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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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More words than action at G-20 Summit

When the G-20 met in London in April 2009, they produced a Communiqué containing just 688 words. And as the blog noted in conclusion, there was “no sign of a ‘Plan B’ being developed“, in case the Stimulus measures failed to work. This was still the case last September in Pittsburgh, when the Leader’s Statement […]

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McBride warns of “weak retail sales across Europe”

The blog is a great believer in the retail sector’s ability to help us forecast chemical industry trends. McBride is Europe’s leading ‘own brand’ in the household and personal sector. Its profit warning on Thursday of “weak retail sales across Europe“, therefore rings alarm bells. The sector is a large outlet for chemicals, and has […]

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Global chemical recovery starts to slow

At the mid-year point, its interesting to look at the performance of the total chemical industry, including pharmaceuticals. The chart, from the American Chemistry Council, shows global demand has now recovered to 2008 levels. Pharma is more recession-proof than other parts of the industry, as people still become ill and need treatment. In terms of […]

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US new home sales fall 33%

The blog is in gloomy mood today, in spite of last night’s England World Cup win. Not because Wall Street ‘analysts’ maintained last month’s 33% drop in US new home sales was ‘unexpected‘. Nor even that the consensus forecast is still for 700k housing starts this year, when current data suggest that last year’s 560k […]

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