Tag Archives | consumer spending

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Benzene supply/demand begins to change

Benzene is the blog’s favourite leading indicator for chemical demand, due to its widespread use in the industry. Its recent price movements versus its naphtha feedstock, may therefore be telling us something quite important about changing supply/demand balances. As the chart above shows, based on ICIS pricing, its spread versus naphtha has become very volatile […]

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Western consumers cut back spending

All is clearly not well with the Western consumer. The stimulus programmes have not given them renewed confidence about the future. Instead, they are focused on the prospect of higher taxes and rising unemployment. Two examples make this mood change very clear: • As the above slide shows, EU auto sales are falling off the […]

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US sales slip as inventories rise

The US is 25% of the global economy, and its performance matters enormously to the chemical industry. So it was good news that US GDP growth stabilised at 2% in Q3, versus the 1.7% level of Q2. But the underlying trends during 2010 are worrying, as the above chart shows: • Sales growth (blue line) […]

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China’s rural areas key for future chemical demand

In the last of its Budget Outlook analysis, the blog today looks at the major changes underway in China. These are typical of many emerging economies, including India, and could potentially have a big impact on chemical demand. The key issue is that China’s leadership has recognised the current export-driven development model no longer works. […]

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European consumers focus on people, not things

As promised, the blog is today looking at a key European consumer trend, as part of its Budget Outlook week. 70% of chemical sales are consumer-related, so changes in these trends are very important. Earlier this month, it shared a platform in Bahrain with Thibaut Eissautier, Chief Procurement Officer of McBride, Europe’s leading own-label producer […]

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Western retailers rely on luxury or budget sales

Consumer spending, particularly in the developed economies, is critical to the chemical industry. And there is increasing evidence that a two-tier pattern is developing: • Wealthier consumers are maintaining their spend, helped by lower interest costs on mortgages and recent stock market gains • Lower and middle-income consumers remain under pressure, as they are more […]

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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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EU consumers worry about the economic outlook

European consumers remain very wary about the future. The slide above, from the monthly CEFIC report, shows that fear of unemployment is THE major concern. Almost half the population, a net balance of 44.3%, worried about this in December (yellow column), only slightly fewer than in November (blue column). This concern creates a major headwind […]

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US faces a jobless “recovery”

Today is Labor Day holiday in the USA. But sadly, the latest news on jobs remains deeply worrying. As the chart from the New York Times shows, jobs are still being lost (blue line), long after recovery had begun in downturns from 1974 – 2000. And far more jobs have already been lost. Total jobs […]

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US and EU dominate global consumption

Interesting new research from Prof Nouriel Roubini provides some perspective on relative levels of consumer spending around the world: • US private consumption accounted for 16% of total global output in 2008 • It was valued at $10trn, just ahead of European consumption at $9trn • Total Asian consumption was under $5trn • China’s consumption […]

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