Millions of people around the world are already having to cutback on buying food for their families due to today’s high prices. By wintertime, the risk is that they will have to choose between buying food or heating their homes.
Chemicals and the Economy
The US is moving into recession as the Atlanta Fed chart confirms. Chemicals have been warning of this for some time. But policymakers and commentators remain in Denial about the economy. They prefer to focus on their computer models, and ignore the real world outside their window.
But now, the bubble is starting to deflate, as the zero-Covid policy cripples the economy. GDP grew just 0.4% in Q2. Beijing is issuing record amount of debt, but confidence has gone. Prices for unsold apartments are being discounted. And developers’ cashflow is being hit by mortgage strikes for unfinished apartments.
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.
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.