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The banks’ plumbing systems appear to be blocked

The blog’s favourite financial journalist, Gillian Tett, has written an excellent article summarising the similarities between today’s problems in the western banking system, and those of Japan’s during the ‘lost decade’ of the 1990′s. Her point is that although central banks are pouring money into the system via ‘quantitative easing’, it is clearly not reaching […]

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Procter & Gamble goes Basic

As the downturn began In July 2007, leading retailers Tesco and Wal-Mart “signalled a major shift in consumer priorities“. And Tesco added a warning that “If you don’t have the basic things right, you will be talking at the edge rather than at the centre“. 2 years later Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s […]

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Sodium silicate becomes ‘killer app’ for old engines

Sales of most chemicals are down due to the recession. But US sodium silicate volumes could see a massive boost, according to the Wall Street Journal. The reason is that the government has mandated its use to destroy the engines of the old cars that it buys under the subsidy scheme. Normally ‘liquid glass’, as […]

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August’s Boom/Gloom Index turns more cautious

Merrill Lynch’s Bob Farrell was the doyen of sentiment analysts. He famously suggested that ‘bear markets have three stages – sharp down, reflexive rebound, a drawn-out fundamental downtrend’. So far we have certainly seen the ‘sharp down’ period, and the blog’s new Boom/Gloom Index© seems to have signalled the current ‘reflexive rebound‘, with July’s Index […]

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No sign of any upturn

This week’s company results have been keenly awaited, as the industry seeks to form a view on what happens next to demand and profits. My new IeC colleague Paul Satchell reviews them, from the point of view of a highly-experienced financial analyst, in his ‘Chemicals Viewpoint’. But the blog thought it would also be interesting […]

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US natural gas markets in confusion

Natural gas is a major feedstock for US chemical producers. So the problems caused by the rush to buy a fund that “invests” in the natural gas futures market, are a concern. Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix has been warning for some time that the UNG fund was becoming too large. Investors have been so keen […]

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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Its not only the blog (and fellow blogger John Richardson), who worry about the speculative frenzy underway in China, and its impact on global polymer and chemical markets. Wu Xiaoling, former deputy governor of the central bank, has called the growth in new lending “excessive“, and warned it is creating “bubbles in the property and […]

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Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Source: Chartoftheday.com There are “lies, damn lies, and statistics” according to Mark Twain, the famous American humorist. His argument was that statistics are often (a) untrue* and (b) used without the necessary context. Last week provided a perfect example of the latter. As the blog’s own Boom/Gloom Index© shows, sentiment is currently very positive in […]

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Chemical production stabilises as destocking ends

The excellent weekly report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has a number of interesting insights: • As the chart shows, global chemical production seems to have bottomed. All regions are, however, now showing a decline versus 2008. • Separately, the ACC has updated its valuable survey of the state of inventories down the US […]

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Refiners’ margins come under pressure

In another sign of the economy ‘bouncing along the bottom’, US drivers appear to have returned to the road in recent months. Latest figures from the US Highway Administration show a 0.1% rise in vehicle miles travelled during May, the second consecutive month of positive growth since 2007. But this is unlikely to provide much […]

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