Tag Archives | consumer spending

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Pensions fall as financial market turmoil continues

Increasing life expectancy is an enormous benefit for today’s population. We can all, whether in developed or developing countries, expect to live a decade or more longer than our grandparents’ generation. Yet pension systems haven’t adapted to this change. The money we now save is still only enough to pay for a few years of […]

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Tesco says ‘Today is the New Normal’

The world’s leading retailers have been extremely reliable leading indicators for the chemical industry, since the Great Recession began. They were the first, back in July 2007, to highlight the major changes underway in consumer markets. Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, warned then that they were changing their focus away from more affluent shoppers […]

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“Way too early” to talk of a US recovery

Consumer giant Reckitt Benckiser sell major brands in 200 countries around the world. CEO Bart Becht’s views on the current state of the retail market are therefore very troubling: “In Europe, the situation continues to be very, very weak. In North America, it also continues to be rather weak. It is marginally better than it […]

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US house starts remain at all-time lows

Changes in US housing values continue to exert a larger and more important impact upon household consumption than do changes in stock market values“. That’s the conclusion of an important new study by the developers of the main S&P Case-Shiller US House price index. The chart above, based on US Census Bureau data, shows the […]

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US households worry about incomes

The fascinating chart above from Dave Rosenberg at Gluskin Sieff confirms the blog’s fears above the impact of today’s high oil prices on US consumer spending. It shows that consumers in the world’s wealthiest econony have very low expectations for their real income. These are now at the 4th lowest level since the survey began. […]

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Coatings companies focus on carbon footprint issues

The blog has been in the USA this week, speaking at the bi-annual Global Coatings Summit. Coatings sales are worth $75bn globally, and are a key market for chemicals. Interestingly, much of the discussion centred around sustainability. In spite of the downturn, it is clear that consumers are now very focused on carbon footprint as […]

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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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