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Investors fear Fed’s outdated theories have hit sell-by date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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Brexit debate obscures key issues as assertions replace facts

The UK’s Brexit referendum is fast becoming a bitter battle for the Conservative Party leadership.  It is hard to believe that Boris Johnson, who leads the Leave campaign, really cares either way about the issue of leaving Europe: He told Germany’s Der Spiegel only last year:  ‘We can’t leave Europe. We’re part of the European Continent. What […]

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China PP May16

Clouds gather over global polymer markets as China imports drop

Difficult times lie ahead for global polymer markets.  It would be bad enough that downstream users have been busy building stock in recent weeks as the oil price rose, as Linda Naylor reports on polypropylene (PP) for ICIS: “PP demand is slow, slower than many expected, and the strong growth of recent months is now […]

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ACC Surplus May16

Surplus chemical industry capacity reaches 26% as demand slows

Global demand is continuing to slow, yet chemical industry capacity is continuing to ramp up.  As a result, supply gluts are likely to appear in many key areas as we move into the second half of the year.  That is the key conclusion from the latest American Chemistry Council data for global chemical capacity and […]

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Americans drive less as auto market demand patterns change

34m Americans will be driving at least 50 miles this Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of the summer ”driving season”.  But contrary to popular belief, the average American is driving less these days. The total number of miles driven is still increasing due to the rising US population.  But on an individual basis, people are driving 6% less […]

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India’s car market plateaus as motorbike sales dominate

Motorbikes continue to dominate India’s motor vehicle market, as the chart above shows based on new data from the industry association (India’s year runs from April – March): 16.5m 2-wheelers were sold in the year, up 2% versus 2014-15, and took 2/3rds of the market 2.8m passenger cars were also sold, with volume up 7%, and had a 12% […]

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Oil market fundamentals continue to weaken as Glencore buys

Global oil traders are having lots of fun as oil market volatility ramps up.  Earlier this month, for example, Reuters reported that “Glencore have got big positions all over the place” in North Sea oil markets: They spotted that N Sea production would be sharply reduced in June due to maintenance on the Ekofisk field […]

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Chemical industry is the best indicator of EM outlook – and the outlook is not good

Policymakers would be better off following the fortunes of the chemical industry, if they wanted to forecast the global economy, as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Capacity utilisation (CU%) in the chemical industry has long been the best leading indicator for the global economy. The […]

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Restocking boosts Q1 margins for chemical companies

Thank goodness for Janet Yellen, and China’s provincial governments.  That was clearly investors’ thoughts, when they bid up chemical company share prices during Q1.  For as the chart above shows, there was nothing in the fundamentals of supply and demand to suggest economic recovery was finally underway.  Instead, the latest American Chemistry Council data shows […]

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