Be careful counting your chickens

Hopes are high for the OPEC meeting on 30 November. A programme of cuts to supply that was initiated last year by OPEC and some non-OPEC members (we’ll refer to the two collectively as ‘OPEC/NOPEC’) has resulted in the oil price steadily rising from its lows to just short of $60 a barrel at the … Continue reading “Be careful counting your chickens”

Budget November 2017: Third time lucky?

If the Chancellor suffers from claustrophobia, he’ll have been having a hard time of it in recent weeks. Mr Hammond has been hemmed in on one side by sobering economic and fiscal forecasts; on another by public services and national infrastructure showing the strain after seven years of austerity; and on a third by members … Continue reading “Budget November 2017: Third time lucky?”

Liabilities and the long-term effects of low rates

We lived through history earlier this month. The Bank of England (BoE) raised interest rates for the first time in ten years. But interest rates will stay low for a lot longer yet and this should encourage those with a long-term view. The move was symbolically important – a small, but significant, reminder that interest … Continue reading “Liabilities and the long-term effects of low rates”

You didn’t think European political risk was over, did you?

The crisis in Catalonia probably won’t derail the Eurozone recovery. But there are more political challenges ahead. Markets have largely shrugged off events in Catalonia. They are probably correct to do so. After all, Catalonia is unlikely to become independent, at least for the foreseeable future. There does not appear to be a majority in … Continue reading “You didn’t think European political risk was over, did you?”

Jay Powell nominated as next Fed Chair

President Trump has nominated Jay Powell as the next Chair of the US Federal Reserve. This was largely expected, despite Trump’s hosting of a somewhat convoluted selection process (involving a promotional video), which saw numerous candidates briefly take the role of favourite. The official changing of the guard occurs at the start of February next … Continue reading “Jay Powell nominated as next Fed Chair”

Xi who must be obeyed

Xi Jinping has become the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. Time will tell whether this is a good or bad thing for the economy. Chinese leaders gathered last week for the 19th Party Congress, a five-yearly plenum that sees the leadership of the Communist Party reshuffled, and economic and policy priorities outlined. Three … Continue reading “Xi who must be obeyed”

Japanese elections: Shinzo shines

The gamble has paid off for Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, with his ruling coalition maintaining its two-third “super majority” in the snap lower house elections. It was a thumping victory for Mr Abe, and one that will surely see him be re-elected for a third term in his party’s presidential election in September 2018. … Continue reading “Japanese elections: Shinzo shines”

Two decades on from crisis, Asia is roaring

Twenty years ago this month, the government of Indonesia signed the first of several agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that threw a financial lifeline to a country struggling to stay afloat amid the Asian crisis. Deep-pocketed speculators, spotting structural weaknesses in selected regional economies, had forced catastrophic currency devaluations which triggered economic and … Continue reading “Two decades on from crisis, Asia is roaring”

Japan’s election uncertainty

Call a snap election.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, as embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May could tell us (in between coughing fits) — plenty.  And yet Shinzo Abe, Japan’s premier, is set to go down the same path. Will he regret his decision to summon the country to the polls in October? At … Continue reading “Japan’s election uncertainty”

When economic pessimism means more hikes, not fewer

There has been a striking shift in recent Bank of England (BoE) communication. In the minutes of its September meeting, policy makers noted that “some withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months.” This message was then reiterated in speeches by noted ‘dove’ Gertjan Vlieghe and Bank Governor Mark Carney. … Continue reading “When economic pessimism means more hikes, not fewer”

Inflation is dead, long live inflation

When the Federal Reserve and other central banks introduced quantitative easing in response to the global financial crisis, the loudest and most persistent criticism was that such actions would unleash a major surge in inflation. The reality has been very different. Inflation has persistently fallen short of central bank targets and economic forecasts for the … Continue reading “Inflation is dead, long live inflation”

Supercharged: the car industry in a post-oil world

Governments around the world, barring a handful of exceptions, are seeking to limit the effects of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. Earlier this year, some 200 countries signed the Paris Agreement, which commits them to help curtail global temperature rises. Part of the solution lies in promoting fuels that produce less of the … Continue reading “Supercharged: the car industry in a post-oil world”

Is China’s tech boom worth investing in?

China’s statistics are often larger-than-life but the numbers relating to mobile phone ownership and money spent online are truly staggering. As of the end of last year, more than half the population – some 731 million people – were online. That’s almost all the people in Europe. Some 95% access the internet via mobile devices. … Continue reading “Is China’s tech boom worth investing in?”

Financial Crisis Ten Years On

Ten years ago, queues quietly began forming outside branches of Northern Rock. Unsettled by press reports that the bank was asking for help from the Bank of England, anxious customers wanted out. The first run on a UK bank for over a century was underway, and Northern Rock would be nationalised within a year. In … Continue reading “Financial Crisis Ten Years On”

North Korea is a problem for China – if only the US would realise

North Korea now has nuclear warheads that it can attach to missiles, that can travel great distances – to Guam, almost certainly, the nearest offshore US territory, and, with a bit of practice perhaps heavily populated parts of the US mainland. It sounds scary, but then Russia, China and others have had this capability for … Continue reading “North Korea is a problem for China – if only the US would realise”