Going Off the Grid in Style

While escaping to an off-the-grid life in the wilderness might sound appealing at times to overworked executives, the lack of creature comforts could make the reality of such an existence less than pleasant.

And so a Slovakian architectural firm has come up with a solution: a portable, renewable energy-powered capsule with hotel-like amenities. Fourteen-and-a-half feet long and seven feet high, the two-person Ecocapsule was originally designed for scientists, photographers, and rangers who need to spend long periods of time in remote places.

But it can also serve as a way for city folk to have an outdoor adventure without sacrificing the coziness of home. Powered by a retractable wind turbine and solar cells, it is equipped with a kitchenette, flush toilet, hot shower, and bed.

A high-capacity battery provides backup power when there’s no wind or sun. Its egg-shaped exterior funnels rain and dew into storage tanks that then filter the water to make it potable. As for food, that’s up to the scavenging skills of the occupants. (May 2015)

Turkey’s Vote: The Lira Hangs in the Balance

Turkey’s parliamentary elections on Sunday have the potential not only to cause a major shift in the country’s politics, but also in the value of its currency. A party needs at least 10 percent of the nationwide vote to obtain any seats in parliament. Once over that threshold, a minority party then takes control of any local seats it wins.

Right now, Turkey’s minority HDP party is polling right around the 10 percent line. If the party makes it over the hump, it stands to take between 40 and 70 of the parliament’s 550 seats away from the ruling AKP party, which currently holds 327 seats.

Why is this important to investors? The total number of seats that the AKP can muster on June 7 will play a key role in the short-term performance of the lira, according to Credit Suisse. If AKP obtains a slim majority — between 276 and 330 seats out of 550 — the lira is expected to strengthen. That outcome would preclude the unpredictable dynamics of a minority government.

But if the AKP gets a two-thirds majority, the currency may weaken, since the party would have enough votes to push through constitutional changes that could threaten central bank independence. Currency stability, in other words, is treading a thin line. (May 2015)

First published in The Financialist in 2015