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Middle East worries about rise of dumping charges

Trade protectionism is on the rise around the world, as the blog forecast in its Budget Outlook back in October. It suggested that “arguments about the ‘export of jobs’ will increase“, and argued that “chemical companies will need to keep a close eye on the political arena, as they operate in a complex value chain, […]

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INEOS was refused help by the UK government

INEOS CEO Jim Ratcliffe has told the Sunday Times that the UK government “refused financial help” last year, when sales collapsed. He revealed that: • The company had approached the UK government for help with liquidity, including deferral of VAT (sales tax) payments, but “got absolutely nowhere“. • Ratcliffe had even found it “quite difficult […]

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Betting against the American dream

The political firestorm inspired by the SEC’s citing of Goldman Sachs for fraud shows no sign of dying down. It has even inspired a Broadway song that describes how another hedge fund, Magnetar, allegedly made money out of betting against the housing securities it helped to create. Click here to see it (the video is […]

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LyondellBasell to exit Chapter 11

LyondellBasell (LBI) is to exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 30 April, 15 months after entering it in January 2009. The past 15 months have been an expensive lesson for those debt-holders who financed Basell’s purchase of Lyondell in July 2007, at the peak of the market. LBI entered Chapter 11 with $24bn of debt. […]

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Alaska’s lessons for European air traffic control

Somewhere at the back of the blog’s mind is the memory of a major 1980 eruption by Mt St Helens in Washington State, NW USA. According to the Wall Street Journal, the lessons learnt by Alaska Airlines from this eruption could have avoided the closure of Europe’s airspace last week, if they had been picked […]

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IMF targets bankers’ FAT

We are often told that investment bankers are much cleverer than the rest of us. But sometimes, they do seem to lack common sense. Their behaviour since the Crisis, in paying out $bns in bonuses to the lucky few, seems no way to appease understandable public anger over the cost of the banks’ bailout. The […]

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EU auto sales rise 9% in Q1

The impact of government scrappage schemes continues to dominate European auto sales. As the chart shows, sales were up 9.2% in Q1, and March was up 10.8%, versus 2009. On a national basis, Germany continued its decline after the end of its scheme, with sales down 26.6% in March. But this was offset by UK […]

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China’s bank lending falls 43% in Q1

There are increasing signs that China is getting serious about tightening its lending policies. The above chart, from China’s central bank, shows how lending has fallen since January. Then, it was 14% down versus 2009. But by the end of Q1, lending was down 43% versus Q1 2009. In addition, the government has begun to […]

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UK voters want clarity on spending cuts

The UK has long had a tradition of two-party government, whereby the Labour party will alternate with the Conservatives. Thus Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 for the Conservatives, and was followed by John Major. Then Tony Blair won for Labour in 1997, with Gordon Brown taking over two years ago. Now, however, this […]

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US regulators accuse Goldman Sachs of fraud

Every now and then, a single quotation summarises a complex situation. In August 2007, CitiGroup CEO, Chuck Prince, described their blindness to the financial crisis about to unfold. “We see a lot of people on the Street who are scared. We are not scared. We are not panicked. We are not rattled. Our team has […]

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