Donald Trump

Competence starts to replace charisma as a key factor in politics as the pandemic continues

The appalling tragedy in India reminds us that the Covid pandemic is very far from being solved. And more generally, the latest Ipsos ‘What worries the world’ global poll shows high levels of concern over unemployment, inequality, corruption and crime. Unsurprisingly, almost 2/3rds of people think their country is heading on the wrong track. One

The post German and French elections will mark new era for EU leadership appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

US chemical companies face ‘wake-up call’ as Biden focuses on the Climate Change agenda

I worked for many years at a world-leading chemical company, ICI. But sadly, it lost its way as senior management began to focus more on financial metrics than market developments. In 2007, it disappeared. Today, other companies including the once-mighty ExxonMobil risk making similar mistakes: EM was the world’s most valuable company just 9 years ago It 

OPEC set to lose out as Biden, EU and China focus on Climate Change opportunities

OPEC used to dominate global oil markets. In the early 1980s, there was even talk of another OPEC cartel to control gas prices. But those days are long gone.  Instead OPEC members such as the UAE are increasingly aware they have only a limited time left to monetise their vast reserves of fossil fuels. This is

If you don’t want to know the future, look away now

Next week, I will publish my annual Budget Outlook, covering the 2021-2023 period. It will highlight how the pandemic is accelerating major paradigm shifts in society, politics and the global economy. I have been publishing these Outlooks since 2007, and they disprove the idea that forecasting is a waste of time.  They highlight instead most

What will happen if President Trump loses the election?

I spent from September 2015 onwards, during the last US Presidential election, trying to explain why Donald Trump was likely to win.  As I noted after the event in November 2016: “It really wasn’t very difficult to see that Donald Trump could win the White House, and that the Republicans could control Congress, for the

“They may ring their bells now, before long they will be wringing their hands”

The wisdom of Sir Robert Walpole, the UK’s first premier, seems the only possible response to this weekend’s headline from the Wall Street Journal. How can a National Emergency ever be the basis for a major rise in stock markets? Of course, we all know that stock markets have become addicted to stimulus. But the

UK election offers voters no middle ground in December

Pity the poor UK voters as they prepare to vote in probably the most critical election of their lives. As they battle the wind and rain to vote in the first December election for 100 years, they already know there are only 3 likely outcomes: Tory majority, Brexit by end-January, EU trade deal uncertain Labour

China’s renminbi and the global ring of fire

China’s property bubble puts it at the epicentre of the ring of fire © Reuters  China’s devaluation could be the trigger for an international debt crisis, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog August has often seen the start of major debt crises. The Latin American

Resilience amidst headwinds is key for H2

Resilience is set to become the key issue as we look forward to H2, as I note in a new analysis for ICIS Chemical Business. None of us have ever seen the combinations of events that are potentially ahead of us. And none of us can be sure which way they will develop. So it

Europe’s auto sector suffers as Dieselgate and China’s downturn hit sales

Trade wars, Dieselgate and recession risk are having a major impact on the European auto industry, as I describe in my new video interview with ICIS Chemical Business deputy editor, Will Beacham. One key pressure point is created by the downturn in China’s auto industry. As the chart shows, it has been a fabulous growth

D-Day commemorations mark end of a political era

Last week, 95 year-old Harry Read repeated the jump that he and his fellow parachutists had made as the advance party for the D-Day landings. He told ITV News in a video interview that before the 1944 jump, their Commanding Officer had explained in matter of fact terms  that: “50% of them would be casualties

Recession risk rises as Iran tensions and US-China trade war build

Oil markets are once again uneasily balanced between two completely different outcomes – and one again involves Iran. Back in the summer of 2008, markets were dominated by the potential for an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, as I summarised at the time: “Nothing is certain in life, except death and taxes. But it

Uber’s $91bn IPO marks the top for today’s debt-fuelled stock markets

Uber’s IPO next month is set to effectively “ring the bell” at the top of the post-2008 equity bull market on Wall Street.  True, it is now expecting to be valued at a “bargain” $91bn, rather than the $120bn originally forecast. But as the Financial Times has noted: “Founded in 2009, it has never made

Asian downturn worsens, bringing global recession nearer

The chemical industry is the best leading indicator for the global economy.  And my visit to Singapore last week confirmed that the downturn underway in the Asian market creates major risks for developed and emerging economies alike. The problem is focused on China’s likely move into recession, now its stimulus policies are finally being unwound. 

“What could possibly go wrong?”

I well remember the questions a year ago, after I published my annual Budget Outlook, ‘Budgeting for the Great Unknown in 2018 – 2020‘.  Many readers found it difficult to believe that global interest rates could rise significantly, or that China’s economy would slow and that protectionism would rise under the influence of Populist politicians. […]

The post “What could possibly go wrong?” appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

Ethane price hikes, China tariffs, hit US PE producers as global market weakens

Sadly, my July forecast that US-China tariffs could lead to a global polyethylene price war seems to be coming true. As I have argued since March 2014 (US boom is a dangerous game), it was always going to be difficult for US producers to sell their vastly increased output.  The expansions were of course delayed […]

The post Ethane price hikes, China tariffs, hit US PE producers as global market weakens appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

Political and economic risks rise as US mid-term elections near

This is the Labor Day weekend in the USA – the traditional start of the mid-term election campaign.  And just as in September 2016, the Real Clear Politics poll shows that most voters feel their country is going in the wrong direction.  The demographic influences that I highlighted then are also becoming ever-more important with time: […]

The post Political and economic risks rise as US mid-term elections near appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

UK faces ‘make or break summer’ as ‘No Deal’ Brexit risk rises

Last week, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, its chief Brexit negotiator and several junior ministers, resigned.  President Trump gave an interview attacking the UK prime minister, Theresa May, and suggesting her policies would “kill” any future trade deal with the US.  And the EU 27’s main negotiator on the critical Brexit issue, Michel Barnier, warned: “On both […]

The post UK faces ‘make or break summer’ as ‘No Deal’ Brexit risk rises appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

US-China tariffs could lead to global Polyethylene price war

I was interviewed on Friday about the likely impact of President Trump’s trade wars on the global chemical industry by Will Beacham, deputy editor of ICIS Chemical Business. His interview is below. The introduction on Friday of trade tariffs by China and the US is the first step in a trade war that could turn into […]

The post US-China tariffs could lead to global Polyethylene price war appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

The blog’s 14th birthday – and the New Normal world it predicted has arrived

The blog has now been running for 14 years since the first post was written from Thailand at the end of June 2007.  And quite a lot has happened since then: There was the 2008 financial crisis, one of the blog’s early forecasting successes This led to the publication of ‘Boom, Gloom and the New

The post The blog’s 14th birthday – and the New Normal world it predicted has arrived appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

Financial markets party as global trade wars begin

More people left poverty in the past 70 years than in the whole of history, thanks to the BabyBoomer-led economic SuperCycle.  World Bank and OECD data show that less than 10% of the world’s population now live below the extreme poverty line of $1.90/day, compared to 55% in 1950. Globalisation has been a key element in […]

The post Financial markets party as global trade wars begin appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

Trump’s trade war should set warning bells ringing for every company and investor

There should be no surprise that President Trump has launched his trade war with China.  The real surprise is that financial markets, and business leaders, are so surprised it is happening.  He was, after all, elected on a platform that called for a trade war, as I noted originally back in November 2016 – and […]

The post Trump’s trade war should set warning bells ringing for every company and investor appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

US PE exports on front line as Trump changes trade policies

It is almost a year since Donald Trump became President.  And whilst he has not followed through on many of his promises, he has indeed introduced the major policy changes that I began to discuss in September 2015, when I first suggested he could win the election and that the Republicans could control Congress: “In the […]

The post US PE exports on front line as Trump changes trade policies appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

The return of volatility is the key market risk for 2018

We are living in a strange world. As in 2007 – 2008, financial news continues to be euphoric, yet the general news is increasingly gloomy. As Nobel Prizewinner Richard Thaler, has warned, “We seem to be living in the riskiest moment of our lives, and yet the stock market seems to be napping.” Both views […]

The post The return of volatility is the key market risk for 2018 appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

US tax cuts will fail as Trump’s demographic deficit replaces Reagan’s demographic dividend

No country in the world now has a top quality pension system.  That’s the conclusion from the latest Report by pensions consultants Melbourne Mercer.  As the chart above shows: Denmark and The Netherlands have fallen out of the top category In the G7 wealthy nations: Canada is in category B; Germany and UK in C+; […]

The post US tax cuts will fail as Trump’s demographic deficit replaces Reagan’s demographic dividend appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

The Great Reckoning for policymakers’ failures has begun

Next week, I will publish my annual Budget Outlook, covering the 2018-2020 period. The aim, as always, will be to challenge conventional wisdom when this seems to be heading in the wrong direction.  Before publishing the new Outlook each year, I always like to review my previous forecast. Past performance may not be a perfect […]

The post The Great Reckoning for policymakers’ failures has begun appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

Brexit disaster looms as UK government power struggle erupts

UK voters were never very bothered about membership of the European Union (EU) before the Brexit vote last year.  Opinion polls instead showed they shared the general feeling of voters everywhere – that their country was heading in the wrong direction, and it was time for a change.  Now, last week’s Conservative Party conference showed […]

The post Brexit disaster looms as UK government power struggle erupts appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

Investors ponder further shocks after North Korea jolt

Interviewed for this Reuters article, I suggest today’s low levels of market volatility could be “the calm before the storm”  Saikat Chatterjee and Vikram Subhedar, AUGUST 11, 2017 / 5:06 PM LONDON (Reuters) – After this week’s war of words between the United States and North Korea triggered the biggest fall in global stocks since the U.S. presidential […]

Political risk and interest rates rise in US, UK and Japan, as debt and dysfunctionality grow

It was almost exactly 10 years ago that then Citibank boss, Chuck Prince, unintentionally highlighted the approach of the subprime crisis with his comment that: ‘We are not scared. We are not panicked. We are not rattled. Our team has been through this before.’ We are ’still dancing’.” On Friday JP Morgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, […]

Metastable markets at risk from impact of US, UK political stalemate

We are living in very uncertain times, where the only certainty is that there is no “business as usual” option for the future.  One sign of this is that the extraordinary has become ordinary : □   The FBI appear convinced Russia’s government targeted last year’s US elections: US President Trump and his former FBI head […]

G7 Summit shows leaders are forgetting the lesson of the 1930s

G7 Summits began in the crisis years of the mid-1970s, bringing Western leaders together to tackle the big issues of the day – oil price crises, the Cold War with the Soviet Union and many others.  Then, as stability returned in the 1980s with the BabyBoomer-led economic SuperCycle, they became forward-looking.  The agenda moved to […]

Debt, demographics set to destroy Trump’s GDP growth dream

Unsurprisingly, Friday’s US GDP report showed Q1 growth was just 0.7%, as the New York Times reported: “The U.S. economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending. The result fell far short of President Donald Trump’s ambitious growth targets and underscores the challenges of […]

Ageing boomers are no longer spending

The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, suggesting that President Trump’s focus on tax cuts is misplaced, given the headwinds created for spending and economic growth by today’s ageing US BabyBoomers. Sir, Gillian Tett provides an excellent analysis of the wishful thinking that seems to dominate US economic policy today (“Trump tested as […]

Trump, Xi have 100 days to avert US-China trade war

Last week’s summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping was initially overshadowed by Friday’s news of US missile strikes on Syria.  But from the details since released, it is clear the summit will likely have far-reaching impact on the global economy.  As US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross revealed afterwards, the […]

US GDP growth stalls with participation rates near all-time low

US GDP growth is slowing, again, as the chart of the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s “GDP Now” forecast shows:    Forecast Q1 growth has slipped to just 0.6% from an initial 3.4% at the end of January    Consensus economic forecasts are still much higher, but even they have fallen to 1.7% from 2.2% […]

4.5 million tonnes of new US polyethylene exports on front-line as War of Words hits US-China trade

“There isn’t anybody who knows what is going to happen in the next 12 months. We’ve never been here before. Things are out of control. I have never seen a situation like it.” This comment last month from former UK Finance Minister, Ken Clarke, aptly summarises the uncertainty facing the global economy. As I note in a new analysis, major policy changes are […]

Trump’s $1tn infrastructure plan likely dead as focus moves to tax

President Trump’s defeat on healthcare makes it very unlikely that he will be able to push through his proposed $1tn infrastructure boost, as I discuss in a video interview with Will Beacham, deputy editor of ICIS Chemical Business BARCELONA (ICIS)–Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is unlikely to be approved because of a legislative bottleneck, denying the US chemical […]

Trump’s healthcare focus risks postponement of tax reform and the infrastructure boost

President Trump ran for office on the basis that he would “drain the swamp” in Washington, and deliver major change in a number of critical areas, as I noted immediately after his election on 14 November.  Sensibly, his “Contract with America” also recognised that his Top 10 legislative priorities would take time to deliver: “I […]

Global supply chains at risk as trade war threat rises

“May God bless the USA and God bless Boeing” was President Trump’s sign-off in his speech on Friday at Boeing’s South Carolina factory.  Earlier he had told the workforce building the 787 Dreamliner: “This is our mantra: Buy American and hire America. We want products made in America, made by American hands. Our goal as a […]

Basic Skills, not protectionism, key to sustaining today’s High Income, Services-based economies

Suddenly, manufacturing and protectionism have become political issues across the Western world.  President Trump has already formed a Manufacturing Council with the aim of “reshoring jobs” from outside the USA, and is threatening to introduce import duties of up to 45%. The problem, however, as the chart shows, is that this will not help the people who […]

“Business as usual” the least likely outcome for Europe

Europe is heading in to the Great Unknown, as Monday’s post highlighted.  The UK, The Netherlands and France are not the only political uncertainties that we face.  Elections are also due in Italy and in Germany.    Italian elections. After premier Renzi’s referendum defeat last year, it seems like that Italy will hold elections this year, […]

The global economy’s best leading indicator forecasts a downturn

If you want to know what is happening to the global economy, the chemical industry will provide the answers. It has an excellent correlation with IMF data, and also benefits from the fact it has no “political bias”.  It simply tells us what is happening in real-time in the world’s 3rd largest industry.  The chart […]

Trump policies to impact global supply chains, US stock markets

Wall Street’s post-election rally suggests that many investors currently have the wrong idea about Donald Trump. They have decided he is a new Ronald Reagan, with policies that will deliver a major bull market. But those promoting this narrative have forgotten their history. Both men certainly share a link with the entertainment industry. But Reagan […]

Trump and dollar strength will accelerate the Great Reckoning

Corporate debt in the Emerging Markets highlights the impact of the Great Reckoning, with the US dollar and interest rates rising, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Corporate borrowers in Emerging Markets (EMs) are now facing higher debt service and capital repayment costs, due to […]

Recession the base case scenario for 2017

It is hard to be optimistic about the outlook for 2017. The good news is that policymakers are finally giving up on the idea that stimulus can somehow return us to the growth levels seen when the Baby Boomers were young.  As the Bank of England note in a new Report:   ”Economic theory suggests that a […]

Consensus wisdom defies reality around the world

“Consensus wisdom” is a handy way of keeping up with events.  Nobody like to be the person who says “I don’t know” when the boss asks a question about something important.  But unfortunately, “consensus wisdom” is often wrong, as Ipsos MORI confirm in their new ’Perils of Perception‘ survey,  As the authors note: “It highlights how […]

The blog in 2016

2016 saw the Great Reckoning for the failure of stimulus policies begin to impact companies and markets. The blog’s readership has increased significantly as a a result, as shown in the chart above, with its visits now totaling nearly 500k.  Its readership includes 197 countries and over 11k cities.  Readers also remain very loyal, with […]

2016′s Word of the Year: “Impossible”

Nobody likes change, particularly on the scale that is taking place all around us today.  Understandably, we prefer to live in a state of Denial.  This is why “Impossible” is my Word of the Year for 2016. The main feature of the word is that it is a statement, and a very clear statement.  People […]

Chemical industry flags rising risk of global recession in 2017, with Trump set to “clear the decks” at the start of his first term

The chemical industry is the best leading indicator that we have for the global economy.  It has an excellent correlation with IMF data, and also benefits from the fact it has no “political bias”.  It simply tells us what is happening in real-time in the world’s 3rd largest industry. Sadly, the news is not good. […]

Industry needs new strategy to spread benefits of globalisation

The Brexit vote, and Donald Trump’s election, confirm that we are in a New Normal world.  In the interview below with Will Beacham, Deputy editor of ICIS Chemical Business, I highlight some ideas about how industry needs to adapt. BARCELONA (ICIS)–The global chemical sector needs to stimulate demand for innovative products and services in mature […]

Trump’s ’100-day plan’ means an end to “Business as usual”

‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’ John Heywood, 1546 “When Aetna ran through post-election expectations, the idea that Donald J. Trump would win the presidency and that Republicans would control both chambers of Congress seemed so […]

Political risk rises as voters feel only the populists are listening

This week, the new UK premier, Theresa May, highlighted how the central banks have encouraged the populists’ rise: “We have to acknowledge some of the bad side-effects. People with assets have got richer, people without have not.” The problem, of course, goes wider than this.  The continuing failure to recover from the 2008 Financial Crisis […]

Markets struggle with political risk as populist momentum gains

Markets have forgotten how to price political uncertainty in recent decades, as I discussed on Monday.  They have become dependent on central bank handouts, and assumed that globalisation and trade agreements are permanent features of the economic landscape.  Today, they are having to relearn, very quickly, what has been forgotten. My post a year ago […]

Political risk and total debt rise as US GDP disappoints, again

Its déjà vu all over again for the US economy.  Friday’s news of Q2′s weak US GDP growth only confirmed the August 2014 comment by Stanley Fischer, then just appointed deputy Chairman of the US Federal Reserve: “Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower […]

Central banks head for currency wars as growth policies fail

The world’s central bankers would have been sacked long ago if they were CEOs running companies.  They would also have been voted out, if they were elected officials. Not only have they failed to achieve their promised objectives – constant growth and 2% inflation – they have kept failing to achieve them since the Crisis […]