2008 Budgets just became more difficult to finalise

Central bankers are like generals. They seem to prefer fighting their last war, rather than preparing for the next one. How else to explain their continued reluctance to recognise that higher food and energy prices are here to stay? As a result, interest rates now need to rise more than expected. Pity those who have […]

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‘Its the price that matters’: Wal-Mart and Tesco signal a major change in consumer priorities

Consumer attitudes have shifted sharply in recent weeks. This could have big implications for chemical companies, and they need to respond quickly.

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Stress-testing the global financial system

Yesterday’s “swings in financial derivative prices were so extreme that they implied scenarios in which the core of the global liquidity system suffers a serious assault”, according to JP Morgan, the investment bank. Watch out, if current US sub-prime mortgage problems turn into a more general “flight from risk”.

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Will the US housing slump impact chemicals?

Housing and autos have always been key drivers for the US chemicals industry. We should be concerned if the housing market weakens further.

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Chemical company valuations

The prices paid for Petkim and for Lustran reflect two very different perspectives on the current market:

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ICI and Akzo

ICI has experience of fighting off unwelcome acquisitions. And Akzo may find itself in a difficult position if ICI wins again. Unless this bid, like Hanson’s in 1991, marks the ‘top’ in the currrent M&A cycle.

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What price oil?

Crude oil prices are climbing again. $100/bbl is not impossible, if current geo-political concerns continue. And today’s tightly balanced market could persist to 2010.

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4 risks to the world economy

The latest report from the ‘central bankers’ bank’ provides an excellent analysis of what might go wrong in the world economy over the next 2 – 3 years. Anyone interested in scenario planning will find its conclusions valuable.

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Hedge fund woes and the chemical industry

The US Senate thinks the Amaranth hedge fund increased the costs of natural gas futures contracts last year. Any pension funds invested in Bear Stearns’ hedge funds might want to check on the current value of their holdings.

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The 10th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis

2 July 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis, which began with the devaluation of the Thai baht. Visiting the country 10 years later, the situation has changed quite dramatically from those panic-stricken days.

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