Many readers have been out of the office during August on a well-deserved break. I am therefore highlighting below the main postings over the past month, in the hope this will help them to catch up quickly on key developments – please click on the highlighted title if you want to read the original posting:
• Oil prices were still close to $150/bbl in early August, but the blog again warned they could easily slip towards $100/bbl in the absence of any military action on Iran. Since then, they fell to a low of $112/bbl.
• Change, challenge, complexity. We published a major Study on the outlook for the petchem industry over the next few years. The post also contains a link to my feature article in ICB, summarising its key conclusions.
• US housing and auto markets continued to slow. US house prices fell again, and the number of new housing starts reduced. BMW warned on the outlook for 2009.
• GDP forecasts were cut by BASF. The UK’s Finance Minister said the global economy was at a 60-year low, and China’s minister referred to the need for economic restructuring.
• The credit crunch continued. Warren Buffett memorably referred to ‘the nudist beach on Wall Street’ where those bankers who had been ‘swimming naked’ were now being exposed.
All in all, reading through these headlines makes me think that August was probably a good month to go away. Welcome back, if you have just returned!