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Cost, knowledge and speed

There is increasing evidence for the blog’s belief that the auto industry is embarking on a fundamental shift in its approach. An interview in just-auto with Daimler’s R&D head, Thomas Weber, provides some important insights into the opportunities that may develop for chemical companies as a result. Weber notes that “cost, knowledge and speed” are […]

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G-20 in self-congratulatory mood

When the G-20 met last April, it issued a Communiqué containing just 688 words. Its Pittsburgh meeting over the weekend produced a Leader’s Statement containing 9292 words. “More” does generally not mean “better” when it comes to writing action plans. Instead, the document simply seems to be a catch-all of comments from the 20 leaders. […]

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Chemicals face a new reality

The blog believes that the landscape has changed during the current downturn. We came into it on the back of a major boom in consumption, supported by reckless lending and borrowing. This mind-set seems unlikely to return quickly. Instead, as the period of destocking/restocking comes to an end, we may face a “new reality”. This […]

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Reported earnings forecast slow recovery when restocking ends

US corporate earnings were down a record 89% in Q1 versus the previous 12 months at just $7. Q2 saw only a minor improvement with earnings at only $8. Its interesting, therefore, to see market expectations for 2010. The chart is based on S&P analyst forecasts, and shows “reported earnings” (red line) are expected to […]

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EU chemicals volume down 10% versus 2005 levels

The above chart, from Moncef Hadhri’s excellent monthly report from CEFIC (the European chemical industry association) provides an interesting snapshot of the state of the EU chemical industry. On the positive side, it shows that recovery from the destocking period was well underway in June (the latest data available). Volume (green line), had risen 10% […]

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Current policies make downturns “more dangerous”

Some readers may remember the 2007 and 2008 reports from the Bank of International Settlements (the central bankers’ bank). In July 2007 the blog titled its summary ‘4 risks to the world economy’, and July 2008′s was titled ‘The difficult task of damage control’. Not all of the BIS’s forecasts proved correct, but it was […]

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Central banks warn on likely growth rates

Coincidentally, both the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England yesterday signalled the probable end of the ‘the recession’ yesterday. But as the blog noted last month, statistics don’t tell the whole story. The issue is that economists usually define recession as simply being 2 or more quarters of negative growth. Automatically, therefore, any […]

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Smart shoppers focus on needs, not wants

After destocking, and then restocking, what next? The blog is a great believer in following the insights of the major retailers, who have been consistently “on the money” in their analysis. Thus it takes very seriously the comments of Wal-Mart CEO, Mike Duke, who has joined the camp of those who believe we face a […]

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Tyre duties highlight protectionist pressures

Globalisation flourished whilst economic growth was strong. Jobs lost in Western countries were replaced by new jobs. Whilst cheaper production offshore kept consumer prices low, as well as bringing more people into the world economy. But today’s economic downturn means this virtuous circle is turning vicious. Western countries are becoming more protectionist and hope to […]

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China says “perseverance” needed as crisis continues

China was the first major country to feel the impact of the financial crisis. In August 2008, it noted that “the era of low costs and high growth has come to an end for China, and an economic restructuring is inevitable”. Since then, of course, China’s export-dependent economy has meant it has been one of […]

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