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Moody’s seasonal ‘gift’ for SABIC

Its always interesting to see the news stories that are slipped out just before major public holidays, when media attention is likely to be low. Only ICIS news seemed to spot the announcement by Moody’s that they were placing SABIC Innovative Plastics (the former GE Plastics business) on watch for a potential ratings downgrade. Yet […]

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USA adds $746bn to support housing

Housing, as we know, is an absolutely key market for the chemical industry, both directly and indirectly. Directly, each new house accounts for $16k of chemical demand, whilst indirectly, years of rising western house prices has allowed consumers to cash out their gains to spend on Asian imports. Now this virtuous circle has turned with […]

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The yuan also rises

Bloomberg reports today that China’s yuan has now risen 12% against the US$, since the dollar peg was scrapped in July 2005. And the rise is accelerating, with the currency up 6% so far this year. Significantly, China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming said that the yuan’s rise ‘fits China’s economic needs’. A strong exchange rate […]

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2008 economic outlook

Yesterday the European Central Bank opened its doors and lent €349bn to 390 banks seeking to shore up their reserves position for year-end. Will this help solve the credit crunch? Writing today in the Financial Times, their excellent banking editor (Gillian Tett) is doubtful. She worries that ‘the banks know something nasty that we don’t’, […]

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Dow integrates upstream via Kuwait deal

Dow has been unique amongst the world’s largest petchem companies in not being integrated upstream into oil and refining. This position will change dramatically at the end of 2008, when its newly-announced JV with the PIC subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum opens for business. Not only will Dow then integrate its ethylene/PE business, but it will […]

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Chemicals & the Economy – the first 6 months

It is now almost 6 months since I started writing this blog. And I thought you might like some feedback on how it is developing. As you can see from the green-shading on the map, it is now read in almost all of the major chemical producing/consuming areas. A high proportion of readers bookmark the […]

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Oil supply worries increase

In recent days, 3 respected commentators on oil markets have raised concerns about the near and medium-term prospects for oil supplies: • Goldman Sachs has raised their 2008 WTI price forecast to $95/bbl from $85/bbl. This is driven by their expectation that cost inflation, plus continuing technological and political uncertainty, will ‘increase the price required […]

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Another day, another $17bn

News that UBS, the major investment bank, has had to follow Citigroup in raising new capital in a hurry, will have added to the CFO concerns I describe below. Massive subprime losses have forced both banks to raise a combined $24.5bn in the past fortnight. Both had previously said that their losses would only be […]

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CFO pessimism increases

CFOs are paid to worry, but their worries seem to be increasing quite rapidly, according to the results of the quarterly CFO survey by Duke University/The Economist. This showed: • Record pessimism about the US economy, with US CFOs worrying about ‘weak consumer demand, high fuel costs, rising labor costs and credit markets’. • European […]

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A satirical look at the subprime debacle

A reader has kindly sent me a YouTube link to a recent British television sketch featuring two masters of satire, John Bird and John Fortune. It takes the form of a mock-interview, with Bird playing the all-wise investment banker, and explaining to Fortune how subprime happened, and what a SIV might be. Not only is […]

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