Xi Jinping

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

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

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

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

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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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 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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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 […]

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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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China’s central bank governor warns of ‘Minsky Moment’ risk

The world is coming to the end of probably the greatest financial bubble ever seen.  Since the financial crisis began in 2008, central banks in China, the USA, Europe, the UK and Japan have created over $30tn of debt. China has created more than half of this debt as the chart shows, and its total debt […]

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Budgeting for the Great Unknown in 2018 – 2020

“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 […]

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President Xi focuses on pollution, not growth, as key Party Congress nears

Imagine living in the capital city of a major country, and suffering the level of pollution shown in the above photo on a regular basis.  We used the photo in chapter 6 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal when we highlighted how pollution was inevitably going to move up the political agenda in China. Controversial at the […]

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 […]

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 […]

China power struggle creates commodity snakes and ladders

The clash of priorities between President Xi and Premier Li over the role of stimulus in China’s economy is close to being decided, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog The stakes are rising in China’s power battle ahead of October’s 19th Party Congress. Normally, the […]

President Xi takes “core” leader role as China heads for political turbulence

Outside observers often imagine that China’s political structure is uniquely disciplined – unlike, say the US Republican Party, or the UK Labour Party, or indeed, political parties anywhere.  But the fact that most arguments take place behind closed doors, and aren’t reported in the state-controlled media, doesn’t mean that the arguments don’t happen. Yesterday’s announcement […]

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 […]

China’s slowdown continues as Xi “takes the pain” of reform

“What a difference a day makes“. Dinah Washington’s famous song could well be applied, with a longer timescale, to developments in China’s economy. The shape of the above chart has changed completely since it was last featured here in January 2015, as volatility has increased in China’s economy.  It shows the relationship between bank lending and […]

China’s G20 Summit shutdown highlights risks to buying “frenzy” in commodities markets

China’s polyester industry, like many others, is already preparing to shut down ahead of September’s G20 Summit in Hangzhou, to reduce pollution levels.  The phenomenon even has its own Wikipedia page, APEC Blue, to describe the moment in November 2014 when Beijing suddenly saw blue sky for the whole of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit meeting.  It […]

Reality battles illusion in world financial markets

“Buy on the rumour, sell on the news” is one of the most reliable definitions for a weak market.  And that seems to have been the picture in Q1 across commodity, stock and bond markets. The key issue is the ongoing battle between Reality and Illusion: Reality accepts that ageing populations have lower levels of […]

China’s cotton auction key pointer for global economy outlook

Cotton markets are poised for another testing month in April.  The outcome will also have potentially major implications for the polyester chain – and in turn for commodities markets more generally. The reason is that China has announced that its long-awaited cotton auction will take place in the second half of the month.  Cotton stocks […]

Xi in Paris: all part of China’s New Normal

President Xi’s presence at the Climate Change conference highlights the far-reaching changes set out in China’s new 5 Year Plan, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog How times change. President Xi Jinping has just become the first Chinese president to attend a climate change conference. His presence in Paris […]

Oil price rally disappears along with hopes of more stimulus

Many people in financial markets were hoping a new QE4 stimulus programme would be announced at the recent IMF meeting in Peru.  Unsurprisingly, markets rallied in anticipation: Brent oil was at $44/bbl on 24 August, and rallied to $56/bbl within a week The US S&P 500 Index rallied from 1823 to 1979 over the same period […]

China focuses on mobile internet for domestic growth

China’s President Xi went to Seattle at the start of his recent US visit, to meet the leading US internet companies.  It was the clearest possible signal of his priorities for the future of China’s economy under his New Normal policies.  He spent half a day on the Microsoft campus, and had a private dinner […]

China’s PP production rises 25% as it moves into higher-value export markets

Everyone is now beginning to notice the change in economic policy in China.  And concern is rising about the outlook for all those new petchem investments about to come online, whose rationale has been the need to supply ever-increasing growth in Chinese demand.  The chart above highlights the reality behind this wishful thinking: Everyone “knew” […]

China’s economy continues to slow as lending curbs bite

Everyone seems sure that China’s government is about to undertake major new stimulus.  Thus Reuters reported: “Economists said it was a matter of when, not if, China eased policy again after economic growth in Q1 cooled to 7%, a level not seen since the depths of the 2008/09 global financial crisis.  Indeed, some analysts have […]

President Xi says more to China’s economy than its growth rate

China’s economy has not had a good start to the year.  Central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, admitted at the weekend that growth had “tumbled a bit too much“, adding: “China’s inflation is also declining, so we need to be vigilant to see if the disinflation trend will continue, and if deflation will happen or not” […]

China exports deflation to the West

Unfortunately, the European Central Bank (ECB) does not read the blog, or yet subscribe to ‘The pH Report’.  If it did, it would have been forewarned back in August that a collapse in oil prices was potentially about to provide the catalyst for the arrival of deflation. Instead, as the Minutes of its critical January […]

BRIJ auto sales head in different directions

There has been a lot of wishful thinking over the past 15 years about the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  The experts told us they were all going to become middle class overnight, and ensure that global growth continued to motor, even as the West slowed. Reality has proved rather different, of course.  This makes […]

How to survive the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus

I was privileged to be interviewed by Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek (the UK’s best-selling financial magazine) in this week’s edition.  The interview covered a wide range of topics including the perilous state of UK house prices and some stock markets, and has prompted enormous interest amongst MoneyWeek readers. Merryn is one of the UK’s leading […]

The great ‘Deflation Shock’ is coming closer

  The world is about to be hit by a demand shock equivalent to 1973′s supply shock.  Yet, astonishingly, most commentators remain so focused on central bank activity, that they have completely missed what is happening.  Here’s how it is playing out. You may remember the ‘The pH Report‘ forecast in early December that: “Oil prices […]

Rocky road ahead for global economy as chemical industry remains downbeat

The chemical industry continues to be the best leading indicator that we have for the global economy.  This is because it is not only the 3rd largest industry (after agriculture and energy), but also because it is truly global and impacts virtually all areas of modern-day life. The chart above therefore presents a very downbeat […]

China’s “wasted $6.8tn” highlights its new economic direction

Can you imagine your government publishing a report that showed $6.8tn has been wasted in “ineffective investment” in the past 4 years?  That is $6.8tn, by the way, not a typo.   And it is more than Japan’s total annual GDP, or the combined annual GDP of Germany and France. No, I thought not.  I certainly cannot remember […]

China plans $90bn spend on new “Silk Roads”

I am just back from my first World Economic Forum meeting, having been invited to join its global chemicals council.  My first impression was astonishment – at the complete disconnect between the real knowledge of the experts at the Forum and today’s “consensus wisdom” . China is a great example.  The external consensus still thinks the new leadership is focused […]

Winners and losers from the end of China’s property bubble

As promised yesterday, the blog looks today at the potential Winners and Losers from President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’.  It is a complete break from the policies of the previous leadership, which ended up being based on a ‘wealth effect’ created by an unsustainable property bubble. Xi’s programme is emphatically about the longer term.  There […]

President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’

A new type of leader seem to be starting to emerge in China and India.  President Xi Jinping in China, and premier Narendra Modi in India, are not spending much time studying the output of focus groups or investment bank analysts.  Nor do they have ‘spin-doctors’ worrying about every phrase on the 24-hour news channels. Instead, they […]

Central banks have created a debt-fuelled ‘ring of fire’

A new article by an IMF economist makes the point that in April 2008, not a single one of the mainstream economic forecasts covered by ‘Consensus Economics’ was forecasting a recession in 2009. The IMF itself expected growth to continue, as did the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.  Even by […]

China auto sales depend on lending and property bubble

The above chart is the blog’s simple guide to forecasting China’s auto sales.  We know from all the data that most Chinese are far too poor to afford to buy a car out of their income.  Average per capita consumer spending in the towns is just $2600/year, after all.  While rural incomes are only a […]

“Investors retreat as deflation fears rise”

The blog’s important eBook, ’Boom, Gloom and the New Normal: How Ageing Western BabyBoomers are Changing Demand Patterns, Again’, was published 3 years ago this month.  Co-authored with John Richardson, it identified the major changes taking place in global and national demand patterns: Growth accelerated from the 1980s, as the population became concentrated in the wealth creating 25 – 54 […]

Interesting Quotes (7)

Every now and then, somebody in a senior position says something that really deserves to be noticed.  Often this is when they are in a state of Denial.  This was the case in the blog’s first post in the Interesting Quotes series, when CitiGroup CEO, Chuck Prince dismissed worries about subprime losses in August 2007, saying: […]

China’s lending bubble could now lead to zero GDP growth

China has been primarily responsible for driving global growth since the Crisis began in 2008.  Auto sales, for example, would have seen negative growth world-wide without China.  And auto manufacturing is the world’s largest manufacturing industry.  The chemical industry has been in a similar position.  Whilst China is also now responsible for nearly 50% of global […]

Seven global implications of China’s new policies

Everyone remembers the old joke, “Why did the elephant wear dark glasses?”, and the answer, “So that she wouldn’t be recognised”.  A new version popped into the blog’s mind this week, when finishing its new Research Note on the impact of China’s new policies on the global economy: “Why did nobody notice that China was the ‘elephant […]

And now the stumble?

Last week the US Federal Reserve announced the second move in its so-called tapering process, and reduced its bond buying by another $10bn/month.  But there was only a temporary repeat in stock markets of the enthusiastic response to its first reduction in December.  We are thus about to test whether the blog’s theory of ‘two steps and a […]

From Jiang to Hu and the lost decade

President Jiang Zemin inherited a difficult economic and political situation when taking power in 1993, as did Deng in 1977 and  current president Xi last year.  Jiang had to set in motion China’s second economic cycle of the post-Mao era, or risk seeing the country fall back into poverty and the political turmoil of another Cultural Revolution. Similarly today, […]

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 […]

Xi Jinping needs to repeat his father’s economic success

Xi Jinping was formally confirmed as China’s new president this week. But we know remarkably little about him, apart from a rather dry list of his official positions as he climbed the career ladder. This is understandable, given the chaos that result…