“Serious economic cooling-off” makes China’s GDP likely to go negative, again

We all know that China’s published GDP figures are meaningless.  China’s premier, Li Keqiang, has told us so.  And common sense tells us that no country, large or small, can possibly produce accurate GDP data within 2 weeks of the end of a quarter.  Nor is it possible to believe that this data never needs to […]

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US, Japan consumer spend falls, deflation threatens Eurozone

We are now two-thirds of the way through 2014, and critical decisions are looming for companies and investors.  Do they give central banks one more chance to stimulate growth?  And are they prepared to trust policymakers to avoid a major geopolitical crisis in the Ukraine? Or do they decide that ‘enough is enough’, and that […]

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Auto sales on roller-coaster ride in Japan, Russia, Brazil, India

Car sales in Japan, Russia, Brazil and India currently account for just under 1 in 5 of global sales.  Their market share peaked at 21% in 2008, but is today back at 2005′s level of 17%.  As the chart shows, it has been a roller-coaster ride for all of them: Japan’s 4.7m sales were 10% of the global total […]

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Unilever says Q2 market growth slows in emerging countries, developed countries weak

The global economy really isn’t getting any better.  That’s the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly survey of company results for Q2. Of course, some companies are doing well – either because of shale gas economics, or their own market positioning.  But consumer giant Unilever summarised the general picture very well: “Market growth continued to slow in emerging […]

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Oil prices break out of their triangle – downwards

The Great Unwinding of the central banks stimulus policies is underway, as discussed last week.  Oil markets have been one of the first to feel the change, as the chart shows, with prices finally falling out of the ‘triangle’ shape built up since 2008.  The value of the US$, interest rates and the S&P 500 […]

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A personal WW1 centenary – the Battle of Le Cateau

100 years ago today, the blog’s grandfather went into action for the first time in World War 1, at the Battle of Le Cateau.  A regular soldier, his Battalion had landed in France on 22 August 1914, and had then marched for 3 days from the Channel ports as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) .  […]

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US retail sales hit by declines in income and household wealth

US retail sales tell a sorry story about the state of underlying demand.  US sales at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store chain, have failed to grow for 6 consecutive quarters, with shopper traffic falling 1.1% in Q2.  The company’s explanation for the problems is worth pondering by anyone in business: It is facing intense competition […]

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China economic rebalancing will take at least 10 years

We must all hope that new economic policies now being implemented in China are successful.  The alternative, of a debt implosion, is too awful to contemplate.  But as China’s state-owned media continually remind us, the transition is likely to prove extremely difficult. An important interview with the deputy head of the National Economic Research Institute, Wang […]

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2 dates for the diary

Last May’s China Transformation webinar with John Richardson attracted great interest.  We are therefore arranging a free follow-up webinar on Tuesday 9 September.  As before, it will be run twice, to allow blog readers in different regions to attend. This ‘China Economic Transformation II’ webinar will cover these key areas: The likely impact on global markets of the […]

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US fracking demand creates price volatility for hydrochloric acid

Fracking has completely changed the outlook for US natural gas supplies, as the above chart from the latest Energy Information Agency 2014 annual report shows: It forecasts a 56% increase in total natural gas production from 2012 to 2040 This is largely due to growth in shale gas (green) and tight gas (brown) Shale gas output […]

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