US housing sees major change as middle-market is squeezed

US house prices have recovering for 3 years, as the chart from the Wall Street Journal confirms.  It shows two lines: The dark blue line is money of the day: prices rose steadily from 1989, peaking in 2006 at 141% of 1989 value The grey line adjusts for inflation: “real prices” were negative until 2000, […]

Europe can win despite age trends

We all know that Europe has an ageing population.  Germany and Italy, for example, have median ages of 45 years.  And fertility rates have been below replacement levels for 45 years, so the relative number of higher-spending young people is reducing.  Instead, there are more and more older people, as life expectancy at age 65 […]

Ageing consumers from Chile to China need affordable, quality goods and services

The New Old 55+ generation is the key demographic for future consumer spending.  Their numbers are rising rapidly as global life expectancy has risen by 50% since 1950. Over the same period, global fertility rates have halved.  So there will be fewer younger people joining the wealth-creator generation of 25 – 54 year-olds that has historically driven economic […]

US auto market driven by used car sales trends

September wasn’t such a good month for US auto sales, as the chart shows.  It was the first time since May 2011 that sales were below those of the same month in the previous year.  Was this just a blip, explained by the fact that August was strong due to Labor Day being very early in […]

Apple’s iPhone launch marks retreat from China’s mass-market

Apple will report great sales this weekend from its iPhone launch in China.  But these cannot disguise its major problem in selling its high-priced iPhones there.  Its difficulties highlight the dangers for those who believe that China has now become …

Building the Factory of the Future

Over the past 4 years, major European companies and research organisations have been working to define and demonstrate the factory of the future.  Based on the Bayer Technology Services (BTS) site in Leverkusen, Germany, and with €30m ($40m) of European Union and other funding, they have now developed radically new ‘plug and play’ modular technology capable of being implemented widely […]

China’s low-cost vehicle exports rise 43% in May

2 great myths are helping to destroy company profits as we transition to the New Normal:

• In the West, it is that ‘recovery is just around the corner’
• In emerging economies, that everyone is now ‘middle class’

Sadly, this latter claim makes no…

Chinese want affordability not luxury

The Financial Times has kindly published the letter below from the blog today. It argues that affordability, not luxury, is the key need in China, as income levels are very low by comparison with those in the West.

From Mr Paul Hodges.

Sir, Martin…

Doing More with Less – the products of the future

The global economy is moving into a difficult period, as it transitions to the New Normal. Debt levels are high, and incomes are under pressure, particularly for the large numbers of people moving into retirement.

Cost must be the key criteria when…