Archive | June, 2010

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China’s slowdown hits shipping market

The Baltic Dry Index of freight costs (for iron ore, grains and coal) follows changes in global demand for bulk shipping. As such, it is an important leading indicator of future economic activity, and chemicals demand. The blog first noted Index movements in October 2007, when this was accurately forecasting the H1 2008 boom. In […]

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Home truths about the causes of the financial crisis

Darwin hit it on the nail when he wrote in ‘Origin of the Species’ that “Unless profitable variations occur, natural selection can do nothing“. His message is echoed today by US Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, one of the few policy-makers who deals in reality rather than wishful thinking. Warsh sets out to “debunk some popular […]

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More words than action at G-20 Summit

When the G-20 met in London in April 2009, they produced a Communiqué containing just 688 words. And as the blog noted in conclusion, there was “no sign of a ‘Plan B’ being developed“, in case the Stimulus measures failed to work. This was still the case last September in Pittsburgh, when the Leader’s Statement […]

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McBride warns of “weak retail sales across Europe”

The blog is a great believer in the retail sector’s ability to help us forecast chemical industry trends. McBride is Europe’s leading ‘own brand’ in the household and personal sector. Its profit warning on Thursday of “weak retail sales across Europe“, therefore rings alarm bells. The sector is a large outlet for chemicals, and has […]

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Global chemical recovery starts to slow

At the mid-year point, its interesting to look at the performance of the total chemical industry, including pharmaceuticals. The chart, from the American Chemistry Council, shows global demand has now recovered to 2008 levels. Pharma is more recession-proof than other parts of the industry, as people still become ill and need treatment. In terms of […]

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US new home sales fall 33%

The blog is in gloomy mood today, in spite of last night’s England World Cup win. Not because Wall Street ‘analysts’ maintained last month’s 33% drop in US new home sales was ‘unexpected‘. Nor even that the consensus forecast is still for 700k housing starts this year, when current data suggest that last year’s 560k […]

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Key US indicator signals downturn may resume in H2

Stock markets have always been somewhat unreliable as a forecasting tool. And their record has got worse in recent years, as long-term investors have been replaced by high-speed day traders. In turn, this affects the Leading Indicators produced by the OECD, and others, as these rely on stock price movements in their analysis. A more […]

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INEOS to build £52m waste-to-bioethanol plant

The blog is delighted to see that Ineos is to build its first European BioEnergy Process Technology plant at Teesside, UK. The £52m ($75m) plant will produce 30m litres (24 million tonnes) of bioethanol, and 3MW of electricity on start-up in 2012. It will fuel 250k autos running on E10 blend, and provide electricity for […]

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China’s petchem volume surge will hit imports, as electricity consumption/bank lending data shows economy’s growth starting to slow

The above chart is the blog’s best effort to correlate the change in China’s bank lending with the real economy. It shows electricity consumption (blue line) and lending (red column) since July 2008. Electricity consumption is an excellent proxy for the real economy, and probably more reliable than GDP figures, which are widely believed to […]

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Deepwater Horizon raises ‘licence to operate’ issues

The chemical industry can be very proud of what it has achieved with the Responsible Care programme since 1985. But it may need to consider how this develops, in the light of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. One key question emerged from this week’s US Congressional hearing with the heads of ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell. It […]

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