The appetite of western consumers for home furnishings has reached its peak – according to Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer.
The Swedish company’s head of sustainability told a Guardian conference that consumption of many familiar goods was at its limit.
“If we look on a global basis, in the west we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings,” Steve Howard said at a Guardian Sustainable Business debate. He said the new state of affairs could be called “peak curtains”.
Bearish sentiment, measured by the number of respondents who believe the market will fall in the next six months, jumped to 45.5% in the latest week, the highest since the week of April 18, 2013, when it hit 48.2%. That compares with 38.3% in the previous week and 23.6% in the last week of 2015.
In contrast, investors who are bullish and expect the market to rise in the next six months fell to 17.9%, the lowest since April 14, 2005, when only 16.5% respondents expressed optimism. Last week, 22.2% of survey participants said they were bullish. The eight-week moving average of the bullish sentiment gauge also slid to 25.7% this week, recording its seventh week of decline.
A Saudi-Jordan-Israel oil and gas pipeline is the only answer. It’s the shortest distance between the two points of Saudi Arabia and the Eastern Mediterranean. That was the historical path of the westward oil pipeline before Israel was created in 1948, and the Arabs declared endless war. Egypt is too unstable to protect and control its own pipeline through the Sinai, let alone anything grander. Therefore, the Sunni oil kingdoms have one and only one choice: a pipeline through Israel.Israel is the perfect hub for all the non-evil-axis (though far from democratic) regional players: Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus/Greece, and Saudi Arabia. The reason is that they all trust Israel not to attack each of them, whereas they all believe each would attack the other if they gained a contiguous border. In short, Israel keeps all of the major players honest. Therefore, Israel is the perfect buffer state for them.
On Saturday, Iran marked what President Hassan Rouhani called a “golden page” in the country’s history when the IAEA ruled that Tehran had stuck to its commitments under last year’s nuclear accord.
Moments after the ruling was handed down, the US and the EU each lifted nuclear-related financial and economic sanctions on the “pariah state,” much to the chagrin of Israel and Tehran’s regional rivals who view the West’s rapprochement with the Iranians with deep suspicion.
"Everybody is happy except the Zionists, the warmongers who are fuelling sectarian war among the Islamic nation, and the hardliners in the U.S. congress,” Rouhani said, referring directly to Israel, the Saudis, and GOP lawmakers in the US.
In addition to the never-ending feud with the Israelis, Tehran is embroiled in a worsening conflict with Riyadh triggered by Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and subsequent attacks on the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran. The argument has raised the specter of an all-out conflict between the Sunni and Shiite powers and stoked sectarian discord across the region.
With sanctions lifted, Iran will now have access to some $100 billion in frozen funds and will be able to increase its oil revenue exponentially even as prices remain suppressed.
It’s easy to see why the Saudis and other Gulf Sunni monarchies are nervous. Iran plans to immediately boost output by 500,000 b/d with an additional 500,000 b/d coming online by year end. “The oil ministry, by ordering companies to boost production and oil terminals to be ready, kicked off today the plan to increase Iran’s crude exports by 500,000 barrels,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Sunday, citing Amir Hossein Zamaninia, deputy oil minister for commerce and international affairs.
“Iran could haul in more than five times as much cash from oil sales by year-end as the lifting of economic sanctions frees the OPEC member to boost crude exports and attract foreign investment needed to rebuild its energy industry,” Bloomberg reports, adding that “the lifting of sanctions means Iran can immediately boost oil revenue to about $2.35 billion a month, based on the country’s estimated current output of 2.7 million barrels a day and oil at $29 a barrel.”