Macro Macchiato

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Macro Macchiato: Increasing Signs of Recession?

The global economy has grown slowly since the financial crash of 2008, but it has grown consistently to recover lost production. Even in the UK, the government was recently pleased to announce that workers’ average wages have now recovered to their 2008 levels after a decade of austerity. Applause from the housing estates of manufacturing towns was muted. Stock markets around the world have been hitting high notes, fattening the pensions of workers and building the bonuses of investment managers. Even dry and wet bulk shipping enjoyed some profits in 2018 and 2019. But there are signs of weakness even before we think about Covid-19, as the WHO has baptised the coronavirus. Starting in China,

Macro Macchiato: WHO do you trust?

The legendary Irish columnist Fintan O’ Toole wrote a piece at the weekend for the UK’s Observer (a Sunday newspaper) in which he was covering the Irish general election, but neatly encapsulated the challenge facing every country that has felt the waves of globalisation crashing over itself in the last few decades. O’ Toole wrote: “Voters are now asking their next government to conduct a fascinating experiment: can Ireland retain the global investment that makes its economy look so successful, while providing the public goods without which its society is not sustainable?” As you might expect, I immediately thought of China's Belt and Road Initiative in this context. In the light of debatable

MACRO MACCHIATO: SKIP LNG, MOVE STRAIGHT TO HYDROGEN?

Renowned philanthropist and exterminator of typing pools Bill Gates has ordered a luxurious super-yacht, his first as it turns out. The 112 metre LOA gin palace, first aired at the Monaco Yacht Show last September, will cost USD 500 Mn and is expected to deliver in 2024. It will have 14 guest berths and 32 crew berths, an infinity pool, helipad, a spa and - oh yes - it is going to by powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Liquefied hydrogen will be stored below decks in vacuum tanks at 20.25 Kelvin, which is -252.9 Celcius, rather colder than the balmy -160 Celcius at which methane liquefies. The hydrogen will power electric fuel cells via a chemical reaction with oxygen in the presence of a catal

Remain Deadly Calm At All Times, Part Two

On 30th January The World Health Organisation declared on a global health emergency. Nobody has died of Corona Virus in the US, but that country has declared (on 30th January) a public health emergency and denied entry to foreign nationals who have visited China in the preceding two weeks. Australia and Singapore have followed suit. New Zealand and Israel are denying entry to foreigners travelling from mainland China. Japan and South Korea have denied entry to anyone coming from Hubei province. Egypt, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy and the UK have suspended passenger flights to mainland China. Mongolia has partially closed its long border with China. Today Hong Kong has said it will susp

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