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Polymers demand slumps in Europe, China

ICIS news reports that polymer demand is falling sharply in two key markets, China and Europe. This is a bad omen for demand in other chemical markets, as polymers are closely tied to GDP growth. Linda Naylor reports that PE volumes in Europe may be down 7% in 2008. Meanwhile, John Richardson and Malini Hariharan […]

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Global chemical growth slows

The latest American Chemistry Council report on global production growth makes sombre reading for anyone outside the Middle East: • Global growth (dark green) is now only 1.4%, versus 4.1% in January • N American growth (dark blue) declined by 2.4% in August • European growth (light green) was down 1.5% in July • Central/Eastern […]

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‘The largest bank failure in American history’

Another day, another bank failure. That almost seems to be the pattern in US financial markets at the moment. Yesterday the nation’s 6th largest bank, Washington Mutual, was taken over by government regulators and sold to JP Morgan. The 119 year old bank, headquartered on the US West Coast in Seattle, had $307bn in assets […]

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A debate opens up

Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, has joined the growing list of politicians with a view on the current economic crisis. His analysis differs markedly from that expressed by President Bush on Wednesday. ‘The financial market crisis is above all an American problem’, Steinbrück told the Bundestag (German Parliament) yesterday. He added that ‘the current […]

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‘Our entire economy is in danger’ – Bush

In early August, the blog noted that politicians were beginning to recognise the seriousness of the economic situation. First, China’s finance minister Liu He warned that ‘an economic restructuring was inevitable’. Then the UK’s finance minister said the ‘global economy was at a 60-year low’, and France’s Prime Minister added that the world was facing […]

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Eurozone manufacturing ‘in recession’

Industrial production is the key indicator for chemical sales. And it appears a significant decline is now underway in manufacturing. The chart shows August’s purchasing manager indices (PMIs) for most of the major countries/regions. India, Switzerland, Greece and Brazil were the only ones showing expansion. Reporting on the eurozone figures this morning, the Financial Times […]

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US housing starts ‘at 17 year low’

US housing starts, so important to the chemical industry, are now firmly anchored in recession territory. The chart above, from the ACC’s weekly report, shows they are at levels last seen in 1990-1. And with the current disruption in financial markets, it is hard to imagine that a recovery will start in the near future. […]

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And then there were none

20 years of investment banking as an independent activity came to an end on Wall Street last night. Bear Stearns was the first to go in March, rescued by JPMorgan. Last week Lehman failed, and Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America. Now the two remaining survivors, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, have thrown […]

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5 key questions about the US bailout

The proposal now before Congress to authorise the spending of $700bn to bail out Wall Street contains just 849 words. It avoids the need to go into further detail via its suggestion that the Treasury Secretary should simply have unlimited authority to act as he ‘deems necessary’. But 5 key questions are bound to be […]

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Financial ‘toxic waste’

The Wall Street Journal draws an apt comparison between the strict regulation of chemical companies, and the lack of effective regulation on financial firms. It comments: ‘Chemical companies are under strict government regulations about what kinds of toxic waste they can produce, where they can store it, and how they can handle it and dispose […]

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