Darling.jpg

UK to tax bankers’ bonuses

UK Finance Minister Alistair Darling is widely reported today as being about to announce a ‘super-tax’ on bonuses paid to bankers working in the UK. The government’s argument, notes the BBC’s Robert Peston, is that “Investment banks are making exceptional profits, as a result of the intervention of government and the Bank of England to […]

Continue Reading

INEOS considers asset sale as it continues to re-shape its business

The blog has recently noted a major change of mindset in the financial community. As the Financial Times commented this week: “For the first time in a long time, banks seem to be in control of their lending policies. During the credit boom, the banks were held hostage by companies and private equity groups, as […]

Continue Reading
Inventory Dec09.JPG

2010 may see seasonal demand patterns resume

The American Chemistry Council’s excellent weekly report contains some potentially good news on the outlook for Q1 demand. Its detailed analysis of US polymer markets (above) suggests customers are currently reducing their inventories. CFO’s presumably assume that the main impact of the housing/auto stimulus programmes is now finished, and are no doubt keen to keep […]

Continue Reading
Index Dec09.JPG

Boom/Gloom Index remains range-bound

The momentum-driven rally in financial markets has slowed recently, with many now in temporary trading ranges. And this is reflected in December’s IeC Boom/Gloom Index (above). The Index (blue column) has been steady since June. Underlying fundamentals show no sign of improvement. The ‘green shoots’ index (green line), which tracks expectations for a quick economic […]

Continue Reading
foodstamp.jpg

1 in 4 US children on food stamp aid

Wall Street may be paying out $bns in bonuses. But in the rest of the USA, rising unemployment and foreclosure are having a major impact. In a new analysis, the New York Times reveals that the Federal food stamp programme “now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children“. Renamed the Supplemental […]

Continue Reading
PE.JPG

China’s polyethylene imports surge 63%

The above chart, courtesy of trade data experts GTIS, shows the extraordinary leap in China’s polyethylene imports this year. They have surged 63% January – October in 2009 (blue bar) to 6.7 million tonnes versus 4.2 MT in 2007 (green bar) and 2008 (orange bar). Many countries have seen massive rises. Iran exported 404kt vs […]

Continue Reading
Forbes-Lane.JPG

Wise words from Shell, BASF and Reliance

In difficult times, the industry looks to the major companies for their advice. And they certainly provided this at our 8th European Conference (co-organised with ICIS), Shell’s Jonathan Forbes-Lane, European GM, focused on the “gale-force recession” now underway. He expected “prices to stay volatile and unpredictable because they were being pulled in opposing directions by […]

Continue Reading
mandelson.jpg

Teesside’s 10-point plan for UK government

The blog congratulates Teesside’s industry leaders on their 10-point plan to safeguard the future of the area’s chemical industry. They have worked very quickly since the initiative was established last month. Clearly, self-help can only take the industry so far, in today’s crisis. It is clearly right that government support should also be provided. The […]

Continue Reading
Drucker.jpg

Drucker’s 5 key questions in a downturn

Peter Drucker wrote some of the most useful, and widely read, books on management. The title of one of his main works, ‘Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’, sums up his serious approach to the role. This month is the centenary of his birth, and the Financial Times marks it with a report of a celebratory conference […]

Continue Reading
Petrol pump.jpg

Floating oil storage increases again

Oil markets are looking increasingly uncertain as we come to year-end. One example of this is a new survey of floating storage by oil brokers, Gibson. This found 42 ships in use, up from the 29 seen in September. Normal levels are just 5 – 7 vessels. Another is OPEC’s weaker discipline on quotas, which […]

Continue Reading