Psychologists, Remittances, and Chilean Giant SQM
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Two LatAm countries lead the world in prioritizing mental health
Remittances in Mexico hit an all-time high
The Chilean company that’s riding the Lithium boom
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Argentinians prioritize mental health like people in no other country. According to the World Health Organization, there are 223 practicing psychologists per 100,000 people. In second place worldwide is another Latin American country, Costa Rica. These numbers are shocking because many other LatAm countries have very few psychologists, highlighting two regional extremes.
Experts believe that Argentina's high concentration of psychologists is due to its open culture, which makes no distinction between physical and mental health. Unlike in many societies, Argentinians do not stigmatize attending therapy sessions. And thanks to solid demand, psychologists don't struggle to find employment; about 84% secure a job within their first year since graduating.
Compare that to another extreme, Mexico, which has only three psychologists per 100,000 people. In other words, the average Argentinian has 64 times more psychologists available than the average Mexican. In Mexico, a stigma around mental health plagues society, and the country needs much more help to deal with its emotions.
Thanks to the Internet and social media, psychologists are now finding new opportunities and mediums to spread their message and educate broader audiences. Yana, a Mexico-based startup that uses an AI chatbot for mental wellness, is tapping into this growing market with its App. Its chatbot was a concept designed by founder Andrea Campos, a self-taught programmer. Yana's software communicates with users to analyze and assess whether they need professional help. Can entrepreneurs like Andrea and rising psychology influencers bring what the rest of LatAm needs to break free of the "I don't need help" culture?
For the first time in history, remittances to Mexico surpassed $5B USD in May 2022, according to data from Banxico. The average remittance value is $401 USD, and 5%+ of all households in the country receive one. President AMLO has highlighted this "accomplishment" several times. But is it really something to be proud of?
Since 2010, remittances to Mexico have been on an upward trend; this period corresponds with President Calderon's declaration of the Mexican Drug War and a rise in countrywide violence that led many residents to flee due to fear and lack of economic opportunities.
However, the trend has remained even after two more presidents have come into power, both from different political parties. As you can see on our chart, the amount of money sent by migrants rose significantly in the last two years, most likely due to the pandemic recession, subsequent inflation, and ongoing migration.
Today, remittances from Mexicans working abroad represent over 3.8% of the country's GDP and surpass almost all other sources of Mexico's foreign income—including tourism, oil exports, and most manufacturing exports. Mexico should perhaps focus less on celebrating remittances and instead develop opportunities that will decrease the country's growing reliance on migrants fleeing abroad.
Last week, we noticed that a company called Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) has been among the top 10 best-performing stocks in the US stock market in the past year. Its stock is up 84%, while the S&P 500 and Amazon are down 13% and 39%, respectively. The recent boom in lithium demand explains the incredible stock performance lately, but performance extends well beyond the past year, as you can see on the chart.
The price of lithium has multiplied since 2021, as the Electric Vehicle (EV) market shows no signs of slowing down. Car companies like Rivian, Volkswagen, Porsche, and even GMC, with its all-electric Hummer, have announced EV entrances. Currently, all EVs require lithium for their batteries.
SQM, who, as it turns out, is now the largest producer of lithium in the world, with 17% of the world's total lithium mining, has risen to the occasion to help drive the next era of transportation (and make its stockholders happy in the process). In its latest quarter, the company reported a 572% price increase in lithium, which didn't slow down sales one bit; in fact, sales volume increased by 59%. The company ended up selling $1.5B worth of the mineral and closed the quarter with $796M in net income, 12x more than their first quarter of 2021.
Twenty years ago, the company's main business was fertilizers, and it sold lithium, to a much lesser extent — ~$30M per quarter. The application of lithium back then was quite different; it was used for the production of ceramics and glass and "to develop new technologies."
Well, that new technology has arrived in the shape of cars that need no gasoline, and sticking to their lithium product line has paid off for SQM. Its stock has gained 4,000%+ of value since 2001. That means it has achieved the almost impossible feat of beating the return of the S&P 500 and many tech companies in a span of 20 years.
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