The blog’s 9th birthday

It is hard to believe that the blog has now been running for 9 years.  Over 2000 posts have been published, and its readership continues to expand across the world, with the Top 15 countries currently including: USA, UK, Germany, India, Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, S Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan Readers […]

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US polypropylene imports rise as China aims for self-sufficiency

Difficult times lie ahead for global polymer markets, as I note in a new analysis for ICIS Chemical Business. In the short-term it is clear that downstream users have, once again, been busy building stock in recent weeks as the oil price rose. But now, finance directors are getting calls from their bankers asking about […]

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UK’s Brexit vote may lead to end of schoolboy politics

Until recently, the job description for UK (and most Western) politicians has been fairly simple – look good on television, and only say something when it has been approved by a focus group.  The reward was the ability to jet off to important sounding meetings of the G7 and G20, and have agreeable dinners at […]

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Global economy in further downturn, even before Brexit

Global chemical industry sales are around $3tn a year, close to 5% of global GDP.  They are even larger when converted into all the products that we actually use on a day-to-day basis such as plastics, coatings, fibres, agrochemicals etc. And thanks to the American Chemistry Council, we have near real-time data of core trends […]

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Oil price volatility highlights uncertainty ahead

  The 3 month trend of Brent oil price volatility has reached its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis and before that, the 1st Gulf War in 1990/91.  As the chart shows, it is even higher than after 9/11. Yet there have been no developments in oil markets themselves to justify such a level. […]

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Ring of fire Feb15

Brexit a disaster for the UK, Europe and the world

First, the good news.  It has long been recognised that the UK economy is over-dependent on financial services, and that its housing market – particularly in London – is wildly over-priced in relation to earnings.  The Brexit vote should ensure that both these problems are solved: Many banks and financial institutions are already planning to […]

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The blog returns on 27 June

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China’s G20 shutdowns will impact global economy

Imagine your government decided to shutdown most of the industry in two major cities for 2 weeks or more?  Say Detroit and Chicago in the US, or Milan and Turin in Italy, or Leeds and Manchester in the UK.  Now you will have some idea of the scale of the shutdowns being mandated in China […]

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13m missing American workers highlight economic slowdown

There’s something very wrong with the US jobs market, as the slide above confirms.  Commentators professed to be surprised by the disappointing May report last Friday, but its hard to know why: The overall participation rate has been in decline since July 1997, when it reached 68%: today it is only 62.7% Male participation is at […]

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Investors fear Fed’s outdated theories have hit sell-by date

These are difficult times for companies and investors.  It is becoming more and more apparent that central bank stimulus policies have failed to counter today’s demand deficit, caused by ageing populations.  It is also clear that central bankers themselves have little idea of what is happening in the real economy. They have based their programmes […]

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