“There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise.” Alfred Hitchcock It is now 2 years since the start of the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus. On 15 August 2014, Brent was at $105/bbl, and the US$ Index was at 81. Since then, as the chart shows, Brent oil prices have fallen 53%, whilst the […]
Tag Archives | debt
Central bankers remain in Denial about the failure of their stimulus policies. Yet new IMF data for global GDP shows GDP fell by $3.8tn in 2015 – the biggest fall on record – as the world hits the “demographic cliff”. We have now seen 2 record falls in 6 years, as the previous record was $3.3tn […]
Its not what we know that causes the major problems. Its what we think we know, but don’t. We know, for example, that markets balance supply and demand by shifting prices up and down. Too much demand and/or too little supply, will mean higher prices and inflation. This is what happened as the BabyBoom took place: Medical […]
“Central banks have to be mindful that too long a period of very low interest rates can have undesirable consequences in the context of ageing societies. For pensioners, and those saving ahead of retirement, low interest rates may not be an inducement to bring consumption forward. They may on the contrary be an inducement to […]
A strange thing happened to German 10-year interest rates last week – they rose quite sharply, by a further 0.2%. That may not sound a lot, but it is when the starting point is so low. On 20 April, they were at 0.07%, and on Friday they closed at 0.37% – for a total rise […]
Debt, debt, glorious debt, Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me, follow, down to the hollow And there let us wallow in glorious debt (apologies to Flanders & Swann) It seems impossible today, but until the year 2000 most Western countries were reducing their debt burdens. Thus President Bill Clinton boasted […]
A major new report from consultants McKinsey confirms my concerns over the dramatic increase in global debt levels since stimulus policies began in 2008. As their chart above highlights: Global debt has risen by $57tn to $199tn since 2007, nearly 3x global GDP Government debt is up by $25tn, with three-quarters of this in the developed […]
We all learnt one crucial lesson from Syriza’s victory in the Greek election last week - voters can halt the European Central Bank (ECB). Or in other words, protest coalitions can trump elite consensus. In places like Spain and France, this effect may not work through immediately, but it is being absorbed. Thus Greece and the Eurozone crisis […]
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 […]
The blog’s new Research Note in the ‘Your Compass on China’ series highlights the way that China’s commodity imports have been used to finance its housing bubble. This is clearly a shock for investors, who have till now believed the imports were a sign of its superior economic policies and long-term growth prospects. The Qingdao probe could […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such as oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.