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The blog in 2009

The blog is now 2.5 years old. Readership continues to grow, both within the chemical industry and its investment community. It is now read in 121 countries, and 2735 cities, versus 89 countries and 1244 cities a year ago. Readers are also very loyal, with 23% reading it twice a week. Its readership covers all […]

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Saudi says oil at $70 – $80/bbl is a “perfect price”

OPEC’s Angola meeting lasted just 70 minutes yesterday. Before the session, Saudi Oil Minister al-Naimi noted that prices were at their target level of $70-$80/bbl, and called this “a perfect price”. However, the underlying supply/demand balance remains fragile. As the chart from Nomura shows, current OECD oil/product inventories are well above normal levels. Whilst today’s […]

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P&G warn on global protectionism

P&G’s new CEO, Robert McDonald, has “warned of the risks to global growth posed by increased protectionism in the US and around the world, stemming from the global recession“. interviewed by the Financial Times, McDonald noted that 20% of P&G’s jobs in the US depend on their international business, which accounts for 60% of P&G’s […]

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Feldstein says US recession “isn’t over”

Harvard’s Prof Martin Feldstein is one of the very few economists who has correctly forecast the length of the current downturn. Today, he questions whether the US recession is really over, and suggests that “2010 is going to be a very weak year“. He believes that we are entering a more frugal economy, and notes […]

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Germany calls Greece’s problems “tip of the iceberg”

Financial crises take time to mature. Yet until the end is nigh, apologists will insist that nothing needs to change. Thus valuable time is wasted. Last year, Iceland was the obvious example of this problem. Now it is Greece, a eurozone member. Back in January, S&P had downgraded Greece’s bonds, due to debt concerns. And […]

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EU auto sales stabilise thanks to subsidies

EU auto sales continued to improve in November versus 2008, with total volumes up 27%. But as the chart from ACEA (EU Automobile Manufacturers Assoc) shows, they were still lower than in 2007. The difference between sales in W Europe, and in the new EU Central European states (EU CE), was quite dramatic. Sales in […]

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New York considers a more frugal way of life

The blog continues to believe that the current downturn is a transition period, at least in the West, towards a more frugal way of life. And its theory has received a boost from a New York Times feature which suggests this might be happening in the bastion of consumerism, New York. The NYT suggests the […]

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UK to tax bank bonuses at 90%

“The more things change, the more they stay the same“. Or, as the blog’s French-speaking readership might say, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“. When the blog started work in the chemical industry, in 1978, it was possible to pay up to 114% of one’s income as tax in the UK, if one […]

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Tesco say price-cutting will continue

Q3 comments from Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, confirm the picture of a more frugal consumer suggested by other majors. On the positive side, they report “a material improvement” in sales “in both Asia and Europe“. And Tesco expect “this trend to continue into Q4 and beyond”. But on the less positive side, CFO […]

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Dalian LLDPE prices now seem to follow crude oil

China’s Dalian polymer futures market continues to have a major influence on regional, and global, polyethylene markets. But November’s trading volume was lower than a year ago, at 25 million tonnes. This is the first negative annual growth since volume took off in June last year. Last month, the blog noted a comment from LyondellBasell […]

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