Archive | Consumer demand RSS feed for this section

Chemical companies see upturn, but not yet a sustained recovery ahead

The chemical industry is a well-known leading indicator for the world economy. Yet 18 months after the financial crisis began, the blog’s review of quarterly company results reveals few signs of optimism that a sustained upturn is underway. Q1 has certainly seen the forecast seasonal boost. But Asia, particularly China, remains the real focus of […]

Continue Reading
US house pricesApr10.png

US house prices face ‘double-dip’ risk

February was a milestone in US house markets. For the first time since December 2006, prices were higher than a year ago, according to today’s authoritative S&P/Case Shiller Index. But the rise in the 10 City and 20 City indices was just 1%. And as the above S&P chart shows, prices are still only at […]

Continue Reading
GPCA.png

Middle East worries about rise of dumping charges

Trade protectionism is on the rise around the world, as the blog forecast in its Budget Outlook back in October. It suggested that “arguments about the ‘export of jobs’ will increase“, and argued that “chemical companies will need to keep a close eye on the political arena, as they operate in a complex value chain, […]

Continue Reading
US dream Apr10.png

Betting against the American dream

The political firestorm inspired by the SEC’s citing of Goldman Sachs for fraud shows no sign of dying down. It has even inspired a Broadway song that describes how another hedge fund, Magnetar, allegedly made money out of betting against the housing securities it helped to create. Click here to see it (the video is […]

Continue Reading
Euroautos Apr10.png

EU auto sales rise 9% in Q1

The impact of government scrappage schemes continues to dominate European auto sales. As the chart shows, sales were up 9.2% in Q1, and March was up 10.8%, versus 2009. On a national basis, Germany continued its decline after the end of its scheme, with sales down 26.6% in March. But this was offset by UK […]

Continue Reading
China lendApr10.png

China’s bank lending falls 43% in Q1

There are increasing signs that China is getting serious about tightening its lending policies. The above chart, from China’s central bank, shows how lending has fallen since January. Then, it was 14% down versus 2009. But by the end of Q1, lending was down 43% versus Q1 2009. In addition, the government has begun to […]

Continue Reading
Xi Jinping.jpg

China aims to boost domestic consumption

The dramatic rise of Asia’s economies, including China, has been based on an export-driven model. Their growth powered ahead as long as the West grew, and companies continued to outsource much of their basic manufacturing activity to lower-cost countries. In 2001, for example, China’s exports were just 20% of GDP. But by 2007, they had […]

Continue Reading
Debt Apr10.png

US consumers enter the ‘new normal’

The US consumer accounts for 16% of total global GDP, with a value of $10trn. By comparison, total Asian consumption is under $5trn. China’s consumption in 2008 was just $1.6trn, about equal to the UK. Changes in US consumer behaviour are therefore critical to global GDP, and hence to chemical demand. The chart above, from […]

Continue Reading
S&P Mar10.png

US company earnings still 40% below 2007 peak

The US 2009/Q4 reporting season is now virtually complete. It provides a valuable snapshot of company health as the US recession ends: • Reported earnings (red line) for the S&P 500 have recovered to $51. This is partly due to loss-makers such as GM having dropped out of the index due to bankruptcy. But it […]

Continue Reading
Dalian Apr10.png

Asian PE margins under pressure as oil prices rise

China’s demand has been the main driver for the global chemical industry over the past year. And prices on China’s Dalian polymers futures exchange have been a key indicator of the boom. But now, the rally seems to be running out of steam. The key signs are in the above chart: • At the end […]

Continue Reading