As I have feared, major volatility is developing in financial and chemical markets, as the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus continues. The chart above shows the dramatic increase in the benchmark portfolio since the Unwinding began in mid-August: There was very little volatility from January until August, with prices generally remaining within +/- 10% Volatility then […]
Tag Archives | US Federal Reserve
Q1 was very difficult for many companies and investors. They had wanted to believe since 2009 that central banks could somehow control the global economy: The oil price would always be $100/bbl The US $ would always remain weak Central banks would always be able to stimulate growth in the economy Stock markets would always go up in the […]
US housing starts are slowing so far this year, with February’s starts just below the million level again on an annualised basis. This follows the steadily declining rate of home ownership, which is now back at 1995′s level of 64%. And yesterday’s Case-Shiller report on home prices suggests the 10-City Index may well have peaked back in […]
Historians will not look kindly on Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank. They will ask what he thought he was doing, issuing an extra €1tn ($1.05tn) of debt from March 2015, when the Eurozone was already struggling under a dead-weight of government debt: In the big countries, Italy has $47k of debt per person; […]
Increasing volatility in major Western financial markets suggests they are struggling to maintain their momentum. It is certainly hard to be very optimistic about the outlook for the major Western stock markets this year. The reason is that investors are still failing to think about political risk. They continue to believe, as they did a year ago, […]
A return to lower oil prices is good news for the global economy. But it is bad news for all those who have invested in expanding ethylene production on the assumption that US gas prices would maintain the temporary advantage of recent years. As the chart shows: Oil (blue line) has around 6x the energy […]
Whisper it quietly if you are walking past the imposing Federal Reserve building in Washington DC, so as not to disturb the occupants. They believe that their efforts to boost financial markets have had their effect, and that the real economy, in which we all live and work, will now recover. But what if the […]
The last days of a bubble are always the most fun. And Alibaba’s New York market debut last Friday will be one of those to treasure and report to the grandchildren in decades to come. There were so many elements to enjoy: The investment bankers got the price wrong by 40%, but will still walk away with […]
Nobel Prizewinner Prof Robert Shiller correctly forecast the dot-com collapse in 2000, and the 2008 financial Crisis, using the chart above. Now he is warning we risk a 3rd collapse. The problem is that Western central banks have undertaken the largest financial experiment in history. Their policy has been to boost financial markets, particularly the US S&P 500 - the world’s […]
Financial markets today only care about one thing - whether central banks will continue to provide more low-cost financing to support higher asset prices. Thus markets liked last Friday’s weak US jobs report. They hoped that the US Federal Reserve would slow its tapering process as a result. This inverted logic explains why bad news for the […]
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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 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.