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US home ownership back at 1995 level as decline continues

  Conventional wisdom seemed to think the US housing report was positive this week.  But analysis of the data makes it hard to see why. One confusion comes from media use of the ‘seasonally adjusted’ number.  But why do we need an adjustment, when we have data going back to 1959?  It simply creates more potential for error.  […]

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70% of China’s auto dealers unprofitable, as lending curbs bite

Would anybody have believed these charts, if one had presented them as a forecast for auto sales a few years ago?  Clearly not: Everyone knew that Europe was one of the world’s top 2 markets, and China was very small Europe’s average incomes were around $40k, whereas China’s were less than $5k even in the […]

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US housing fraud rises as first-time buyers priced out of market

Signs of stress seem to be appearing in the US housing market once more.  Thus the Wall Street Journal reports: “An estimated one in seven appraisals conducted from 2011 through early 2014 inflated home values by 20% or more..Bankers, appraisers and federal officials in interviews said inflated appraisals are becoming more widespread as the recovery […]

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American shoppers focus on needs, not wants

Tomorrow is the great American shopping day, Black Friday.  In the past, every true American would head for the malls, to shop till they dropped.  But more and more evidence keeps emerging that consumer habits are rapidly entering the New Normal, as I discussed last week. Thus a detailed study by the Wall Street Journal highlights, as […]

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Where will all the new US ethylene capacity be sold?

I worry about the $100bn+ investment that it currently being made in new US chemical output.  On paper, it seems a ‘slam dunk’ as a US College basketball player might say: Shale gas has created a massive surplus of ethane feedstocks that can provide low-cost production for export Oil prices are very high, and so all […]

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UK grocery sales fall for first time since records began

Next Friday sees the start of the main shopping period in the US – ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving.  But increasingly, consumers are giving the stores a miss.  Or even worse (from the retailers’ viewpoint) only visiting to check out products before buying them online. Thus Wal-Mart, the largest US chain, is now having to extend its Black Friday […]

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Affordability

Affordability the key driver for New Normal success

Change is always unwelcome and usually uncomfortable.  But it also provides us with Opportunity, as the Chinese character for Crisis highlights. The second half of our Boom, Gloom and the New Normal eBook provides detailed discussion of the Opportunity for product development, research and development, and manufacturing in the New Normal.  We also summarised the key features of the New Normal in […]

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US jobs data confirms long-term decline in participation rate

Many people, including former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, have questioned whether it is really possible for the US Federal Reserve to use monetary policy to boost employment. What can the Fed do to ensure people get the high school diplomas they need for employment today?  What can it do to provide more jobs for Blacks […]

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Xiaomi Mi4

China’s smartphones outsell Samsung & Apple combined in Q3

The picture on the right is the Xiaomi Mi4 smartphone. The 16GB version sells in China at Rmb 1999 ($326), and the 64GB version at Rmb 2499.  By comparison, Apple’s iPhone 6 sells for Rmb 5288. Unsurprisingly, Xiaomi is moving up the world sales league very fast.  In Q2, it jumped to 5.1% market share, from just 1.8% in Q2 […]

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Global auto sales reach ‘top of the mountain’ moment

The best view is always from the top of the mountain.  And that seems where we are today in global auto markets.  They are on track for another record year.  And even better news is that sales have risen in each of the 5 major markets for the first time since 2007. The bad news is that […]

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