A. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty set out the rules for leaving the European Union. As with most negotiations, it assumed the leaving country would present its proposals for the post-withdrawal period – which would then be finalised with the other members. The UK government, however, has still not yet set out its post-Brexit
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
“The UK is now facing a national crisis”, according to Margaret Thatcher’s former Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo, speaking to a dinner in London on Thursday night. Brexit continues to tear the UK apart, and places the economy at greater and greater risk. On Thursday, premier Theresa May had unveiled her draft Withdrawal Agreement with the
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. […]
Europe’s petrochemical sector must prepare now for the trade war, US start-ups, Brexit and the circular economy, as I discuss in this interview with Will Beacham of ICIS news at the European Petrochemical Association Conference. With higher tariff barriers going up between the US and China, the market in Europe is likely to experience an influx of […]
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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 […]
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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: […]
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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 […]
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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 […]
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Is global economic growth really controlled by monetary policy and interest rates? Can you create constant growth simply by adjusting government tax and spending policy? Do we know enough about how the economy operates to be able to do this? Or has something more fundamental been at work in recent decades, to create the extraordinary […]
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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 […]
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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 […]
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“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 from former UK Finance Minister, Ken Clarke, aptly summarises the uncertainty facing companies, investors and individuals as we look ahead […]
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 […]
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We are living in an ever more uncertain world, where “business as usual” is becoming the least likely option for the future. Companies and investors need to adapt quickly to this new normal environment, if they want to maintain revenue and profit growth. One example comes from the American company 3M, which has become legendary […]
The UK economy set off into the Great Unknown on Wednesday, when premier Theresa May officially notified the European Union of the UK’s intention to leave (Brexit) by the end of March 2019. In response, the EU released its draft guidelines for the negotiations: “The first phase of the negotiations should aim to […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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” 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 […]
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 […]
This year has seen a paradigm shift in how major governments view trade. We may well be seeing an end to globalisation: In Europe, the United Kingdom voted to leave the E.U., and Italy may well have a referendum on leaving the euro In the U.S., President-Elect Donald Trump’s 100-day Action Plan will see […]
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 […]
The summer is over, and the UK government now has the job of deciding its objectives for the Brexit negotiations. These, like all major negotiations, will no doubt be long and difficult. They will also inevitably create major uncertainty for companies, investors and individuals as they progress. I have personally led major negotiations in a […]
Believing conventional wisdom can destroy your profits. One example is playing out in the oil market before our eyes. Another example is the myth that China was about to become middle class. Yet income levels always made this impossible: More than 9 out of 10 Chinese earn less than $20/day By comparison, the basic state pension in the UK is 25% higher, at over […]
The mainstream media rather ignored a key event last week, namely that the Democrat leader of the US Senate signalled he would not try to pass Fast Track Authority to allow the President to conclude new trade deals with the EU and Pacific countries. Nobody seems to want to face the unpalatable truth, that this […]
The mention of deflation in the above front page headline of Friday’s Financial Times will not have surprised blog readers. But it appears that not enough people in the European Central Bank read the blog, as the FT went on to report the ECB’s sense of ”shock” at the thought that deflation could now be just around the corner. This highlights the enormous […]
Some trends play out tactically in days or weeks. Others move more slowly over months and years. These tend to get ignored in the modern world of twitter and 24-hour news cycles. But then, as with the sub-prime collapse in 2008, the future suddenly …
In January, the blog suggested that political issues would continue to gain increased importance. Its argument was that the strong economy between 1982-2007, when the US suffered just 16 months of recession, meant political and social issues took a ba…
The world enjoyed an economic SuperCycle between 1982-2007. Its largest economy, the USA, suffered just 16 months of recession during the whole 25 years.
As a result, social and political issues took a back-seat. Politicians instead competed to occu…