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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Force majeures at all-time highs even before downturn begins

There is no such thing as an accident.  The chemical industry, like others, has known this for over 30 years, since the adoption of Quality Management techniques.  Yet it seems that over the past 18 months either this important fact has been forgotten or, more likely, I fear, has simply been ignored. The evidence for […]

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EIA Jul16

Auto sales and the oil price: the Great Unwinding continues

Serious questions need to be asked about the likely level of future demand growth for oil and auto sales in Emerging Markets (EMs), as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog  Oil market volatility has reached near-record levels in H1 this year, as the first chart shows. […]

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ACS webinar on Brexit and the challenges of over-supply

Chemistry and the Economy: 2016 Mid-year review The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) is causing major upheaval in financial markets as investors rush to supposedly “safe havens”. This is highlighting the underlying slowdown in demand growth caused by globally ageing populations. What does this mean for the chemical and pharma industry? Can […]

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VUCAa

A VUCA world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

“A week is a long time in politics” was the insight of former UK premier Harold Wilson.  It is tempting to think that the events of the past week – a terrorist massacre in France: an attempted army coup in Turkey: a fatal US sniper attack: the overnight emergence of a new government with new […]

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Crunch time for pensions as $13tn of global bonds now have negative interest rates

Around a quarter of global bonds now have negative interest rates.  This means that you get less money back at maturity than you originally invested.  And the number of bonds impacted is rising exponentially, as Bank of America Merrill Lynch reports: $13tn of global debt has negative yields, compared to $11tn before the Brexit vote, […]

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MPS Jul16

Financial markets surge as investors assume Italy’s banking crisis will lead to ‘helicopter money’

Many of the world’s major investors are assuming that Italy’s banking crisis will force Germany to agree to deliver ‘helicopter money‘ to Eurozone citizens.  Stock markets are rising, and interest rates falling as a result.  But it is a high-risk gamble, which could cause chaos if it goes wrong.  The background is as follows: The […]

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GU 9Jul16

Europe’s oil product glut halves gasoline margins in 2 weeks

We are approaching the 2nd anniversary of the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus, which began in August 2014: The initial movement was very sharp, with Brent falling 53% by January and the US$ rising 23% by March Oil then saw an initial correction – with Brent recovering to being 37% down by May during the “oil […]

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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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