‘Sometimes those questions lead to war’

The weekend’s finance minister meeting in Washington DC seems to have been quite different from its predecessors. Not only did they apparently have an ‘informal brainstorming session’ at one point, but they also found themselves confronted with two major and on-going crises: • We have to ‘put food into hungry mouths’ commented Bob Zoellick, President […]

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Every silver lining has a cloud

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I am currently lucky enough to be visiting Asia every month. This also gives me a chance to ‘check the temperature’ as regards people’s outlook on the economy. And I think its fair to say that the mood has moved from optimism to caution. Good news is tempered by its potential downside.

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The April Fools Day rally

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There is an extraordinary main feature in this week’s Barron’s, the leading US investment magazine. This analyses the dramatic 391 point rally in the Dow Jones Industrials Index on 1 April. It describes this as ‘a spectacular exercise in the absurd’, and claims that the root cause was an April Fools spoof sent out that […]

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Credit crisis losses could reach $1 trillion – IMF

Last week the IMF warned there was a 25% chance of a global recession in 2008. Today, it said that the ‘crisis (was) creating serious macroeconomic feedback effects’ and could have ‘profound financial system and macroeconomic implications’. We normally expect central bankers to weigh their words carefully. But now the IMF has decided to throw […]

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The vicious circle

Paul Tucker of the Bank of England has consistently warned about the dangers posed by the credit crunch to the global economy. Back in December, he identified the key issue as being that central bankers ‘must try to avoid a vicious circle in which tighter liquidity conditions, lower asset values, impaired capital resources, reduced credit […]

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Contingency planning for a global downturn

If you would like to read my article in this week’s ICB, on the importance of contingency planning, please click this link

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Shell, BASF, ACC warn on US downturn

‘The sharp drop in housing starts and the developing credit crisis will flow into the cracker business’, according to Shell Chemical’s CEO Stacy Methvin. She added that ‘the housing crisis is more far-reaching than anyone anticipated’. Similarly, BASF is now more cautious about the potential impact of the US recession on its petchem business. Peter […]

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US auto sales fall again in Q1

Car sales are of major importance to the chemical industry. The ACC calculates each new car uses $2441 worth of chemistry. The declines reported below for March and Q1 do not, therefore, make pretty reading. March Q1 GM -13% -11% Toyota -3% -4% Ford -14% -9% Chrysler -19% -16% Even more discouraging is that none […]

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IMF expects low growth, high inflation

The IMF now sees a 25% chance of a world recession this year, in which global growth would fall below 3%. Its base forecast is just 3.7%, compared to 5.2% before the credit crunch began. Sales growth for most chemicals is tied to GDP growth, so companies should expect volumes to come under pressure as […]

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Current account deficits start to matter

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The US Fed’s decision to keep cutting interest rates is causing a major change in Asian investment behaviour. This will slow world economic growth quite significantly, and is bad news for chemical industry sales. It also means that the informal Bretton Woods II system of currency management has broken down.

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