We are facing a perfect storm of global food, energy and financial crises set off by the war in Ukraine. Analysts need to stop focusing on monetary policy and the inversion of the yield curve. They need to look out of the window and start dealing with the geopolitical reality of Putinflation.
Chemicals and the Economy
Social and political issues were always more important than economics before the SuperCycle. And now they are resurfacing again. Does an individual woman have the right to choose what to do with her body? Or can judges tell her what she can, and can’t do? It is early days, but many women may choose to vote Democrat because of this issue in November.
The history of the 1929 and 2000 downturns suggests the real pain is yet to come. Housing markets look terribly over-valued around the world, as I noted last month. And US consumer sentiment is at all-time lows. So most company earnings seem set to fall, with more than 60% of US CEOs now expecting to see a recession.
Consumer sentiment is already at all-time lows. Rising energy, transport and food prices will likely soon push inflation above 10%, and interest/mortgage rates to 5%+, adding to the risk of a major and long-lasting downturn.
There are positives in all this, as the Green agenda will create new opportunities to replace those that are now disappearing. But for the moment, at least, the risks associated with a likely lengthy and deep recession are likely to dominate. Please be careful out there.
The Fed might change its mind and rush to support asset markets again. But that seems unlikely today. If it doesn’t, then debt, divorce and death will force an increasing number of people to sell their home. And if buyers continue to disappear, then sellers will have to continue cutting prices in order to try and achieve a sale, as the bubble finally bursts.
Markets have returned to the 1970s. They have to cope with “Putinflation”, recession, rising interest rates and energy prices – as well as geopolitical and nuclear risk. Unfortunately, today’s traders do not even have the experience of the 1960s as a guide, having lived in a different world for 20 years.
The market downturn couldn’t have come at a worse time for Apple. It was already facing major supply chain chaos in Q2. And now it has to face a major decline in the smartphone market itself. Inevitably this will lead to a brutal battle for market share as companies struggle to survive.
Europe’s plastic industry is at a critical turning point. Profitability is falling as the recession bites. But it cannot just cut back and hunker down. Instead, it has to take a lead in building major new recycling capacity as today’s markets and feedstocks start to disappear.
Central banks and investors believed stimulus programs had created a “New Paradigm” where asset prices would always increase. Now they are starting to realise that stimulus is irrelevant against the 3 Horsemen of the Apocalypse – China’s continuing battle with the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and potential for famine as rising gas/fertilizer prices mean farmers can’t afford to grow their crops or feed their animals.