Markets: Week 12 - 18 Feb

There’s a Global Race to Control Batteries—and China Is Winning

“We’re realizing that the Congo is to [electric vehicles] what Saudi Arabia is to the internal combustion engine,”

China already is the world’s largest electric-car market. In 2011, Beijing listed electric vehicles as one of seven “strategic emerging industries.” Developing a homegrown battery industry became a vital part of the government-sponsored push. The Chinese government provides subsidies to domestic battery makers, essentially locking out foreign companies.

About 54% of the global cobalt supply comes from Congo. Chinese companies dominate the network of middlemen who buy cobalt from freelance miners such as those lining up at the market in Kolwezi.

Few commodities have had more dramatic increases in demand than cobalt, primarily a byproduct of copper and nickel mining. Global cobalt production has quadrupled since 2000 to about 123,000 metric tons a year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

So Far, the Stock Market Looks More Like 1998 Than 2007

Was it like the stock drops of 1987 and 1998, frightening but of little lasting economic consequence? Or was it more like 2007 when several failed hedge funds and subprime lenders were the tip of an iceberg that sank the entire economy? So far, the right analogies appear to be 1987 or 1998, both cases when some market players were clobbered but, unlike in 2007, had few linkages to the real economy.

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