Archive | September, 2008

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A political crisis in Washington

As if a global financial crisis wasn’t enough, we now have a political crisis in the USA. Leaving aside the question of whether the ‘bailout’ would have worked, last night’s rejection of the proposal means that we are in uncharted territory on how to move forward. The blog cannot remember a time when a sitting […]

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The ‘Minsky moment’ continues

More banks disappeared in Europe and the USA over the weekend: • Bradford and Bingley, one of the UK’s largest mortgage lenders was nationalised. The government will now pay $18bn to Spanish bank Santander to enable a transfer of retail deposits to take place • Fortis, Belgian’s biggest bank, has been partly nationalised by the […]

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China’s export dependency grows

New light has been shed on the critical question of whether domestic growth in China, and Asia, can substitute for slowing western growth. It turns out, according to research by the Royal Bank of Scotland, that both have become more export-intensive in recent years, not less: • China’s exports were just 20% of GDP in […]

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Polymers demand slumps in Europe, China

ICIS news reports that polymer demand is falling sharply in two key markets, China and Europe. This is a bad omen for demand in other chemical markets, as polymers are closely tied to GDP growth. Linda Naylor reports that PE volumes in Europe may be down 7% in 2008. Meanwhile, John Richardson and Malini Hariharan […]

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Global chemical growth slows

The latest American Chemistry Council report on global production growth makes sombre reading for anyone outside the Middle East: • Global growth (dark green) is now only 1.4%, versus 4.1% in January • N American growth (dark blue) declined by 2.4% in August • European growth (light green) was down 1.5% in July • Central/Eastern […]

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‘The largest bank failure in American history’

Another day, another bank failure. That almost seems to be the pattern in US financial markets at the moment. Yesterday the nation’s 6th largest bank, Washington Mutual, was taken over by government regulators and sold to JP Morgan. The 119 year old bank, headquartered on the US West Coast in Seattle, had $307bn in assets […]

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A debate opens up

Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, has joined the growing list of politicians with a view on the current economic crisis. His analysis differs markedly from that expressed by President Bush on Wednesday. ‘The financial market crisis is above all an American problem’, Steinbrück told the Bundestag (German Parliament) yesterday. He added that ‘the current […]

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‘Our entire economy is in danger’ – Bush

In early August, the blog noted that politicians were beginning to recognise the seriousness of the economic situation. First, China’s finance minister Liu He warned that ‘an economic restructuring was inevitable’. Then the UK’s finance minister said the ‘global economy was at a 60-year low’, and France’s Prime Minister added that the world was facing […]

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Eurozone manufacturing ‘in recession’

Industrial production is the key indicator for chemical sales. And it appears a significant decline is now underway in manufacturing. The chart shows August’s purchasing manager indices (PMIs) for most of the major countries/regions. India, Switzerland, Greece and Brazil were the only ones showing expansion. Reporting on the eurozone figures this morning, the Financial Times […]

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US housing starts ‘at 17 year low’

US housing starts, so important to the chemical industry, are now firmly anchored in recession territory. The chart above, from the ACC’s weekly report, shows they are at levels last seen in 1990-1. And with the current disruption in financial markets, it is hard to imagine that a recovery will start in the near future. […]

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