Chemical companies highlight increased uncertainty and volatility in Q1 results

Volatility creates uncertainty.  And uncertainty can easily lead to paralysis, if a company hasn’t planned ahead for the range of potential scenarios that might develop.  This is the risk highlighted in my usual analysis of quarterly results. A key warning sign is the divide that has developed recently in performance in different regions and industry sectors, […]

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US jobs growth fails to keep pace with population growth

The US population reached 320m this year, an 11.35m increase versus 2010, according to the US Census Bureau: “The U.S. is expected to experience a birth every 8 seconds and one death every 12 seconds, whilst net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 33 seconds.  All these factors […]

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PE exporters face problems as China slows, global capacity expands

China no longer wants to be the ‘manufacturing capital of the world’.  Its ‘New Normal’ policies are instead taking it in a new direction, where growth will be based on income levels, not property wealth effects.  So this seems a good moment to step back, and focus on the changes this is likely to bring. […]

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US interest rates likely to move higher sooner, not later

The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus began last August with the collapse of oil prices and the rise of the US$.  Of course, markets have bounced around since then – but that is what markets do. And in major markets such as these, there are also people with large wallets ready to manipulate prices in one direction […]

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US economy’s demographic dividend is fast turning into a deficit

My new post for the Financial Times FT Data blog discusses how the ageing of the US population is creating major headwinds for the economy. Guest post by Paul Hodges| May 06 13:45 | Demographic change is creating major headwinds for the US economy, as confirmed by its disappointing first quarter GDP growth of 0.2 […]

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US Marcellus gas output trebles as drilling rig count halves

Simple stories aren’t always true.  That’s certainly the case with the fiction that the fall in the number of US oil drilling rigs will soon reduce US oil production. Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson recently reminded us of this critical point: “Clearly a significant decline in rig activity did not diminish the continued growth of […]

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Polypropylene highlights impact of China’s new economic direction

Polypropylene (PP) is one of the world’s major plastics – used in areas as diverse as car bumpers and food packaging.  And in recent years, consumption has soared due to China’s seemingly insatiable demand, as it became the manufacturing capital of the world. But now, all that is changing.  As we warned in chapter 2 of ‘Boom, Gloom […]

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US auto sales close to running on empty

We’ve all had that moment of jumping into the car, and turning on the ignition, only to realise we forgot to fill up the fuel tank on the last journey. US auto sales data for April is flashing that same familiar orange warning light. From the outside, everything looked fine with the data.  Although there […]

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“Sell in May and go away?” as US/German bond yields jump

A strange thing happened to German 10-year interest rates last week – they rose quite sharply, by a further 0.2%. That may not sound a lot, but it is when the starting point is so low.  On 20 April, they were at 0.07%, and on Friday they closed at 0.37% – for a total rise […]

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China issues Top 100 list of most-wanted corruption fugitives

$2.83tn is estimated to have left China illegally as a result of corruption between 2005 – 2011.  This helps to explain the remarkable poster above, which shows China’s Interpol list of its 100 “most-wanted” corruption suspects.  It has just been published by China’s state media, with the following explanation: “The China National Central Bureau of […]

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