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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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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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