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No news on Obama’s plans for Fannie and Freddie

Its nearly 18 months since the US government nationalised the 2 home loan giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at the start of the September 2008 financial crisis. Today, their current obligations amount to $3.7trn – larger that the total UK economy. And the Wall Street Journal notes that their cumulative losses on home loans […]

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EU consumers worry about the economic outlook

European consumers remain very wary about the future. The slide above, from the monthly CEFIC report, shows that fear of unemployment is THE major concern. Almost half the population, a net balance of 44.3%, worried about this in December (yellow column), only slightly fewer than in November (blue column). This concern creates a major headwind […]

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China cuts back lending to the USA

The US government used to depend on China to fund its deficit. In 2006, China bought 47.4% of all US bonds issued. But last year, as the chart from the NY Times shows, China bought just 4.6%, leaving US investors to buy the rest. This is a yet another indicator of the profound changes underway […]

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US housing starts at 25% of 2006 peak

US housing is still limping along the bottom. December’s housing starts were only 0.2% above 2008 levels. Overall, 2009 saw just 554k starts, the lowest level for 50 years, despite the support of the $8k tax credit. During the Boom period, as the ACC’s chart above shows, starts (blue line) peaked at a 2.2 million […]

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Restocking not the same as Recovery

Will Beacham of ICIS interviewed me yesterday in London’s Trafalgar Square. Please click above if you would like to see the discussion. Or click here if you would like to see Will’s summary on ICIS news.

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Manchester United plans 2nd refinancing

The downside of the credit bubble continues to impact the UK’s Premier League, and the blog’s own soccer club, Manchester United. Today’s Guardian notes that United were bought by the US Glazer family for £810m ($1.3bn) in 2005, using £540m of debt. Since then, it says this debt has “cost United £340m in cash” in […]

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EU auto sales top USA and China in 2009

Almost unnoticed, the EU became the largest regional auto market last year. Thanks to the support of scrappage programmes (particularly Germany’s €5bn scheme) it sold 14.4 million autos, compared to just 10.4m in the USA and 13.6m in China. W Europe continued to see higher sales than Central Europe, due to greater government support. But […]

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China’s empty city

The blog has come across an interesting example of the impact of China’s credit growth, courtesy of Merryn Somerset Webb in the Financial Times. She highlights a YouTube video (link above) which investigates the new city of Ordos. The old city has become known as “China’s Texas”, because of the recent wealth generated from the […]

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Germany sees 5% GDP fall in 2009

The blog has been worrying for some time about what will happen when governments end their stimulus programmes. It does not share the optimism of financial markets, that these will provide to be the “escape velocity” for a quick return to 2003-7 Boom conditions. Today’s data from Germany seems to support its concerns. According to […]

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China worries about house price inflation

The Dalian polymers future market had a strong end to 2009. As the chart shows, Linear Low Density Polymer volumes (blue line) jumped to 44 million tonnes. The new PVC contract saw the same volume. But there are growing signs that this may prove a ‘last hurrah’. The government is clearly starting to worry about […]

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