Archive | October, 2010

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Crude oil continues to trade in its ‘Triangle’

An unnatural calm continues to dominate crude oil trading. Prices may move up or down by $2/bbl or $3/bbl a day, but then they always return to where they started, between the upper red line and the lower green one. The blog has kept its promised eye on developments, since this trend of ‘trading in […]

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China’s rural areas key for future chemical demand

In the last of its Budget Outlook analysis, the blog today looks at the major changes underway in China. These are typical of many emerging economies, including India, and could potentially have a big impact on chemical demand. The key issue is that China’s leadership has recognised the current export-driven development model no longer works. […]

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European consumers focus on people, not things

As promised, the blog is today looking at a key European consumer trend, as part of its Budget Outlook week. 70% of chemical sales are consumer-related, so changes in these trends are very important. Earlier this month, it shared a platform in Bahrain with Thibaut Eissautier, Chief Procurement Officer of McBride, Europe’s leading own-label producer […]

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US housing enters the New Normal

This is Budget Outlook week in the blog. And for the rest of the week, it is looking at a key issue in a major Region. Today, it highlights the US housing market. This used to be a $35bn market for chemicals, with up to 2.2m housing starts a year, each worth $16k in sales. […]

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Global Operating Rates at 2003 levels

The above chart, from the excellent American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly report, shows how Operating Rates (OR%) have changed in the global chemical industry since 1989. From 1994 – 2003, they were broadly in an 87% – 93% range. They then moved up to a seemingly stable 92% – 94% range until 2008, before crashing […]

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Budgeting for Uncertainty

When elephants fight, those around them need to be cautious. And this is the prospect for 2011-13, as the Western countries try to force the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to export less and import more, the so-called ‘rebalancing’ strategy. Thus Budgeting for Uncertainty seems the right title for the blog’s annual Outlook for […]

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Bank of England endorses New Normal

The Bank of England has become the first major central bank to endorse the argument that we are moving towards a ‘New Normal’. In an important speech this week, its Governor Mervyn King, set out the argument that we can look forward to: “a SOBER decade – a decade of Savings, Orderly Budgets, and Equitable […]

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EU auto sales down 10% in September

EU auto sales were better in September than in either July or August. But ‘better’, of course, is a relative word these days. As the chart shows, they were only down 10% versus 2009 levels, whereas July and August were down 19% and 13% respectively. But in terms of absolute volume, sales at 1.2m were […]

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USA aims “to inflate the rest of the world”

If you only read one newspaper article this year on the economic outlook, then the blog would recommend Martin Wolf’s recent analysis ‘Why America is going to win the global currency battle’. Wolf is a former EPCA speaker, and he sets out very convincingly the rationale for the US Federal Reserve’s planned move to restart […]

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Oil “would be $30/bbl” without financial speculators

The blog’s argument that oil prices are now being entirely driven by financial market speculation has won support from one of the main state oil trading companies. ICIS news reports that the CEO of SOCAR Trading (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic) claimed that the “rise in crude and other commodity prices, resulted principally from […]

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