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2013 a bad year for force majeures

2013 wasn’t a good year for plant reliability.  The blog’s 6-monthly survey of force majeure reports in ICIS news shows: There were 386 reports of force majeures in 2013 This was very similar to the 391 level seen in 2010 It also reverses the decline seen in 2012 after the record 495 reports in 2011 This is a worrying […]

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US PVC exports fail to grow in 2013, despite shale gas boost

Trade data for net US PVC exports seems to be trying to tell us something very important about the current state of the global economy.  As the chart shows, based on data from Global Trade Information Services: Net exports failed to grow in 2013 (red column) versus 2012 (black) and were only up 2% versus 2011 […]

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A day in the life of an “activist” fund

A prominent “activist” fund in New York has told Dow Chemical to spin off its performance plastics, performance materials and feedstocks-and-energy units.  The news led the blog to imagine a fictional scene in the offices of Activists-R-Us fund last Tuesday morning, as the news came through.  Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental, as they say in movies. […]

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The blog in 2013

The blog’s audience has continued to set new records in 2013.  It is now well on the way to its 200,000th visit, and is read in 159 countries and 6110 cities as shown in the chart above.  Readers also remain incredibly loyal, with around one in two readers visiting every week, and one in four readers visiting every day. […]

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Demand now the key driver for future US petchem profitability

Will the US be able to sell all its planned new petchem volumes?  That is the 3rd topic in the blog’s series about critical areas where we all think we know what’s happening, but may end up being surprised. We all know that the US now has a major feedstock advantage versus Europe, Asia and Latin America due […]

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US shale revolution puts squeeze on European chemicals groups

The Financial Times has carried an excellent analysis this week of the key shale gas issues facing the European chemical industry.  It includes comments from a number of CEOs, as well as from the blog.  Its key points are as follows: THE STRATEGIC DILEMMA “European petrochemical makers risk being squeezed between low-cost producers in the Middle East […]

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ACS webinar on Thursday

Will 2014 finally be the year of economic recovery? There are signs of a stronger economy in the US and Europe. Pharma is shifting and downsizing as it works. How will all of this affect you in 2014? The blog will discuss these and other key issues with American Chemical Society chairman Bill Carroll, in its regular Chemistry […]

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US polyethylene and PVC exporters focus on margin, not volume

2013 has seen 3 types of markets develop for the blog’s IeC Downturn Monitor portfolio as the chart above shows: Financial assets such as the S&P 500 (purple) have soared, as did the US$ against the yen (orange) Crude oil (blue) and naphtha (black) tried to follow, but found it difficult to pass though the higher prices Benzene (green) and […]

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EU, US caustic soda output slows as China’s exports rise

Chlorine and caustic soda are some of the most widely used chemicals.  Thus their performance is always a valuable leading indicator for the wider chemical industry and the economy itself.  So the chart above, based on Eurochlor data,  is a worrying sign: Chlorine production is down by 1.9% in 2013, after a 2.9% fall in 2012 Caustic […]

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Q3 results highlight lack of improvement in the global economy

Q3 was supposed to be the turning point for the global economy.  Back in April, the IMF had announced: “Global prospects have improved again but the road to recovery in the advanced economies will remain bumpy.  World output growth is forecast to reach 3¼% in 2013 and 4% in 2014. In the major advanced economies, […]

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