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Force majeures at all-time highs even before downturn begins

There is no such thing as an accident.  The chemical industry, like others, has known this for over 30 years, since the adoption of Quality Management techniques.  Yet it seems that over the past 18 months either this important fact has been forgotten or, more likely, I fear, has simply been ignored. The evidence for […]

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ACS webinar on Brexit and the challenges of over-supply

Chemistry and the Economy: 2016 Mid-year review The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) is causing major upheaval in financial markets as investors rush to supposedly “safe havens”. This is highlighting the underlying slowdown in demand growth caused by globally ageing populations. What does this mean for the chemical and pharma industry? Can […]

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US polypropylene imports rise as China aims for self-sufficiency

Difficult times lie ahead for global polymer markets, as I note in a new analysis for ICIS Chemical Business. In the short-term it is clear that downstream users have, once again, been busy building stock in recent weeks as the oil price rose. But now, finance directors are getting calls from their bankers asking about […]

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ACC Surplus May16

Surplus chemical industry capacity reaches 26% as demand slows

Global demand is continuing to slow, yet chemical industry capacity is continuing to ramp up.  As a result, supply gluts are likely to appear in many key areas as we move into the second half of the year.  That is the key conclusion from the latest American Chemistry Council data for global chemical capacity and […]

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Chemical industry is the best indicator of EM outlook – and the outlook is not good

Policymakers would be better off following the fortunes of the chemical industry, if they wanted to forecast the global economy, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Capacity utilisation (CU%) in the chemical industry has long been the best leading indicator for the global economy. The […]

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China’s polymer expansions make new US exports hard to place

China used to be the manufacturing capital of the world.  It would buy raw materials, and sell finished products to the West.  But these volumes are now in decline.  The West’s ageing populations already own most of what they need, and their incomes are reducing as they enter retirement. So China’s business model is changing. […]

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Brazil PE Apr16

Brazil’s PE market shifts from import to export as recession bites

4 years ago, Brazil’s polyethylene market flagged up the first warning signs that its GDP was hitting headwinds, as China’s stimulus programme begin to slow.  Today, sadly, the economy is in major recesssion, with the impeachment process against President Rousseff adding further pressure: World Bank data shows GDP fell 3.7% last year: it forecasts “only” […]

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US ethylene output rise warns of market share battles ahead

“The reality is the US from a chemical standpoint is a very mature market. We have some demand growth domestically in the US but it’s a % or two – it’s not strong demand growth,” Pryor said, adding that polyethylene hardly grew in the US in a decade. “That is not going to change. “The […]

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Chemical companies see difficult times ahead in 2016

The chemical industry remains the best leading indicator for the global economy.  That much is clear from the warnings it has delivered over the past year: Q3 results in November highlighted the need for “new strategies and business models“ Q2 results in July suggested “continued uncertainty over outlook“ Q1 2015 results in May revealed “increased […]

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FMs Jan16

Force majeures at record level, despite high profits

All accidents are preventable.  This simple fact, which used to be top-of-mind for every chemical industry manager, seems to have been increasingly either forgotten or ignored in recent years.  The evidence is in the chart above: showing industry force majeures since 2008 (as reported on ICIS news): They were at a record level in 2015, […]

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