German and Spanish economies turn down

I noted last month that German industrial production fell 2.4% in May, and that Chancellor Angela Merkel was expecting ‘a significant fall’ in economic growth for 2009. This fall now seems to be already underway. Industrial output fell by a further 2.9% in June, and for the seventh month in a row – the longest […]

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China faces ‘economic restructuring’

A year ago, it was fashionable to claim that the Asian economies had ‘decoupled’ from the West. Any slowdown would simply pass them by. Last December, I noted a rare dissenting voice, Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley, who commented that ‘decoupling is a good story, but its not going to work going forward’. In March, […]

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Current shipping costs = 9% trade tariff

I noted in June that P&G were reviewing their global supply chain strategy, as a result of higher oil prices. Now a study by Canadian Bank CIBC suggests the rise in shipping costs equals a ‘9% tariff on trade’, adding that ‘the cost of moving goods, not the cost of tariffs’ is now the ‘largest […]

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No news from Iran on nuclear issue

There seems to have been no response from Iran to the 2 week deadline set by the US and Europe on the nuclear issue. Over the weekend, Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said ‘the Iranian nation would not retreat one iota from its rights.’ Earlier, Israel’s deputy Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz, had also taken a hard […]

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Cracker margins under pressure

Paul Ray’s excellent ICIS PE margin report provides plenty of food for thought this week. The chart above shows that European LDPE prices (the red line) have moved up quite sharply since June. But almost all of this improvement has been captured by cracker operators. Margins for integrated players (in yellow) recovered quite nicely, but […]

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’2009 – another difficult year’ says BMW

BMW, the world’s largest luxury car manufacturer, warned today that it is no longer immune from the global downturn: ‘Business conditions for the automobile industry deteriorated sharply again in the second quarter due to further ongoing steep rises in oil and raw material prices, the weakness of the US dollar, the impact of the international […]

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Revisions, revisions

Statisticians love re-writing economic history. And a notable example of this has occurred today. US government statisticians reported that the US economy actually declined by 0.2% at the end of last year. Whereas, 6 months ago, they reported it as having grown by 0.6%. Few readers of this blog will be too surprised. Earlier this […]

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US housing ‘terrible’

When a leading banker says things look ‘terrible’, one know they must be really bad. Jamie Dimon is CEO of JP Morgan Chase, the only major US bank not to take write-downs on its housing loans to date. He described the US housing market as follows: ‘We saw subprime go first, then you see home […]

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Just saying ‘No’

I noted back in February that US banks were tightening lending standards into the housing sector. Now they are doing the same with business loans. The New York Times reports today that businesses around the country are finding it more difficult to borrow. As a result, companies that depend on bank financing are having to […]

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The cost of Asian subsidies

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) says Asian governments ‘are caught in the pincer grips of slowing growth and rising inflation’. Whilst the cost of subsidies is ballooning. India, for example, will spend $42.5bn in oil subsidies this year, ‘six times the entire education budget’. As the ADB notes, `increased food and energy subsidies erode fiscal […]

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