Smartphone sales downturn highlights financial market risks

There was no great surprise in the news that global smartphone sales fell for the first time ever in Q1.  As I suggested in February, when reviewing Q4 data: “It seems almost inevitable that global growth will now follow China and go negative”. As the chart shows, Strategy Analytics data suggests that sales fell 3% in […]

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China’s G20 Summit shutdown highlights risks to commodities buying “frenzy”

China’s polyester industry, like many others, is already preparing to shut down ahead of September’s G20 Summit in Hangzhou, to reduce pollution levels.  The phenomenon even has its own Wikipedia page, APEC Blue, to describe the moment in November 2014 when Beijing suddenly saw blue sky for the whole of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit meeting.  It […]

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Deflation Jul13

Central banks head for currency wars as growth policies fail

The world’s central bankers would have been sacked long ago if they were CEOs running companies.  They would also have been voted out, if they were elected officials. Not only have they failed to achieve their promised objectives – constant growth and 2% inflation – they have kept failing to achieve them since the Crisis […]

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China’s polymer expansions make new US exports hard to place

China used to be the manufacturing capital of the world.  It would buy raw materials, and sell finished products to the West.  But these volumes are now in decline.  The West’s ageing populations already own most of what they need, and their incomes are reducing as they enter retirement. So China’s business model is changing. […]

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Saudi plans to transform Aramco to energy /industrial company

“Within 20 years, we will be an economy that doesn’t depend mainly on oil“. With that one statement, deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured above), changed the outlook for oil and energy markets.  The world’s major oil producer, with the lowest cost, was signalling that the kingdom will no longer be supply-driven, focused on […]

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Flea on dog1

Chemicals, the “flea on the tail of the currency/interest rate dog”

Markets are becoming increasingly chaotic, as the world’s major central banks each try to devalue their currencies. They have created a traders’ paradise, with oil on a particularly wild ride.  But this has not been based on supply/demand fundamentals.  Instead, it has been due to hedge funds jumping back into the commodities market. They don’t […]

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Brazil PE Apr16

Brazil’s PE market shifts from import to export as recession bites

4 years ago, Brazil’s polyethylene market flagged up the first warning signs that its GDP was hitting headwinds, as China’s stimulus programme begin to slow.  Today, sadly, the economy is in major recesssion, with the impeachment process against President Rousseff adding further pressure: World Bank data shows GDP fell 3.7% last year: it forecasts “only” […]

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GDP Apr16

Global GDP saw record fall in 2015 – new IMF data

New data from the International Monetary Fund confirms that last year’s collapse in global GDP was even worse than first reported. As the chart shows,the fall when measured in current dollars was a record $4.7tn, versus $3.3tn in 2009.  And GDP was down 6% in percentage terms versus 5.3% in 2009: Even more worrying is […]

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Oil market rally under threat as Doha meeting fails to agree

Yesterday’s failure of the Doha oil producers meeting will hopefully reintroduce a note of sanity into oil markets.  After all, Saudi leaders have made it clear, time and time again, that they were no longer interested in operating a cartel where they take the pain of cutting production, and everyone else gains the benefit of […]

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Water wars, food shortages create urgent need for new, demand-led approach

Companies and investors need to refocus on demand as the key driver for future revenue and profit growth.  Supply-driven business models are no longer sufficient. ‘How do we do this?”  is the critical question, as I discuss in this short video interview with ICIS deputy news editor, Tom Brown: The key is to focus on […]

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