“It’s worse than 2007, because then it was a problem of the developed economies”

William White was the only central banker to publicly warn of the risks to the world economy long before the Crisis, when he was chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements (the central bankers’ bank).  He also warned of the problems that would be caused by their stimulus programmes as early as September 2009. A blog […]

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China’s credit cuts will send seismic tremors around the world

Monday’s Interesting Quotes post highlighted how China’s leadership clearly recognise they have a massive debt problem, as detailed in the blog’s recent Research Note. Further evidence for this was provided by yesterday’s bank lending figures, which showed total lending down 19% versus March 2013 at Rmb2.07tn ($333bn), and the lowest increase in money supply since 2001. This makes […]

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“US population is aging: older people tend to consume and spend less”

Its not just the UK that is seeing an earthquake taking place in consumer demand patterns, as the blog discussed last week.  The same earthquake is taking place in the world’s largest consumer market, the USA.  As the Wall Street Journal reports: “For the past three years running, unit sales of consumer products have been […]

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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: […]

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US chemicals slip back into Contraction mode as cycle peaks

The above chart from the excellent American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly report may look a bit baffling at first.  But it is worth attention, as it highlights the current state of the industry in real time: It shows US chemical shipments on the vertical axis, and change in inventory on the horizontal axis Both are shown […]

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“Unparalleled seismic demographic shifts now underway” in UK

What happens to demand when women stop having lots of babies, and the general population starts living very much longer? Common sense would suggest economic growth would go through 2 quite remarkable changes: Phase 1.  Growth would accelerate, as the population became concentrated in the wealth creating 25 – 54 age group, and the need […]

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Oil prices vulnerable to China property market fall

Oil futures markets are a wonderful thing, in theory.  They are supposed to enable price discovery, whilst their liquidity is meant to enable companies to reduce inventory levels.  Instead of tying up working capital, they can simply go to the market and buy what they need, when they need it. But the chart above, of US oil […]

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Price war looms in US auto market as incentives increase

The blog is awarding itself a pat on the back this morning, as its forecast last month for the US auto market seems to have proved more accurate than those of the experts. Under the heading ‘US automakers increase incentives as sales fail to boom’, it forecast: “The blog therefore suspects that March will be […]

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China’s slowdown accelerates as IOUs substitute for credit

The end of Q1 seems a good moment to look back at the position of the benchmark markets in the IeC Downturn Monitor.  Compared to previous quarters, there has been surprisingly little movement: Benzene has remained the most volatile, with supply outages temporarily pushing up prices (green line) HDPE has trended higher, but these are […]

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McDonald’s starts hiring young and old as the ‘demographic cliff’ arrives

Its really not that difficult to work out that much of the world faces a ‘demographic cliff’. But very few companies seem to want to act on the implications. So hats off to McDonald’s Europe for highlighting what needs to be done. Their chief people officer, David Fairhurst, told the Financial Times this week: “The […]

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