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Volcker calls for meaningful financial reform

Paul Volcker was the last US Federal Reserve chairman who believed that a key part of its role was “to take away the punchbowl just when the party starts getting interesting“. He successfully brought inflation back to single figures during the 1980′s downturn, setting the scene for the major economic recovery that followed. Now head […]

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Feldstein says US recession “isn’t over”

Harvard’s Prof Martin Feldstein is one of the very few economists who has correctly forecast the length of the current downturn. Today, he questions whether the US recession is really over, and suggests that “2010 is going to be a very weak year“. He believes that we are entering a more frugal economy, and notes […]

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Germany calls Greece’s problems “tip of the iceberg”

Financial crises take time to mature. Yet until the end is nigh, apologists will insist that nothing needs to change. Thus valuable time is wasted. Last year, Iceland was the obvious example of this problem. Now it is Greece, a eurozone member. Back in January, S&P had downgraded Greece’s bonds, due to debt concerns. And […]

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EU auto sales stabilise thanks to subsidies

EU auto sales continued to improve in November versus 2008, with total volumes up 27%. But as the chart from ACEA (EU Automobile Manufacturers Assoc) shows, they were still lower than in 2007. The difference between sales in W Europe, and in the new EU Central European states (EU CE), was quite dramatic. Sales in […]

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New York considers a more frugal way of life

The blog continues to believe that the current downturn is a transition period, at least in the West, towards a more frugal way of life. And its theory has received a boost from a New York Times feature which suggests this might be happening in the bastion of consumerism, New York. The NYT suggests the […]

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Chemicals could gain from energy savings need

“The most important ‘fuel’ of all, will be energy saved through fuel efficiency“. That’s ExxonMobil’s (EM) latest view of the outlook for meeting world energy demand over the next 20 years. And as Nigel Davis highlights in ICIS insight, this “will require materials and innovation – the backbone for the chemicals industry“. EM expect “40% […]

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Mexico locks in $57/bbl oil price for 2010

For most of this year, the banks’ trading houses have been earning vast sums of money promoting the “correlation trade” (sell the US$, buy crude oil, gold and equities). As a result, around 150mbbls of oil and oil products is now in floating storage, with much more on land. Next year, the same traders and […]

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UK to tax bank bonuses at 90%

“The more things change, the more they stay the same“. Or, as the blog’s French-speaking readership might say, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“. When the blog started work in the chemical industry, in 1978, it was possible to pay up to 114% of one’s income as tax in the UK, if one […]

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Teesside’s £30m to develop low carbon industry

The blog is delighted to see that the UK government has now allocated GBP30m to: “Equip Teesside to move beyond traditional heavy industry to realise its potential to be part of our low carbon manufacturing base. “This includes investment in redevelopment of industrial land and infrastructure. “It also includes investment to establish bio-based materials, to […]

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Tesco say price-cutting will continue

Q3 comments from Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, confirm the picture of a more frugal consumer suggested by other majors. On the positive side, they report “a material improvement” in sales “in both Asia and Europe“. And Tesco expect “this trend to continue into Q4 and beyond”. But on the less positive side, CFO […]

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