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2018 will see Winners and Losers appear in plastics markets

Two major challenges face petrochemical and polymer producers and consumers in 2018: The likely disruption created by the arrival of the ethylene/polyethylene expansions in the US The growth of the circular economy and the need to dramatically increase recycling capacity My new interview with Will Beacham, deputy editor of ICIS Chemical Business, focuses on both […]

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Goodbye to “business as usual” model for plastics

Polymer markets face two major challenges in coming months. The most immediate is the arrival of the major US shale gas-based ethylene and polyethylene expansions. The longer-term, but equally critical challenge, comes from growing public concern over plastic waste, particularly in the ocean. The EU has set out its vision for a new plastics economy, where: “All plastic packaging is reusable or […]

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West’s household spending heads for decline as population ages and trade war looms

As promised last week, today’s post looks at the impact of the ageing of the BabyBoomers on the prospects for economic growth. The fact that people are living up to a third longer than in 1950 should be something to celebrate.  But as I noted in my Financial Times letter, policymakers are in denial about the importance of […]

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Global smartphone sales slide 9% in Q4, as China tumbles 16%

Global smartphone sales have seen major growth until recently as consumers fell in love with going mobile, as the chart shows: In the critical Q4 period they jumped from 290m in 2013 to 380m in 2014, 405m in 2015 and 439m in 2016 But they then fell 9% in Q4 last year, according to Strategy […]

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Older workers are looking for something more

The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter arguing that we need new policies to help people adapt to their extra decade or more life expectancy. Sir, There is another angle to Janan Ganesh’s interesting exploration of whether “Liberals risk the charge of complacency” (February 20). This is the question of why the policy elite has […]

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London house prices risk perfect storm as interest rates rise

2000 should have been the natural end of the BabyBoomer-led economic SuperCycle. The oldest Boomer (born in 1946) was about to leave the Wealth Creator 25 – 54 age group that drives consumer spending and hence economic growth.  And since 1970, Boomer women’s fertility rates had been below replacement level (2.1 babies/woman).  So relatively fewer young people were […]

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China’s used cars put a dent in global industry

China is now developing a used car market for the first time in its history.  This means the end of global auto sales growth, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog China’s car market has been key to the recovery in global auto sales growth since […]

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Top 3 Chinese smartphone brands capture global lead

China’s Top 3 manufacturers – Huawei, OPPO and Vivo – captured top position in global smartphone sales for the first time in Q1.  As the chart shows: □  They took 22.9% of the market compared to 22.7% for Samsung and 14.4% for Apple □  In terms of individual smartphone sales, OPPO’s R9s smartphone reached the […]

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China’s lending bubble sees Beijing home prices jump 63%

Greed and fear are the primary emotions driving China’s housing and auto markets today, as China’s lending bubble hits new heights.  For ordinary citizens, greed is the key driver:    Average home prices in Beijing rose an eye-popping 63% between October 2015 – February 2017    In Shanghai, one enterprising estate agent (realtor) […]

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UK savings Apr17

UK consumers face difficult times as Brexit unwinds the housing bubble, and financial services de-cluster out of London

Brexit negotiations are likely to prove a very uncomfortable ride for UK consumers as Russell Napier of Eric, the online research platform, warned last week: □  “Public sector debt remains at near-historic highs (in peace time!) and for the first time this public sector debt comes with a private sector bubble □  Credit card debt […]

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