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The Swedish model

The blog has given up counting the number of US banks that have failed in recent weeks, away from the headlnes. Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, predicted last month that half of all US banks would fail, and he is well placed to know. Bank rescues are also rising across Europe. The German […]

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Blue skies disappear

A year ago, the blog was in a minority of one, with its forecast for 2008. Its heading was ‘Budgeting for a Downturn’. By contrast, the consensus post-EPCA was for $70bbl oil, debt market problems to be contained, and for chemical margins to remain at 2007 levels. This year’s EPCA mood was different. There was […]

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Bailout passes, Wall Street falls

‘Buy on the rumour, sell on the news’ is the classic definition of a weak market. So the US stock market’s reaction to the passing of the US bailout is a worrying indication that further problems may lie ahead. On 19 September, the Dow rocketed to 11388 as the bailout was confirmed. Last night, as […]

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Iceland on the brink

Last March, the blog noted an excellent article on Iceland by Gillian Tett of the Financial Times. She argued that Iceland was ‘the first country run like a hedge fund’. And she worried that its banks might prove not ‘too big to fail’, but ‘too big to rescue’? Now, it looks as though we are […]

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US economy ‘flat on the floor’ says Buffett

Warren Buffett, the world’s leading investor, was quite candid yesterday in his views on the US economy. `In my adult lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people as fearful, economically, as they are right now,’ Buffett, 78, told PBS. ‘They are not wrong to be worried’. He added that a lack of short-term credit […]

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A political crisis in Washington

As if a global financial crisis wasn’t enough, we now have a political crisis in the USA. Leaving aside the question of whether the ‘bailout’ would have worked, last night’s rejection of the proposal means that we are in uncharted territory on how to move forward. The blog cannot remember a time when a sitting […]

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China’s export dependency grows

New light has been shed on the critical question of whether domestic growth in China, and Asia, can substitute for slowing western growth. It turns out, according to research by the Royal Bank of Scotland, that both have become more export-intensive in recent years, not less: • China’s exports were just 20% of GDP in […]

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Polymers demand slumps in Europe, China

ICIS news reports that polymer demand is falling sharply in two key markets, China and Europe. This is a bad omen for demand in other chemical markets, as polymers are closely tied to GDP growth. Linda Naylor reports that PE volumes in Europe may be down 7% in 2008. Meanwhile, John Richardson and Malini Hariharan […]

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Global chemical growth slows

The latest American Chemistry Council report on global production growth makes sombre reading for anyone outside the Middle East: • Global growth (dark green) is now only 1.4%, versus 4.1% in January • N American growth (dark blue) declined by 2.4% in August • European growth (light green) was down 1.5% in July • Central/Eastern […]

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A debate opens up

Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, has joined the growing list of politicians with a view on the current economic crisis. His analysis differs markedly from that expressed by President Bush on Wednesday. ‘The financial market crisis is above all an American problem’, Steinbrück told the Bundestag (German Parliament) yesterday. He added that ‘the current […]

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