Archive | August, 2012


The end of constant growth

“You cannot just sit back and expect things to happen the way they have happened in the past, especially in emerging markets.” This insight from a senior Hong Kong-based executive with a global polyethylene (PE) producer highlights the risks faced by the global industry as we transition to the New Normal. As he added during […]

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Brazil’s PE exports confirm its GDP slowdown

Emerging countries such as China and Brazil are very prompt in publishing trade data. So their figures provide a timely snapshot of economic developments. Brazil’s economy is heavily dependent on China, due to its mining industry. Worryingly, July polyethylene (PE) data from Global Trade Information Services thus confirms the slowdown underway in the BRIC countries […]

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China’s polyethylene demand disappoints, again

Trade statistics present an awkward problem for the cheerleaders in financial markets. They show what is really happening in China’s economy, rather than what the analysts would like to happen. Polyethylene is the bellwether product for the economy. And latest trade data from Global Trade Information Services suggest caution over H2 prospects. As the chart […]

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Chemical companies squeezed in the value chain

It is hard to imagine a more difficult outlook for the rest of the year: • Speculators have increased oil prices, funded by expectations of new central bank quantitative easing programmes • Consumers are suffering from stagnant incomes, high levels of unemployment and fear of further declines in living standards • Policymakers seem incapable of […]

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Fashion discovers the New Old 55+ generation

Slowly, consumer companies are waking up to the fact that youth markets have gone ex-growth in the developed world. Instead, the New Old 55+ generation are the main potential source of growth. As fashion editor Vanessa Friedman notes, a new film ‘About Face’ typifies the new approach. It interviews supermodels – but these supermodels are […]

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80 is the new 60, as youth markets go ex-growth

The G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA) account for nearly 50% of global GDP. Today, however, their populations are ageing rapidly. As consultants AT Kearney (ATK) note in a report on consumer spending patterns: • The G7 now has more people over the age of 55 than under 15 years • Global […]

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Bio-based chemicals take another step forward

Novozymes, the bio-innovation company, have kindly sent the blog news of their new fungus. They believe it can potentially lead the way to the development of bio-based petrochemical products. Novozymes chosen route is to develop products based on malic acid. This occurs naturally in fruit and many vegetables. It also belongs to the group of […]

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China’s auto dealers cut prices as inventories rise

All is not well with China’s auto market. On the surface, as the chart shows, sales appear to have picked up after January’s poor performance: • Q1 sales (red line) were flat versus 2011 (green) • Q2 sales were up 12%, due to a strong May and June performance But…. • It is unclear if […]

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‘High raw material prices are killing some markets’

Nobody rings a bell at market tops or bottoms. Instead, one has to look for the divergences that suggest the previous trend has run its course. Today, these abound: • Western financial market volumes are low, whilst prices are rising • The same is true for oil market volumes, as the chart shows • June […]

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Investors pay Switzerland to borrow from them

2 years ago, Italy was paying 3.82% to borrow for 10 years (red column). Spain was paying 4.11%. These rates were similar to the UK’s 3.07%. A year ago (blue column), the world was clearly changing. This led the blog to introduce the concept of the JUUGS (Japan, UK, US, Germany, Switzerland), as a ‘safe […]

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