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L’Oreal goes Affordable

Further evidence of the trend towards a more frugal consumer comes from L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company. Like Procter & Gamble, it was slow to react to the trends identified by the major retail chains some 2 years ago. As a result, its profits fell 14% in H1, after decades of 10% annual increases. […]

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Green shoots begin to disappear

September’s IeC Boom/Gloom Index© is slightly higher than August. But the ‘Green Shoots’ level (green line) has fallen sharply, indicating that sentiment has become less positive about the staying power of the recent rallies in financial markets. The index now includes a new reading for “frugal” (red line), as this may be worth watching in […]

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August 2009 highlights

Many readers have been out of the office during August on a well-deserved break. As usual, the blog is therefore highlighting below the main postings over the past month, in the hope this will help you to catch up quickly on key developments – please click on the highlighted title if you want to read […]

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Restocking continues, consumers become more frugal

There are clear signs in the above chart that the inventory cycle has turned positive again, as customers restock. Globally, data from the American Chemistry Council shows chemical production now down 10.5% versus last year, after being 13.4% down in March, in line with signs that GDP in the west is now stabilising. But will […]

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China’s economic recovery “uncertain” – premier

The blog was asked to write an analysis for ICIS Insight on the growing concerns about the outlook for China’s economy, and their potential impact on the global chemicals inustry. Please click here if you would like to download a pdf copy.

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US house sales rise as foreclosure increases

The US housing crisis is still getting worse, causing the weekend collapse of Guaranty Bank, the 11th largest US bank failure. As the Wall Street Journal notes, this marks a “new stage” in the banking crisis. Guaranty Financial had bought low quality, “toxic” mortgage loans, and its woes illustrate the “boomerang effect” that is now […]

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GDP’s “statistical recovery”

The blog is very interested to see the different outlooks being proposed by central bank heads. US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke claimed Friday that the financial crisis was due to “panic”, rather than fundamental problems such as reckless lending. As a result, with the “panic” over, he now saw the potential for securing “a sustained […]

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Asian irrigation upgrade a $bn opportunity

Some 20 years ago, the blog launched ICI Watercare – which became the largest water treatment business in the chemical industry. So it has kept a close eye on opportunities in the water industry ever since. The weak monsoon season in India highlights one such opportunity. As a new report from the UN Food and […]

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Weak monsoon hits India’s economic recovery

Monsoon rainfall accounts for 60% of farm irrigation in India, Asia’s 3rd largest economy. This monsoon season, it has so far been about 2/3rds of the 10 year average. Last week it was 56% below normal. Although agriculture accounts for just 17% of the economy, the lack of rainfall will also damage the whole rural […]

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Managing through interruptions

Henry Mintzberg is one of the blog’s favourite management gurus. The reason is that he understands the constraints under which most managers operate. His view is that the best managers aren’t Superman or Superwoman, but “are simply ordinary, healthy people who aren’t too screwed up“. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he outlines […]

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