VUCAa

A VUCA world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

“A week is a long time in politics” was the insight of former UK premier Harold Wilson.  It is tempting to think that the events of the past week – a terrorist massacre in France: an attempted army coup in Turkey: a fatal US sniper attack: the overnight emergence of a new government with new […]

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Crunch time for pensions as $13tn of global bonds now have negative interest rates

Around a quarter of global bonds now have negative interest rates.  This means that you get less money back at maturity than you originally invested.  And the number of bonds impacted is rising exponentially, as Bank of America Merrill Lynch reports: $13tn of global debt has negative yields, compared to $11tn before the Brexit vote, […]

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MPS Jul16

Financial markets surge as investors assume Italy’s banking crisis will lead to ‘helicopter money’

Many of the world’s major investors are assuming that Italy’s banking crisis will force Germany to agree to deliver ‘helicopter money‘ to Eurozone citizens.  Stock markets are rising, and interest rates falling as a result.  But it is a high-risk gamble, which could cause chaos if it goes wrong.  The background is as follows: The […]

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GU 9Jul16

Europe’s oil product glut halves gasoline margins in 2 weeks

We are approaching the 2nd anniversary of the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus, which began in August 2014: The initial movement was very sharp, with Brent falling 53% by January and the US$ rising 23% by March Oil then saw an initial correction – with Brent recovering to being 37% down by May during the “oil […]

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The blog’s 9th birthday

It is hard to believe that the blog has now been running for 9 years.  Over 2000 posts have been published, and its readership continues to expand across the world, with the Top 15 countries currently including: USA, UK, Germany, India, Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, S Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan Readers […]

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US polypropylene imports rise as China aims for self-sufficiency

Difficult times lie ahead for global polymer markets, as I note in a new analysis for ICIS Chemical Business. In the short-term it is clear that downstream users have, once again, been busy building stock in recent weeks as the oil price rose. But now, finance directors are getting calls from their bankers asking about […]

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UK’s Brexit vote may lead to end of schoolboy politics

Until recently, the job description for UK (and most Western) politicians has been fairly simple – look good on television, and only say something when it has been approved by a focus group.  The reward was the ability to jet off to important sounding meetings of the G7 and G20, and have agreeable dinners at […]

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Global economy in further downturn, even before Brexit

Global chemical industry sales are around $3tn a year, close to 5% of global GDP.  They are even larger when converted into all the products that we actually use on a day-to-day basis such as plastics, coatings, fibres, agrochemicals etc. And thanks to the American Chemistry Council, we have near real-time data of core trends […]

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Oil price volatility highlights uncertainty ahead

  The 3 month trend of Brent oil price volatility has reached its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis and before that, the 1st Gulf War in 1990/91.  As the chart shows, it is even higher than after 9/11. Yet there have been no developments in oil markets themselves to justify such a level. […]

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Ring of fire Feb15

Brexit a disaster for the UK, Europe and the world

First, the good news.  It has long been recognised that the UK economy is over-dependent on financial services, and that its housing market – particularly in London – is wildly over-priced in relation to earnings.  The Brexit vote should ensure that both these problems are solved: Many banks and financial institutions are already planning to […]

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