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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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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