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Can Predictive Data Revolutionize Capital Markets?

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Can Predictive Data Revolutionize Capital Markets?

Can Predictive Data Revolutionize Capital Markets?

For investors around the world, the information age presents a double-edged sword.

On one hand, all this data can be harnessed to make intelligent and timely investment decisions. However, with data growing at exponential rates, this also means that there is a lot of noise – and finding the right signal can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Today’s infographic from Mergalim shows how the power of predictive data analytics is growing, and using tools like AI and Bayesian inference to anticipate the outcome of events before they happen is more feasible and applicable than ever.

The Big Data Landscape

Before we get into predictive analytics, let’s look at what investors are up against in the first place.

Volume: The rate of data creation is accelerating so fast, that in 2017 there will be more data created than the previous 5,000 years combined. To put this in perspective: in the U.S. alone, approximately 2,657,000 GB of data is created every minute.

Variety: Data is not uniform, and there are many types of data. With data coming from many sources simultaneously, useful analysis can be very difficult.

Velocity: Especially in the markets, data needs to be monitored in real-time to be useful. Getting information too late could mean zero liquidity for a portfolio in some sort of crisis.

In other words, one missed data signal can cause irreparable harm to a portfolio in a situation where things go awry. Therefore, along with having a smart allocation of assets, it can be advantageous to also be one step ahead of the game to know what’s coming.

The Power of Predictive Data

Predictive analytics is defined as:

“The branch of advanced analytics used to make predictions about unknown future events. It uses techniques from data mining, statistics, modelling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to make predictions about the future.”

This kind of predictive power is already widely used by companies like Amazon, which uses algorithms to sort through billions of data points, your buying history, and current trends to recommend to you the items that you are most likely to buy. In fact, experts estimate that 35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from this practice of anticipating exactly what you want.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street has jumped on this bandwagon too.

  • Goldman Sachs famously employs more engineers than Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
  • Citadel, a secretive hedge fund, calculates the outcomes of more than 500 “doomsday scenarios” per day to assess potential risk for the firm from geopolitical and other potential crises
  • Quantitative traders use streams of data and complex algorithms to create models of the market to find predictable patterns, and create machine-derived forecasts

But there is one possible limitation with these approaches. Markets are complex systems and need to be analyzed as such. After all, human decision makers can be irrational, events can be “triggered” by seemingly random factors, and traditional mathematical models can fall apart when markets get volatile.

A Multi-Disciplinary Approach?

One solution to this limitation may be to borrow ideas from the intelligence industry, which must anticipate irrational or “random” human actions before they happen.

As an example of this, intelligence agencies like the CIA have already been working to apply other disciplines to the techniques already widely used in predictive data:

Bayesian Inference: A formula in which the probability for the hypothesis is updated based on new data.

Behavioral Psychology: The science behind how responses to environmental stimuli shape people’s actions.

Complexity Theory: Born in the 1960s, the science around how complex systems work is now well established.

Fuzzy Cognitive Maps: A way of representing social scientific knowledge and modelling decision making in systems.

Historical Perspective: Applying knowledge of past events and subject matter experts to these other disciplinary fields.

Artificial Intelligence: Today’s deep learning now allows AI to instantly recognize and process all types of previously impenetrable data.

If predictive data analytics becomes the norm and its potential is fully realized, having data only in real-time may not be enough for many active market participants. In turn, this could set up a very different landscape than exists today.

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Cannabis

The Allure of Craft Cannabis to Investors

Craft products are taking the retail world by storm. Find out why investors should be paying close attention to craft cannabis and its potential impact.

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The Investor Appeal in Craft Cannabis

They say if you do what you love, then the money will follow. In the multi-billion dollar cannabis business, that has certainly proved true for those who have been passionate about the plant for decades — otherwise known as craft growers.

Today’s infographic from Pasha Brands dives into the huge consumer demand for craft products, and why investors should pay attention to this trend as it extends into cannabis.

The Perfect Craft Product

Chances are, you may have encountered any of the following at least once: microbrewed beer, specialty coffee, premium wine, or organic food. They’ve become so popular, that craft versions of all these are steadily carving a valuable niche in their original markets.

 U.S. Market Size, 2017Craft Market Size, 2017Share of total
Beer vs Microbrew Beer$111B$26B23%
Coffee vs Specialty Coffee$32B$10B31%
Wine vs Premium Wine$80B$44.8B56%
Food vs Organic Food$898B$49.4B5.5%

Whether it’s introducing flavors into brews, slow-roasting beans, producing wine in small lots, or using a conscious “farm to table” label — what they have in common is the careful attention that’s paid to the process from start to end.

Craft cannabis bears a strong resemblance to all of these in that way, as growing it involves extra care, compared to large-scale producers. For example, hand-trimming is more labor intensive than using machines, but results in products with superior quality.

What are some other characteristics of craft cannabis?

  • Attention to detail
    A hands-on approach allows growers to personally ensure each cannabis plant is healthy.
  • Sustainable practices
    The use of organic farming to save energy, creating a smaller environmental footprint.
  • Social responsibility
    Smaller growers typically leverage local connections, creating employment opportunities.
  • Artisanal branding
    Sophisticated and modern packaging helps appeal to different types of craft cannabis consumers.

It’s clear why consumers care about craft cannabis. But what does it offer investors?

Making the Case for Craft

Investors should be paying close attention to craft cannabis for three key reasons: a higher price point, a focus on quality, and access to the retail market.

Upscale Price Tag

On average, organic cannabis has a higher price point attached to it, compared to regular grade cannabis.

  • Industry average: $9.02/ gram
  • Organic average: $11.40/ gram

Using organic methods to grow cannabis means that the final product on shelves boast an enhanced potency and effect. Since craft cannabis is also grown organically, it’s clear that consumers are willing to spend more to secure a premium product.

Promise of Quality

It might not come as a surprise that the most famous craft cannabis regions are also where the biggest volume of legal cannabis sales come from. California and Canada accounted for nearly 38% in global market share in 2017:

  • Worldwide sales: $9.5 billion
  • California sales: $3 billion
  • Rest of U.S. sales: $5.5 billion
  • Canada sales: $0.6 billion
  • Rest of world: $0.4 billion

These two areas have a foothold in cannabis sales, and with recreational legalization unfolding in both – and 75 million people living between the two jurisdictions – it will only continue to grow.

Opening the Doors

Following nation-wide legalization in Canada and an increasing number of states in the U.S., the continent is facing a cannabis shortage. Why? As it turns out, while craft growers are abundant, they still face regulatory hurdles in order to move from the “gray” underground market into launching legal operations.

Craft cannabis could be a cornerstone for industry growth, but its growers have been in the shadows for a long time. As cannabis gains momentum, tapping into the huge network of craft growers will be key for success.

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How the Modern Consumer is Different

We all have a stereotypical image of the average consumer – but is it an accurate one? Meet the modern consumer, and what it means for business.

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How the Modern Consumer is Different

How the Modern Consumer is Different

There is a prevailing wisdom that says the stereotypical American consumer can be defined by certain characteristics.

Based on what popular culture tells us, as well as years of experiences and data, we all have an idea of what the average consumer might look for in a house, car, restaurant, or shopping center.

But as circumstances change, so do consumer tastes – and according to a recent report by Deloitte, the modern consumer is becoming increasingly distinct from those of years past. For us to truly understand how these changes will affect the marketplace and our investments, we need to rethink and update our image of the modern consumer.

A Changing Consumer Base

In their analysis, Deloitte leans heavily on big picture demographic and economic factors to help in summarizing the three major ways in which consumers are changing.

Here are three ways the new consumer is different than in years past:

1. Increasingly Diverse
In terms of ethnicity, the Baby Boomers are 75% white, while the Millennial generation is 56% white. This diversity also transfers to other areas as well, such as sexual and gender identities.

Not surprisingly, future generations are expected to be even more heterogeneous – Gen Z, for example, identifies as being 49% non-white.

2. Under Greater Financial Pressure
Today’s consumers are more educated than ever before, but it’s come at a stiff price. In fact, the cost of education has increased by 65% between 2007 and 2017, and this has translated to a record-setting $1.5 trillion in student loans on the books.

Other costs have mounted as well, leaving the bottom 80% of consumers with effectively no increase in discretionary income over the last decade. To make matters worse, if you single out just the bottom 40% of earners, they actually have less discretionary income to spend than they did back in 2007.

3. Delaying Key Life Milestones
Getting married, having children, and buying a house all have one major thing in common: they can be expensive.

The average person under 35 years old has a 34% lower net worth than they would have had in the 1990s, making it harder to tackle typical adult milestones. In fact, the average couple today is marrying eight years later than they did in 1965, while the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest point in three decades. Meanwhile, homeownership for those aged 24-32 has dropped by 9% since 2005.

A New Landscape for Business?

The modern consumer base is more diverse, but also must deal with increased financial pressures and a delayed start in achieving traditional milestones of adulthood. These demographic and economic factors ultimately have a ripple effect down to businesses and investors.

How do these big picture changes impact your business or investments?

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