The blog in 2014

By Paul Hodges on 26-Dec-2014

Blog Dec14Historians will probably agree that 2014 marked a turning point for the global economy.

It was the year when China’s new leadership turned away from stimulus policies, which had been based on creating a wealth effect via a lending and property bubble.  The impact of this change of direction is still hardly recognised in mainstream commentary, despite it having already led to a major collapse in prices for oil and other commodities.

February’s Research Note, China’s Bank Lending: from $1tn to $10tn and Back Again?, gave my view of how these new policies would impact China and the world.  The key is that President Xi is determined to refocus the economy for the benefit of ordinary people – hence his attack on corruption and his determination to solve the pollution problem.

An important new statement this month from China’s policy-making Central Economic Work Conference highlights the critical elements of the country’s move to this New Normal:

We must understand the new normal, adjust to the new normal, and develop under the new normal

  • Coming to terms with the new normal will be the “main logic” for economic growth for some time
  • Chinese economy has entered the new normal, featuring a shift from high speed growth to a medium-to-high one
  • The focus of economic growth will be shifting from quantity and speed to quality and efficiency
  • Economic momentum is increasingly driven by new engines rather than old ones
  • The new normal has not changed the strategic importance of a period that will see great achievements, nor the fundamentals of the Chinese economy”

Anyone who imagines there will be a return to any kind of ‘business as usual’ policy is fooling themselves, as I argued in the Financial Times’ BeyondBrics blog in October.

The crucial point is that it means markets are now returning to being governed by the fundamentals of supply and demand, not by artificial policymaker stimulus.  I describe this as the Great Unwinding, and set out its expected direction in a series of posts beginning on 18 August.  These correctly forecast the collapse of oil prices to “$70/bbl, and probably lower“, as well as the ”strong move upwards“ by the US$.  The posts in the series were as follows:

Since then, we have launched our new subscription service, The pH Report.  This aims to provide an informed and independent guide through the volatile and uncertain world now emerging.  I hope you might consider subscribing.

The blog’s audience has continued to set new records in 2014.  It has had over 250k visits, and is read in 169 countries and 8019 cities as shown in the chart above.  Readers also remain incredibly loyal, with one in two reading it every week and one in four reading it every day.

Thank you for your continued support.