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US Fed governor agrees it helped fund Alibaba bubble

The last days of a bubble are always the most fun.  And Alibaba’s New York market debut last Friday will be one of those to treasure and report to the grandchildren in decades to come.  There were so many elements to enjoy: The investment bankers got the price wrong by 40%, but will still walk away with […]

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US ethylene outages boost European and Asian PE producers

Polymer traders must be already counting their end-of-year bonuses, as the value of the US$ rises whilst crude oil prices weaken.  The biggest bonuses will likely go to polyethylene (PE) traders competing with US producers. The reason is that US ethylene spot prices are currently at record levels.  An astonishing 10% of US ethylene capacity has been out […]

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Shiller warning suggests S&P 500 bubble coming to an end

Nobel Prizewinner Prof Robert Shiller correctly forecast the dot-com collapse in 2000, and the 2008 financial Crisis, using the chart above.  Now he is warning we risk a 3rd collapse. The problem is that Western central banks have undertaken the largest financial experiment in history.  Their policy has been to boost financial markets, particularly the US S&P 500 - the world’s […]

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Global stock markets still depend on low-cost money for support

The blog’s 6-monthly review of global stock markets highlights the narrow nature of the advance since September 2008, when the blog first began analysing developments.  It shows their performance since the pre-Crisis peak for each market, and the performance of the US 30-year Treasury bond. Remarkably, only the US, India, Germany and the UK stock markets […]

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August highlights

Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks.   As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook:  Great Unwinding of stimulus underway.  Q2 results show slowing growth.  US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]

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US dollar rises as investors worry low-cost money may disappear

Nobody knows how the Great Unwinding of central bank stimulus policies will develop.  The world has simply never been in this position before.  Thus the senior economics and business correspondent of the Financial Times, John Plender, began an article this week: “In a market where asset prices are comprehensively rigged by central bankers, rational investment […]

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China PE Aug14

Eliminating the impossible in China’s polyethylene market

Very large amounts of copper, iron and other commodities are in long-term storage in China as part of the ‘collateral trade’.  More recently, it seems large amounts of polyethylene (PE), ethylene glycol (MEG) and probably other chemicals have also started to be used for the trade. None of this used to matter when the Chinese economy was booming.  Why […]

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Markets slip as fears grow Fed’s cheap money may end soon

Western financial markets are getting nervous that the US Federal Reserve will cut off their supply of cheap money.  They went through the same panic in 2011.  Now they again have to wait to see what happens. The chart of the new IeC Boom/Gloom Index above highlights the parallels: Markets were strong through April 2011, with the […]

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China condom sales droop 1 million/day on anti-graft campaign

Condom sales have dropped by 1 million/day in China according to The Economist magazine.  It highlights how: Across China, luxury retailers and fancy restaurants are suffering from an edict against wasteful government spending. A chill has crept into karaoke parlours and brothels; mistresses also face a hard time. The reason is the new leadership’s anti-corruption […]

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Polyethylene, shadow banking and China’s ‘collateral trade’

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below. By Paul Hodges of International eChem Strange things are happening in China’s polyethylene (PE) market. Despite a slowdown in the economy, demand is surging. Our research suggests that PE, like copper and iron before it, is the latest instrument of China’s […]

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