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US reaches ‘peak car’ moment as incentives, inventories rise, whilst fewer Americans carry driving licenses

The blog’s suggestion back in March that now would be a good time for US readers to buy a new car is looking more and more prescient.  As the head of American Honda explained to investors last month: “In addition to a heavy reliance on fleet sales to boost volumes, we are seeing some of our […]

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China Transformation webinar tomorrow

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival day in China, held to celebrate the harvest.  Traditionally it features the exchange of moon cakes filled with lotus paste and egg yolks, whilst children go to lantern parades. But in recent years, it has also become synonymous with corruption.   Silver moon cakes, as pictured above, became a common gift for […]

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August highlights

Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks.   As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook:  Great Unwinding of stimulus underway.  Q2 results show slowing growth.  US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]

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US, Japan consumer spend falls, deflation threatens Eurozone

We are now two-thirds of the way through 2014, and critical decisions are looming for companies and investors.  Do they give central banks one more chance to stimulate growth?  And are they prepared to trust policymakers to avoid a major geopolitical crisis in the Ukraine? Or do they decide that ‘enough is enough’, and that […]

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Auto sales on roller-coaster ride in Japan, Russia, Brazil, India

Car sales in Japan, Russia, Brazil and India currently account for just under 1 in 5 of global sales.  Their market share peaked at 21% in 2008, but is today back at 2005′s level of 17%.  As the chart shows, it has been a roller-coaster ride for all of them: Japan’s 4.7m sales were 10% of the global total […]

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Unilever says Q2 market growth slows in emerging countries, developed countries weak

The global economy really isn’t getting any better.  That’s the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly survey of company results for Q2. Of course, some companies are doing well – either because of shale gas economics, or their own market positioning.  But consumer giant Unilever summarised the general picture very well: “Market growth continued to slow in emerging […]

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US retail sales hit by declines in income and household wealth

US retail sales tell a sorry story about the state of underlying demand.  US sales at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store chain, have failed to grow for 6 consecutive quarters, with shopper traffic falling 1.1% in Q2.  The company’s explanation for the problems is worth pondering by anyone in business: It is facing intense competition […]

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China’s waning stimulus spells trouble for the world’s biggest car market

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below. By Paul Hodges of International eChem China’s July lending level of just Rmb 385bn ($62.6bn) has surprised financial markets, which were expecting an increase in stimulus. But bigger surprises may lie ahead. The strong link between lending and passenger car sales […]

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China’s low-cost smartphones start to dominate global market

China’s exports are growing again.  But not because SuperCycle levels of demand have returned in the West. Instead, its companies are using their low-cost manufacturing model to take on and beat Asian and Western giants.  Developments in the global smartphone market highlight the rapidity of the change underway They confirm China’s economy is moving in exactly the […]

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GM focuses on low-cost autos, as European sales remain weak

Low growth and low-cost have become the dominant features of Europe’s auto market. Europe’s modest rise in auto sales continued in June, with volumes up 4.5% versus 2013.  But as the auto association reminds us, this “is the second lowest level in the month of June since reporting began in 2003“.  And the detail of the […]

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