stimulus

“When all the experts and forecasts agree — something else is going to happen”, Bob Farrell

At the beginning of the year, “everyone knew” that inflation was about to take off, and that the US$ was going to collapse. Last week, the great Bob Farrell’s Rule No 9 proved its worth, yet again. US interest rates fell sharply and the US$ bottomed for this cycle. The two charts above tell the

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Pandemic leads to ‘baby bust’ as births decline in most countries

A year ago, many were suggesting the lockdowns might produce a “baby boom” as couples spent more time together. But early data suggests the world is instead seeing a “baby bust”. As Nikkei Asia reports: “Births (in December/January) have fallen between 10% and 20% in such countries as Japan, France and Spain — and even

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Pandemic leads to ‘baby bust’ as births decline in most countries Read More

Americans hunker down on spending as the pandemic’s impact continues

US stock markets have been hitting new records recently, as investors swoon over the likelihood that the $1400 stimulus payments will power a major surge in consumer spending. But unfortunately, the facts show this is most unlikely. The chart from the New York Federal Reserve measures consumers’ intentions with regards to the 3 stimulus cheques

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Americans hunker down on spending as the pandemic’s impact continues Read More

China’s dual circulation policy aims to reduce debt reliance

Every now and then, people wake up to the fact that debt is only good news when it adds to growth. Otherwise, it simply destroys value. China is usually the case study for this analysis, as the chart confirms. It shows the rise in debt from 2002, when official data begins, versus the rise in

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China’s dual circulation policy aims to reduce debt reliance Read More

Rising US interest rates, US$ and oil prices set to pressure financial markets

Everyone who has ever played the Beer Distribution Game on a training course knows what is happening in supply chains today. A small increase in underlying demand is rapidly leading to a massive increase in ‘apparent demand’. As the New York Times reports, “the pandemic has disrupted every stage of the (supply chain) journey.”  And

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Rising US interest rates, US$ and oil prices set to pressure financial markets Read More

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

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

Debt, deflation, demographics and Brexit set to challenge London house prices

London property websites haven’t used the word “reduced” for many years. But it’s starting to appear again on homes for sale and rent, even in core city postcodes. And in another sign of the downturn, homes can now be on offer for months without moving. The problem is that prices were already ready to tumble

Debt, deflation, demographics and Brexit set to challenge London house prices Read More

China’s property sector is at the epicentre of the crisis

A branch of Centaline Property Agency in Hong Kong © Bloomberg Indebted Chinese property developers threaten a domino effect on western credit markets , as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Second-order impacts are starting to appear as a result of China’s lockdowns. These are having

China’s property sector is at the epicentre of the crisis Read More

“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

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

Chain’s smartphone and auto sales tumble as coronavirus hits demand

China is the world’s largest market for smartphones and autos – responsible for c30% of global sales for both.  Yet as Reuters notes: “Most western policymakers and journalists view the world economy through a framework that is 10-15 years out of date, failing to account fully for the enormous shift in activity towards China and

Chain’s smartphone and auto sales tumble as coronavirus hits demand Read More

Contingency planning is essential in 2020 as “synchronised slowdown” continues

The IMF has now confirmed that the world economy has moved into the synchronised slowdown that I forecast here a year ago. Its analysis also confirms the importance of the issues highlighted then, including “rising trade barriers and increasing geopolitical tensions”, a sharp decline in manufacturing, contraction in the auto industry and structural forces such

Contingency planning is essential in 2020 as “synchronised slowdown” continues Read More

Chart of the Decade – the Fed’s support for the S&P 500 will end with a debt crisis

Each year, there has been only one possible candidate for Chart of the Year.  Last year it was the collapse of China’s shadow banking bubble; 2017 was Bitcoin’s stratospheric rise; 2016 the near-doubling in US 10-year interest rates; and 2015 the oil price fall. This year, the ‘Chart of the Decade’ is in a league

Chart of the Decade – the Fed’s support for the S&P 500 will end with a debt crisis Read More

$50bn hole appears in New York financial markets – Fed is “looking into it”

Most people would quickly notice if $50 went missing from their purse or wallet. They would certainly notice if $50k suddenly disappeared from their bank account. But a fortnight ago, it took the New York Federal Reserve more than a day to notice that $50bn was missing from the money markets it was supposed to

$50bn hole appears in New York financial markets – Fed is “looking into it” Read More

Perennials set to defeat Fed’s attempt to maintain the stock market rally as deflation looms

Never let reality get in the way of a good theory. That’s been the policy of western central banks since the end of the BabyBoomer-led SuperCycle in 2000, when the oldest Boomer moved out of the Wealth Creator 25-54 age group and into the Perennial 55+ cohort. Inevitably this led to a slowdown in growth,

Perennials set to defeat Fed’s attempt to maintain the stock market rally as deflation looms Read More

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

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

US-China trade war confirms political risk is now a key factor for companies and the economy

There are few real surprises in life, and President Trump’s decision to launch a full-scale trade war with China wasn’t one of them.  He had virtually promised to do this in his election campaign, as I noted here back in September 2015: “The economic success of the BabyBoomer-led SuperCycle meant that politics as such took a back

US-China trade war confirms political risk is now a key factor for companies and the economy Read More

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

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

Don’t get carried away by Beijing’s stimulus

Residential construction work in Qingdao, China. Government stimulus is unlikely to deliver the economic boost of previous years © Bloomberg China’s falling producer price index suggests it could soon be exporting deflation, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog On the surface, this year’s jump in China’s total

Don’t get carried away by Beijing’s stimulus Read More

Stormy weather ahead for chemicals

Four serious challenges are on the horizon for the global petrochemical industry as I describe in my latest analysis for ICIS Chemical Business and in a podcast interview with Will Beacham of ICIS. The first is the growing risk of recession, with key markets such as autos, electronics and housing all showing signs of major

Stormy weather ahead for chemicals Read More

Ageing Perennials set to negate central bank stimulus as recession approaches

The world’s best leading indicator for the global economy is still firmly signalling recession.  That’s the key conclusion from the chart above, showing latest data on global chemical industry Capacity Utilisation (CU%) from the American Chemistry Council. The logic behind the indicator is compelling: Chemicals are one of the world’s largest industries, and also one

Ageing Perennials set to negate central bank stimulus as recession approaches Read More

Fed’s magic money tree hopes to overcome smartphone sales downturn and global recession risk

Last November, I wrote one of my “most-read posts”, titled Global smartphone recession confirms consumer downturn. The only strange thing was that most people read it several weeks later on 3 January, after Apple announced its China sales had fallen due to the economic downturn. Why did Apple and financial markets only then discover that smartphone sales

Fed’s magic money tree hopes to overcome smartphone sales downturn and global recession risk Read More

Chart of the Year – China’s shadow banking collapse means deflation may be round the corner

Last year it was Bitcoin, in 2016 it was the near-doubling in US 10-year interest rates, and in 2015 was the oil price fall.  This year, once again, there is really only one candidate for ‘Chart of the Year’ – it has to be the collapse of China’s shadow banking bubble: It averaged around $20bn/month

Chart of the Year – China’s shadow banking collapse means deflation may be round the corner Read More

BASF’s second profit warning highlights scale of the downturn now underway

The chemical industry is easily the best leading indicator for the global economy.  And thanks to Kevin Swift and his team at the American Chemistry Council, we already have data showing developments up to October, as the chart shows. It confirms that consensus hopes for a “synchronised global recovery” at the beginning of the year

BASF’s second profit warning highlights scale of the downturn now underway Read More

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. 

Asian downturn worsens, bringing global recession nearer Read More

Chemical output signals trouble for global economy

A petrochemical plant on the outskirts of Shanghai. Chinese chemical industry production has been negative on a year-to-date basis since February Falling output in China and slowing growth globally suggest difficult years ahead, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Chemicals are the best leading indicator for the

Chemical output signals trouble for global economy Read More

High-flying “story stocks” hit air pockets as credit finally tightens

“Nobody could ever have seen this coming” is the normal comment after sudden share price falls.  And its been earning its money over the past week as “suddenly” share prices of some of the major “story stocks” on the US market have hit air pockets, as the chart shows: Facebook was the biggest “surprise”, falling […]

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High-flying “story stocks” hit air pockets as credit finally tightens Read More

London house prices slip as supply/demand balances change

London house prices are “falling at the fastest rate in almost a decade” according to major property lender, Nationwide.  And almost 40% of new-build sales were to bulk buyers at discounts of up to 30%, according of researchers, Molior.  As the CEO of builders Crest Nicholson told the Financial Times:  “We did this sale because we […]

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London house prices slip as supply/demand balances change Read More

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

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

Time to recognise the economic impact of ageing populations

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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Time to recognise the economic impact of ageing populations Read More

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 […]

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Financial markets party as global trade wars begin Read More

China’s lending bubble is history

As China’s shadow banking is reined in, the impact on the global economy is already clear, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog China’s shadow banking sector has been a major source of speculative lending to the global economy. But 2018 has seen it entering its […]

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China’s lending bubble is history Read More

Oil prices flag recession risk as Iranian geopolitical tensions rise

Today, we have “lies, fake news and statistics” rather than the old phrase “lies, damned lies and statistics”. But the general principle is still the same.  Cynical players simply focus on the numbers that promote their argument, and ignore or challenge everything else. The easiest way for them to manipulate the statistics is to ignore […]

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Oil prices flag recession risk as Iranian geopolitical tensions rise Read More

Apple, Xiaomi squeeze smartphone mid-market as sales plateau

The global smartphone market has finally gone ex-growth as China’s slowdown continues.  In turn, the market is starting to polarise – with Apple pushing further up-market whilst Chinese brands such as Xiaomi focus on volume.  Samsung’s middle market positioning looks increasingly under threat: The chart shows Q1 sales for Samsung, Apple, the 3 top Chinese […]

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Apple, Xiaomi squeeze smartphone mid-market as sales plateau Read More

The tide of global debt has peaked: 8 charts suggest what may happen next, as the tide retreats

The results of the central bankers’ great experiment with money printing are now in, and they are fairly depressing, as the charts above confirm: On the left are the IMF’s annual forecasts from 2010 – 2018 (dotted lines) and the actual result (black) Until recently, the Fund was convinced the world would soon see 5% […]

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The tide of global debt has peaked: 8 charts suggest what may happen next, as the tide retreats Read More

Trump’s trade war hits Wall Street as tech downturn begins

President Trump no longer tweets regularly about new record highs for US financial markets. The tweets were a core activity in the first year of his Presidency, when he was still feeling his way into the job. But now, as last week’s sackings of his Secretary of State and National Security Advisor confirm, his focus has returned […]

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Trump’s trade war hits Wall Street as tech downturn begins Read More

West’s household spending heads for decline as population ages and trade war looms

As promised last week, today’s post looks at the impact of the ageing of the BabyBoomers on the prospects for economic growth. The fact that people are living up to a third longer than in 1950 should be something to celebrate.  But as I noted in my Financial Times letter, policymakers are in denial about the importance of […]

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West’s household spending heads for decline as population ages and trade war looms Read More

West faces “demographic deficit” as populations age

Rising life expectancy, and falling fertility rates, mean that a third of the Western population is now in the low spending 55-plus age group.  Given that consumer spending is around two-thirds of the economy in developed countries, the above charts provide critically important information on the prospects for economic growth. They show official data for household […]

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West faces “demographic deficit” as populations age Read More

China’s role in market volatility – Beijing’s shifting priorities raise questions over assumptions of global growth

Commentators have confused cause with effect when analysing this month’s sudden downturn in financial markets, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Surprise and confusion seem to have been the main reactions to this month’s sudden downturn in western financial markets. Yet across the world in […]

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China’s role in market volatility – Beijing’s shifting priorities raise questions over assumptions of global growth Read More

Economy faces slowdown as oil/commodity prices slide

Oil and commodity markets long ago lost contact with the real world of supply and demand. Instead, they have been dominated by financial speculation, fuelled by the vast amounts of liquidity pumped out by the central banks.  The chart above from John Kemp at Reuters gives the speculative positioning in the oil complex as published […]

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Economy faces slowdown as oil/commodity prices slide Read More

London house prices risk perfect storm as interest rates rise

2000 should have been the natural end of the BabyBoomer-led economic SuperCycle. The oldest Boomer (born in 1946) was about to leave the Wealth Creator 25 – 54 age group that drives consumer spending and hence economic growth.  And since 1970, Boomer women’s fertility rates had been below replacement level (2.1 babies/woman).  So relatively fewer young people were […]

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London house prices risk perfect storm as interest rates rise Read More

The global economy and the US$ – an alternative view

Every New Year starts with optimism about the global economy.  But as Stanley Fischer, then vice chair of the US Federal Reserve, noted back in August 2014:  “Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower than predicted as little as two quarters back.” Will […]

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The global economy and the US$ – an alternative view Read More

Anti-pollution drive hits China’s role as global growth engine

China is no longer seeking ‘growth at any cost’, with global implications, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog A pedestrian covers up against pollution in Beijing © Bloomberg China’s President Xi Jinping faced two existential threats to Communist party rule when he took office 5 […]

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Anti-pollution drive hits China’s role as global growth engine Read More

Difficult times ahead for US polyethylene exports as business models change

This wasn’t the chart that companies and investors expected to see when they were busy finalising $bns of investment in new US ethylene and polyethylene (PE) capacity back in 2013-4.  They were working on 3 core assumptions, which they were sure would make these investments vastly profitable: Oil prices would always be above $100/bbl and […]

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Difficult times ahead for US polyethylene exports as business models change Read More

Baby boomers’ spending decline has hit demand and inflation

The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, wondering why the US Federal Reserve still fails to appreciate the impact of the ageing BabyBoomers on the economy Sir, It was surprising to read that the US Federal Reserve is still puzzled by today’s persistently low levels of inflation, given that the impact of the ageing […]

Baby boomers’ spending decline has hit demand and inflation Read More

Chemical industry data shows reflation remains hope, not reality

Western central bankers are convinced reflation and economic growth are finally underway as a result of their $14tn stimulus programmes.  But the best leading indicator for the global economy – capacity utilisation (CU%) in the global chemical industry – is saying they are wrong.  The CU% has an 88% correlation with actual GDP growth, far […]

Chemical industry data shows reflation remains hope, not reality Read More

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 […]

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

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 […]

Ageing boomers are no longer spending Read More

Monetary policy reaches sell-by date for managing the economy

Monetary policy used to be the main focus for running the economy.  If demand and inflation rose too quickly, then interest rates would be raised to cool things down.  When demand and inflation slowed, interest rates would be reduced to encourage “pent-up demand” to return. After the start of the Financial Crisis, central banks promised […]

Monetary policy reaches sell-by date for managing the economy Read More

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 […]

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

Economic policy needs to focus on impact of the 100-year life

Nearly two-thirds of people in the world’s top 25 countries feel their country is heading in the wrong direction, according to a new poll from Ipsos MORI.  As their chart shows: China, Saudi Arabia, India, Argentina, Peru, Canada and Russia are the only countries to record a positive feeling The other 18 are increasingly desperate […]

Economic policy needs to focus on impact of the 100-year life Read More

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 […]

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

Chemical industry warns of likely global recession in 2017

The chemical industry is the best leading indicator for the global economy, and it is flagging major warning signs about the outlook for 2017.  As the chart above shows, based on American Chemistry Council (ACC) data:   Since 2009, Capacity Utilisation (CU%) has never returned to the 91.3% averaged between 1987 – 2008   It […]

Chemical industry warns of likely global recession in 2017 Read More

Fault-lines open connecting the debt-fuelled ‘Ring of Fire’

Next week, I will publish my annual Budget Outlook, covering the 2017-2019 period. The aim, as always, is to challenge conventional wisdom when this seems to be heading in the wrong direction: The 2007 Outlook ‘Budgeting for a Downturn‘, and 2008′s ‘Budgeting for Survival’ meant I was one of the few to forecast the 2008 […]

Fault-lines open connecting the debt-fuelled ‘Ring of Fire’ Read More

Oil markets enter the “post-fact economy”, where details of supply/demand no longer seem to matter

Once upon a time, oil markets were based on facts.  Producers and consumers focused on trying to understand what “would” happen”, whilst the speculators placed their bets on what “could” happen. In those days – even 20 years ago, as the chart shows – the role of the speculators on the futures markets was very […]

Oil markets enter the “post-fact economy”, where details of supply/demand no longer seem to matter Read More

President Xi tells China’s government to “control asset bubbles”

China’s housing bubble is not just about Shenzhen.  It is the most obvious sign of problems ahead, as I noted last month.  But as the chart above shows from the Wall Street Journal, total lending to the property sector has rocketed in recent months:    More than one-third of all loans went to the sector […]

President Xi tells China’s government to “control asset bubbles” Read More

Central bankers create debt, not growth, by ignoring demographic reality

The world’s 4 main central bankers love being in the media spotlight.  After decades climbing the academic ladder, or earning millions with investment banks, they have the opportunity to rule the world’s economy – or so they think. But their background is rather strange preparation to take on this role – even if it was […]

Central bankers create debt, not growth, by ignoring demographic reality Read More

Investors panic in “search for yield” as interest rates go negative

Its been a great few months for financial markets.  All the major markets have seen gains, as the chart shows – something that has happened only once before, since my half-yearly reviews began in March 2009: □   Long-term US Treasury bonds have gained, as long-term interest rates have been falling □   The 30-year bond […]

Investors panic in “search for yield” as interest rates go negative Read More

Bank of England’s new stimulus policy creates bankruptcy risk for corporate pension funds

The Western BabyBoomers (born between 1946-70), have been one of the luckiest generations in history.  By and large, they have escaped the major wars that have plagued society down the ages.  They have also lived in a world where living standards and material wealth have made astonishing gains.  Equally priceless has been the rise in […]

Bank of England’s new stimulus policy creates bankruptcy risk for corporate pension funds Read More

Chemicals, the “flea on the tail of the currency/interest rate dog”

Markets are becoming increasingly chaotic, as the world’s major central banks each try to devalue their currencies. They have created a traders’ paradise, with oil on a particularly wild ride.  But this has not been based on supply/demand fundamentals.  Instead, it has been due to hedge funds jumping back into the commodities market. They don’t […]

Chemicals, the “flea on the tail of the currency/interest rate dog” Read More

Hedge funds exit oil price rally as Saudi plans post-oil economy

“Within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil“. This critical statement from Saudi Arabia’s deputy Crown Prince has been lost in the hype surrounding Q1′s hedge fund-inspired rally in oil, commodities and Emerging Markets.  There has seldom been a better example of markets failing to see the […]

Hedge funds exit oil price rally as Saudi plans post-oil economy Read More

The end of the Economic SuperCycle

A paradigm shift is underway in global petrochemical and polymer markets, as I discuss in a new article for ICIS Chemical Business. Previously successful business models, based on the supply-driven principle, no longer work. As our new study, “Demand – the New Direction for Profit”, explains, companies now need to adopt demand-led strategies if they […]

The end of the Economic SuperCycle Read More

IEA says market “awash with oil” – debunks bullish myths

Oil markets are the proverbial “canary in the coalmine”.  They are showing us what happens when the rose-tinted glasses provided by stimulus policy are removed.  Now markets have to return to their true role of price discovery, based on the fundamentals of supply and demand. This makes them very dangerous indeed.  Some large players in […]

IEA says market “awash with oil” – debunks bullish myths Read More

Global GDP sees record fall in 2015 as world hits “demographic cliff”

Central bankers remain in Denial about the failure of their stimulus policies.  Yet new IMF data for global GDP shows GDP fell by $3.8tn in 2015 – the biggest fall on record – as the world hits the “demographic cliff”.  We have now seen 2 record falls in 6 years, as the previous record was $3.3tn […]

Global GDP sees record fall in 2015 as world hits “demographic cliff” Read More

Oil hits $30/bbl – and suddenly, analysts forecast lower prices

Yesterday, oil prices reached my long-held $30/bbl forecast level.  And suddenly, it seems, all the leading analysts have begun to forecast lower oil prices.  As Reuters reported: “Adjusting to the price rout, analysts have been shifting their price outlooks downward, with Barclays, Macquarie, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Standard Chartered and Societe Generale all cutting […]

Oil hits $30/bbl – and suddenly, analysts forecast lower prices Read More

Great Unwinding sees oil fall 65%; US$ rise 22%; US 10-year rates rise 25%

The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus was the major issue in financial markets in 2015.  And it is set to have even greater impact in 2016 once Phase 3 begins.  The chart above highlights the astonishing changes that have taken place since the Unwinding began in mid-August 2014; Phase 1 has so far seen Brent […]

Great Unwinding sees oil fall 65%; US$ rise 22%; US 10-year rates rise 25% Read More

EU warns euro may disappear as political, economic risks rise

The excellent new Spielberg movie, Bridge of Spies, vividly captures the building of the Berlin Wall in 1952.  It also reminds us of the excitement when the Wall fell, and European borders reopened after 47 years. Now, Europe’s borders are closing again, pressured by vast Syrian refugee movements and terrorist massacres. France, Germany, Austria and Sweden have […]

EU warns euro may disappear as political, economic risks rise Read More

Japan goes back into recession as stimulus policies fail, again

This week’s economic data from Japan confirmed, once again, that demographic changes are far more important for the economy than monetary stimulus. Japan’s premier Abe took power in 2012, promising to end the decline in Japan’s economic growth.  He appointed a new Governor for the Bank of Japan, and claimed that his “3 arrows policy” […]

Japan goes back into recession as stimulus policies fail, again Read More

Deflation returns to the major economies as stimulus fails, again

Next week, I will publish my annual Budget Outlook, covering the 2016-2018 period.    The aim, as always, is to challenge conventional wisdom when this seems to be heading in the wrong direction: The 2007 Outlook ‘Budgeting for a Downturn‘, and 2008′s ‘Budgeting for Survival’ meant I was one of the few to forecast the 2008 Crisis 2009′s ‘Budgeting […]

Deflation returns to the major economies as stimulus fails, again Read More

5 Critical Questions every Company and Investor Need to Answer

Today’s uncertain economic and oil price  environment has created chaos in petrochemical feedstock and product markets.  This creates major risks for producers, consumers and investors. ICIS and International eChem have therefore decided to combine our resources to launch a new Study, that will analyse the potential impact of these developments on the olefins, aromatics and […]

5 Critical Questions every Company and Investor Need to Answer Read More

Oil heads to $30/bbl as Great Unwinding reaches 1st anniversary

Global markets are becoming ever more complex as the Great Unwinding of stimulus policies continues.  This means that each blog post is now taking much longer to write.  It therefore seems sensible to focus on writing 3 posts each week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – in order to continue to provide the highest possible […]

Oil heads to $30/bbl as Great Unwinding reaches 1st anniversary Read More

Fears of Austerity rise again, as Stimulus proves ineffective

Austerity is in the news again, as the Greek/Eurozone debt negotiations continue.  So it seems interesting to see how financial market sentiment has been moving with regard to the issues of austerity and stimulus.  The above chart is therefore modeled on the familiar IeC Boom/Gloom Index It shows the ratio of sentiment for Austerity versus […]

Fears of Austerity rise again, as Stimulus proves ineffective Read More

Bank of Japan admits stimulus policy is modelled on Peter Pan

‘Peter Pan’ is one of the world’s most-loved children’s stories.But I hadn’t realised it had also become an economics textbook, at least in Japan.  Yet the Governor of the Bank of Japan (BoJ), Haruhiko Kuroda, described his stimulus policy last week as follows to an invited audience: “I trust that many of you are familiar with […]

Bank of Japan admits stimulus policy is modelled on Peter Pan Read More

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 […]

Europe can win despite age trends Read More

Budgeting for the Cycle of Deflation

There is no “business as usual” scenario possible for the 2015-2017 Budget period.  Over the past 15 years (since the ”dotcom bubble” burst in 2000), policymakers have provided increasing amounts of stimulus to support the economy.  Now, finally, we are in the endgame, as the Great Unwinding takes place. This presents us all with major challenges: Most executives and investors under […]

Budgeting for the Cycle of Deflation Read More

China becomes major PVC, PTA exporter for first time in history

Be very careful what you wish for.  That is the key message coming out of close analysis of China’s latest trade data. Recent media reports were upbeat at news that China’s exports had increased, as it appeared to suggest Western demand was returning.  But it seems nothing could be further from the truth. One major concern is that part […]

China becomes major PVC, PTA exporter for first time in history Read More

Oil prices have further to fall as Great Unwinding continues

Oil prices are highly likely to fall further, not rebound, over the next few months.  That is the blog’s conclusion to its 3-part analysis of likely developments in oil markets. Having looked at the outlook for oil supply and demand over the past 2 days, today’s post looks at the key question of ‘what does this mean for oil […]

Oil prices have further to fall as Great Unwinding continues Read More

Equity markets under pressure as Boom/Gloom Index signals Great Unwinding

Whisper it quietly if you are walking past the imposing Federal Reserve building in Washington DC, so as not to disturb the occupants.  They believe that their efforts to boost financial markets have had their effect, and that the real economy, in which we all live and work, will now recover. But what if the […]

Equity markets under pressure as Boom/Gloom Index signals Great Unwinding Read More

Global stock markets still depend on low-cost money for support

The blog’s 6-monthly review of global stock markets highlights the narrow nature of the advance since September 2008, when the blog first began analysing developments.  It shows their performance since the pre-Crisis peak for each market, and the performance of the US 30-year Treasury bond. Remarkably, only the US, India, Germany and the UK stock markets […]

Global stock markets still depend on low-cost money for support Read More

Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus creates interest rate risk

Interest rate risk is rising in the developed economies as the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus continues.  Since the blog first highlighted this Unwinding last month: Oil prices have continued to tumble, with Brent now down over $15/bbl from its late-June peak The US$ has continued to rise from multi-year lows versus the yen, euro and pound And of course, […]

Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus creates interest rate risk Read More

China’s waning stimulus spells trouble for the world’s biggest car market

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below. By Paul Hodges of International eChem China’s July lending level of just Rmb 385bn ($62.6bn) has surprised financial markets, which were expecting an increase in stimulus. But bigger surprises may lie ahead. The strong link between lending and passenger car sales […]

China’s waning stimulus spells trouble for the world’s biggest car market Read More

China’s housing market enters New Normal as prices slide

Markets appear to be continuing to move, slowly but surely, into their expected ‘scary phase’.  The reason is the massive distortions that have been created in financial markets, and in China’s housing market, by the $35tn+ of stimulus from governments and central banks since 2009. Unwinding these distortions will not be simple.  The stimulus has not returned us […]

China’s housing market enters New Normal as prices slide Read More

$20tn US, China stimulus and lending – but recovery elusive

Despite all the positive headlines, the world’s two largest economies have failed to deliver sustained recovery, even though the 2 governments have now spent a combined $20tn in stimulus and lending. US STIMULUS REACHES $10tn The US government and Federal Reserve have spent $10tn since the Great Recession began in 2008.  Federal deficits have increased by $6.27tn, whilst […]

$20tn US, China stimulus and lending – but recovery elusive Read More

China’s commodity imports have financed its property bubble

Today, the blog launches a major new Research Note in the ‘Your Compass on China’ series, produced in association with leading Hong Kong-based financial advisory firm Polarwide. Titled ‘Here today and gone tomorrow – a simple guide to China’s world of trade finance’, it is probably the single most important paper it will publish all […]

China’s commodity imports have financed its property bubble Read More

China’s polyester market flashes red warning signals

China’s polyester market seems to be trying to tell us something quite important about the real state of China’s economy, as the chart above shows for the main raw material, PTA (terephthalic acid): It focuses on the margin between PTA prices and naphtha feedstock (Singapore basis) Normally this is a premium between $200/t – $300/t as shows […]

China’s polyester market flashes red warning signals Read More

Leaders need to “see around corners” in today’s VUCA world

The number “42″ was the answer to “the ultimate question of life” in the classic novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe’.  Yet as the supercomputer providing this answer then explained, it was a pointless exercise as nobody understood the meaning of the original question. The world’s policymakers are in the same position, although they don’t yet realise this.  They […]

Leaders need to “see around corners” in today’s VUCA world Read More

“Bad news barrage sinks New Year consensus”

Markets stopped operating in their true role of providing price discovery sometime ago.  Instead, they became dominated by the central banks, determined to prove their theory that increased asset values can stimulate sustained economic recovery. They, of course, have the firepower to bend markets to their will.  Nobody else could have spent $16tn in this manner […]

“Bad news barrage sinks New Year consensus” Read More

China focuses on the need for jobs, as Western companies reshore production

Its all about jobs.  That’s the clear message from this month’s critical Economic Plenum in China, confirming the blog’s analysis back in February 2012. Of course, there was a lot of detail about future reform plans, which will certainly help to move the country’s economy in the right direction.  But in the short-term, the key […]

China focuses on the need for jobs, as Western companies reshore production Read More

Record $142m for Bacon work shows markets now in “melt-up stage”

The blog is actually a fan of the artist Francis Bacon, and it rather likes the above painting of his friend and fellow-artist Lucien Freud.  But the reason for showing it is not to discuss the finer points of art criticism. It is instead simply to note that its sale by auction house Christies in New York last […]

Record $142m for Bacon work shows markets now in “melt-up stage” Read More