Denmark, and the West, wake up to a lack of babies

“We have for many years addressed the very important issues of how to avoid becoming pregnant, how to avoid sexual diseases, how kids have a right to their own bodies, but we totally forgot to tell them we cannot have children forever.” Suddenly, and it does seem to be a sudden realisation, Western countries are beginning to […]

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Global auto sales reach ‘top of the mountain’ moment

The best view is always from the top of the mountain.  And that seems where we are today in global auto markets.  They are on track for another record year.  And even better news is that sales have risen in each of the 5 major markets for the first time since 2007. The bad news is that […]

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China sees $13.5bn of fake September ‘collateral trade’ invoices

China’s ‘collateral trade’ is still a major force in world markets for iron ore, copper and even plastics such as polyethylene.  September’s data suggests $13.5bn of fake invoices added 56% to the value of China’s exports to Hong Kong, as property developers strove to raise cash to finish their buildings. Full details of the trade […]

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China becomes major PVC, PTA exporter for first time in history

Be very careful what you wish for.  That is the key message coming out of close analysis of China’s latest trade data. Recent media reports were upbeat at news that China’s exports had increased, as it appeared to suggest Western demand was returning.  But it seems nothing could be further from the truth. One major concern is that part […]

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“BASF slashes 2015 targets on slowing global growth”

“BASF, the world’s biggest chemical maker by sales, has slashed its revenue and earnings targets for 2015, following a further weakening of the European economy and a slowdown in China.” Saturday’s Financial Times headline said it all.  BASF’s statement adds to the growing evidence of a major slowdown taking place in the global economy, and highlights how […]

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3D printing to move manufacturing closer to the customer

15 years ago, it was fashionable to dismiss eBusiness as a fairy story.  I remember those days well, as I had just raised $25m from major companies to fund its development in the chemical industry.  Today, of course, eBusiness is everywhere.  Nobody would dream of shaking their heads and dismissing the whole concept, as many did pre-2000. Which takes […]

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Grangemouth develops cluster-based vision for the future

Exactly a year ago this week, the INEOS petrochemical business at Grangemouth in Scotland was facing closure.  This would have been a disaster for the thousands of people employed directly and indirectly, as well as for Scotland. The blog was very closely involved in helping to achieve a successful outcome alongside the Scottish and UK governments, INEOS and the UNITE […]

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Shell CEO says Europe needs to leverage chemicals clusters

There are 2 ways to improve operating rates in an industry.  One is to increase volumes, the other is to reduce capacity.   The latest APPE data covering H1 2014 for European olefin capacity highlights how the European petrochemical industry has successfully used both mechanisms over the past year to improve its position: Ethylene volume increased to 9.8MT, versus […]

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The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus is under way

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below.Oct 20, 2014 10:48am By Paul Hodges of International eChem Two months ago, very few people believed that markets were about to tumble. But on 18 August we published our Great Unwinding analysis. Since then, its forecasts have begun to come true, […]

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“Welcome to the New Normal”

A blog reader has kindly sent the above cartoon from the financial pages of The Telegraph newspaper today. Clearly investors are beginning to share the blog’s analysis.

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