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Russia’s oil trader

Increases in Russian oil supply have played a major role in balancing world oil markets, at a time when other non-OPEC sources such as the N Sea have been declining. Production rose from 6.2mbd in 1999 to 9.6mbd by 2006. But as I noted last month, there are signs it may now have peaked. The […]

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Central bankers recognise a ‘bubble’

For years, former US Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said that it was impossible to recognise an ‘asset bubble’ until after it had burst. Thus the dot-com bubble, and the US housing bubble, were able to grow without central bank interference. Now however, Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin has broken ranks and provided this detailed description of […]

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Saudi to boost oil supply

Oil markets could become more volatile again, on news today that Saudi is to pump an extra 3000kbd of oil in June. Other Gulf States including Kuwait and UAE may follow its lead.

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The graph the Bank of England didn’t publish

Every 3 months, the Bank of England publishes its Inflation Report. This is packed with useful charts and commentary on just about every aspect of the world economy. It also normally includes the Bank’s own indicator of where UK house prices are headed. This is based on surveys by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, […]

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UK government expects house price falls

Yesterday the UK public had a rare view of what the government really thinks about future house price trends. Photographers snapped Housing Minister Caroline Flint arriving for a Cabinet meeting. And then journalists went to work on reading the notes in her hand. Contrary to official statements, it seems that the government expects ‘sizeable falls […]

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Interest rates to rise by the end of May

Headline interest rates are set by central banks. But the ones that we actually pay, as consumers or companies, are set by the banks themselves. And most of these are based on LIBOR – the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate – which is the main benchmark for $347 trillion of borrowing around the world. Now it […]

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Shipbuilding hit by credit squeeze and long lead-times

The chemical industry moves a lot of product by ship. Recent rises in freight rates have therefore had a major impact on costs for producers and consumers. But there was always the thought that rates would soon decline, once shipbuilders began delivering all the new ships on order. But now Bloomberg is suggesting that 10% […]

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Can $125/bbl oil be passed on downstream?

A month ago, I suggested that oil prices ‘seem set to move higher in the short-term, with $125/bbl now being talked as a target’. Readers were hopefully not too surprised, therefore, to see prices for Brent and WTI close at this level on Friday night. One of my longer-term forecasts also seems to be coming […]

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‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics’

Mark Twain’s famous quote rather sums up my current feelings about the state of the US economy. This is the most important single indicator of future chemical industry sales. And a couple of months ago, I aligned myself with Warren Buffett in suggesting that the US was probably in recession. Last week, this looked like […]

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Deutsche Bank ends porn channel expenses

Spare a thought for the plight of the world’s investment bankers. According to the Financial Times, some minor cutbacks are finally taking place in the extravagant lifestyle to which they have come accustomed: • UBS, having lost $11bn in Q1, has now told its analysts to fly economy on short-haul flights. • Merrill Lynch bankers […]

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