US oil export Mar17

Oil prices could halve as the speculative bubble starts to burst

The past few weeks have been a nightmare for the many hedge funds who gambled on higher oil prices. They obviously hadn’t realised that OPEC’s November quota agreement was most unlikely to lead to a major rebalancing of today’s vastly over-supplied market.  But as I suggested in December: “The simple fact is that the arrival […]

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US health cost Mar17

Trump’s healthcare focus risks postponement of tax reform and the infrastructure boost

President Trump ran for office on the basis that he would “drain the swamp” in Washington, and deliver major change in a number of critical areas, as I noted immediately after his election on 14 November.  Sensibly, his “Contract with America” also recognised that his Top 10 legislative priorities would take time to deliver: “I […]

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The blog will return on March 20

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Xi, Li Mar17

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 […]

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London housing market hit by Brexit, China’s capital controls

London’s housing market was always going to have a difficult 2017. As I noted 2 years ago, developers were planning 54,000 new luxury homes at prices of £1m+ ($1.25m) in central London, which would mainly start to flood onto the market this year. They weren’t bothered by the fact that only 3900 homes were sold […]

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America hits “peak gasoline” moment as demand patterns change

OPEC has a long wait ahead, if it hopes that US drivers will ever go back to SuperCycle levels of driving and gasoline consumption growth.  That’s the clear message from new data from the US Dept of Transport showing vehicle miles traveled last year.  The chart shows: □  Average number of miles driven per adult […]

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US GDP Feb17

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 […]

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Force majeures hit new record high as safety loses out to profits

Just when you think something really can’t get any worse, it does.  Sadly, that’s the story on chemical industry force majeures since my last half-year review.  As I noted then: “There is no such thing as an accident. The chemical industry, like others, has known this for over 30 years, since the adoption of Quality […]

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Global supply chains at risk as trade war threat rises

“May God bless the USA and God bless Boeing” was President Trump’s sign-off in his speech on Friday at Boeing’s South Carolina factory.  Earlier he had told the workforce building the 787 Dreamliner: “This is our mantra: Buy American and hire America. We want products made in America, made by American hands. Our goal as a […]

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Smartphone profits under threat as market goes ex-growth

The outlook is becoming clearer for the global smartphone market, and it confirms my judgement in November, when reviewing Q3 sales: “It seems likely that a focus on price and affordability will come to dominate. In turn, pricing pressures on suppliers will intensify. The key challenge facing the market is that it has gone ex-growth.” […]

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