Few commodities have experienced more pronounced volatility over the last few years than cobalt. This versatile, ferromagnetic metal has been increasingly sought after in recent times, thanks in no small part to its use in lithium-ion batteries
In October 2018, S&P Global Ratings issued a stark warning pertaining to China’s mounting debt problems. According to the ratings agency, the country’s local governments may be sitting on a pile of debt worth up to 40 trillion yuan ($6 trillion).
The construction industry in the United States does a lot more than build buildings. It undergirds the prosperity of the country’s economy as a whole in multiple ways. How are contractors, the industry’s key players, feeling these days? Overall, they are optimistic, as survey results show—and economic data supports their buoyancy—but not without reservations about future uncertainties, especially in three main areas: trade, labor and interest rates.
The US economy is on track to break its own record; its current 115 months of expansion is only five months shy of the record set in the 1990s. The next recession will come, maybe soon, as the economy succumbs to factors such as policy errors, foreign growth and corporate profit. And the United States will not fall alone; other Western Hemisphere countries will be dragged down with it.
Chinese president Xi Jinping calls it the “project of the century”. Part of his roadmap to Chinese prosperity, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), presents opportunities not only for Corporate China but for financial institutions and corporates the world over.
Malaysia is amongst Southeast Asia’s most prosperous nations, with consistently high economic growth. It is also amongst the region’s most progressive; one of its top five banks, Hong Leong Bank, is leading the widespread adoption of digital solutions in finance. We were pleased to be joined by two of HLB’s senior executives, Domenic Fuda and Charles Sik, to discuss HLB’s newest strategies toward being “digital at the core”.
Cobalt, that versatile ferromagnetic metal, has experienced its own evolution; no longer used just to provide blue colour for glass and ceramics, it is today highly valued as a necessary ingredient for making those prized electric-car and smartphone batteries tick. Cobalt has seen its price rise and fall over recent years, but the current trend is in an upward direction as demand outpaces supply.
China’s shadow-banking participants, often shady non-bank credit intermediaries, are slowly coming to heel as the government ramps up its efforts to curb leverage in the sector. Once accounting for 87 percent of GDP, the growth of shadow banking’s assets were outstripped by the country’s overall GDP growth during 2017, indicating that China’s financial dragon may finally have been subdued by regulators.
Panama continues its efforts to claw back from the shadow of the Panama Papers scandal. Its efforts seem to be paying dividends as the country returned third-quarter growth of 5.4 percent—slightly beating its 5.2-percent growth in the second quarter.
While 2018 may still be in its infancy, the risks hanging over the year’s foreign-exchange (forex) markets have been brewing for some time. An assortment of global hotspots are positioned to affect major currencies and their viability on forex markets.