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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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Green shoots disappear as new reality dawns

Sentiment is a very important influence in markets. When positive, as it has been since March, traders tend to ‘look through’ today’s problems to a brighter future. But at some point, reality needs to confirm this optimism. The IeC Boom/Gloom Index (blue column) aims to measure these changes in sentiment. It correctly forecast March’s turning […]

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Global chemicals volume back to 2006 level

The probable ending of the destocking/restocking phase is a good moment to look back at what has happened to chemical industry volume in recent years. The chart, based on data kindly supplied by Kevin Swift of the ACC, shows how volume has moved, by Region, with Q1 2006 = 100: Global. Volume in Q2 this […]

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Recovery to be “weak by historical standards” – IMF

The good news is that the IMF thinks that the economy may have stopped getting worse. The bad news is that it thinks it may be a long time before we get back to earlier levels of demand. The main problem is the ongoing weakness of the banking system. The IMF has maintained its April […]

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The China “bubble” begins to deflate

China’s perceived demand has been the major driving force behind the rallies in financial and commodities markets this year. It has also attracted large volumes of polymer imports. But this wishful thinking ignores the fundamental issue that China’s economy is relatively small (just $4trn in a world economy of $60trn) and is 104th in terms […]

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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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