- Baron Lamarre
THE 10 CRITICAL EVENTS OF TWO-ZERO-TWO-ZERO AND WHAT THEY'll MEAN FOR US IN 2021
As an investor and Energy trader, I’m inclined to believe that we are built to make the best of the worst, to capitalize on market volatility and swim against the hardest currents. Even though I am an eternal optimist who tries to see the glass as half-full, I must admit that the year 2020 was a game-changing roller coaster ride akin to a horror movie that shook me to the core.
I saw the best and the worst of people in the face of once-in-a-lifetime disaster.
It makes me appreciate the little things like being able to spend time with love ones, go out for a coffee or simply jogging around the block.
Here are the top 10 critical events and experiences that caught my attention the most in 2020 and will likely shape 2021
1. CRUDE OIL DELIVERY IN CHINA DURING COVID LOCKDOWN
Innovative uses of technology are making some of the most difficult and dangerous routine tasks simpler while also reducing the time and cost involved for traders. At the peak of COVID in March 2020 when China was on the strict lockdown, I had secured a deal to supply Crude Oil to China. Although the country was in total lockdown (no car on the road, everybody indoor), Oil import was still ongoing albeit at a reduced rate. At the end of March, my cargo reached Huangdao Port in Qingdao Province.
During "Pre-Covid" times, any vessel calling into a port would require an inspection as well as cargo testing before being allowed to discharge. In the middle of COVID, the ship crew was allowed to disembark nor the port authorities could go on board of the ship for inspection. Contact between the people on the ship and those on the shore was a No-no. Chinese inspector, quickly deployed drones, not only to inspect the ship but also draw crude oil sample from the ship tanks. Those samples were then flown by drone to the shore for testing in the lab before the Oil Tanker was allowed to berth.
In my two decades in trading oil, I’ve never seen anything like that. That experience left me truly impressed. My suspicion is that moving forward to 2021, Drones usage for ship inspection and sample taking could become the norm not only in China but around the world. Could this also be an indication of more unwarranted surveillance on us in the near future?
Drones usage for ship inspection and sample taking could become the norm not only in China but around the world.
Working from home (WFH) was a major game-changer in 2020. Both employees and employers discovered staying away from bosses and closer to family could not boost staff’s morale and improve productivity but also save electricity Bills and rent for business owners. The competition to win the teleworking market share was fought between Zoom, Microsoft team, Google Meet and many more.
Having tried all these digital platforms for various social purposes such as corporate board meetings, client engagements, attending friends and birthdays & weddings, I won't be sold on the idea that children’s learning can be fully conducted online.
In fact, I'm now more convinced that real teachers (not apps or screens) and human interaction is an irreplaceable part of children's education. For years to come, Teaching jobs will remain essential and hard to replace by machines.
3. THE CANCELLATION OF HAJJ
It looks like Hajj 2020 will become another victim of COVID. Due to the rising pandemic death toll around the world, the Saudi authorities had hinted that the annual pilgrimage, one of Islam's five major pillars, could be cancelled, hence calling on potential pilgrims to put their plans on hold.
For Muslims, the Hajj is not just spiritual tourism, it’s the fifth pillar of Islam. People would save their life earnings just to attend the Hajj once. To cancel it would be a big deal. Nonetheless, the Saudi Government went ahead and suspended in for International Travelers.
A symbolic compromise was found, that is to host the Hajj for only around 1,000 local pilgrims under strict social distancing guidelines. The holy sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina normally host more than 2 million people during the pilgrimage. From 2 million to 1000 was a quasi-cancellation.
The Hajj In 2021 is scheduled to take place from 17th to 22nd July. It’s highly likely that the same restrictions on International pilgrims might happen again if COVID situation doesn’t get contained worldwide.
4. RISE OF THE STOCK MARKET
While Airlines collapsed and millions of people lost their jobs, the wealthy became wealthier in 2020. I saw this first hand with my investor buddies. They made a killing on the stock market. At the beginning of the year the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) index dropped around 8,000 points in the four weeks from February 12 to March 11, 2020, but then recovered to 30,199 points as of December 14, 2020. In February 2020 - just prior to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the DJIA index stood at a little over 29,000 points.
When I saw people sitting in their bedroom with laptop making millions while the delivery boys, nurses and all the regular folks brave COVID-19 so that we can live comfortably, I started to wonder what I could do. When I heard the story of a young 35 years old Air Asia pilot named Sanjiv Daevin commit suicide after being retrenched and my neighbour (a flight attendant who lost his job), started to sell fruits just to survive, I had to help.
That’s why I set up MAGNIFICENT MINDSET to help everyone learn the Game of Trade
Now on the eve of 2021, my own new year's hope and believe is that everyone should participate in this Game. Most of the job losses in 2020 will never come back but we can get up on our feet again when we understand how this Game works.
Now on the eve of 2021, my own new year's hope and believe is that everyone should participate in this Game.
5. GEORGE FLOYD CAN’T BREATHE
The Killing of George Floyd by a white police officer shocked the world and generated global protests and outrage. Black people genocide prompted black sports celebrities like Naomi Osaka & Lewis Hamilton to voice their indignation. Black Lives Matters (BLM) movement became mainstream till a public place was name after them in Washington. Now Black Lives Matter Plaza (officially Black Lives Matter Plaza Northwest) is a pedestrian section of 16th Street NW in Downtown Washington, D.C. in the United States of America.
In an ironic way, George Floyd “I can’t Breathe” scream is a strange metaphor of what a lot of people including this author feels about the mandatory prolonged wearing of masks. In 2021, not wearing a mask could get you jailed or fined in some places even if you can’t breathe. This is indeed a very different reality that many of us are only getting used to.
6. THE MEANING OF THE ESSENTIAL WORKER
The true heroes for me in 2020 are essential workers. Before COVID crisis, I’ve never heard of a group of people called “Essential workers”. I’m not a fan of fast-food or packed-food but during this pandemic, I had no choice but to embrace it. Unable to visit my favourite restaurants, I have relied on online Apps to order food delivery. One day in March 2020 in the middle of Lockdown, I ordered lunch. When the food arrived, I found the delivery boy was coughing non-stop. He looked frail and exhausted. I’m not sure whether he was sick or just tired riding bikes under the hot sun but I truly felt sorry for him. I felt a sense of guilt even taking the food I had ordered and paid for. How fortunate are we to sit in air-conditioned rooms complaining about slow wifi disturbing our favourite NETFLIX drama while these guys literally put their lives on the line to fulfil our basic needs. Nurses, meat packers, cleaners, grocery shop keepers, plumbers and all the other essential workers saved the day during Lockdown.
How fortunate are we to sit in air-conditioned rooms complaining about slow wifi disturbing our favourite NETFLIX drama while these guys literally put their lives on the line to fulfil our basic needs.
Yet they get a pittance for pay. Let's be kinder to them in 2021 and for the years to come.
7. LOCKDOWNS AND VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
Some Politicians have used the lockdown excuses to test the docility of the masse. The reality is: extended stay indoor took a toll on people's health across the world. Stress became ubiquitous and suicide increased. I learnt that one major micronutrient known to have a possible protective or mitigating effect against other respiratory diseases such as SARS-CoV-2 is vitamin D. Past studies have shown how vitamin D provides benefit for patients with COVID-19. A naturally occurring vitamin in humans, vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It can also be obtained from the diet.
The lack of sun exposure and outdoor activities actually increased our vulnerability to COVID. Although I survived on vitamin and C supplements, I must say that nothing beats the old-fashioned healthy diet and exercise. COVID lockdowns have made me truly appreciate the natural health benefits of being outdoors. I still hope to run my favourite marathon (the Singapore marathon) in December 2021.
8. DEBT TICKING TIME BOMB
COVID provided the perfect excuse for debt-drunk governments to print even more money under the pretence of saving the economy. Pre-COVID, some of the most advance economies like Japan, USA, or Italy have already been drowning in debt. Millions of their taxpayers who lost their jobs represented billion of tax revenue lost which made the debt situation even worse.
In 2021 or when the economy fully opens back up and the fund flow from COVID relief dies down, the world will find out who’s been swimming naked.
I’m not concerned about governments or the rich, it’s the middle class and the lower-income folks like us who will get the whacking. Watch out!
9. IMPEACHMENT & DEFEAT OF DONALD TRUMP
Through the impeachment of Donald Trump, his trial and acquittal in the Senate followed by his resounding defeat at the ballot box, America has shown the ability to confront its original sin: racism. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has done some service to the USA. He exposed the decay or a corrupt system that has kept the rich richer and the hypocrisy of a country that loves to lecture the rest of the world. More importantly, he has shown that Money is probably the true belief system of America.
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has done some service to the USA.
His defeat will not solve America’s original sin nor the up-coming collapse of the US dollar. For, the country is in huge debt and can’t stop printing money. They are riding on the back of a tiger, they haven’t found out how to get off without getting eaten. In 2021, I’m expecting the Trump show to move to New York & Manhattan’s courtrooms
10. PUBLIC FIGURES LOST IN 2020
Two-Zero-Two-Zero took some of the most influential people who have shaped the world over several decades.
On Sunday, January 26, 2020, a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed in the city of Calabasas, California not far from downtown Los Angeles, while on the way from John Wayne Airport to Camarillo Airport. Kobe was 41-year-old. The former NBA star is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time alongside Michael Jordan, Karim Abdul Jabbar and Lebron James.
He was part of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup and managed the Republic of Ireland national team from 1986 to 1996 achieving two World Cup and one European Championship appearances. Jack Charlton died at his home in Northumberland on 10 July 2020 at the age of 85 after suffering from lymphoma and dementia.
On 25 November 2020, at the age of 60, Maradona suffered a heart attack and died at his home in Dique Luján, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. He had been previously released from hospital on 12 November after successful surgery and was supervised by doctors as an outpatient.
Papa Bouba Diop
Diop died in Paris on 29 November 2020 following a long illness. He is perhaps best known for scoring the first goal of 2002 FIFA World Cup against France, which resulted in the 1–0 defeat of the then reigning world champions which ultimately led to France’s early elimination from the tournament in which Senegal reached the quarter-finals. He Played in England for Fulham, Portsmouth and West Ham United. Bouba Diop was 42 years old.
The Italian footballer Paolo Rossi, died on December 9, 2020
aged 64 of lung cancer. He became a national hero in Italy after scoring six times in the 1982 World Cup tournament in Spain, including a crucial first goal in the 3-1 victory over West Germany in the final.
The virtuoso drummer and lyricist for Rush, died on January 7th, in Santa Monica, California, at the of age 67. The cause of death was brain cancer, which Peart had been quietly battling for three-and-a-half years.
On March 20th 2020, Kenny Rogers died from natural causes under hospice care at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He was anointed to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. As an entrepreneur, he collaborated with former Kentucky Fried Chicken CEO John Y. Brown Jr. in 1991 to start up the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters.
The Saxophonist Afro-jazz legend died on March 24th, 2020 at the age of 86 after contracting coronavirus. The Cameroonian Jazz musician
best known for the 1972 hit ‘Soul Makossa’ died in Paris. He was the author of Michael Jackson’s hit song “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”. Pop fans around the world would recognize his signature chorus in the song: mama say mama sa mama coosa.
Bill Withers, The Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member died on March 30th,2020 in Los Angeles from heart complications. He was 81 years old. He is most remembered for his Hit song “Lean on Me…when you’re not strong” …
He was 87 years old he passed on May 9th 2020 from Bone cancer. Richard's most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his stagecraft charisma, sublime piano playing skills and powerful vocals laid the foundation for rock and roll. He was a force of nature who outlived many of the musicians he inspired, from Elvis Presley to the late Prince and Michael Jackson.
THE RICH & FAMOUS
The Hong Kong entrepreneur who built a casino empire that dominated Macau, died on 26th May 2020 at the age of 98. Once the richest man in Asia, he had suffered years of ill health with conditions including kidney failure, a stroke and Parkinson's Disease.
The Actress Naya Rivera died at the tender age of 33 from accidental drowning on July 8th, 2020. Rivera was a rising star singer and model who was signed by Columbia Records as a solo musical artist in 2011.She is most remembered for her role in the Fox television series Glee (2009–2015) for which she received critical acclaim and various awards, including a Screen Actor Guild Award, ALMA Award, two Grammy Awards and one Brit Award nomination.
The actor achieved international fame for playing superhero Black Panther in Wakanda. He died on August 28th, 2020 of colon cancer at age 43. Almost immediately after news broke social media exploded with reactions as people worldwide grappled with the unexpected loss.
Kenzo Takada, the iconic French-Japanese fashion designer famed for his jungle-infused designs and free-spirited aesthetic that channelled global travel, has died at the age of 81 on October 4th, 2020, from the COVID-19 complication.
The chairman of South Korea's largest conglomerate, Samsung Group, has died aged 78 on October 25, 2020. Mr Lee helped to grow his father's small trading business into an economic powerhouse, diversifying into areas like insurance and shipping. He was the richest person in South Korea, according to Forbes, with a net worth of nearly $21bn (£16bn).
Iconic actor Sean Connery died at 90 years old on October 31st, 2020 from pneumonia-related respiratory failure and heart failure. Sean Connery was a Scottish actor who became known as the first actor to play James Bond in film. He featured in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983.
He was Egypt’s president for almost 30 years being forced to step down after a popular Tahrir square revolution in 2011. He died on 25th February 2020 at the age of 91 in a Cairo hospital where he had undergone an unspecified surgery
He was the sitting President of the Republic of Burundi when he suddenly died on June 8th, 2020 after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 55 years old. He was the president of Burundi for almost 15 years from August 2005 until his death in June 2020.
Mr. Lee died of multiple organ failure and septic shock at Taipei Veterans General Hospital on 30th July 2020, at the age of 97. Lee Teng-hu was the former president of Taiwan. He had been intubated after been diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia caused by pulmonary infiltration.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
She died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington, D.C. on September 18, 2020, aged 87. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the nine Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States. She became the leading and very successful advocator for women's rights. Widely considered a liberal, her death prompted a fierce political battle between Republicans and Democrats in the US Senate to appoint her replacement. That fight was eventually won by Republicans.
Jerry John Rawlings
Rawlings passed away at the age of 73 on the 12th November 2020 at a Hospital in Accra, Ghana. His death came only a week after having been admitted for a short-term illness. He served as President of Ghana from 1981 to 2001 and also for a brief period in 1979.
He is widely credited for turning Ghana into an economic powerhouse in West Africa and a model for peaceful democratic change in Africa.
Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, has died at the age of 91 on September 29, 2020. He was the Emir of Kuwait who had ruled the country for 14 years from 29th January 2006 to 29th September 2020. The cause of death is unknown.
The veteran chief negotiator for the Palestinian government, died of coronavirus complications at the age of 65 on November 10, 2020, in a death mourned as a "great loss" for his people. Saeb Erekat was a long-time advisor to Yasser Arafat and architect of plans to end the conflict with Israel through the creation of an independent Palestinian state, a goal he would not live to see achieved.
As 2020 draws to a close, I wish you and all my readers a great 2021 where we can reset ourselves for a better start and a new beginning.