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Should US mortgage rates rise?

There’s a very interesting article in Barrons (the premier US investment magazine) today. It compares current efforts by Treasury Secretary Paulson in trying to cap US mortgage rates with President Nixon’s ill-fated introduction of a US wage/prices freeze in 1971. Barrons points out that non-US buyers are already being hit by major write-downs in the […]

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A dip or a downturn?

Are we seeing just a dip in economic growth? Or are we at the start of a downturn that may run for months, or even years? The answer to this question lies in the US, which still accounts for 25% of global GDP, and where US consumer spending is 70% of US GDP. Optimists maintain […]

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Asian chemical markets can’t decouple

Its 2 months since I was last in Asia. It is clear that earlier optimism about the region’s resilience in the face of a possible US recession in 2008 has begun to disappear. Typical is the comment by Kanit Saengsubhan of the Thai Fiscal Policy Institute. He sees Thai growth in 2008 falling below earlier […]

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US chemical imports face ‘green’ border tax

The US Congress is currently close to finalising a Bill that would aim to tackle climate change. This follows the EU model by establishing a carbon price via a cap-and-trade system, and is very welcome news. However, there is a sting in the tail, as currently drafted. For it also calls for a border tax […]

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Gazprom moves further into petchems

Gazprom is becoming a player to watch in petchems. For decades, observers have speculated that Russia might increase its petchem activity. A recent comment by Gazprom deputy CEO, Valery Golubev, seemed to bring this concept closer to reality. He said that Gazprom aimed to increase its ethylene production by 350% to 7.66 million tonnes (MT) […]

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The US$ just keeps on falling

A recent Financial Times article commented on the 93% correlation this year between changes in the ¥ / € rate and global stock market movements. It showed that during 2007, whenever the euro has risen against the yen, stocks have also risen, and vice versa. This could be interesting background info for anyone who dabbles […]

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5 risks to 2008 budgets

The consensus viewpoint is an easy way of keeping up to speed on a variety of issues outside one’s daily experience. But the signs are that the consensus may be leading to complacency, when it comes to the assumptions being used to finalise 2008 budgets. There are a number of areas where some new thinking […]

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China worries over US$ fall

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, spent his trip to Singapore yesterday expressing concern over the fall in the US$. ‘“We have never been experiencing such big pressure. We are worried about how to preserve the value of our reserves,’ he said. In a separate interview, Mr Wen then went further, stating ‘We will increase the […]

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Beggar my neighbour

English children have a card game called ‘Beggar my Neighbour’, where the aim is to win all the cards from your opponents. Central bankers seem to be learning its rules, and applying them to currency trading. OPEC’s weekend summit showed it is clearly worried that it will have a losing hand if oil remains priced […]

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Uncertainty rules

Our annual European conference, organised with ICIS, always provides an excellent opportunity to gain a snapshot of industry views as we move into a new year. At this week’s event in Antwerp, Belgium, the prevailing mood was uncertainty, for the first time since 2002: • Oil prices are high, and volatile. This makes it difficult […]

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