an illness like this, it pays out, almost immediately, whether you end up dying from it or not.

You can also claim multiple times, for different types of illnesses (and death). So, if you’re unfortunate enough to get cancer, then have a stroke, then get paralysed, then get a brain tumour – you’ll receive four payouts. Plus a fifth payout upon death.

If you don’t get a critical illness or die, you get your money back – plus interest. The amount you get back keeps going up, then longer you leave the policy in force. There is one minor catch – to be guaranteed of getting back more than you paid, you have to leave it in force for a few years (the actual length of time depends on your age and what payment timescale you selected).

If you get to age 100 without any claims and/or without cashing it in, you get paid back a significant amount more than you paid in.

What’s the initial outlay?

This will vary from person to person depending on age, smoker or not etc, but here’s an example of a 40-year old non-smoking male.

For $200,000 cover, the cost is about $12,000 per year if you pay it over 10 years. If you spread it over 25 years, this almost halves to around $6,000 per year – you pay more in total, but this is reflective of the fact that you get full cover from day one, despite having paid significantly less in to it.

You can also pay in one lump sum – so around $120,000, and get a guaranteed minimum of $200,000 back at some point.

By the time our 40-year old non-smoking man reaches retirement age, he can get about $200,000 cash out of it if he hasn’t made a claim. If he leaves it in there until he’s 80, he can get out about $300,000.

Also, whilst the fixed payout for critical illness claims is fixed at $200,000 per claim (up to a maximum of four, totalling $800,000), the death benefit increases – so death at age 80 would payout about $375,000 to his family. The amount paid out on death is always higher than the amount available to take out as cash.

If he gets to age 100, it’ll pay him out $1,165,800. That’s a nice birthday present right there.

This is a fantastic product for children.

For exactly the same level of benefits as the example above, the cost dramatically reduces the younger you are. So, for a new-born child, it costs about $3,600 per year if spread over 10 years (total payment of around $36,000, which can also be paid in one go if you like).

That child will then have insurance protection all the way through life, and the ability to take out cash if they need it in future. By the way, if they get to age 100 with no claims (which may be significantly more likely in future as healthcare continues to improve and more diseases are cured), they’ll get a cash payout of $2,061,000. That’s an even better birthday present.

Enough numbers for now – the only thing left to mention is that you can of course choose the amount of insurance you want, choose the amount you pay initially, and choose how long you pay it for.

The options regarding payment durations are either in one lump sum at the start, over 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, or 25 years.

You can choose a very high or very low level of cover, or anywhere in between, and you can have up to $500,000 cover without the need for a medical exam (if you’re under 45, the non-medical-exam limit decreases with age).

You can start with an insurance amount and work out the initial cost, or you can start with an initial budget and work out the amount of insurance you’ll get.

If you want to find out what you could get personally, with definitive numbers specifically for you or your family, please contact us – it only takes us a couple of minutes to produce a fixed personal quotation, and we’re more than happy to provide it to you with no obligation at all.

You’ll not be disappointed – this is a really great product for everyone! 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Retiring in Australia

Since the last blog post, a few people have been asking about retiring in Australia – particularly in view of the recent changes to the pensionable age.

If you weren’t aware, the Australian government recently announced (alongside a raft of other unpopular measures) that the pensionable age would move to 70 years old by 2035 – basically meaning that Australians born after 1965 would have to wait until 70 to claim the “Age Pension”.

Needless to say, that’s quite a ripe old age to keep working until through necessity. The general questions have been ‘can something be done about it’, and ‘if so, what’.

The basic answer is yes – there’s always something you can do about it. But usually, ‘what’ exactly to do is the bit that people struggle with.

Ultimately it comes down to three things:

1)      Effective planning
2)      Timely planning
3)      Intelligent planning

Retirement, including the time of retirement and the wealth in retirement, is always in the hands of the individual. Like other well developed countries, Australia’s government will ensure that you’re not flat broke – but they’re not going to keep your fridge stocked with beer and your barbeque loaded with shrimp. That’s all up to you.

Effective planning is all about getting stuff done. Plans on paper are great, but it needs to be executed for it to make any difference. This sounds simple, but is the biggest mistake people make –they can confidently state what they want in retirement (they’ve “planned”), but cannot demonstrate how they’re going to achieve it, and are not actually doing anything about it (it’s not effective planning). Quick tip: If you’re not currently saving for retirement, you’re not planning effectively.

Timely planning is all about getting stuff done at the right time, to make it better. It should be fairly obvious that those who start saving up for retirement at 45 end up with a lot less money in retirement than those who start saving at 25. This is particularly relevant to expatriates, because you’re often not forced to save for retirement (which you would be at home), and you’re living a great life on an expat package so don’t really spend too much time thinking about what happens when the expat package finishes. Quick tip: If you’re not currently saving for retirement, you’re not planning in a timely manner.

Intelligent planning is about squeezing every last drop out of what’s available to you. This includes maximising the benefits offered by governments, structuring your financial planning in the most cost-effective and tax-effective way possible, and allocating your accumulated capital in the most efficient way (amongst other things). Quick tip: If you’re not a pension expert, or you’re not using the services of a pension expert, you’re almost certainly not planning intelligently.

One of my colleagues, Paul Milbourne - who is an Australian pensions expert (and remains fully licensed in both Australia & Malaysia), is running a couple of seminars – in Batam, Indonesia, on the 24th June, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the 25th June – with a particular focus on some of the intelligent planning you can do if you own, or plan to own, property in Australia. On the most basic level, anyone who wants to retire in Australia will need somewhere to live, so it’s something you should consider now, rather than in future (timely planning).

It’ll also cover some of the tax-efficient ways of holding Australian property through a Superannuation (pension), how you can buy a property now (combining the use of international mortgages and pension savings), and how you can ensure that your total retirement package is greater than the sum of its parts.

If you’d like to attend one of the seminars, please just contact me at jake.wallis@imperiumcapital.com; if you can’t attend but would like to discuss the topic anyway, please just let me know and I’ll arrange a personal introduction.

Finally, if you’re not planning to retire in Australia, most of the above still applies – so get planning!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Why people with Pensions in the UK should act now

There’s just one week left before the UK government finishes its consultation on changes to pension legislation, which will shortly have an impact on anyone who has a pension in the UK.

Not long ago, the UK government said that it will definitely be introducing legislation to prevent the transfer of UK Public Sector Defined Benefit pension schemes as soon as possible, and the current consultation focusses on whether this restriction should also be applied to Private Sector Defined Benefit schemes.

“Defined Benefit” (DB) is the official term for what is commonly called a ‘final salary’ pension – i.e. a pension scheme which will pay OUT a fixed amount upon retirement. In comparison, “Defined Contribution” (DC) pensions are those which pay IN a fixed amount, but give no guarantees about what the pay-out will be.

Needless to say, DB schemes are generally seen to be much better for pension holders than DC ones, but also massively more expensive – as the schemes need to not only hit the growth targets set for them, but also cover any potential risk along the way. In the vast majority of cases, companies (and the government) vastly underestimated how much would have to be paid in to the schemes in order to be able to fund the fixed pay-out, leaving the schemes with a hefty deficit.

For example, Lloyds’ deficit is £998million. Barclays Bank has a deficit of around £1.8billion. At least five of the UK’s largest companies – BAE Systems, British Telecom, International Airlines Group (British Airways), Royal Bank of Scotland, and the insurer Royal & Sun Alliance – have pension liabilities which are greater than the equity market value of the entire company.

As companies (and the UK government) gradually come to terms with the problem, changes are being made. One in three corporate DB schemes have been scrapped in the last decade. According to the UK Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA), over 58,000 company schemes have been wound up. Over 110,000 company schemes still exist, but OPRA says that 30,000 of those are under threat as the funding crisis becomes more apparent.

Some companies have gone bust – notably Woolworths and MFI – taking their pension schemes down with them. Just as with anything else, any guarantee is only worth the amount that the guarantor can afford to pay – so when the company disappears, so does the “guaranteed” defined benefits of its pension.

The UK does have a Pension Protection Fund (PPF) to pay out to individuals whose pensions have gone bust – which has bailed out around 700 corporate pension schemes so far – but this is capped at around £32,000 per year, and it doesn’t cover inflation-linked increases. Its purpose is to ensure that people are not left with nothing; it’s not there to ensure that you get what you were promised.

Therefore, the danger with the current proposals – which are expected to be implemented later this year – is that if an individual has future concerns about the ability of their former employer to fund the Defined Benefits of their pension scheme, and want’s to transfer to another scheme before the company goes bust, they won’t be able to and could lose a significant amount of their retirement income.

The only way to properly protect yourself against potential future problems is to act now.

Using a longstanding pension arrangement known as a “Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme” (QROPS), individuals can currently transfer their pensions away from the at-risk corporate-backed group schemes, and into a UK government-approved pension scheme, which has a number of benefits.

Firstly, as soon as the transfer is made, it is ring-fenced for the individual, rather than collectively with all other employees and former employees of the company. This immediately eliminates any risk of the company or its pension scheme from collapsing.

Secondly, as soon as the transfer is made, it eliminates the risk that future changes could be retrospective. The current plans include allowing, in certain circumstances, companies to make changes to the pension promises they gave you in the past, for example removing the allowances for dependents, widows, widowers and children, or increasing your retirement age so the pay-out starts later than you were originally promised.

Think that sounds highly illegal? It is. But soon it won’t be, because the UK government are changing the law, to make it legal. Isn’t democracy wonderful…

Thirdly, it gives you a lot more control over your own pension – you can even change into a different currency if it suits you better.

So what should you do about it? Quite simply, if you have a UK pension, you should look at it properly, now.

But be wise – as with anything else, not all changes are good changes. The QROPS structure is great, but it’s a step towards financial security, not the final destination. Once your transfer is made, it’ll need to be looked after properly – what’s the point of taking it out of one high-risk place, and investing it into something else that’s just as high risk – or even higher?

Unfortunately, whilst the structure offers great freedoms, those freedoms can be destructive if used badly. Investing your pension fund into something which goes bust will leave you with no pension. It’s really, really important to get it right.

Are we able to help you with these sort of things? Yes of course; whether you’ve still got a UK pension or you’ve already transferred it and want a quick second opinion on the current risk level, I urge you to get in touch, before it’s too late.

And if you currently don’t have a pension, you’re in even greater danger of struggling through retirement – so start now!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

How time flies

First blog in quite a long time – how time flies eh? So, to tie in from the last one, the US government did extend the debt limit after a fierce political battle, which means that they have plenty of money (all of it borrowed, of course), until at least the middle of March 2015. Yay.

Here in Indonesia, the political battles have led to different outcomes, notably some horse-riding. We even have two rival proposals to reduce the government’s fuel subsidy liability, which could have a massive positive impact on the national finances – one to ban foreigners from buying subsidised fuel, which will definitely reduce the amount the government spends on fuel subsidies, and one to gradually phase out the subsidy completely, thereby removing the likelihood that oil tankers will leave some Indonesian ports full of (subsidised) fuel worth $millions, and mysteriously arrive at other Indonesian ports nearly empty – which would also definitely reduce the amount that the government spends on fuel subsidies.

The upcoming election is also having a major impact on other financial activity in and around Indonesia – the stock market is registering sizeable movements every time significant new information is released (as you would expect), and there’s an awful lot of projects, mergers, and acquisitions which are ready to go – but not until the July vote has passed without any nasty surprises.

One such project is an Initial Public Offering (IPO – stock market listing) later this year that we’re involved with, and for those of you who have the ability to invest $1million or more, you can get in on the action by lending pre-IPO finance for the transaction, which will pay a fixed return of 10% for a 4-6 month loan – fully underwritten and secured by a large Indonesian financial institution. Details are still being finalised, but if you’re interested in being involved, just let me know.

For those of you who don’t have the luxury of a spare $1million lying around, we have another opportunity, with a much lower minimum investment of just $10,000. It’s from Makati Capital Partners (MCP), which is the rebranded name of Pilot Asia Capital’s merchant banking division - the same team that executed the Indonesian land transaction deal last year. Read previous blog posts for more info on that, the only “news” is that it returned all capital and fixed interest of 15/17.5/20% to investors early this year – slightly later than the expected duration of 9 months, but well ahead of the contracted duration of 12 months.

The new opportunity is a 3-year convertible bond – which basically means that you’re lending money to the company (secured on assets), with the option of converting to equity (shares) in MCP at the end of the 3-year term if you wish. The annual return is a fixed 12.5%, and any conversions to equity will be done at a 30% discount to the prevailing market price for the shares, thereby returning a total of 67.5% over just 3 years, which is not bad at all. If you’d like to know more, just let me know.

Finally, something which might interest you and/or entertain you for a bit – we’ve now launched our own investment platform, which means that people who want to manage their own investments can do so from one place – www.imperiuminvestmentplatform.com

It gives you access to over 7,000 international and offshore investment funds, from over 200 fund managers (including all the big banks you know and love), detailed analysis from the worlds’ largest fund ratings agency, and a very comprehensive search facility to find exactly what you’re looking for.

If you click on that link above, and go to the “getting started” tab, you’ll be able to quickly open your own demo account – which means that we’ll give you some pretend money, and let you play with it as if it was real money. Ever wondered if you could do a better job at managing money than the professionals? Here’s your chance to find out, completely free. You can of course invest real money if you wish!

That’s all for this post – thanks for reading. If there’s any topics you’d like to be covered in future posts, or anything finance-related you’d like to discuss privately, please just get in touch - I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Biggest Ponzi Scheme in the World

You’ve probably already heard about this, as it’s all over the news – the World’s largest Ponzi Scheme is in trouble, and there’s a chance it could collapse later this week.

Admittedly it’s a relatively small chance, according to many – but it’s starting to worry investors who didn’t pay enough attention the last time a big Ponzi Scheme collapsed – Bernie Madoff’s one.

Unfortunately, the biggest lesson in that case was “it doesn’t matter how important, powerful, experienced, or celebrated the person running it is; if the maths doesn’t add up, people will lose their money eventually”.

As a reminder, here’s what the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says about them:

What is a Ponzi scheme?
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors.

Why do Ponzi schemes collapse?
Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.

So who is running this latest Ponzi scheme, and why is it in danger of collapse?

I am of course referring to the US Government… and I’m not being completely sarcastic.

For years, the US has been living outside of its means – borrowing money to fund things such as the war on terror, the war on drugs, the war(s) on various countries around the world – all whilst maintaining relatively low taxation levels. And, in most cases, without achieving the desired result… but that’s another story.

And despite the advice the US Government frequently gives to others – whether the term “others” applies to other countries, companies, or individuals – the US Government sees only one option: Borrow more money, to pay the interest on the money that it’s already borrowed.

Which, of course, makes the US Government a Ponzi scheme - by the US Government’s own definition.

From a debt of around $1trillion (that’s $1,000,000,000,000) in 1980, it has been steadily increasing with an exponential growth rate. By 1990 it was over $3trillion, by 2000 it was nearly at $6trillion, and in 2010 it stood at $13.5trillion. We’re already at $17trillion today.

Part of the reason it is growing so quickly, is because the USA can’t even afford to pay the interest on the debt – even with a ridiculously low interest rate. So it borrows more money, to pay the interest. To put it another way, it needs money from new investors, to pay the returns to the older investors.

Most of the media reports don’t put it this way – they see it as a huge problem if the US Government isn’t allowed to borrow more money before the end of this week. Why weren’t they calling for more people to invest in Bernie Madoff’s scheme, to prevent that from collapsing?

Whichever way you try to calculate it, there is pretty much zero chance that the USA could repay its debts without causing a disaster just as big as it would be if they defaulted.

If the US Dollar decreased in value by the amount needed to repay it from foreign currency reserves, the world economy (and the US domestic economy) would collapse.

If US Dollar inflation went up to the levels it would need to go to inflate the debt away, the world economy (and the US domestic economy) would collapse.

If the US decided to go on an imperialistic pillaging spree, to help pay down the debt, the world would be ravaged by war (which would collapse the world economy).

If the US decided to shrink its biggest expense – the Armed Forces - down to the level they could actually afford (a couple of sword-wielding soldiers and a horse), some less-than-benevolent countries would be encouraged to scale up their imperialistic ambitions, and the world would be ravaged by war (which would collapse the world economy).

So in many ways it is prudent, relatively speaking, to simply borrow more money – because it averts a crisis right now.

However, it doesn’t avoid it completely – it just postpones it. And the longer it’s postponed, the bigger the crisis will be.

So what will happen in the US Congress this week? Many people find it simply impossible to believe that the US would ever default on its debt, and expect a solution to be found – even if it’s found at the last minute.

However, the problem with this belief is that it’s not based on anything other than misguided wishful thinking. The US Government WILL default on its financial obligations at some point – just as every Ponzi scheme will, eventually. The question is when.

“Tea Party” members of congress, many of them new to national politics, know that their best chance of achieving governmental power is in a crisis (historically, right-wing parties always do better than normal in times of crisis, in almost every country). And they know that if they decide not to cooperate, America will be facing its biggest crisis since the Civil War. Will they budge this time? Probably – but only to allow a temporary, short term increase to the borrowing limit.

Then you can expect them to spend the next couple of months doing what almost every politician does – trying to figure out which course of action would result in the best outcome for them personally.


Hardly the stuff of a Triple-A rating, is it?


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Solving the Energy problem

A bit of an argument is going on in the UK at the moment, about “fracking” – the process of extracting gas from underground shale rock by injecting pressurised liquid.

Supporters of the process say it’s a relatively clean and cheap way of producing energy; those in opposition to it say it is potentially hazardous and bad for the environment.

Also coming in to the debate are arguments about the wisdom of general reliance on fossil fuels (both in terms of their environmental impact and the fact that they are a finite resource), and of course no debate would be complete without some mention of “national security” – in this case, proponents say it would be more secure for the UK to be reliant on its own shale gas resources that to rely on Norway (from where the UK currently imports a large amount of gas).

So at least in part, the argument has degenerated into a rather silly squabble about global warming and the potential for Norway to turn hostile, both sides of which seem to be missing the point – we, as a race, need energy, somehow.

So what’s the solution?

France thinks it has the answer – nuclear fusion. Unlike nuclear fission, which splits the atom to generate power (used in atomic bombs, and nuclear power stations such as Fukushima and Chernobyl), nuclear fusion is the process of atomic nuclei joining (fusing) together to form a new type of atom.

Supporters of nuclear fusion say it’s cleaner, safer, and cheaper – and France is hosting a $20billion project (named Iter), funded by 34 different nations, to develop the technology, produce the energy, and harness it for our use. The project is decades away from completion, and will cost $billions more, but could this be the solution to our energy problem?

Maybe. The problem is, we already have a huge nuclear fusion power plant. It’s already built, it already works, it’s already clean, safe, and free – for everyone. It’s in the sky, and we call it “The Sun”.

The even better news, is that we already have the technology to harness the energy emitted by the sun, to convert it to power we can use for all sorts of things, such as a toaster, or an Xbox. We call this technology “solar panels”.

If only everyone could afford solar panels! Then all our energy problems would be solved – all with no threat to national security. Or so you may think.

The European Union (EU) has just brokered a deal with China, whereby China guarantees to artificially inflate the cost of solar power – and if they don’t stick to it, the EU will artificially inflate the cost of it.

Why? Because according to EU officials, Chinese manufacturers were “damaging” the European economy by selling solar technology at “unsustainable prices” – they were just too cheap. So cheap, that everyone could afford one. Terrible, isn’t it?

Of course there’s other aspects to this debate – our savings and pensions are invested into shares in big companies, the biggest companies are the oil companies, we can’t have them suddenly collapse otherwise we’d all lose our money, etc etc.

(When I say “our”, and “we”, I am of course referring to the 25% of the global population that is fortunate enough to have savings, not the 25% who don’t have access to a reliable energy source, or the other 50% who aren’t wealthy enough to have investments and have to pay relatively high prices for their energy usage).


So what to do? It’s a tough one to solve, it’ll probably need a lot of people working together to make it work. Maybe we should all sleep on it. Perhaps, with a bit of luck, when we wake up in the morning and look out of the window, the answer will be “blindingly” obvious…