US to help homeowners

There are welcome reports this morning that the US government is finally putting in place measure to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure. The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp) has developed guidelines that will “lower a loan’s interest rate, extend the life of the loan or defer payment on a portion of the principal”. The […]

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Regulators discover gambling in casinos

Last week, the blog didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when Alan Greenspan told Congress that he was “in a state of shocked disbelief” to find that that his self-regulation policy for banks had failed. Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times was similarly surprised to discover the former Chairman of the US Federal […]

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Sentiment, fundamentals….and panic

Sometimes markets move because of sentiment, sometimes because of fundamentals. Sometimes (luckily rarely), because of blind panic. The latter is what we are seeing at the moment. Investors suddenly feel they MUST sell – whether because they need the cash, have completely lost confidence, or because their family and friends are advising it. Whatever the […]

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A downturn, not a dip

The blog first raised this issue last December, when noting that global chemical industry production growth had already “slowed significantly”. At that time, it questioned whether “central bankers will be able to wave the magic wand that restores us to a growth path”. And it warned “it is hard to imagine that the chemical industry […]

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Farewell PX V

Readers will hopefully forgive the blog a moment of nostalgia. This weekend sees the closure of SABIC’s PX V plant in the UK, after producing c10 million tonnes of paraxylene. The blog’s first role as a product manager was in trading 250KT/year of xylene feedstock for PX V. In turn, this led to a memorable […]

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Decision time in Europe, N America

Many Asian companies have been cutting back petchem production in recent weeks. Now TOTAL have become the first to follow suit in Europe, with the announcement that they will shutdown the Carling No 2 cracker for a month from mid-November. These decisions are never easy. But as the blog has noted before, when times are […]

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“Basically, orders just stopped”

The moment the blog has long feared has now begun to happen. Celanese chairman David Weidman said on Tuesday that acetic acid prices in Asia had dropped sharply in recent weeks. “Basically, orders just stopped”, he added. It is almost certain that this moment will now be repeated in other product areas and in other […]

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Credit crunch hits Premier League

When Manchester United play Newcastle on 4 March next year, the US government will also be playing the UK government. United’s main sponsor is AIG, now owned by the USA, whilst Newcastle’s sponsor, Northern Rock, is also nationalised. West Ham, of course, were sponsored by an Icelandic bank, now bust. The President of the UK’s […]

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Kerkorian down $650m: Lahde up 1000%: Buffett buys

One of the oldest rules in investment is that ‘When a good management finds itself running a bad business, its the reputation of the business that survives’. Legendary US investor Kirk Kerkorian has just proved he is no exception. Back in April, he spent $1bn on buying a 6.3% stake in Ford Motor Co, and […]

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China focuses on the rural economy

China was the first major country to recognise the need for economic restructuring, back in August. Today, the State Council announced further details of its plans, as Q3 GDP growth slowed to 9%. Agriculture and rural development are now the key priorities. This builds on the recent Communist Party decision, described as being of “historic […]

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