Nor is it clear why either country should be ranked among the virtuous ahead of, for instance, Ireland, which is much further down the road of reform but is entirely shut out of the sovereign debt markets.
Supercharged demand for lithium ahead as consumer appetite grows
THE SEEMINGLY insatiable demand for lightweight computers, iPads and other tablets, mobile phones and hybrid cars has some investors looking behind the screens and under the bonnets for potential investment opportunities.
One common feature in both cars and computers is the growing popularity of lithium batteries, and investors from
JP Morgan Chase to BlackRock seem to believe there’s money to be made from the conductive metal.
According to reports, prices for lithium, the lightest metal in the periodic table, have tripled since 2000 in a market estimated to be worth nearly €800 million a year.
As both car and computer firms seek to lighten their respective products while maintaining or improving performance, lithium batteries seem to be the favoured power source at present.
In the motor trade, the early wave of electric cars has washed up without much public interest, but new models on the way promise better range that will likely give them a far greater share of the car pool.
Most of the current crop of cars feature a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, but the latest Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid model contains a lithium-ion battery supplied by Panasonic and lithium will feature in new hybrid models from a host of car firms due for launch over the next three years.
Meanwhile, the global market for tablet computers is growing faster than expected, with Apple’s iPad widening its lead as consumers’ top choice. Worldwide shipments of tablets this year will be 107.4 million units, analysts say.
Some analysts are already predicting that lithium demand will double by 2020.
“Anywhere between a doubling and a tripling of demand in the next 10 years is absolutely our view,” Peter Oliver, chief executive of Talison, the biggest producer, said in an interview this week.
Chile, the second-biggest producing country behind Australia, last week said it would award 20-year concessions to exploit lithium brine in salt lakes.
Concerns about lithium batteries potentially overheating remain, but until an alternative lightweight energy source is found, demand for lithium seems to be intrinsically linked to the public’s appetite for mobile electronics and hybrid electric cars.
A Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers from across the euro zone takes place in Luxembourg
Quote of the day
We may have overextended ourselves a bit with the pace of our portfolio and geographic expansions
– Procter & Gamble chief financial officer Jon Moeller explaining why the company is cutting forecasts for the second time in three months
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