Tag Archives | China

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A Year of Two Halves

Two months ago, on 8 May, the blog suggested that ‘Sell in May and Go Away” was likely to prove good advice this year. Since then, most major stock markets have fallen dramatically, with the S&P 500 down by 9%. The proximate cause of the blog’s pessimism then was the onset of the Greek/eurozone crisis. […]

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General Electric’s CEO hits at China, Obama

When things are going well, potential problem areas get brushed under the carpet. Its only when the economy gets difficult, that tensions surface. Comments by General Electric CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, reported today by the Financial Times, are therefore a worrying sign of the uncertainty at the top of leading global businesses about the economic outlook. […]

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China’s slowdown hits shipping market

The Baltic Dry Index of freight costs (for iron ore, grains and coal) follows changes in global demand for bulk shipping. As such, it is an important leading indicator of future economic activity, and chemicals demand. The blog first noted Index movements in October 2007, when this was accurately forecasting the H1 2008 boom. In […]

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China’s petchem volume surge will hit imports, as electricity consumption/bank lending data shows economy’s growth starting to slow

The above chart is the blog’s best effort to correlate the change in China’s bank lending with the real economy. It shows electricity consumption (blue line) and lending (red column) since July 2008. Electricity consumption is an excellent proxy for the real economy, and probably more reliable than GDP figures, which are widely believed to […]

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China focuses on domestic issues, risks US anger

China is a very difficult country for foreigners to understand. The blog suspects that the best approach is to apply Winston Churchill’s insight on Russia, namely “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is […]

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Asian polymer prices and margins begin to fall

A month ago, Nigel Davis called attention in his ICIS Insight column to the alarming fall taking place in US ethylene values. He noted that “inventories seem to have filled“, and presciently concluded that “buyers have been on the look-out for the turn and, by all accounts, expect any downward movement to be swift and […]

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China’s Dalian volumes drop 74%

A year ago, China’s Dalian futures exchange was hitting its peak, in terms of polymer volume. The Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) contract saw 80 million tonnes (blue line) traded in April. This was more than 3 times total annual world production. But as the chart above shows, volume last month was ‘only’ 21MT – […]

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China’s bank lending falls 43% in Q1

There are increasing signs that China is getting serious about tightening its lending policies. The above chart, from China’s central bank, shows how lending has fallen since January. Then, it was 14% down versus 2009. But by the end of Q1, lending was down 43% versus Q1 2009. In addition, the government has begun to […]

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China aims to boost domestic consumption

The dramatic rise of Asia’s economies, including China, has been based on an export-driven model. Their growth powered ahead as long as the West grew, and companies continued to outsource much of their basic manufacturing activity to lower-cost countries. In 2001, for example, China’s exports were just 20% of GDP. But by 2007, they had […]

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US consumers enter the ‘new normal’

The US consumer accounts for 16% of total global GDP, with a value of $10trn. By comparison, total Asian consumption is under $5trn. China’s consumption in 2008 was just $1.6trn, about equal to the UK. Changes in US consumer behaviour are therefore critical to global GDP, and hence to chemical demand. The chart above, from […]

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