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China’s PVC exports confirm its move to self-sufficiency

Many commentators were shocked by China’s weak trade data on Monday – with imports falling 12.5% versus July 2015, and January – July imports down 10.5%.  But they were no surprise to anyone focused on developments in the chemical industry, which has once again confirmed its status as the most reliable leading indicator for the […]

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12 million missing workers highlight US GDP slowdown

Employment income is critical for most Americans and for the US economy.  The above chart shows how the key factor - the participation rate - has changed since records began in 1948.  It shows July data, to avoid the need for seasonal adjustment, split by Men, Women and Total: □  Last month’s Total rate was 63.4%, versus the […]

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US GDP Jul16

Political risk and total debt rise as US GDP disappoints, again

Its déjà vu all over again for the US economy.  Friday’s news of Q2′s weak US GDP growth only confirmed the August 2014 comment by Stanley Fischer, then just appointed deputy Chairman of the US Federal Reserve: “Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower […]

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VUCAa

A VUCA world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

“A week is a long time in politics” was the insight of former UK premier Harold Wilson.  It is tempting to think that the events of the past week – a terrorist massacre in France: an attempted army coup in Turkey: a fatal US sniper attack: the overnight emergence of a new government with new […]

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Crunch time for pensions as $13tn of global bonds now have negative interest rates

Around a quarter of global bonds now have negative interest rates.  This means that you get less money back at maturity than you originally invested.  And the number of bonds impacted is rising exponentially, as Bank of America Merrill Lynch reports: $13tn of global debt has negative yields, compared to $11tn before the Brexit vote, […]

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MPS Jul16

Financial markets surge as investors assume Italy’s banking crisis will lead to ‘helicopter money’

Many of the world’s major investors are assuming that Italy’s banking crisis will force Germany to agree to deliver ‘helicopter money‘ to Eurozone citizens.  Stock markets are rising, and interest rates falling as a result.  But it is a high-risk gamble, which could cause chaos if it goes wrong.  The background is as follows: The […]

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The blog’s 9th birthday

It is hard to believe that the blog has now been running for 9 years.  Over 2000 posts have been published, and its readership continues to expand across the world, with the Top 15 countries currently including: USA, UK, Germany, India, Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, S Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan Readers […]

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UK’s Brexit vote may lead to end of schoolboy politics

Until recently, the job description for UK (and most Western) politicians has been fairly simple – look good on television, and only say something when it has been approved by a focus group.  The reward was the ability to jet off to important sounding meetings of the G7 and G20, and have agreeable dinners at […]

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Global economy in further downturn, even before Brexit

Global chemical industry sales are around $3tn a year, close to 5% of global GDP.  They are even larger when converted into all the products that we actually use on a day-to-day basis such as plastics, coatings, fibres, agrochemicals etc. And thanks to the American Chemistry Council, we have near real-time data of core trends […]

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Ring of fire Feb15

Brexit a disaster for the UK, Europe and the world

First, the good news.  It has long been recognised that the UK economy is over-dependent on financial services, and that its housing market – particularly in London – is wildly over-priced in relation to earnings.  The Brexit vote should ensure that both these problems are solved: Many banks and financial institutions are already planning to […]

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