Global demand slowdown hits chemical industry results

Its not been a great 6 months for the global chemical industry, and my usual quarterly survey of company results confirms the disappointment. The first half of the year is typically the strongest, for seasonal reasons, as companies come back to work after the Christmas holiday and prepare for the peak car-buying and construction periods […]

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Bank of England’s new stimulus policy creates bankruptcy risk for corporate pension funds

The Western BabyBoomers (born between 1946-70), have been one of the luckiest generations in history.  By and large, they have escaped the major wars that have plagued society down the ages.  They have also lived in a world where living standards and material wealth have made astonishing gains.  Equally priceless has been the rise in […]

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China’s PVC exports confirm its move to self-sufficiency

Many commentators were shocked by China’s weak trade data on Monday – with imports falling 12.5% versus July 2015, and January – July imports down 10.5%.  But they were no surprise to anyone focused on developments in the chemical industry, which has once again confirmed its status as the most reliable leading indicator for the […]

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12 million missing workers highlight US GDP slowdown

Employment income is critical for most Americans and for the US economy.  The above chart shows how the key factor - the participation rate - has changed since records began in 1948.  It shows July data, to avoid the need for seasonal adjustment, split by Men, Women and Total: □  Last month’s Total rate was 63.4%, versus the […]

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Smartphones Aug16

Smartphone sales go ex-growth as lifecycle turns down

Its been a great run for the smartphone industry, but the party is now coming to an end.  As the chart shows, global sales in H1 fell 1% versus 2016, based on Strategy Analytics data:   Samsung and Apple have both seen a major decline in their market share since 2014   Samsung have fallen […]

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Boom/Gloom Index suggests volatile August may lie ahead

It may be an idea to keep your smartphone charged and within reach, if you are planning a trip to the beach this month.  Certainly market behaviour since June has been more and more skittish.  The experts, after all, were telling us that central banks were certain to do more major stimulus efforts to boost […]

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US GDP Jul16

Political risk and total debt rise as US GDP disappoints, again

Its déjà vu all over again for the US economy.  Friday’s news of Q2′s weak US GDP growth only confirmed the August 2014 comment by Stanley Fischer, then just appointed deputy Chairman of the US Federal Reserve: “Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower […]

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Lack of affordability limits gasoline demand growth

How much of your day’s wage does it cost you to buy a US gallon of gasoline?  This chart from Bloomberg shows the answer for 61 countries, based on prices for 95 octane grade at the end of Q2:   Bankrupt Venezuela is most affordable at 1% of a day’s income (based on GDP/capita)  […]

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Wrong assumptions on China growth and oil prices mean danger lies ahead for refiners and polymer producers

It could be a very difficult H2 for anyone involved in the Asian oil and polymer markets.  And given the global importance of these markets, everyone around the world will also feel the impact.  The issue is that most business strategies have been based on 2 increasingly unlikely assumptions:   Companies all assumed that oil […]

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Oil heads back to $30/bbl and probably lower

There was never any fundamental reason why oil prices should have doubled between January and June this year. There were no physical shortages of product, or long-term outages at key producers. But of course, there was never any fundamental reason for prices to treble between 2009 – 2011 in the Stimulus rally, or to jump […]

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