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Free Webinar next week on the Budget Outlook

The blog’s new Budget Outlook is an independent view of the key issues which will impact chemical sales and margins in 2010. Previous Outlooks have stimulated much debate within the industry. We are therefore proposing to run a free 1 hour Webinar next week for blog readers, on Thursday 29 October at 15:00 GMT (16:00 […]

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Budgeting for a new normal

2010 should be a better year for the chemical industry, as demand grows in line with a recovery in global GDP. But a quick V-shaped return to the 2003-7 Boom years in terms of volumes/margins seems unlikely. Governments will worry about budget deficits, and may well scale down support for critical end-uses such as autos […]

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Housing markets to be slow next year, US Fed

In 2006, there were 2.2 million US housing starts. These were worth $35bn of chemical sales. Currently, and even with the support of an $8k tax credit, they are running at an annual rate of just 600k, worth $10bn. This is the lowest level since records began in 1960. Even in 1975, 1981 and 1981, […]

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China gains as world trade slows

Sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words. The chart above, from the New York Times, highlights the massive changes that are taking place in world trade flows. These are of critical importance to the chemical industry, one of the world’s most globalised businesses. • Firstly, the volume of world trade has fallen to 2006 levels, […]

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The concept of “escape velocity”

This being Budget Week in the blog, it seems appropriate to look at the views of Larry Summers, US economics chief, to understand his expectations for an economic recovery. His main concept is of “escape velocity”, whereby the economy will escape from the downturn like a 3-stage space rocket: • Government spending stops the downturn […]

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“New normal” means major change – US Fed

The blog has argued for some time that the chemical industry is facing a “new normal” as growth returns to the economy. Now US Federal Reserve Governor Dan Tarullo has helpfully spelt out some important changes that he expects to occur. He notes that: • “Just about everyone understands we will never return to the […]

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2010 Budgets

The blog is now preparing its annual Budget Outlook for 2010. Before this is published next weekend, it makes sense to assess the blog’s credibility by looking back at last year’s Outlook, to see how well it performed. Past performance may not be a perfect guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the […]

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The Latvian canary

Coal miners used to take a canary with them, to help detect poisonous fumes. If the canary stopped singing, then they knew there was a problem. This led to the concept of “the canary in the coalmine acting as a warning of danger”. Small countries can play the same role in the global economy. Last […]

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US unemployment 9.8%, 26 million seeking work

US unemployment has now reached 9.8%, and seems almost certain to reach 10% by year-end. In addition, 11 million people have either given up work, or have settled for part-time employment. Thus 26 million are now out of full-time work, 17% of the workforce. A rise to 10% would also mean, as Goldman Sachs note, […]

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Petchems prepares for a new reality

My first European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting was in 1985. Since then, I have found that it provides an unique opportunity to look back over the current year, and focus on what might happen next. Thus in October 2007, just after I began writing the blog, my discussions led me to warn that we were […]

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