Another policy maker has decided realism is the best policy when talking about the current credit crunch. China’s Liu He started the trend earlier this month, by talking about the need for ‘economic restructuring’. Now the UK’s Finance Minister, Alistair Darling, has become the first western official to abandon reassurance and instead to focus on […]
Archive | August, 2008
Housing is a vital market for chemical companies. It boomed in the US and other Western countries as credit standards were relaxed between 2003-7. Now it is at the centre of the credit crunch. Martin Feldstein, Harvard economics professor, and the man who chairs the Board that determines the duration of US recessions, is clearly […]
US house prices, according to today’s S&P/Case-Shiller Index, are still falling quite sharply. As shown in the chart, they are now down 17% versus last year. The key influence, according to S&P, is that ‘the markets that were the high-flyers during the recent real estate boom continue to be the ones that are leading the […]
China’s growth rate is slowing quite sharply. Exports to the US grew just 9% in H1, half the 2007 rate. In addition, ICIS news has reported that China’s important textile industry has seen a 25% decline in orders, whilst US polyethylene exports to China are also slowing. And the above chart showing China’s latest Purchasing […]
When you’re the richest man in the world, you can generally say what you think. Thus Warren Buffett reflected reality back in March, when he commented that ‘by any commonsense definition, the US is in recession’. Yesterday, he probably ruffled a few more feathers when he told CNBC that he thought the US economy was […]
A year ago, the noted investment analyst, Jeremy Grantham, described the credit crisis as a ‘slow motion train wreck’. The Financial Times has now updated the metaphor to describe what has happened since. It notes that train crashes happen more quickly than economic ones, and that there are pauses before the next carriage hits the […]
BASF have now reduced their 2008 GDP forecast from 2.8% to 2.4%. This may sound a small amount, but it means it is now in line with the Global Downturn Scenario set out in our Feedstocks for Profit Study. Previously, it had been just below our Base Case Scenario. CEO Jurgen Hambrecht still sounds confident, […]
What is the outlook for the global economy over the next few years? Are we likely to see a continuation of the 2003-7 Global Boom (the purple line)? Will growth reduce to the average level seen between 1980-2000 (the green line)? Or are we at the start of a multi-year Global Downturn (the red line)? […]
Pimco, the world’s largest bond investors, are worried about rising inflation. Their main concern is that many Asian and Middle Eastern countries had ‘anchored’ their currency to the US$. ‘With that anchor gone’, they comment, ‘due to the US Federal Reserve’s focus on preventing the US financial system from falling into a depression-style downward spiral, […]
OPEC’s oil output hit an all-time record in July at 32.8Mbd, due to higher volumes from Saudi and Iran. The Saudi increase to 9.55Mbd was in line with their pledge at the Jeddah summit in June to raise output to 9.7Mbd. But the Iranian increase appears to have been a one-off, as the country sold […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such as oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.