Another great year for Asian polyolefins but……

……how long will it last is the inevitable question. Demand growth has been so strong so far this year with very little new production coming onstream that while crude oil and the price of monomers have set a floor for pricing, they no longer appear to be the main drivers behind fluctuations and increases; in other words, supply is so tight that it is the demand pull rather than the cost push that’s the dominant factor behind pricing this year. The attached slides from Chow Bee Lin, Senior Editor at ICIS pricing, illustrate this point – Download file
But Chinese inflation is rising. This has led to negative real interest rates on savings, leading to money being poured into ever-more frothy (remember, lots of froth makes one giant bubble) local equity and real estate markets.
Inflation everywhere could be back with avengeance – made worse by the US interest rate cut that has led to more hot money flowing out of the US into China, India and other developing countries.
Plus there are the long term implications of the global credit crisis beyond. A lot of the polymers being shipped to China and elsewhere are for re-export to the US and Europe as finished goods.
And, of course, the second half of next year marks the beginning up the big new capacity upsurge.
But the doommongers, including myself, have been calling time on the industry upcycle for three years now.
Maybe the super-cycle, as it is now lovingly called, will continue if demand growth in Asia continues to accelerate.

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