The world goes Upsize barmy

Standing in the queue for Starbucks (not McDonalds – no way, and my son’s going nowhere near that place) it’s so easy to opt for the half bucket-sized Grande option because, after all, we are all rich these days and anyway it costs hardly anything to “Upsize”. Walk around Starbucks and you’ll notice numerous Grande Lates have been left only half-drunk.
And why not buy yet another car, an even bigger one, or an even bigger house (maybe one that’s been repossessed in the US?).
Also, thanks to the ferocious cost-cutting efforts of the likes of Walmart – made possible by the developing world’s hugely competitive textile industry – clothing has become incredibly cheap.
Move upstream from your wrack after wrack of cheap shirts and the feedstocks – crude oil, heavy naphtha. mixed xylenes (MX) and paraxylene (PX) – are becoming tighter and tighter.
Oil is at record highs, new refinery building has been delayed by soaring construction costs and MX is becoming an increasingly attractive blend into gasoline.
The picture for plastics might be slightly different because of all the gas-based capacity being brought on stream over the next few year.
But the polymer still has to be shipped and/or trucked, meaning yet more pressure on crude-oil pricing.
“Governments should try to limit the amount of synthetic fibres and plastics being consumed through taxation because there simply aren’t enough raw materials around,” said a delegate at the ICIS/International eChem Asian Aromatics Conference which took place in Singapore this summer.
This would be political suicide, of course, and so what seems more likely is that only inflationary pressures can produce the desired moderation in consumption.
But what if inflation gets out of control – perhaps more likely after the recent interest rate cuts in response to the credit crisis?
Back to bell bottoms, Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Ted Heath and the three-day week and football tackles that were really tackles - meaning, greivous bodily harm. God bless you, good Old Norm’.

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