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Global auto sales reach ‘top of the mountain’ moment

The best view is always from the top of the mountain.  And that seems where we are today in global auto markets.  They are on track for another record year.  And even better news is that sales have risen in each of the 5 major markets for the first time since 2007. The bad news is that […]

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Shell CEO says Europe needs to leverage chemicals clusters

There are 2 ways to improve operating rates in an industry.  One is to increase volumes, the other is to reduce capacity.   The latest APPE data covering H1 2014 for European olefin capacity highlights how the European petrochemical industry has successfully used both mechanisms over the past year to improve its position: Ethylene volume increased to 9.8MT, versus […]

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India toilets Jul14

Indian Oil join campaign to build toilets in India

The blog is delighted to be able to congratulate Indian Oil (IOC) on becoming the first company to commit to building toilets in India.  In response to Premier Modi’s appeal, the chairman of India’s bggest refiner, B. Ashok, last week personally began to build toilets at a school near its refinery in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh state. IOC have […]

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Subprime loans drive US auto sales growth

Major problems are developing in the US auto market.   The critical issue is that companies have been adding capacity since 2009 on the basis that demand would return to SuperCycle levels.  But it hasn’t. The result is that the mass market has become more and more competitive.  Only sales into the high margin luxury/pickup segments are actually […]

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Ageing consumers from Chile to China need affordable, quality goods and services

The New Old 55+ generation is the key demographic for future consumer spending.  Their numbers are rising rapidly as global life expectancy has risen by 50% since 1950. Over the same period, global fertility rates have halved.  So there will be fewer younger people joining the wealth-creator generation of 25 – 54 year-olds that has historically driven economic […]

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Russian downturn causes GM, Ford U-turn; EU slows despite discounts

August is a holiday month for Europe’s statisticians.  So we had to wait until yesterday for a combined summary of July and August’s EU auto sales.  As the chart shows, they indicate a new slowdown is underway after the more encouraging volumes at the start of the year: Sales were up only 5.6% in July and 2.1% in August (red square), […]

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US PVC exports tumble as demand weakens in key markets

The US PVC industry is hitting new problems, to add to the post-2006 collapse of the US housing market. Yet only 10 years ago, it was riding high.  Demand into housing (the main outlet) was at record levels thanks to subprime lending, and PVC production had just hit a record 7.3 million tonnes. Even after the financial Crisis, global […]

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US reaches ‘peak car’ moment as incentives, inventories rise, whilst fewer Americans carry driving licenses

The blog’s suggestion back in March that now would be a good time for US readers to buy a new car is looking more and more prescient.  As the head of American Honda explained to investors last month: “In addition to a heavy reliance on fleet sales to boost volumes, we are seeing some of our […]

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China Transformation webinar tomorrow

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival day in China, held to celebrate the harvest.  Traditionally it features the exchange of moon cakes filled with lotus paste and egg yolks, whilst children go to lantern parades. But in recent years, it has also become synonymous with corruption.   Silver moon cakes, as pictured above, became a common gift for […]

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August highlights

Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks.   As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook:  Great Unwinding of stimulus underway.  Q2 results show slowing growth.  US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]

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