'Collapse' is not a word that should be used lightly in business. But there is no other way to describe June's US auto sales figures:
These declines came in spite of the fact that 130 million households are currently receiving tax rebates (as part of the $168bn economic stimulus programme). Equally, they were not one-offs, as readers will know from previous monthly updates. They are part of a trend will has been gathering pace for the past 12 months. Ford and Chrysler seem to be in major trouble.
Optimism about a speedy rebound has also disappeared, with Ford's Group VP, Jim Farley, commenting that 'Consumer fundamentals and consumer confidence deteriorated as the first half unfolded. The economy enters the second half of the year with a notable absence of momentum and a high degree of uncertainty'.
Given the importance of auto sales to the chemical industry, H2 is shaping up to be very difficult indeed.