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
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 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.
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.
Energy and financial markets are exacerbating the risks ahead. Oil prices at current levels – as the chart confirms, they now account for more than 3% of global GDP – have historically led to recession as the chart shows. The reason is that consumers have to cut back on their discretionary spending, which drives economic growth, in order to heat their homes and travel to work and school. Today’s high levels of natural gas prices add to this risk.
This is why we are facing a K-shaped recession. Companies and investors have a difficult time ahead. They not only have to navigate a potentially major downturn. But they also have to completely reposition their portfolios for the New Normal world that will follow.
These are difficult times, and there is no guarantee that they may not get worse. But they also remind us of the critical need to move beyond the Age of Oil, and develop more sustainable energy resources for the future.
The issue is simply that investors are in a state of Denial. And so there is a growing risk of a financial crisis as reality finally dawns on them.
Evergrande’s default will only be the first of many. Companies and countries that have “bet the ranch” on China’s “perpetual motion machine” need to urgently decide how to minimise their potential losses, whilst there is still time.
It is time for the central banks to give up their outdated economic models, and focus instead on the science of demographics. Their efforts to create economic growth by ‘printing babies’ have simply created a debt bubble. This will likely now burst as Evergrande goes bankrupt.