Most Americans can’t qualify for a mortgage today with prices and interest rates at generation-highs. Yet housing starts average a post-2007 record of 1.5m/month. Logic therefore suggests the US housing market could be heading for a repeat of the 2008 crisis
Chemicals and the Economy
Companies need to prepare for much slower, or maybe even negative growth and deflation. Optimistically, one can hope this paradigm shift will be good news for Net Zero investments. But it also makes it more difficult to reduce the vast debts created by recent stimulus programmes.
The losses sitting on central bank balance sheets are starting to soar to eye-watering levels. The US Federal Reserve is sitting on a “mark-to-market” loss of $911bn. The UK taxpayer has already handed over £150bn ($192bn) to cover the Bank of England’s losses.
The chemical industry is now starting to warn us of a new risk. Europe is already suffering from a cost of living crisis. And people simply can’t afford to pay even higher prices for energy. At a certain point, therefore, demand may simply collapse, and usher in deflation
Taylor Swift’s concerts are creating massive short-term demand as people reconnect after lockdowns. But the chemical industry is warning that deflation could be round the corner, due to the over-capacity created by 20 years of stimulus
A whole generation has grown up with the idea that rates are always close to zero. And they also “know” that central banks will always print more money if needed.
The Ukraine war highlights how the real world can often be a very messy place. Issues such as geopolitics and demographics aren’t easy to understand. It can be hard to understand the detail of how key industries and markets are operating.
So it’s no surprise that most policymakers have preferred to stay in the world of theory.
Chemicals are telling us that all the world’s major economies are in a major downturn. And the downturn is starting to accelerate as companies cut back spending and fire people. Real estate, autos and other key areas are already suffering along with the banking system.
The problem is that most economic models were originally built in the 1960s/70s, when people still died around pension age, and are out-of-date
Japan has wasted trillions of yen with its failed stimulus programmes. Had it devoted even a tenth of this money to developing a proper Retraining programme for people in their 50s/60s, it wouldn’t now be facing a major debt and currency crisis. The rest of the Western world needs to rapidly learn from its mistake.