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High inflation, or global downturn?

Central bankers had it easy over the past decade. Now they are going to have to earn their money. Inflation is rising rapidly, and growth rates are falling. But unfortunately, as I first noted back in March, they still seem to have differing ideas about what policies will best counter these twin challenges.

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Dow warns on US economy

US economic conditions are ‘ominous”, and may worsen into 2009, according to Dow CEO, Andrew Liveris. “A month ago we might have said … the US slowdown could be bottoming, but I don’t think it is bottoming,” Liveris said in response to analysts’ questions at an investor conference in New York. He added that “I […]

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Father Christmas didn’t visit last month

Yesterday’s action in financial markets reminded me of the Bird/Fortune video (noted here in December), where they took a satirical look at the causes of the sub-prime debacle. Specifically, the question in the interview where Fortune describes Bird as a ‘sophisticated investment banker, with his fingers right on the pulse’. The moment that recalled this […]

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Leadership – its a team thing

The blog doesn’t often comment on management issues. But one interesting article has caught my eye today. A major study reported in the Financial Times suggests that ‘leadership teams were four times as important as leaders in the process of developing strategy’. And it quotes Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s CEO as saying that ‘I don’t run […]

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Fuel subsidies to double in 2008

Fuel subsidies are set to double this year to at least $100bn, according to the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Nobuo Tanaka. This is in spite of the fact that some countries such as Taiwan have recently abolished subsidies, whilst others such as Indonesia have reduced them significantly. But for every subsidy withdrawn, […]

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China cuts back ethylene to boost fuel

Some minor relief may be at hand for hard-pressed cracker operators, particularly those in Asia. Sinopec announced today that it will reduce ethylene output by 65 KT in June (the equivalent of 1 cracker’s output), in order to allow it to boost fuel production by 200 KT. This will be done by bringing forward planned […]

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Interest rates start to rise

Last month, I noted the suggestion by leading bankers that interest rates would probably rise by the end of May. The rationale for this view was that the bigger, stronger banks seemed to have got fed up with subsidising the rates being charged via LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Offer Rate) to weaker banks. And sure enough, […]

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Dow raises prices by up to 20%

Dow today announced that it is raising prices for ‘all of its products by up to 20 percent – depending on their exposure to rising energy, feedstock and transportation costs – and will review all terms to all customers’. Dow CEO, Andrew Liveris, said that Dow’s ‘first quarter feedstock and energy bill leapt a staggering […]

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US house prices carry on falling

Every month, it seems, the US housing market gets worse. Spring should have provided some respite, as it is the peak time for sales. But instead, as the chart shows, the benchmark S&P/Case-Shiller house price index fell again to a new record low, and is now 14% below this time last year. ‘There are very […]

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Sinopec receives $1bn subsidy in April

Sinopec is now losing 3000 yuan ($425) on every tonne of oil product sold, due to China’s price freeze, according to Sinopec spokesman Chen Ge yesterday. And this is on top of official government subsidies paid to Sinopec, which rocketed to $1bn in April. This was more that the entire subsidy paid in 2007. And […]

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