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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Caustic soda inventories rise as aluminium cutbacks begin

An accident waiting to happen is perhaps the best way to describe aluminium markets – the key swing outlet for caustic soda.  Caustic soda is normally a late cycle product, with sales then focused on the mining industry.  Industry leader Alcoa’s results confirm the disappointing trend.  It lost money in Q1, whilst revenue fell 8% due to a decline […]

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Half of all Asians still living below $2/day poverty line

The good news is that the world’s development agencies are waking up to the idea that income level is going to be key to future world growth.  They are also starting to recognise that the vast majority of people in the emerging economies are not ”middle-class” with near-Western standards of living. Thus a major new Study from the […]

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High-frequency traders pay $millions to be legal highwaymen

In olden days, highwaymen would hang around stagecoach inns, waiting to see when wealthy people were travelling.  Then they would hide out along their likely route, getting wet and cold, in order to take their cash. Today the arrival of electronic trading has changed all this.  High-Frequency Traders (HFT) now have computer programmes to act as their lookouts, […]

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Free China outlook webinar on Wednesday

The blog’s recent Research Note on the likely impact of China’s economic reforms has attracted enormous interest. As a result, it will hold 2 free webinars on Wednesday to discuss the outlook in more detail. The webinars will be co-hosted with John Richardson, author of the Asian Chemical Connections blog – and co-author with the blog of Boom, […]

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“It’s worse than 2007, because then it was a problem of the developed economies”

William White was the only central banker to publicly warn of the risks to the world economy long before the Crisis, when he was chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements (the central bankers’ bank).  He also warned of the problems that would be caused by their stimulus programmes as early as September 2009. A blog […]

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China’s credit cuts will send seismic tremors around the world

Monday’s Interesting Quotes post highlighted how China’s leadership clearly recognise they have a massive debt problem, as detailed in the blog’s recent Research Note. Further evidence for this was provided by yesterday’s bank lending figures, which showed total lending down 19% versus March 2013 at Rmb2.07tn ($333bn), and the lowest increase in money supply since 2001. This makes […]

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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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Interesting Quotes (7)

Every now and then, somebody in a senior position says something that really deserves to be noticed.  Often this is when they are in a state of Denial.  This was the case in the blog’s first post in the Interesting Quotes series, when CitiGroup CEO, Chuck Prince dismissed worries about subprime losses in August 2007, saying: […]

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US chemicals slip back into Contraction mode as cycle peaks

The above chart from the excellent American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly report may look a bit baffling at first.  But it is worth attention, as it highlights the current state of the industry in real time: It shows US chemical shipments on the vertical axis, and change in inventory on the horizontal axis Both are shown […]

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