Archive | December, 2008

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LyondellBasell considers bankruptcy

2008 has not ended well for the chemical industry. First there was the collapse in demand, as the various value chains destocked in response to slowing consumer demand and lower oil prices. Then INEOS, the world’s 3rd largest chemical company, had to seek covenant waivers from its lenders. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, […]

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Kuwait “scraps” K-Dow JV

2008 has not been a good year for M&A in the chemical sector. First, there was the collapse of Hexion’s Huntsman acquisition. Today, the Kuwait government has signalled its intention to “scrap” its $17.4bn deal with Dow to form K-Dow. This is a quite extraordinary decision by a major Middle East government, especially as it […]

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The impact of banking crises

The blog has been searching the websites of the major central banks, such as the IMF, World Bank, Federal Reserve and Bank of England, for research on the history of credit crises. Several readers, including Paul Noble of Parsons Brinckerhoff, have also kindly forwarded helpful studies. The most comprehensive study that it has found analysed […]

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Oil hits $34/bbl

The blog’s oil price forecasts have had a stellar record this year. Last month, with its $70/bbl forecast having been realised, the blog continued to worry about downside risk: “If refiners are forced to cut runs for December, then it would be hard for OPEC to cut its own production quickly enough to compensate. In […]

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Roubini on the 2009 Outlook

Prof Nouriel Roubini has long been correctly bearish about the economy, and was one of the first to highlight the deflation risk. In a new interview, he sets out his thoughts for 2009, and concludes: “I don’t believe we are going to be in a depression – but we could end up like Japan that […]

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Chemical production growth goes negative

The chart, taken from the weekly ACC report, shows just how badly chemical production has been hit in recent months: N America. This region has been worst affected, with volumes down 12% in November versus 2007. W Europe/CEE. Both regions were down 3% in October versus 2007 Asia/Latin America. These regions are just positive, with […]

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M&A focus to change in 2009

The recession will have a major impact on M&A activity next year, according to a new analysis by Pilko & Co. Their key conclusions are: • Increasingly,deals will be the result of financial restructurings, workouts or bankruptcies. • Buyers with cash and debt capacity will be able to dictate terms. • Asian/Middle East buyers will […]

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European olefins move to monthly pricing

The blog warmly welcomes the move by players in the European olefins market to re-engage with monthly pricing. The rationale for its support is based upon the conclusion of the major report that International eChem produced 3 years ago, Pricing for Profit: “The cumulative impact of the current pricing mechanisms has caused the wider marketplace […]

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A final push on the piece of string

Yesterday the US Fed cut interest rates to an all-time low of 0% – 0.25%. Once again, Wall Street celebrated with a major rally, even though the move had more symbolic than practical purpose. It made it appear that the authorities were “doing something”, even though the evidence of previous rate cuts indicates they have […]

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UK housing starts “lowest since 1924″

The UK is expected to build just 135,000 houses this year, compared to 203,500 in 2007. This is the lowest level since 1924, when 87.000 houses were being built (excluding the war period). The outlook for 2009 is also poor, as many current projects date from before the start of the financial crisis. In turn, […]

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