Iceland calls in IMF

As the blog predicted, Iceland has been forced to call on the IMF for help. Finally, the country’s leaders have recognised that their $20bn economy couldn’t support the level of debt built up during the ‘go-go’ years. The pity is that it took them so long to recognise reality – and by then, any chance […]

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A satirical look at the banking crisis

Readers may remember the satirical John Bird/John Fortune video on the causes of the housing crisis. Now the Financial Times Diary has provided a satirical view of the causes of the banking crisis: A new bank model 1) Take money from members of the public in savings accounts on pretext of keeping it safe 2) […]

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Europe, N America, China cut interest rates

The blog welcomes the co-ordinated action by central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and the Banks of England and China, in cutting interest rates. Anything that suggests policymakers are starting to get their act together is good news. But as the blog has argued since February, cutting interest rates in today’s […]

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The zeitgeist continues to change

The German word ‘Zeitgeist’ describes ‘the ethos or mood’ of a select group of people. Back in January, the blog noted a change underway in the financial zeitgeist. Today’s Wall Street Journal, normally a cheerleader for the financial community, provides a further example. After reviewing the losses to her personal portfolio, and considering how current […]

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‘The time for piecemeal solutions is over’

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has now increased its estimate of total sub-prime losses to $1.4 trillion, versus $945bn in April. It estimates banks will need to raise $675bn in new capital. And Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF MD, has called for the major economies to respond to the credit crisis with ‘a collective commitment by […]

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UK part-nationalises its major banks

The UK is to invest £50bn ($85bn) to rescue its major banks, via part-nationalisation. In addition, it will provide unlimited amounts of cash via loans. The aim is to try and unfreeze the UK’s banking system, which has been on the verge of collapse. Unlike the USA, there is no disagreement amongst the major parties […]

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‘Demand and prices in free fall’

The moment the blog has long feared, and warned about, may be about to arrive. It appears that we may be about to revisit 1980, when for some weeks it seemed that demand for many petchem products had simply stopped. As Nigel Davis notes in an excellent ICIS insight article, we are not there yet. […]

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The Swedish model

The blog has given up counting the number of US banks that have failed in recent weeks, away from the headlnes. Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, predicted last month that half of all US banks would fail, and he is well placed to know. Bank rescues are also rising across Europe. The German […]

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Blue skies disappear

A year ago, the blog was in a minority of one, with its forecast for 2008. Its heading was ‘Budgeting for a Downturn’. By contrast, the consensus post-EPCA was for $70bbl oil, debt market problems to be contained, and for chemical margins to remain at 2007 levels. This year’s EPCA mood was different. There was […]

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US car sales plummet, house prices fall again

September was another difficult month for the cornerstones of US chemical demand, autos and housing: • GM cut prices dramatically via its ‘Employee discount for everyone’ programme. But even so, sales fell 16% versus last year (blue column) • Toyota (red column), fell 30% • Ford (green column) fell 34% • Chrysler (purple column) fell […]

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