The World Cup runs till December 18. That’s a long time for Chinese viewers to ask themselves “Why am I still locked down, when the rest of the world is living a normal life again”? And in the background, the real estate bubble continues to burst.
Chemicals and the Economy
Apple symbolises the major changes underway in the economy. Its stock price is in decline as central bank stimulus disappears. And its profits are threatened as pressure builds on its supply chain and pricing.
Consumers around the world are tightening their purses and cutting back on non-essential purchases, as the recession continues to develop and China’s real estate bubble bursts.
The problems began with the supply chain crisis caused by the pandemic. Russia’s war in Ukraine then created a further challenge. And now we face the risk of famine as fertiliser costs become unaffordable. Central bankers at their annual Jackson Hole get-together should therefore focus on preparing for the arrival of a potential Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, in the shape of a major financial crisis.
As the head of Germany’s Employers’ Associations warned last month: “We are facing the biggest crisis the post-war Federal Republic has ever had. We have to be honest and say: First of all, we will lose the prosperity that we have had for years”.
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.
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.
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.
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.