You’ve seen the Great Unwinding; get ready for the Great Reckoning

Companies and investors now need to prepare for the Great Reckoning, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog We have reached the second anniversary of the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus. Almost inevitably, this now seems likely to be followed by a Great Reckoning, a consequence […]

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Risks rise for global economy as chemical capacity surplus grows

“The Federal Reserve Needs New Thinking.  Its models are unreliable, its policies erratic and its guidance confusing. It is also politically vulnerable.”  Former Fed Governor, Kevin Warsh. “The Great Unraveling.  Years of Fed Missteps Fueled Disillusion With the Economy and Washington.”  Main headline, Wall Street Journal. There comes a point, as in 2008, when the […]

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Pensions crisis finally becomes a mainstream issue

It has been 5 years since we first warned of a looming pensions crisis in Boom, Gloom and the New Normal.  Now, finally, it is becoming a mainstream issue.  The latest round of central bank stimulus policies has clearly been the proverbial “straw that breaks the camel’s back” for anyone connected with pension funding. The […]

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China becomes net PTA exporter, whilst cotton prices tumble

China used to be the world’s largest importer of PTA (the raw material for polyester). But not any more. Instead it has become a net exporter for the first time in history: □  Its imports ramped up from 400kt in 1995 to 7 million tonnes in 2006, as Western textile manufacturing moved East □  They […]

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Suspense rises as Great Unwinding becomes the Great Reckoning

“There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise.”  Alfred Hitchcock It is now 2 years since the start of the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus.  On 15 August 2014, Brent was at $105/bbl, and the US$ Index was at 81. Since then, as the chart shows, Brent oil prices have fallen 53%, whilst the […]

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US jobs Aug16a

US pensioners pay the price for Fed’s monetary policy failure

There was one bit of good news this week.  For the first time since the financial crisis began, a Governor of the US Federal Reserve acknowledged that today’s demographic changes are having a major impact on the US economy. John Williams, of the San Francisco Fed, argued that: “Shifting demographics….(mean that) interest rates are going […]

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China auto, lend Aug16

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 […]

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Global demand slowdown hits chemical industry results

Its not been a great 6 months for the global chemical industry, and my usual quarterly survey of company results confirms the disappointment. The first half of the year is typically the strongest, for seasonal reasons, as companies come back to work after the Christmas holiday and prepare for the peak car-buying and construction periods […]

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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 […]

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China’s PVC exports confirm its move to self-sufficiency

Many commentators were shocked by China’s weak trade data on Monday – with imports falling 12.5% versus July 2015, and January – July imports down 10.5%.  But they were no surprise to anyone focused on developments in the chemical industry, which has once again confirmed its status as the most reliable leading indicator for the […]

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