Archive | January, 2012

Doing More with Less – the products of the future

The global economy is moving into a difficult period, as it transitions to the New Normal. Debt levels are high, and incomes are under pressure, particularly for the large numbers of people moving into retirement. Cost must be the key criteria when examining the opportunities for new product development and research. Chapter 8 of our […]

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Markets wait to see what happens next

‘Would you buy, or would you sell?’ is always an interesting question in any market. Petchems provide a particularly balanced answer today. • Buy arguments include – China’s buyers will return from holiday, and will need to restock; gasoline markets are tightening after the Petroplus bankruptcy; bad weather is causing some disruption • Sell arguments […]

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EU ethylene output highlights recession risk

Latest data from the IMF shows that the EU remains the world’s largest economic unit. Its GDP in 2010 was $16.2tn, 26% of the global economy. The USA was next with $14.5tn, and China 3rd with GDP of $5.9tn. So what happens in Europe matters greatly to the global economy. Equally, petchems are one of […]

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Crude oil inventories at high levels

The blog’s argument that there is no shortage of crude oil seems finally to be going mainstream. Equally, its concern over the impact of today’s high prices, especially by comparison with natural gas, is also now starting to be highlighted. Thus the Wall Street Journal notes: “Oil inventories in the Western world are now high. […]

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H2 force majeure reports show little improvement

The blog’s 6 monthly review of force majeures (FM) reveals worryingly little improvement in performance. As the chart shows, H2 was slightly better than H2 2010. But realism suggests it was flattered by Q4′s low operating rates, which probably reduced the actual need for FMs. The chart is based on the number of FM mentions […]

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Global auto sales growth stalls as BabyBoomers age

Cars are now the largest single market for chemical sales, as housing markets have slowed globally. Each new US car is worth $3297, for example, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), making the US market worth $42bn in 2011. 2011 auto sales were ~59m, up 4% from 2010. The West (EU, USA, Japan) still […]

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“All news is good news” for China’s GDP slowdown

There is no arguing with markets when they are being driven by sentiment, either positive or negative. Last week’s news of China’s slower GDP growth gave rise to opposite interpretations in Asia and the West – but news media reported both were seen as firmly positive: • In Asia, markets “jumped… after news that Q4 […]

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Saudi comments increase oil market uncertainty

The International Energy Agency (IEA) confirmed the blog’s worst fears this week, with its announcement that crude oil demand actually fell by 300kbd in Q4. Not only is this “quite rare” as the IEA noted, but they went on to warn: “We’re flagging that there are clearly downside risks to the global economy and to […]

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Europe’s €30trn pension fund ‘hole’

Pensions were one of the great inventions of the past century. Now the European Central Bank (ECB) has issued a ‘wake-up call’ on the affordability issues that lie ahead. The reason is very simple. As we note in ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal’, pensions were introduced first introduced in Germany in 1889, and then […]

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A China ‘hard landing’ may be unavoidable

Saturday’s blog post highlighted the risk of a hard landing in China. This risk is very real, and is centred on the government’s need to achieve a difficult balance between reducing today’s high rate of food price inflation, whilst not collapsing the property market. House prices are now falling in 60 Chinese cities. An excellent […]

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