Archive | November, 2012

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Europe’s olefin operating rates remain at recession levels

Europe’s political leaders were deadlocked last weekend over plans for the EU’s new Budget. A new north-south gap opened up, where the major contributors to the Budget (Germany, UK, Netherlands) demanded €30bn ($39bn) in cuts. This was, of course, badly received by those in the south (Italy, Spain, France) who would like more support. This […]

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China’s new leadership heads in a new direction

As promised, the blog today looks at the impact of former President Jiang Zemin’s return to active politics during the recent leadership transition. Its monitoring of expert commentary inside and outside China suggests he has achieved 4 major changes: • Corruption. Countries cannot progress if corruption dominates daily life. Thus it seems critically important that […]

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Jiang returns to help China avoid the ‘middle income trap’

It is not easy to discover what is really happening in China’s government. There were no opinion polls before the new leaders were appointed, and certainly no public policy debates. But the blog’s careful reading of Chinese and foreign media does suggest that some important changes may be underway. The evidence for this rather bold […]

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Chemical industry operating rates fall as oil prices rise

The battle between the major central banks and the fundamentals of supply/demand is starting resemble the battlefields of the 1st World War. The generals running the campaign believe (with the exception of the Bank of Japan) that today’s crisis is simply due to a lack of liquidity. They ignore the impact of demographics and the […]

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100m Africans now vaccinated against meningitis A

The blog is in S Africa next week as the guest of AECI, where on Tuesday it is also scheduled to be interviewed on CNBC’s ‘Beyond Markets’ about New Normal developments. It is particularly pleased that the visit coincides with the achievement of a major milestone by one of our key Case Studies in ‘Boom, […]

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IEA highlights $18tn of gains from energy efficiency

“Energy efficiency is the cheapest way to meet our energy needs” according to the International Energy Agency. It also has much shorter payback periods than increased use of renewables, according to Capella Festa of the IEA when speaking at our conference last week. Even modest efforts would cut fuel bills by 20%, and add $18tn […]

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Auto sales growth stalls world-wide

Autos are easily the largest global demand sector for chemicals, now housing has declined. Developments in the world’s 4 major markets (China, US, EU, Japan) are thus critical to the future outlook, as they account for nearly 75% of total sales. As the chart shows: • Volumes have increased this year (red square) by 7% […]

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China’s new leaders face slowing economy, rising protests

There are two great myths in the modern world. One, as discussed yesterday, is that central banks can restore growth to SuperCycle levels. The other is that China’s economy will grow consistenly at high rates for the next decade. Both are wishful thinking, not robust strategies. The chart above highlights the problems with the second […]

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Europe in “10-year stagnation period, just like the Japanese”

The blog today tips its hat to Borealis CEO Mark Garrett, who becomes the first major company boss to publicly accept that Europe is following Japan into a prolonged period of economic slowdown. He told ICIS news: “I believe Europe has entered a 10-year stagnation period, just like the Japanese have suffered, and we can’t […]

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Conference highlights key chemical market changes

Our World Aromatics Conference in Berlin, now in its 11th year, provided valuable insight into changing market developments, thanks to our array of top-level speakers: Ted Randall, Global Business Manager for Saudi Aramco, highlighted how their drive to reduce gasoline imports into Saudi Arabia would mean a major expansion in benzene and PX capacity, as […]

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