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.
As the photos from New York in 1900 and 1913 remind us, transitions happen very quickly once they get underway. One day, we are saying “it will never happen”. The next, we are telling our friends “I can’t understand why it took so long”. So it seems safe to assume that the auto industry will see major change in the next few years.
The ‘digitalization of everything’ has transformed the global economy over the past 30 years. The rise of the internet is just one example. Now electrification is set to have a similar impact, starting with the world’s largest manufacturing industry. Fasten your seatbelts for the ride!
Winners and Losers are becoming inevitable in the world’s largest manufacturing industry. Companies and their suppliers have to manage fixed costs to survive the recession. But they also have to invest in EV/AVs if they want to have a business in the future.
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.
The seeming genius of many private equity funds in recent years has been based on this ability to borrow at cheap rates during the ‘up’ part of the business cycle. Now we are heading into the ‘down’ cycle. And the central banks have abandoned Bernanke Theory and are back to worrying about inflation. So today’s excess leverage means many over-leveraged companies will go bust.
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.
Automakers are ahead of the game in terms of strategic planning. They soon realised the move to EVs meant their traditional business model, based on proprietary engine technology, would inevitably become obsolete. And so they quickly realised they need to pivot to focus on AVs and become software-driven. The rest of us need to catch up.
BP are aiming for their new joint venture in China to provide drivers with a fresh, fully-charged battery in less than a minute – and save 2 million tonnes of CO2