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Shell’s priorities for the gathering economic storm

In today’s difficult times, everyone looks to the majors for guidance on what is happening, and what it all means for the industry. So the blog welcomes the advice given by Graham van’ t Hoff, newly appointed VP for base chemicals at Shell, when he spoke to ICIS news at EPCA. He emphasised 3 areas: […]

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Akzo halts share buybacks

The blog has long worried about the high levels of debt that have been incurred by some companies in recent years. So it applauds Akzo’s decision to halt its planned €3bn share back at the half-way stage. As Nigel Davis notes in ICIS insight, Akzo has a very strong balance sheet, and its ‘gearing is […]

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Bailout passes, Wall Street falls

‘Buy on the rumour, sell on the news’ is the classic definition of a weak market. So the US stock market’s reaction to the passing of the US bailout is a worrying indication that further problems may lie ahead. On 19 September, the Dow rocketed to 11388 as the bailout was confirmed. Last night, as […]

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Iceland on the brink

Last March, the blog noted an excellent article on Iceland by Gillian Tett of the Financial Times. She argued that Iceland was ‘the first country run like a hedge fund’. And she worried that its banks might prove not ‘too big to fail’, but ‘too big to rescue’? Now, it looks as though we are […]

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Credit crunch causes demand destruction

Will Beacham of ICIS radio did a 6 minute interview with the blog this week at EPCA. It focuses on the impact of the credit crunch and the high oil price, and provides advice on how to prepare for the downturn. If you would like to hear it, please click here.

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US economy ‘flat on the floor’ says Buffett

Warren Buffett, the world’s leading investor, was quite candid yesterday in his views on the US economy. `In my adult lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people as fearful, economically, as they are right now,’ Buffett, 78, told PBS. ‘They are not wrong to be worried’. He added that a lack of short-term credit […]

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Another view of the Wall St crisis

Ken Rogoff was Chief Economist at the IMF, and is now a Harvard professor. His view on Wall Street’s current problems is refreshingly different. Writing in The Guardian, he notes that ‘efficient financial systems are supposed to promote growth in the real economy, not impose a huge tax burden’. But, he adds, ‘the US financial […]

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Volt could change naphtha balances

A blog reader has kindly pointed out the potential impact of GM’s new Volt car on the chemical industry. The Volt will have an operating range of 40 miles (64km), when it becomes available in 2010. According to GM, it will enable 75% of America’s daily commuter journeys to take place without using gasoline. And […]

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A political crisis in Washington

As if a global financial crisis wasn’t enough, we now have a political crisis in the USA. Leaving aside the question of whether the ‘bailout’ would have worked, last night’s rejection of the proposal means that we are in uncharted territory on how to move forward. The blog cannot remember a time when a sitting […]

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The ‘Minsky moment’ continues

More banks disappeared in Europe and the USA over the weekend: • Bradford and Bingley, one of the UK’s largest mortgage lenders was nationalised. The government will now pay $18bn to Spanish bank Santander to enable a transfer of retail deposits to take place • Fortis, Belgian’s biggest bank, has been partly nationalised by the […]

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