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EU auto sales boosted by 25% discounts and financing deals

When is a car sale not a car sale?  That’s the question that has been bothering the blog in the past few weeks. Of course, it wants to cheer the news that EU auto sales have seemingly recovered.  But as the chart above shows, the recovery is still very limited: Q1 sales at 3.25m (red […]

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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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“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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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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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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US shale gas expansions highlight lack of demand

One good thing may come out of the current excitement over the US ethylene expansions being discussed on the basis of shale gas developments. Boards may decide to look at seriously at the way yesterday’s ‘demographic dividend’ has now become today’s ‘demographic deficit’.  That would be a major step forward for the US and the […]

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Japan’s debt now $80k for every man, woman and child

Question:  Why will Starbucks reduce the menu price for its venti green-tea frappucino in Japan next Tuesday, when the price is actually going up? Answer:  Because the government hopes the lower menu price will fool people into thinking the price has gone down It is, of course, a nonsense.  And no doubt most Japanese will be quite annoyed that […]

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US ethylene boom is a dangerous game

The blog continues to lose sleep at night worrying about the likely impact of the planned 10MT expansions of US ethylene and derivative capacity.  And it seems it is not the only one.  Since it first raised the alarm last August, it has talked to a number of senior industry executives and investors who also cannot […]

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India’s car buyers remain cautious despite pre-election tax cut

Its pre-election time in India, as the world’s largest democracy prepares to go to the polls next month.  And so auto sales are receiving special attention from the politicians in advance of the vote. Thus the Finance Minister cut taxes last month on all models, to 8% from 12% for small cars, 2-wheelers and commercial vehicles; to […]

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5 years of stimulus have only delayed move to the New Normal

Coincidentally the blog began its 6-monthly review of global financial market performance on 7 March 2009, as the US market hit its post-Crisis bottom.  At this point, it was possible to hope that central banks would allow markets to resolve the issues that they themselves had created. After all, there would have been no subprime crash if the US Federal […]

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