New hypersonic tech drives space race and new cold war
Head of FX Strategy
Summary: The latest hypersonic missile tests are driving a widening sense of insecurity as this tech renders legacy conventional and even nuclear military hardware obsolete. In 2022 a massive hypersonic arms race develops among major militaries as no country wants to feel left behind.
In the summer of 2021, China tested a hypersonic vehicle that could enter low orbit and later re-enter the atmosphere to then cruise toward its target. The test was said to shock top US military officials, with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley even willing to say that this was close to a “Sputnik moment” for the US. That was a reference back to the successful Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957, which served as a wakeup call to the US on superior Soviet rocketry and space capabilities, and an event that marked the beginning of the space race, the most iconic part of the US-Soviet cold war rivalry. In 2022, it is clear from funding priorities that hypersonics and space are the heart of a new phase of the deepening rivalry between the US and China on all fronts—economic and military. Other major powers with advanced military tech join in as well, likely including Russia, India, Israel and the EU.
Hypersonic capabilities represent a game-changing threat to the long-standing military strategic status quo, as the technology brings asymmetric new defensive and offensive capabilities that upset the two massive pillars of military strategy of recent decades. The first is the potential for devastating hypersonic tech defence against the conventional attack capabilities of long-range bombing aircraft, as well as the so-called “deep water” navy of ships that can bring the fight to any corner of the globe without refuelling. Billion-dollar surface ships risk proving sitting ducks without a chance to defend themselves against a hypersonic attack that arrives at multiples of the speed previously possible—perhaps as high as Mach 10. The second pillar of the old Cold War era was the principle of mutually assured destruction (MAD) in the event of nuclear war, under which it was pointless to launch a nuclear war as long as there was still time for the opponent to launch an equally destructive ICBM counterattack from land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles. But the speed and agility of hypersonic tech introduces the belief that superior defence could thwart an attack entirely and even allow for new first-strike capabilities.
Market impact: massive funding for companies like Raytheon that build hypersonic tech with space delivery capabilities and underperformance of “expensive conventional hardware” companies in the aircraft and ship-building side of the military hardware equation.
See next 2022 prediction:
Medical breakthrough extends average life expectancy 25 years
Q4 Outlook 2022: Winter is coming
- Winter is coming to the financial markets as central banks are tightening their grip. How spring will look is still a question.
European energy crisis: it will get worse before it gets betterThe winter in Europe will be tough, but whether the result is political chaos or sustainable, innovative solutions is still undecided.
A difficult and volatile quarter awaitsAs the year draws to an end, commodities continue to be at centre stage of the world with growth pockets political uncertainty.
The bright side: crises drive innovationThe positive spin on crises is that they come with solutions. It is worrisome that deglobalisation may be a response to this crisis.
Green transformation in China: renewable energy and beyondGoing green, China needs to span numerous energy sources to ensure stability, as every source comes with a challenge.
Asia: Intermittent solutions, but a faster renewable adoption curveAsian energy supply is being squeezed. This and the adoption of renewables may change the investment sentiment in the region.
FX: A Fed thaw needed to deliver a sustained USD turn lowerThe US Dollar can keep momentum when the Federal Reserve continues to tighten, leaving the rest to play to their drum.
Autumn can become ugly for equities and bond holders. Comfort for Dollar longsTechnical analysis suggests that equities could face a tough Q4 as could fixed income. US Dollar positions could provide some upside.
The next stock market sector to watch, with stocks going nuclearAs the world scrambles to find affordable, sustainable energy, nuclear is getting attention from politicians and investors alike.
The crypto space is getting cold when the hype disappearsCryptocurrencies face a winter of their own as retail investors and governments are asking tough questions.