UK’s May election will create major political and economic uncertainty

Nobody can guess the outcome of the UK’s general election on 7 May.  This is astonishing, as it is only 4 months away. Currently, it seems most unlikely that either of the main parties, Conservative or Labour, will be able to form a government on their own.  Indeed, 7 different outcomes have been identified as possible by the […]

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US economic recovery at risk as energy bubble bursts

The bursting of the US energy bubble is looking more and more like a replay of the sub-prime bubble in 2008. As investor Warren Buffett has noted, “its only when the tide goes out, that you learn who has been swimming naked .”  And nearly a year ago, former central banker William White warned the problems in the global economy were: “Worse […]

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You can’t print oil as fast as money

There has never been any fundamental reason for oil to trade at $100/bbl since 2011: There hasn’t been a single moment when a consumer failed to get the supplies they needed Inventories in the major markets such as the US have always been at very healthy levels And all the time, more and more production […]

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“Houston, we have a problem!”

Suddenly, far too late, the world is catching up with reality.  Goldman Sachs and others yesterday halved their forecast for Brent oil to $42/bbl from $80/bbl.  But this isn’t forecasting, this is simply catching up with events long after they happened.  Brent, after all, opened at $45/bbl this morning. As readers will remember, I forecast back in August […]

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Stock markets focus on central banks, ignore debt default risk

Some extraordinary things are happening in global chemical markets.  They indicate something is very wrong in the real world outside financial markets.  The chart above highlights some key developments since 18 August when the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus began: Brent oil prices have halved and are down 51% (blue) Naphtha, the main feedstock for the global industry, has also halved […]

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One day, the Fed will try to talk the market up – and nobody will listen

In March 2007, the Financial Times kindly published a letter from me arguing that the US Federal Reserve seemed “to confuse being market-friendly with being friendly to markets“, and had forgotten “The famous dictum of William McChesney, the long-serving Fed chairman in the 1960s, that “the job of the Federal Reserve is to take away the punch […]

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US jobs growth at risk with end of the shale gas advantage

US job markets have been very difficult since the Crisis began in 2008.  In the past, it has typically taken 30 months for employment levels to return to their previous peak.  But this time, it took until last September for the US to finally recapture the 139 million jobs peak of November 2007. The trend in the […]

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Oil prices at $50/bbl, China slowdown – the New Normal arrives

Welcome to the New Normal. The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus has led global oil prices to drop back to $50/bbl.  Meanwhile China, the major source of demand growth since 2009, is now seeing a major slowdown. And, of course, this is still only the beginning of the great transformation that is now underway as we enter […]

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Rocky road ahead for global economy as chemical industry remains downbeat

The chemical industry continues to be the best leading indicator that we have for the global economy.  This is because it is not only the 3rd largest industry (after agriculture and energy), but also because it is truly global and impacts virtually all areas of modern-day life. The chart above therefore presents a very downbeat […]

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Oil price fall creates major inventory risk for chemical markets

Oil prices have now fallen $50/bbl since I forecast their collapse in August.  But it is only recently that companies and investors have begun to realise this price fall is real, and not just a minor blip.  As a result, few have yet recognised the extent of the collateral damage that is likely to appear in […]

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