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Volt to use ethanol as well as electricity

The blog has been following the development of GM’s new all-electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, with interest, ever since Pedro Spohr of Galp in Portugal highlighted its potential to impact naphtha balances. Of course, it won’t do this on its own – but GM’s adoption of the technology makes it essential for other manufacturers to […]

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China’s lending causes central bank headache

No wonder alarm bells were ringing in China’s central bank last week. The above chart (from China Daily) shows how total lending rebounded to $204bn in January, only 14% below the 2009 level. Total lending doubled during 2009 to $1.4bn, an astonishing amount for a country with total GDP of $4.3trn. Of course, this enabled […]

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EU auto sales benefit from scrappage schemes

The European Union was the leading auto market in the world in 2009. It sold 14.4m, versus 13.6m in China and 10.4m in the USA. January has continued this promising trend, with volumes up 13% versus 2009. But it is likely to prove temporary, as government scrappage schemes end. This has already happened in the […]

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Capital controls could hit chemical companies

CFO’s have a lot to think about currently. Volatility is rising in currency and oil markets. Plus credit risks on previously safe ‘sovereign’ debt markets are also increasing. Today, for example, there are new concerns that investors in Dubai World’s $22bn debt may lose 40% of their investment. Equally, current problems in the eurozone over […]

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Polyolefin demand follows GDP/capita

The blog was in Vienna this week for a World Refining Association conference on the Global Petrochemical outlook. It had the privilege of chairing a very distinguished panel of industry leaders in a discussion about managing through the downturn. One of the key inputs came from Anton de Vries, LyondellBasell SVP, who had earlier shown […]

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‘Budgeting for a New Normal’ White Paper

The blog is delighted to learn from ICIS that thousands of copies of its new White Paper, ‘Budgeting for a New Normal’, have been downloaded in the first week of publication. Please click here if you would like to obtain a free copy.

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5 signs of a failing business

The Toyota problems, with over 9 million autos being recalled around the world, has set the blog thinking about how to spot corporate disaster in the making. One excellent source of insight is Prof Jim Collins’ book, ‘How the Mighty Fall’, published last year. This suggests that doomed businesses pass through 5 key stages. Encouragingly, […]

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Iran adds floating oil storage, contango weakens

Iran has begun storing crude oil offshore again, according to Bloomberg, as demand in its major market, Japan, enters a seasonal slowdown. It has 6mbd on ships in the Persian Gulf (equal to 19% of current storage for the WTI contract at Cushing in the USA). Another 2 ships also seem to be being used […]

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Anti-Dumping cases on the rise

Anti-dumping duties (ADDs) are on the rise, as countries seek to protect their own manufacturers. The most publicised ADDs so far, of course, were those by the US on Chinese tyres in September. In retaliation, China hit companies such as BASF with duties on US produced nylon 6. Separately, India imposed an ADD on caustic […]

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China’s speculative surge nears the end

One can only feel sorry for China’s government leaders. A year ago, they faced 23m unemployed, as their export markets collapsed in the West. In order to avoid major social unrest, they opted to unleash what the Wall Street Journal called “one of the biggest credit expansions in history“. $1.4trn was lent during 2009, in […]

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