The emerging economies, which built their growth on exports to the West, are being badly hit by the global recession. Brazil, where poverty levels were at their lowest level for 30 years, is now seeing recent gains unwind. Its exports fell 29% in January, the biggest drop since 1991. This followed a terrible December, when industrial output fell 14%.
Now President Lula has warned “we might have a contraction in the Brazilian economy”. He plans to build 500,000 homes as part of a new Growth Acceleration Programme. This will provide some support for chemical sales, but the outlook is clearly very difficult.