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Webinar – ‘A checklist for survival’

The last 6 months have been traumatic for many parts of the chemical industry. The next 2 or 3 years may well continue to be very difficult. How should your company best position itself to survive? That is the key question I will discuss on Thursday 14 May in my Webinar, ‘A Checklist for Survival’. […]

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US housing starts stabilise

As the blog had hoped, US housing starts have stabilised in recent weeks. As the chart from Wall Street Journal shows, single-family home starts in March remained at c360,000 for the 3rd month running. Equally, the National Association of Home Builders’ index improved slightly from 9 in March to 14 in April. But starts are […]

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Deflation hits the USA

US consumer prices fell for the first time since 1955 last month. Deflation was more common before 1955, and in the 1929-33 period prices fell by c10% a year. The danger of deflation is that it changes the entire psychology of purchasing. With inflation, it is better to buy today, because the product/service will be […]

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Difficult times call for tough decisions

Downturns are difficult times. There is always the hope that markets might improve, and this can delay the implementation of tough decisions on plant closures. Nobody wants to shut down, and then see a competitor benefit from an improving market. But if markets do stay depressed, then precious cash is being wasted whilst plants operate […]

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Restocking begins but the downturn continues

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION Recently the blog has identified a number of signs that US housing and auto markets are stabilising, at least temporarily. This should feed through into chemical demand during Q2, and enable production volumes to show some improvement. What happens next? In order to answer this critical question, we have to […]

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Credit crisis losses head for $4 trillion

To misquote the famous HL Mencken phrase, “nobody ever went broke under-estimating the losses caused by the credit crisis”. Initially, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke estimated the losses at just $100bn. Then, a year ago, the IMF said its estimate was $1 trillion. Now, the IMF is raising its estimate even higher, this time to $4 […]

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Benzene price surge indicates end to destocking

Benzene is the blog’s favourite leading indicator of chemical industry demand. It is one of the most widely used products and, as a liquid, it is also widely traded. Its recent successes as an indicator include calling a peak on industry profitability, when its prices peaked a year ago. And then it provided early confirmation […]

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Credit crunch hits US baseball, UK Premier League

Tom Hicks was a major player in private equity, but then moved on to sports investment via his Hicks Sports Group (HSG). He owns the US Texas Rangers baseball and Dallas Stars ice hockey franchises, as well as a 50% stake in the UK Premier League’s Liverpool FC. Now The Guardian reports that HSG has […]

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FT’s Gillian Tett named ‘Journalist of the Year’

The blog is delighted that the Financial Times’ Gillian Tett has been named Journalist of the Year, in the annual UK awards. She was the first journalist to call attention to the dangers developing in financial markets, and has been an invaluable source of information. Two postings, from March 2008 and December 2007, illustrate her […]

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G-20 moves on regulation, ducks other key issues

The blog has been reading the G-20 communiqué, and various news reports, to understand whether the London summit answered the 5 key questions it raised in advance of the meeting. Reuters provides a good summary of the outcome in terms of 3 blog questions: • Global trade. “The Summit ‘reaffirmed’ commitment from previous summit last […]

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