Bellwether Events

The year 1973 was tumultuous for the world, and calamitous for the United States.

In October 1973, Richard Nixon, the beleaguered President of the United States, ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate affair.  Richardson refused and resigned his post rather than fire Cox. Cox was ultimately fired for wanting to subpoena the Watergate Tapes. Eventually the tapes were made public, and Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment for lying to the American public.

In that same month, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (now known as OPEC), imposed an oil embargo on Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. By March of 1974, the cost of a barrel of oil rose from $3/barrel before the embargo to $15/barrel. That’s the equivalent of a price rise from $15/barrel to $78/barrel in five months in today’s dollars. The impact of the run up in fuel costs for a wide range of industries also led to plummeting auto sales. The economic effect put North America into a recession.

In 1973, Honda began marketing the ground-breaking Honda Civic in North America.  Fuel efficient, well built and fun-to-drive, it was the go-to car to reduce the impact of the oil embargo.  In the US in 1973, it sold just under 39,000 copies for a market share of .27%.  By 1980, Honda models (Civic and Accord) enjoyed a market share of 3.28%, and the Japanese rout of North American automobile manufacturers was in full flight.

The year 2017 was tumultuous for the world, and calamitous for the United States.

In 2017, Donald J. Trump, the beleaguered President of the United States, is under investigation for possible collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 Presidential election. He has already fired the head of the FBI, James Comey.  The special prosecutor appointed to investigate the alleged collusion may be fired in the new year.

As of November 2017, 195 countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have signed the Paris Climate Accord, committing to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. The world has come together to fight climate change.

In 2017, Tesla Motors will sell about 45,000 vehicles for a market share of approximately .30%. The Model 3, a ground-breaking new model will offer 300km+ range with projected sales in 2018 of 400,000.  Nissan will introduce a redesigned Leaf in the first quarter of 2018 that will have a range in excess of 200 kilometers on a single charge, for which Nissan has received more than 10,000 pre-orders.

Three parallel events: A presidency in turmoil (Nixon/Trump), a group of countries focused on the cost (financial in 1973, social in 2017) of energy (OPEC/UNFCCC); a disruptive mode of transportation ready for a market that circumstances created (Civic/Electric Vehicles).

2018 should be a very interesting year.

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