The $1 Trillion Map
Murmansk has seen better days.
The largest city in the Arctic Circle has seen its population drop over 36% to under 300,000 over the last 30 years.
Things were different when the Soviets were still in charge. It was the major port for Arctic convoys bringing weapons and supplies from the Allies in World War II.
The Nazis nearly razed it, with damage on par with Leningrad and Stalingrad, but the Arctic winters and Russian soldiers kept them at bay.
Northern industrial and mining towns fed massive amounts of commodities into the port town and onto ships sent around the world.
But the support for these bitterly cold outposts collapsed alongside the USSR.
The Russian North is littered with ghost towns that once fed the world’s largest country with everything from coal and oil to gold and diamonds.
Jobs in Murmansk dried up. People faced the real possibility of starving or freezing, and so they left in droves. the city became a shadow of its former self.
The times changed, but they are changing again. Murmansk’s future is as bright as the sun that shines on it nonstop for a full month.
You can start to see why when you look at this map…
Guggenheim Partners spent the last seven years studying the Arctic. In the last three it has built a database of 900 planned infrastructure projects.
All told, this map represents $1 trillion:
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A massive wave of spending is coming to the remote hinterlands of the North.
Exploration is taking off. Drill rigs are turning. Fleets, roads, rails, ports, and airports are being built.
A renaissance is coming to the Arctic Circle, and it will only accelerate over the next century.
So far, Russia is completely overwhelming its neighbors. It is rapidly upgrading its major ports along its northern coast. Its icebreaker fleet is larger than the rest of the world’s combined at 40 ships active, five being built, and another six planned.
Murmansk is going to see a windfall. It already the icebreaker fleet's headquarters. Due to a mix of good fortune of geology and ocean currents, its port remains virtually ice free year round.
And it is the planned terminus of the Arctic Bridge, which is destined to become a major trade route between North America, Europe, and Asia.
The International Scramble
Murmansk is far from alone in its reversal of fortunes. An international race is underway. Russia, the U.S., Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, and Sweden are all racing to finish projects.
Who can build their projects first, and who funds them, will go a long way in determining which countries are best positioned to exert economic dominance in the region over the coming decades.
That is giving China a seat at the table. It just unveiled a white paper outlining its planned “Polar Silk Road” earlier this year as a major part of its global “Belt and Road Initiative.”
China is heavily investing in these projects, along with inking free-trade deals with Iceland and negotiating with all other countries around the Arctic Circle.
Remember, the map above is just the $1 trillion of planned infrastructure today. It doesn't even represent all the infrastructure that will be built, and becomes almost laughable compared to the wealth it will create.
Just the gas and oil — estimated at 30% and 50% of known global resources, respectively — are conservatively estimated to be worth over $30 trillion.
Miners have long desired to extract Arctic gold, silver, graphite, nickel, copper, titanium, iron, lead, coal, diamond, uranium, and the rare earth metals critical to high-tech devices.
Now these resources are coming into play. Tens, if not hundreds, of trillions of dollars in commodities are on the line over decades to come.
The countries and companies that move fast and secure their stakes will reap a lion’s share of the profits to come.
The race has already begun, and early winners are already emerging. Don’t get left behind.
Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page.
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