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“Everyone wants to be rich”: Divorces soar with land prices as China’s housing bubble enters its final stages

One thing that “everyone knows” in China’s Tier 1 cities is that property prices can never go down.  As one resident told the South China Morning Post: “The only thing I know is that buying property will not turn out to be a loss.  From several thousand yuan a square metre to more than 100,000 […]

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Chemical industry warns of likely global recession in 2017

The chemical industry is the best leading indicator for the global economy, and it is flagging major warning signs about the outlook for 2017.  As the chart above shows, based on American Chemistry Council (ACC) data:   Since 2009, Capacity Utilisation (CU%) has never returned to the 91.3% averaged between 1987 – 2008   It […]

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Forget the IMF: global chemicals are your guide to future performance

The chemical industry provides a far better guide to the economic outlook than the IMF or any economic forecaster, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog The global chemical industry has long been the best real-time indicator of the global economy. This is partly because of […]

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Budgeting for the Great Reckoning

One thing is certain about the 2017 – 2019 Budget period.  ”Business as usual” is the least likely Scenario to occur. The IMF chart above highlights the key issue: for the past 5 years, all its forecasts of a return to “normal” levels of growth have proved over-optimistic:   Back in 2011, the IMF was […]

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FT

Fed’s economic models applied to a past era

The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, welcoming the Fed’s decision to address the impact of demographics, but arguing that it needs to focus on demand issues, given the impact of today’s ageing populations. Sir, It is good to see the US Federal Reserve is finally beginning to address the impact of demographics […]

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President Xi takes “core” leader role as China heads for political turbulence

Outside observers often imagine that China’s political structure is uniquely disciplined – unlike, say the US Republican Party, or the UK Labour Party, or indeed, political parties anywhere.  But the fact that most arguments take place behind closed doors, and aren’t reported in the state-controlled media, doesn’t mean that the arguments don’t happen. Yesterday’s announcement […]

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Brexit Oct16

Markets doubt Carney’s claim to have saved 500k UK jobs

Last week as the BBC reported, Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, explained to an audience in Birmingham that the Bank had saved the UK economy after the Brexit vote in June: “Between 400,000 and 500,000 jobs could have been at risk if the Bank had not taken action after the referendum, he said.  ”We are willing […]

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San Francisco Fed agrees ageing Boomers impact economy

Finally, one of the major Western central banks has agreed that the ageing of the BabyBoomers does indeed have an impact on the economy.  John Fernald of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, wrote in a new paper this week: “Estimates suggest the new normal for U.S. GDP growth has dropped to between 1½ and […]

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China credit Oct16

President Xi tells China’s government to “control asset bubbles”

China’s housing bubble is not just about Shenzhen.  It is the most obvious sign of problems ahead, as I noted last month.  But as the chart above shows from the Wall Street Journal, total lending to the property sector has rocketed in recent months:    More than one-third of all loans went to the sector […]

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Populists Sept15

Markets struggle with political risk as populist momentum gains

Markets have forgotten how to price political uncertainty in recent decades, as I discussed on Monday.  They have become dependent on central bank handouts, and assumed that globalisation and trade agreements are permanent features of the economic landscape.  Today, they are having to relearn, very quickly, what has been forgotten. My post a year ago […]

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