Tag Archives | Japan

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Western stock markets in bubble-mode, again

The blog’s 6 monthly review of global stock markets highlights a very unusual pattern since global demand and chemical markets peaked on 29 April 2011, as the chart shows: • Markets in developed economies have powered ahead with Japan up 24%, the US S&P 500 up 14%, the UK up 8% and Germany up 6% […]

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US, UK goverment bond yields follow Japan’s example

The arrival of the internet should make it easier to source key data from around the world. But instead, it seems to encourage Twitter-like behaviour, where everyone simply repeats what has already been said. How else to explain the almost universal view that government bond yields in countries such as the US and UK are […]

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China’s premier warns on Cultural Revolution risk

On 29 June 1987, the blog was in S Korea on a business trip. With its ICI Korea colleagues, it arrived at the company we were due to visit, to find the gate open. The offices were also deserted. Surprised, we walked into the factory to find 500 people watching a small black and white […]

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5 Risks to China’s growth story

China’s economic growth has become more and more unbalanced over the past 10 years, as we discussed in chapter 6 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal. Its domestic consumption is now only around a third of GDP, compared to 50% a decade ago. Instead, the leadership has focused on achieving growth via exports and […]

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Looking backwards, not forwards

Since the start of the Crisis, many policymakers have chosen to look backwards rather than forwards. Instead of facing reality, the US has wasted $5trn on stimulus programmes and quantitative easing. Whilst China created a massive credit bubble by doubling bank lending in 2009 to reach 1/3rd of GDP. Yet in the end, demographics drive […]

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Japan falls into recession, again

Japan’s ageing population has led to slow economic growth for many years. It has battled for years to try and boost domestic demand, with only limited success, as the chart of GDP growth from the Wall Street Journal shows. Occasional bursts of growth (green column) are only followed by more red ink. Thus the economy […]

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Europe’s 2-speed auto market

EU auto sales are a critical market for chemical companies. So far, 2011 volumes have been stable, down just 2% in Q1 versus 2010. But the trend seems to be weakening, with March volumes at 1.6m down 5% (red line), as shown in the above chart based on ACEA data. The key worry is the […]

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Japan’s Fukushima disaster equal to Chernobyl

Finally, the authorities have admitted that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear problem is very serious, and still unresolved. Its rating has now been raised to 7, the highest possible – equal to the Chernobyl disaster. The picture, from the Wall Street Journal, shows the state of the reactor building on Sunday. Equally, the impact on the […]

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Tokyo queues for torches, not iPads

Sadly, we still seem no closer to a solution to Japan’s nuclear nightmare at the Fukushima Daiichi plants. It is now certain that there will be no quick ‘return to normal’. Tokyo itself accounts for ~40% of Japan’s economy. And life there is already quite different from its pre-disaster pattern, with all non-essential lighting dimmed […]

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Boom/Gloom index signals rising austerity

Q1 was a very strong quarter for Western companies operating at the upstream end of the chemicals value chain: • Plants were generally operating well, with few force majeures • Most importantly, the crude oil price jumped 20%. Many buyers had reduced inventory in December for working capital reasons. Then they found they had to […]

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