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Volcker returns

Sometimes, a picture is worth 1000 words. That’s the case with this photo (used by most of the world’s major news media), showing President Obama with former US Fed Governor Paul Volcker by his side. Volcker’s re-emergence is the first real sign of a serious shift in policy towards the financial sector. And the blog […]

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Restocking not the same as Recovery

Will Beacham of ICIS interviewed me yesterday in London’s Trafalgar Square. Please click above if you would like to see the discussion. Or click here if you would like to see Will’s summary on ICIS news.

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Greece’s deficits threaten the eurozone

Greece’s problems are getting worse, not better. And there seems no obvious solution to them. Does this matter to the chemical industry? Yes. Greece may not be a major player in chemical markets. But it is a member of the eurozone. And so its financial difficulties could prove very disruptive for any company that trades […]

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4 tips for longer-term corporate survival

Last September, the blog noted ’4 tips for survival in the New Normal’. Now, 3 years of research by a team of UK and Dutch academics has identified companies that have achieved almost uninterrupted success over a 20 year period, and asked senior executives about their experience. As summarised by Stefan Stern in the Financial […]

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Manchester United plans 2nd refinancing

The downside of the credit bubble continues to impact the UK’s Premier League, and the blog’s own soccer club, Manchester United. Today’s Guardian notes that United were bought by the US Glazer family for £810m ($1.3bn) in 2005, using £540m of debt. Since then, it says this debt has “cost United £340m in cash” in […]

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EU auto sales top USA and China in 2009

Almost unnoticed, the EU became the largest regional auto market last year. Thanks to the support of scrappage programmes (particularly Germany’s €5bn scheme) it sold 14.4 million autos, compared to just 10.4m in the USA and 13.6m in China. W Europe continued to see higher sales than Central Europe, due to greater government support. But […]

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China’s empty city

The blog has come across an interesting example of the impact of China’s credit growth, courtesy of Merryn Somerset Webb in the Financial Times. She highlights a YouTube video (link above) which investigates the new city of Ordos. The old city has become known as “China’s Texas”, because of the recent wealth generated from the […]

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Obama proposes $90bn US bank tax

One by one, Western political leaders are coming to the conclusion that taxes on the banks need to rise. Last month, the UK proposed a 50% ‘super-tax’ on bonuses, on the grounds that “investment banks are making exceptional profits as a result of the intervention of government“. At the time, the blog thought it spotted […]

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Germany sees 5% GDP fall in 2009

The blog has been worrying for some time about what will happen when governments end their stimulus programmes. It does not share the optimism of financial markets, that these will provide to be the “escape velocity” for a quick return to 2003-7 Boom conditions. Today’s data from Germany seems to support its concerns. According to […]

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China worries about house price inflation

The Dalian polymers future market had a strong end to 2009. As the chart shows, Linear Low Density Polymer volumes (blue line) jumped to 44 million tonnes. The new PVC contract saw the same volume. But there are growing signs that this may prove a ‘last hurrah’. The government is clearly starting to worry about […]

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