Archive | March, 2009

US houseMar09.gif

US house prices below 1979 levels in real terms

Source: Chartoftheday.com US house prices remain on a “downward path” according to today’s latest S&P Case-Shiller house price index. S&P report that in terms of nominal prices (including inflation), “average home prices across the US are now at similar levels to late 2003″. In ‘real terms’ (after excluding inflation), the picture is even worse. According […]

Continue Reading
autosannMar09.jpg

Obama gets tough on US auto industry

There had been speculation that President Obama’s mid-West background might tempt him to take a soft line on the troubled automotive industry. But his comments on Thursday that there has been “a lot of mismanagement of the auto industry over the past several years”, suggested this was unlikely. Today’s news confirms it: • GM’s CEO […]

Continue Reading
Homes Mar09.jpg

US housing market decline may start to slow

US new home sales began falling in 2005, when they peaked at 1.4 million a month. Last month, as the above chart from the ACC weekly report shows, they were down to just 337,000. Similarly, new home inventory has risen to 12 months. Each new home uses over $16k of chemicals, so this decline has […]

Continue Reading
Kanjorski right.jpg

Congress ends ‘mark to market’

Last month, the blog supported former US Treasury Secretary Brady’s argument that ‘mark to market’ accounting rules were helping to worsen the current financial crisis. It therefore welcomes the decision by the US Financial Accounting Standards Board to revise its rules with effect from April 2. It applauds Paul Kanjorski, chair of the relevant House […]

Continue Reading
Oil rig right.jpg

US oil stocks rise, demand drops, prices rise

Oil prices have been rising steadily over the past few weeks, and are up 20% since the start of the year. Yet US oil inventories have also been rising, and are now at their highest level since July 1993. Stocks have risen in 22 of the last 26 weeks. Whilst OPEC production cuts have certainly […]

Continue Reading
China petchems right.jpg

Japan’s exports fall record 49%, China builds inventory

Japan’s auto exports tumbled 71% in February, and its US exports fell 58%, causing total exports to decline 49%. Imports also fell 43%. Exports to China, however, were ‘only’ down 40%. And other NEA exporters, more dependent on Chinese markets, showed an improving position. S Korea’s exports were only down 17%, versus -34% in January. […]

Continue Reading

Low-cost operation key to survival

ICIS Chemical Business has just published my article, ‘Low-cost operation key to survival’, which discusses business strategies for surviving the downturn. Please click here if you would like a copy. You can also hear a radio interview with ICB Deputy Editor, Will Beacham, by clicking here, or read Will’s summary of the interview in ICIS […]

Continue Reading
benzene Mar09.jpg

Benzene on the floor

Benzene is one of the most widely used, and widely traded, chemicals. It is therefore an excellent leading indicator of chemical industry supply/demand balances, and profitability. • A year ago, the blog noted that benzene prices had “hit a ceiling”, suggesting that industry profitability was close to a peak. • Then in October, when they […]

Continue Reading
IMF right.jpg

IMF says advanced economies to “contract sharply”

The IMF and World Bank continue to play leap-frog in reducing their global growth forecasts. In January, the IMF forecast growth would come to a “virtual standstill”. Then, two weeks ago, the World Bank said the economy would “shrink” for the first time since World War 2. Today, the IMF joins the Bank in suggesting […]

Continue Reading
Kubler Ross right.jpg

Anger replaces Denial, as financial crisis evolves

Human beings go through a number of stages when confronted by major change. As first described by Elisabeth Kübler Ross, the process starts with: • Denial that any change is taking place • Then anger at the implications of the change • Bargaining to reduce its magnitude • Depression as reality begins to be confronted […]

Continue Reading