Archive | February, 2009

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The cycle of deflation

US fund managers Comstock Partners reported a 50+% gain on their flagship Capital Value Fund in 2008. The logic behind their out- performance is summarised in the chart, which depicts their belief that we are now in a global cycle of deflation. Their analysis is that this cycle: • Began with a rise in savings […]

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Asian exports collapse – Japan’s fall 46%

Japan’s exports fell 46% in January, after a 35% fall in December. Exports to the US fell 53%, and to China fell 45%. This makes it likely that Japan’s economy will shrink further, after the 3.3% decline in 2008. It could soon become the first G-7 economy to fall into depression – defined as a […]

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Arise, Sir Evil?

Apparently its not just Jim Cramer who is less than happy with the current performance of Dow CEO, Andrew Liveris. The New York Times notes that merger arbitrageurs on Wall Street have started to spell his surname backwards, and re-christened him accordingly.

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Knowing what we don’t know

At a time of uncertainty, its sometimes helpful just to frame the questions that need to be answered about the future. Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund managers, have done just this in two separate analyses. Their answers mirror those advanced by former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, and make good sense to the blog: Q1. […]

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Destocking follows previous recession experience

Destocking is currently a key issue for the chemical industry. The above chart, from Andrew Sentance of the Bank of England, provides some useful clues as to where we are in the cycle. It shows current performance (the green line) versus the history of stock levels in the recessions of the early 1980′s (blue) and […]

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Abu Dhabi snaps up Nova Chemicals

Nova’s CEO, Jeffrey Lipton, has always been the great optimist of the petrochemical industry. As recently as December, he was arguing at the GPCA meeting that “demand forecasts will prove to be too low”, and forecasting a shortage of ethylene and polyethylene in 2012. However, optimism isn’t a business strategy, particularly when it leads to […]

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Consumers prioritise “needs” versus “wants”

The current recession is the blog’s fourth, after those of the mid-1970s, and early 1980′s and 1990′s. It is, however, already different from these, as it is the only one which has led to comparisons being made with the 1930′s Great Depression. As Harvard’s Prof Shiller has noted, “Depression fear did not take off” in […]

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$26bn LyondellBasell restructuring hits legal minefield

Vita’s restructuring was relatively simple from a legal point of view, as it just involved European rules. But Lyondell Chemical’s bankruptcy filing last month under the US Chapter 11 process seems to have thrown up some very complex legal issues. This is because it involves two different sets of bond-holders – those who bought the […]

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Vita’s restructuring sets a pattern

Vita Group has chemical sales of €1.5bn, 5000 employees, and manufactures in 20 countries. In December it announced that it was in talks over restructuring, to avoid breaching covenants on the €663m of debt taken on in 2005, when it was bought by private equity group, Texas Pacific (TPG). It now looks set to emerge […]

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TOTAL warn on oil supplies

TOTAL’s CEO, Christophe de Margerie, has become even more pessimistic on the future of oil supplies. In 2007, when prices were rising, he suggested it would be very difficult for production to reach even 100mbd, versus the 130 mbd or more assumed by the IEA and the US government. Now, he is warning that the […]

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