Swiss pensions bankrupt by 2025: US Social Security by 2030

Nobody would imagine that the SFr 800bn ($840bn) Swiss pension scheme could go bankrupt.  But Swiss pension experts suggest it “will be bankrupt within 10 years (without)…a radical overhaul of the retirement system.”  The problem is simple – a combination of low/negative interest rates and an increase in life expectancy. A major analysis in the Financial Times […]

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EU C3 Apr15d

Propylene strength a major support for European petchems

Vast over-expansion is underway in the global petrochemicals industry, as companies rush to build new capacity at a time when demand patterns are going through major change.  US companies and investors are worst exposed, as their plans are based on exporting polyethylene and other ethylene-based derivatives. There are a number of fundamental problems with these […]

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All autos Apr15

Q1 auto sales rise just 1.9% in world’s ‘Top 7′ markets

Its hard to be optimistic about the outlook for the global auto market.  The chart above of the Top 7 markets, which account for around 2/3rds of global sales, highlights the growing uncertainty.  It shows Q1 sales in 2015 (blue column) versus 2014 (blue).  Overall, these were up just 1.9% at 15.8m.  And although the […]

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China Q1 electricity consumption up only 1% as economy slows

More and more evidence is emerging of the major slowdown now underway in China’s economy. China’s leadership have warned this would take place since they took office 2 years ago.  And they have reinforced the message in recent months with their focus on explaining the move into the New Normal and its consequences. A major interview […]

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US oil imports Apr15

OPEC hit as ‘peak oil demand’ arrives and US imports fall

Oil market traders have been having fun in recent weeks, as they have managed to create guaranteed price movements every week: US oil inventory data is published on Tuesday and Wednesday This gives traders the chance to push prices lower as the inventories continue to rise US oil rig data is published on Friday This creates the chance to […]

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Germany could face €86bn bill from a Greek default

Who would pay the bill, if Greece defaulted on its current €320bn debt ($340bn)? This is no longer just a theoretical question.  Of course, we have all known since 2012 that Greece would never be able to repay its debt.  But the EU covered up this hard truth by a ‘pretend and extend’ policy: The default deal deferred repayment […]

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BRIJ auto markets continue to struggle

Q1 showed little sign of improvement in the world’s second-tier auto markets – Brazil, Russia, India, Japan. In total, their sales used to equal those of the EU, the world’s 3rd largest market.  But Q1 volumes saw a 16% decline versus 2014 levels, as the chart shows: Japan’s sales were boosted in 2014 (blue column) by buying ahead […]

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Lower oil prices support European cracker operating rates

Who would have believed, a few years ago, that European cracker operators would see an operating rate of 84% as something to celebrate?  It would have been thought a disaster prior to 2008, when rates typically ranged around 90%. But whilst nobody is flying flags, last year was the best year since 2007.  And as […]

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China’s used car market set to drive future auto sales growth

China’s auto market is going through major change.  Tier 1 cities have imposed limits on car ownership, and car use by government officials is being severely restricted.  In addition, the lending bubble that drove major growth in recent years is coming to an end. Perhaps even more importantly for the medium term, a used car market is now developing […]

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Market volatility jumps as Great Unwinding continues

As I have feared, major volatility is developing in financial and chemical markets, as the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus continues.  The chart above shows the dramatic increase in the benchmark portfolio since the Unwinding began in mid-August: There was very little volatility from January until August, with prices generally remaining within +/- 10% Volatility then […]

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