There is something utterly devastatingly visceral about the footage coming out of Afghanistan. Hordes of panicked, desperate people trying to escape in any way possible; some even hanging mid-air from a detached gangplank connected to an already overfilled aircraft. The comparison to the fall of Saigon has been made a lot, of course. But this is a moment in world history in its own right. It’s also not stuff that we can so easily separate ourselves from through the buffer of distance. And I know that between a resurgence of community outbreaks of Covid, the Reserve Bank wavering on interest rates, the debt vulnerability of overleveraged first home buyers and the increasing rates of homelessness for those who haven’t been able to get onto the housing ladder to begin with, there is enough local news for us to delve into for a long time.
But of course, even the things that I have mentioned are all linked to the global machine. A market in Wuhan and a café in the Coromandel might be a universe apart, but the movements of business, trade and travel suddenly link them quickly via a highly transmissible respiratory virus. Even house prices here, in some way, respond to outside forces. Trade factors, global currencies, central bank decisions in other countries and quantitative easing all help to shape demand for property as a haven and investment hedge against inflation. This is a very basic overview, of course, but I know you didn’t come here for a breakdown of macroeconomics.
My point though, is that we are not a silo. What happens in the world will often find a way to connect back to us in one or more ways. We are a trading nation and have had a pragmatic and diplomatic approach to our trading partners, even in cases of severe human rights violations. The Taliban is going to be in control of over a trillion dollars’ worth of natural resources including iron, copper, lithium, cobalt and rare-earth deposits. The global transition to green energy has increased demand for these resources more than ever and I’m willing to bet my weight in cobalt that trade negotiations are already underway between some of our trade partners and the Taliban. As I say, this isn’t stuff that is happening over there somewhere, it has a link to us and one day, we might need to draw a line in the sand – or not. Either one is still a decision.