5 risks to 2008 budgets

The consensus viewpoint is an easy way of keeping up to speed on a variety of issues outside one’s daily experience. But the signs are that the consensus may be leading to complacency, when it comes to the assumptions being used to finalise 2008 budgets. There are a number of areas where some new thinking […]

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China worries over US$ fall

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, spent his trip to Singapore yesterday expressing concern over the fall in the US$. ‘“We have never been experiencing such big pressure. We are worried about how to preserve the value of our reserves,’ he said. In a separate interview, Mr Wen then went further, stating ‘We will increase the […]

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Beggar my neighbour

English children have a card game called ‘Beggar my Neighbour’, where the aim is to win all the cards from your opponents. Central bankers seem to be learning its rules, and applying them to currency trading. OPEC’s weekend summit showed it is clearly worried that it will have a losing hand if oil remains priced […]

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Uncertainty rules

Our annual European conference, organised with ICIS, always provides an excellent opportunity to gain a snapshot of industry views as we move into a new year. At this week’s event in Antwerp, Belgium, the prevailing mood was uncertainty, for the first time since 2002: • Oil prices are high, and volatile. This makes it difficult […]

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The subprime black hole

Black holes are an apparently empty region of space, with the power to destroy anything that comes too close. The US subprime crisis seems to be turning into their financial equivalent. It never seems to get resolved. It just gets worse. The last few days have demonstrated this key learning once again. One might have […]

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US autos/housing worsen

1 in every 196 US households was in receipt of a foreclosure filing at the end of September, according to Bloomberg. This is a scary number for anyone who owns a house. And Quarter 4 is likely to be worse. Latest figures from the Realtors Association show September’s existing home sales down 19.1% from a […]

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TOTAL’s new CEO warns on oil supplies

Christophe de Margerie, the new TOTAL CEO, has burst the bubble of complacency that has surrounded discussion of future oil supply. The ‘business as usual’ forecasts of both the International Energy Agency and the US government assume that the world will be producing c120m bbls/day by 2030. But de Margerie said he wished to ‘speak […]

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Supermodels prefer euros

Gisele Bundchen, the world’s richest supermodel, has joined the list of those who refuse to be paid in US dollars. As a Brazilian, she has had plenty of experience to help her recognise a depreciating currency. According to Bloomberg, she even insisted that a recent contract with US-based Proctor and Gamble for ‘Pantene’ hair products […]

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Subprime claims its first casualties

Back at the end of August, I suggested that we had only reached the end of Phase1 of the credit crunch. I feared that it had the potential to get much worse, and to damage the ‘real economy’ where all of us in the chemical industry live and work. This was definitely a minority view […]

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3 key questions for any Board

What are the key questions that need to be asked when discussing any budget or strategy proposal? I have just found the answer, from a master in the field. Sir Maurice Hodgson is recognised as one of the greatest ICI Chairmen. Under him, the company became a truly global leader, moving away from its ‘imperial’ […]

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