Oil prices remain at pre-2005 levels as inventories rise

Its mid-winter in Russia, and the snow is deep in some parts of Moscow.  Meanwhile in Venezuela the economy is close to meltdown, and its hard to find even essentials in Caracas.  So it is no real surprise that this month saw their Oil Ministers head for “important discussions” in the warmer climate of the […]

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FT

If only the central banks could print babies

The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, arguing that central bank stimulus can’t restore growth to previous Super Cycle levels. Sir, John Plender’s excellent analysis “Central banks’ waning credibility is the real threat to confidence” (Insight, February 17) highlights the need for a new narrative to explain the economic slowdown of recent years. […]

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Auto sales slump in Japan, Brazil and Russia as China slows

China’s slowdown is continuing to reverberate around the world.  One way of measuring this is to look at auto sales in countries closely linked to China’s market such as Japan, Russia and Brazil.  As the chart shows, they did well during China’s stimulus period, but they are struggling now.  By comparison, more self-sufficient India has […]

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Nikkei v Shang Feb16

Tokyo, Shanghai stock markets fall; yen rises 8% in 2 weeks

Pity poor Janet Yellen, you might say.  The head of the US Federal Reserve told the Senate last week that she had been “quite surprised” by the collapse of oil prices since mid-2014.  And she added that the rise of the US$ was similarly “not something that we had expected” (you can see the testimony […]

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Smartphones head for price war as China sales fall 4% in Q4

We all now carry around a mini-computer in our pockets – one with more power than those which controlled Apollo 11 when Neil Amstrong first walked on the moon in 1969.  In certain parts of the world, there are now more smartphones than toilets, according to Time magazine. This is raising the spectre of market […]

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IEA says market “awash with oil” – debunks bullish myths

Oil markets are the proverbial “canary in the coalmine”.  They are showing us what happens when the rose-tinted glasses provided by stimulus policy are removed.  Now markets have to return to their true role of price discovery, based on the fundamentals of supply and demand. This makes them very dangerous indeed.  Some large players in […]

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The World’s Economy Soared Last Year (or Plunged)

  ECONOMIC TRENDS    Danny Hakim @dannyhakim FEB. 8, 2016 “LONDON — Did global output rise or fall last year?” That’s the critical question asked by the New York Times today. It follows my recent blog post, suggesting we shouldn’t ignore the fact that IMF data shows a record $3.8tn fall in global GDP last year, when […]

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2015 operating rates confirm chemical industry slowdown

Financial markets are becoming more and more chaotic, with prices regularly moving by 1% per cent or more in a day.  Prices have also started to suffer sharp reverses of direction within a day, as talk of new stimulus competes with the reality of mounting supply gluts.  These developments are classic red flags, warning of […]

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China’s lending bubble is being deflated

The changes underway in China’s lending policies are far more significant that anything being planned by central banks in Tokyo, Frankfurt or Washington as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Investors’ attention remains focused on the minutiae of central bank policies in the developed world. But they might spare a […]

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China’s polyethylene market creates Winners and Losers

Tens of billions of dollars have been spent over the past 6 years to produce the above chart.  And thousands of people have argued and debated around the world about what will happen to China’s polyethylene (PE) market.  It has been a key focus of attention for everyone in the petchem and polymer industry since […]

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