It’s going to be a very difficult winter. Most of the world will be impacted as Europe bids up energy/food prices to keep its people warm and fed. And it would never have happened if policymakers had recognised the importance of geopolitics, energy markets and demographics.
Chemicals and the Economy
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Exponential rapidly rising or falling markets usually go further than you think, but they do not correct by going sideways.
A new report from the International Energy Agency confirms that electricity is set to be the fuel of the future, powered by renewable sources. And the new German government’s decision to allocate 2% of Germany’s landmass to windfarms confirms the scale of the changes underway. The IEA’s chart above details the expansions now planned on […]