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Two swallows

This week has seen more downbeat news on US auto and housing sales. Ford said their total August vehicle sales were down 14% versus August 2006, and that their car sales were down by an amazing 34%. Toyota, who have been growing market share, said they were down 2.8% in total, and that their car […]

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Every mania is based on an illusion

I first wrote about the subprime crisis two months ago, as it began to be noticed in the press. Housing represents an important source of chemicals demand, and so it seemed to have potentially major implications for the chemical industry. Since then, it has become clear that the crisis could have far-reaching implications, if not […]

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OPEC and the IEA

The war of words between OPEC (the oil producers’ club) and the International Energy Agency (the rich countries energy watchdog), has intensified this week, ahead of the next OPEC Ministerial meeting scheduled for 11 September. Claude Mandil, director general of the IEA, told Arab Oil and Gas ‘the market has become aware’ that OPEC ‘has […]

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China’s Finance Minister resigns

You may remember that the Chairman of Sinopec, Chen Tonghai, suddenly resigned last June. This prompted plenty of discussion about whether there had been a disagreement with the government over the level of subsidies paid to keep domestic oil product prices low. Now, this morning, China’s Finance Minister, Jin Renqing, has also quit. There are […]

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The end of the prologue

The report in today’s ‘Financial Times’ that Barclays Bank has lost ‘several hundred million dollars’, means that the UK has now joined every other global financial centre in suffering from the US subprime mortgage crisis. The news followed Friday’s 5% drop in the value of Bank of China’s shares, after it revealed it held $9.7bn […]

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A tale of two worlds

It used to be said that ‘if the US sneezes, the rest of the world will catch a cold’. Well, the US is certainly sneezing as a result of its subprime financial crisis, but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to be taking too much notice, as least so far. As Bloomberg comments overnight, […]

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Interesting quotes (3)

Some of these quotes just seemed too good to ignore… `I don’t see any impact as yet on the real economy or on the inflation rate. Obviously, there could be an impact, but we have to rely on some real evidence.’ There is ‘a sort of credit crunch’, in place affecting housing and some types […]

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Leverage and bad debts

Some 20 years ago, after a couple of senior management jobs, I was sent off to study for a month at the IMD business school in Switzerland. There I spent time with Prof Jim Ellert, a noted financial analyst, who showed us how to understand a P&L and a balance sheet. He also passed on […]

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Thursday’s child has far to go

The past two Thursdays have seen extraordinary things happen in financial markets. Last Thursday, BNP Paribas suspended redemptions on 3 of its funds, forcing the ECB to inject €95bn of liquidity into the financial system. Yesterday, the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, had to raise an emergency €11.5bn loan in order to continue trading, […]

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Rolling thunder and Penn Square Bank

When I worked with ChemConnect in the halcyon days of the dot-com era in 1999-2000, we had a fantastic PR lady called Linda Stegeman. Linda ignored conventional wisdom about ‘bundling’ all your best news together to gain maximum impact. Instead, she released the stories one by one, and let them build. First Dow and Rohm […]

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