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Quote of the year

“Never in the field of financial endeavour has so much money been owed by so few to so many. And, one might add, so far with little real reform.” Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, proposing that banks should be split up. He argues that high-risk trading activities should be split off from low-risk utility […]

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China imposes 36% nylon tariff

Protectionism continues to build, as unemployment rises around the world. ICIS news reports China has imposed tariffs of up to 36% on nylon 6. BASF will suffer a 30.4% tariff on US exports, and Honeywell 36.2%. Last month, of course, the US hit China with a 35% tariff on tyres. The threat of more duty […]

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Oil hits $80/bbl

The blog should award itself a pat on the back, now its May forecast of $80/bbl crude has come true. And it is pleased to maintain its 100% record in forecasting the direction and level of oil prices. But it still regrets the lack of substance behind the so-called ‘correlation trade’ between oil, the US$ […]

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Beth Tweddle, world champion

The blog sends its congratulations to Beth Tweddle, new world champion in the gymnastic floor exercises. It had the pleasure of working with her father, Jerry Tweddle (now with Ineos), for many years at ICI. Beth is everything that a world champion should be. A video of her winning performance (possibly made by Jerry?) can […]

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Free Webinar next week on the Budget Outlook

The blog’s new Budget Outlook is an independent view of the key issues which will impact chemical sales and margins in 2010. Previous Outlooks have stimulated much debate within the industry. We are therefore proposing to run a free 1 hour Webinar next week for blog readers, on Thursday 29 October at 15:00 GMT (16:00 […]

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Budgeting for a new normal

2010 should be a better year for the chemical industry, as demand grows in line with a recovery in global GDP. But a quick V-shaped return to the 2003-7 Boom years in terms of volumes/margins seems unlikely. Governments will worry about budget deficits, and may well scale down support for critical end-uses such as autos […]

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Housing markets to be slow next year, US Fed

In 2006, there were 2.2 million US housing starts. These were worth $35bn of chemical sales. Currently, and even with the support of an $8k tax credit, they are running at an annual rate of just 600k, worth $10bn. This is the lowest level since records began in 1960. Even in 1975, 1981 and 1981, […]

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European refining margins drop 85%

Our major Feedstocks for Profit Study last year foresaw difficult times ahead for European refiners. Now it seems this forecast by our partners, refining experts Wood Mackenzie, is coming true. Total, Europe’s largest refiner, today reported that European refining margins fell 85% in Q3, to just $6.60/bbl, the lowest level for 7 years. And they […]

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China gains as world trade slows

Sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words. The chart above, from the New York Times, highlights the massive changes that are taking place in world trade flows. These are of critical importance to the chemical industry, one of the world’s most globalised businesses. • Firstly, the volume of world trade has fallen to 2006 levels, […]

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The concept of “escape velocity”

This being Budget Week in the blog, it seems appropriate to look at the views of Larry Summers, US economics chief, to understand his expectations for an economic recovery. His main concept is of “escape velocity”, whereby the economy will escape from the downturn like a 3-stage space rocket: • Government spending stops the downturn […]

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