Archive | March, 2013

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Auto sales start to plateau globally

Autos are the largest manufacturing business in the world, and are also the largest single source of demand for chemicals and plastics. So developments in the major markets are key to future economic growth and demand patterns. The chart summarises developments since 2008 in the 7 major markets, which account for 85% of global volume, […]

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Wishful thinking dominates US government economic forecasts

350k Americans are now reaching the age of 65 each month until 2030. But according to government forecasts, this surge in the retirement population will have little impact on economic growth. That’s the view of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, which has just given its latest forecast for the impact of the ageing […]

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EU auto sales continue their decline

There really isn’t very much to say about the latest EU auto sales data. They were simply awful. As the chart shows, 2013 volumes (red square) are well below 2012 levels (green line). Less than 800k cars were sold in the 2 months combined, down 10%. Some major markets have now been falling for a […]

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China’s new leadership prepare for property price crackdown

China’s new premier, Li Keqiang, was the first senior official to confirm that the country’s GDP figures were “for guidance only”, being “man-made and therefore unreliable“. As he told the US ambassador in 2007, he instead used electricity consumption and bank lending (plus rail cargo) as his key indicators. It therefore seems appropriate to mark […]

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Demand weakness spreads across Europe and Asia

The blog was in sober mood when giving its usual New Year Outlook in January, warning that “renewed global recession appears to be the major risk facing us at the start of 2013“. Developments since then only reinforce its caution. Europe and Asia are now seeing widespread weakness in demand: • In Europe, the chairman […]

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Europe’s social shock-absorbers show crisis strain

Readers outside Southern Europe may not realise the growing crisis that is developing across the region. As Unilever CEO Paul Polman warned in January, “the biggest issue in Europe is going to be social cohesion”. Similarly, his colleague, Jan Zijderveld, European head, warned back in August that “poverty is returning to Europe”. Zijderveld also highlighted […]

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Aluminium prices rise as stocks reach record levels

The blog was with the mining industry last week, when giving the keynote speech on The Impact of the ‘Demographic Cliff’ on Demand Patterns at the annual Metal-Pages conference. Mining is seeing similar demand patterns to those in chemicals, whilst the price performance of aluminium shows very similar influences to those at work in oil […]

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Italy’s Grillo calls for referendum on leaving the euro

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go These lines from Shakespeare’s most famous play, Hamlet, aptly describe the critical issue in the Eurozone crisis. This issue is very simple, as the blog discussed last July. Monetary union and a common eurozone currency cannot exist without political and […]

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Sustaining Growth as the West Arrives at the Demographic Cliff

Are you worried about the economic outlook for your company, for your family and for your country? Do you suspect that current policies may be doing more harm than good? Are you interested in exploring a new analysis that focuses on the importance of people, rather than the results of computer modelling? Over the past […]

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Demand collapses as stock markets hit new records

Financial markets long ago lost all touch with reality. Not only have central banks provided $tns of cheap liquidity with the specific aim of pushing stock markets higher. But they have also allowed computers to dominate trading, so no single market now knows what it is pricing. Chemical markets, and those who operate in them, […]

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