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Markets remain “volatile and challenging” says BASF chairman

Nothing has really changed over the past year.  That seems to be the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly summary of company results for Q1. A year ago, BASF noted that “achieving our earnings target is significantly more challenging today than we had expected”.  This month, chairman Kurt Bock “warned the markets will remain volatile and […]

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Another ‘Minsky Moment’ beckons for US stock markets

The West has been living with cheap money from the central banks for over 5 years.  Credit has been very easy to obtain in the financial sector, and interest rates have been at all-time lows.  The result can be seen in the chart above from Business Insider of total lending to fund stock purchases on the New […]

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Political earthquake hits Europe in EU elections

A political earthquake hit Europe in the European Union elections on Sunday night: For the first time since the War, mainstream parties were beaten in major countries In France, the National Front won 25% of the vote, with conservatives 21% and ruling socialist party only 14% In the UK, the Independence Party (UKIP) won 28%, […]

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China’s PTA, PVC exports jump as it moves to preserve jobs

To assume, as they say is “to make an ass out of u and me”.  That was certainly the case last week, when financial markets assumed that China’s slightly better PMI index was a sign that its domestic economy was stabilising.  They had temporarily forgotten the key message of February’s Research Note, namely that the government would aim to […]

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US caustic soda exports weaken on China slowdown

What a difference 2 years can make.  That’s the obvious conclusion from comparing US exports of caustic soda today, with those seen in the years to 2012.  As the chart, based on Global Trade Information Services data shows: Net US exports fell 4% in Q1 (red column) versus 2012 (blue), and were 19% below 2013 levels Detailed […]

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China auto sales depend on lending and property bubble

The above chart is the blog’s simple guide to forecasting China’s auto sales.  We know from all the data that most Chinese are far too poor to afford to buy a car out of their income.  Average per capita consumer spending in the towns is just $2600/year, after all.  While rural incomes are only a […]

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Euro elections likely to see strong vote for anti-EU parties

Its now nearly 2 years since the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) said he “was ready to do whatever it takes” to save the euro, and brought down interest rates in the weakest PIIGS economies (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain).  As the chart shows, this statement had a remarkable effect in financial markets: Interest rates today […]

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London house price bubble hits the record books

The UK no longer leads the world in soccer, as next month’s World Cup will confirm.  But it can still hold its own when it comes to creating house price bubbles. China would be the obvious winner of the World Bubble Championship, with Shanghai prices at an eye-watering 29 times average earnings.  But London would have […]

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Deflation Dec13

“Investors retreat as deflation fears rise”

The blog’s important eBook, ’Boom, Gloom and the New Normal: How Ageing Western BabyBoomers are Changing Demand Patterns, Again’, was published 3 years ago this month.  Co-authored with John Richardson, it identified the major changes taking place in global and national demand patterns: Growth accelerated from the 1980s, as the population became concentrated in the wealth creating 25 – 54 […]

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Indian auto sales decline as the middle class myth disappears

India’s stock market has hit new records this week, as investors anticipate radical policy changes after election results are announced today.  And the chart above highlights a key area behind the need for change, namely the problems of the important auto market: Indian auto sales dipped in April to just 183k (red square) This is […]

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