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.
In 2017 Russia enjoyed a refreshing return to economic growth and general optimism—until November, when a GDP contraction took analysts by surprise. The question is, was the setback a minor bump in the road on the nation’s path to sustained recovery, or was it a signal that Russia has fallen back into recession after a good but temporary run?
Those who are bullish on oil prices have finally been vindicated with solid proof: prices for the black gold have risen to heights not seen in two years. Even though there is a big question mark surrounding the continued upward momentum in prices, with forecasts predicting almost matching increases in supply and demand over the coming months, the recent rally has encouraged beleaguered producers.
On July 30, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro followed through on previously made promises with an election for a new “constituent assembly” that would rewrite the country’s Constitution.
Russia is amongst the global heavyweights, but its economy and stock markets are vulnerable to forces outside of its control, especially the price of oil but also politics in other parts of the world, such as the United States. The country’s fortunes will depend on how oil prices fare but also on how well relations with the new administration in Washington pan out.
Iran was for years considered an economic pariah, cut off from the rest of the world by crippling sanctions initiated by the US more than 35 years ago. The recent JCPOA has lifted many sanctions, allowing Iran to re-join the global economic community through participating in trade and attracting foreign investment.
The commodities “super cycle” generated by mainly Chinese demand came to a screeching halt midway through 2014. The pain has been acutely felt by especially US oil and gas companies, which, crushed by their operating losses and high interest costs on debt, have been seeking Chapter 11 protection in record numbers.