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Abu Dhabi looks to build its petchem activities

IPIC, Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company, made a very shrewd acquisition of Nova at the bottom of the market, earlier this year. And now they are apparently in talks with a number of major chemicals companies about joint ventures and possibly acquisitions. The key for IPIC is to obtain technology, with which they can […]

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Devaluations risk leading to a Cycle of Deflation

In February, the blog worried that we were at the start of a cycle of deflation, as depicted in the above chart from Comstock Partners. The warning signs were that major excess capacity was developing in many industries, and some major countries were devaluing. Since then, the US and China have both undertaken competitive devaluations […]

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OECD Indicators paint a confusing picture

Leading indicators are useful reference tools, but sometimes they can also mislead. The chart above, from the ACC’s excellent weekly report, seems to provide a good example of this problem. The blue line shows the official Leading Indicator for the OECD area plus the 6 major non-OECD countries. It suggests that a strong recovery is […]

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IEA, OPEC, worry about high oil prices and CO2

The new World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA) spells out two major challenges. It: • “Identifies higher oil prices, coupled with the downturn in oil sector investment, as a serious threat to the world economy, just as it is beginning to recover“. • Suggests that “a profound transformation of the energy sector” […]

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Wal-Mart sees global price deflation continuing

The blog regards Wal-Mart and other major retailers as excellent leading indicators of trends in the wider economy. It was therefore concerned to see CFO Tom Schoewe reporting today that Wal-Mart continues to “operate in a very challenging economy“, where the key driver is to provide “the lowest prices to our customers around the world.” […]

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China’s oil imports not driven by domestic demand

A key driver for the rally in crude oil markets has been the increase in China’s demand. The assumption has been that this confirms economic growth is recovering strongly. Crude oil imports have certainly been rising since Q1, and have recently averaged 500kbpd more than 2008. Refinery runs have also been higher. However, new analysis […]

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US unemployment rate now 10.2%

The US accounts for 23% of global GDP. Its economy is 3 times larger than the No 2 country, Japan. And most critically for the chemical industry, 70% of US GDP is consumer-based. Developments in US housing/construction, auto and electronics industries are therefore the biggest single influence on global chemical sales. In turn, the level […]

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UK downturn follows the 1930/34 path

Politicians and analysts often focus on selling dreams. Otherwise, we might not be tempted to buy their promises of better times ahead. But those running businesses have to remain realistic. BASF’s CEO, Jurgen Hambrecht, did exactly that in his comments on the outlook. And the above chart, from the UK’s National Institute of Economic and […]

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Insights from LyondellBasell and BASF

Recent comments from LyondellBasell’s COO, and BASF’s CEO, seem worth highlighting as we come to the end of the results season. Ed Dineen noted that China’s polyethylene demand seems partly linked to changes in crude oil pricing, “It turned down somewhat as we saw crude retreat a little, but as crude turned back up toward […]

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US auto sales enter the “new normal”

The blog is changing its US auto sales chart, now that a year has passed since volumes collapsed last October. Year-on-year % changes become meaningless as a result. Instead, it will now show monthly volumes, on a total US basis (blue line) and for the major producers (dotted lines). Key highlights this month are: • […]

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