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TOTAL moves forward on methanol to olefins

Coal was the original source of most chemicals. It was then replaced in the 1960′s by oil-based feedstocks. Their lower cost of manufacturing led to the boom in applications and volumes seen over the past 50 years. More recently, biomass’ potential is now being explored. At the same time, major companies such as BASF, Dow, […]

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A Year of Two Halves

Two months ago, on 8 May, the blog suggested that ‘Sell in May and Go Away” was likely to prove good advice this year. Since then, most major stock markets have fallen dramatically, with the S&P 500 down by 9%. The proximate cause of the blog’s pessimism then was the onset of the Greek/eurozone crisis. […]

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Boom/Gloom Index warns of rising Austerity risk

The latest IeC Boom/Gloom Index © is showing a further rise in its austerity reading (red line). This is not good news for likely future chemical sales. It is one of a number of leading indicators – housing and auto sales, unemployment, bank lending etc – which are all pointing to a potentially sharp slowdown […]

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The blog’s 3rd birthday

The blog continues to go from strength to strength. It is now read in 130 countries and 3680 cities, up from 111 countries and 2088 cities a year ago. Its readership is truly global, with the Top 10 countries including Benelux, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Singapore, Turkey, UK and USA. It has also expanded […]

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US auto sales slip as employment growth weakens

Each US auto sale is worth $2973 to the chemical industry, according to American Chemistry Council research. And as the chart above shows, current sales remain well below the levels seen in the Boom years. In June 2007, for example, 1.5m autos were sold (black line), in line with 2006 and 2006 performance. They were […]

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Whisky Galore for pensioners

The pension funding crisis is causing problems for companies, as life expectancy increases. So the blog was interested to learn that drinks giant Diageo is to hand over whisky worth £500m ($750m) to its pension fund, to help bridge the deficit. Apparently the pensioners won’t be expected to drink it, in lieu of their pension. […]

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General Electric’s CEO hits at China, Obama

When things are going well, potential problem areas get brushed under the carpet. Its only when the economy gets difficult, that tensions surface. Comments by General Electric CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, reported today by the Financial Times, are therefore a worrying sign of the uncertainty at the top of leading global businesses about the economic outlook. […]

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Russia’s chemical output begins to improve

In May last year, the blog was hopeful that the major decline in Russian chemical production might start to reverse. And recent ACC regional production figures have indeed shown a welcome improvement in Central and Eastern European output, which was badly hit by the 2008-9 collapse. Once again, the blog is grateful to Sergei Blagov […]

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China’s slowdown hits shipping market

The Baltic Dry Index of freight costs (for iron ore, grains and coal) follows changes in global demand for bulk shipping. As such, it is an important leading indicator of future economic activity, and chemicals demand. The blog first noted Index movements in October 2007, when this was accurately forecasting the H1 2008 boom. In […]

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Home truths about the causes of the financial crisis

Darwin hit it on the nail when he wrote in ‘Origin of the Species’ that “Unless profitable variations occur, natural selection can do nothing“. His message is echoed today by US Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, one of the few policy-makers who deals in reality rather than wishful thinking. Warsh sets out to “debunk some popular […]

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