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Author Archives: Martin Fluck
By Martin Fluck | Published: March 10, 2013
China’s growth has been "unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable," its outgoing premier Wen Jiabao admits. And popular resentment is rising. So recent actions by China’s new leadership beg the question whether it will try to satisfy the rising expectations of its huge population, and prevent the growing polarisation of wealth from leading to open revolt, by swapping breakneck growth for greater social equity.
By Martin Fluck | Published: December 19, 2012
Onshore wind turbines only last 10 to 15 years, not the 20 to 25 years claimed by the wind industry and the government, the Renewable Energy Foundation reported today. And the picture is even worse for offshore turbines. Britain's experimentation with wind farms is likely to end up leaving the country littered with abandoned wind turbines, like the 14,000 turbines left behind in the US after the 1980's.
By Martin Fluck | Published: December 19, 2012
The good news is that emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, and Africa are set to boom in the coming decades. The bad news though – if you’re a deluded environmental activist - is that their growing energy needs cannot possibly be met by renewable energy, as their large and growing populations invest in infrastructure and housing. The world’s “insatiable demand” for energy will instead have to be met by an increased use of coal, the International Energy Agency admits. Coal’s share of the global energy mix will continue rising, with coal closing in on oil as world’s top energy source by 2017.
By Martin Fluck | Published: October 5, 2012
Back in April, I suggested that calling for a break-up of the too-big-to-fail banks could be a winner for either presidential candidate, now that campaigning for a break-up of the big banks has gone mainstream. It's intriguing therefore, that Romney turned on the TBTF banks in the first presidential debate.
By Martin Fluck | Published: October 4, 2012
How a Wall Street elite contrived to turn the physical commodities market into a casino, and trigger damaging “spikes” in everything from oil to foodstuffs was beautifully reported on by Matt Taibi of Rolling Stone Magazine in 2008. But the food riots last year may be spurring politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to take action. Retail investors, the "long only" bettors who have for years forced prices upward, are part of the problem. So the Democrats are proposing rule changes that would force small investors in the US to divest themselves of the $50 billion they have tied up in commodity derivatives - if Obama wins the election.
By Martin Fluck | Published: September 27, 2012
What’s been worrying a few investment strategists is the disconnect between stock markets and reality. Forward earning expectations are still unbelievably positive, considering Europe is being sucked into an economic black hole. And that’s after a number of major bellwethers, like FedEx and Caterpillar, have reported bleak earnings outlooks. When Caterpillar warns its sales are going to slump until 2015, it’s saying that we are about to experience a repeat of the 2009 crash, once the true state of the global economy becomes apparent to even the dimmest analyst. Just that this time it could be even worse.
By Martin Fluck | Published: September 13, 2012
Anyone who bought into the recent grain bubble and sent the price of corn soaring past its 2011 high - on the back of the worst drought in the US in more than 50 years - must be a little consternated. The US crop doesn’t look its going to collapse as was expected.
By Martin Fluck | Published: September 6, 2012
The markets have been transfixed by the ECB’s plan for unlimited purchases of bonds - or outright monetary transactions, as they are to be called. But the ECB’s implicit deal with Germany, to link any bond purchases to the European rescue funds’ strict fiscal conditions, has tied its hands. Saving the euro now depends on proud nations like Spain and Italy being willing to kowtow to their new masters in Berlin. Judging by the mood of the Spanish people, it’s more likely that Spain will call Germany’s bluff and threaten to leave the euro forthwith, unless it is given unconditional support.
By Martin Fluck | Published: August 18, 2012
Unable to make up for the shortfall in electricity as it phases out nuclear power and boosts its dependency on wind and solar power, Germany now faces an energy crisis of its own making. It will only be a matter of time before the nuclear phase and its ‘energy revolution’ are abandoned, because jobs are now clearly threatened.
By Martin Fluck | Published: August 14, 2012
There’s an air of unreality in the financial markets right now. Discreetly, behind the scenes, various market actors are preparing for a collapse in the euro, even though no-one wants to publicly admit that the Germans are about to pull the plug on Greece, and probably the whole shebang. Similarly, investors are putting off reckoning with the day of reckoning by purposefully ignoring the signs of an impending global recession – in the belief that central banks will bail them out.