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Benzene signals a market top

As regular readers will know, the blog believes benzene is a good leading indicator for chemical demand, due to its widespread use in the industry. Last November saw its price “on the floor“, indicating a major downturn, and it remained there until March, before its price began to “surge” in early April as destocking ended […]

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The banks’ plumbing systems appear to be blocked

The blog’s favourite financial journalist, Gillian Tett, has written an excellent article summarising the similarities between today’s problems in the western banking system, and those of Japan’s during the ‘lost decade’ of the 1990′s. Her point is that although central banks are pouring money into the system via ‘quantitative easing’, it is clearly not reaching […]

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China’s banks worry about the speculative bubble

This year, China has been the one place in the world where almost anyone can get a loan. But now, it seems policy is about to change. Zhang Jianguo, president of the 2nd largest bank, China Construction, has announced a 70% cut in H2 lending to Rmb 200bn ($29bn), “to avert a surge in bad […]

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Procter & Gamble goes Basic

As the downturn began In July 2007, leading retailers Tesco and Wal-Mart “signalled a major shift in consumer priorities“. And Tesco added a warning that “If you don’t have the basic things right, you will be talking at the edge rather than at the centre“. 2 years later Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s […]

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US auto sales continue rebound

US auto sales have not yet followed the European lead, and shown an increase versus 2008 levels. And they certainly don’t match China’s 17% sales increase in H1. But they were down just 11% in July. And Ford did post its first annual sales gain since November 2007. As the chart shows, all the major […]

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Sodium silicate becomes ‘killer app’ for old engines

Sales of most chemicals are down due to the recession. But US sodium silicate volumes could see a massive boost, according to the Wall Street Journal. The reason is that the government has mandated its use to destroy the engines of the old cars that it buys under the subsidy scheme. Normally ‘liquid glass’, as […]

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The blog was right on US GDP

In May 2008, the blog aligned itself with Harvard’s Prof Martin Feldstein, who declared that the Q1 2008 US GDP report was “grossly misleading“. Feldstein, after all, was in a position to know, as he was then chairman of the official body that decides whether the US is in recession. 15 months later, the US […]

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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Its not only the blog (and fellow blogger John Richardson), who worry about the speculative frenzy underway in China, and its impact on global polymer and chemical markets. Wu Xiaoling, former deputy governor of the central bank, has called the growth in new lending “excessive“, and warned it is creating “bubbles in the property and […]

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Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Source: Chartoftheday.com There are “lies, damn lies, and statistics” according to Mark Twain, the famous American humorist. His argument was that statistics are often (a) untrue* and (b) used without the necessary context. Last week provided a perfect example of the latter. As the blog’s own Boom/Gloom Index© shows, sentiment is currently very positive in […]

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Chemical production stabilises as destocking ends

The excellent weekly report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has a number of interesting insights: • As the chart shows, global chemical production seems to have bottomed. All regions are, however, now showing a decline versus 2008. • Separately, the ACC has updated its valuable survey of the state of inventories down the US […]

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