Tag Archives | recession

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The banana skin risk

This week’s news provided more evidence to support the blog’s fear that the global economy is close to recession: • The German economy, Europe’s motor, saw negative growth in Q4 • US retail sales grew just 0.1% in December, despite good auto sales • China’s auto sales fell in Q4, and house prices fell in […]

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Oil prices hit record annual level in 2011

High oil prices are a bad thing for the global economy, and for the chemical industry, 2011 was therefore a very bad year indeed. Brent oil prices, the global benchmark, averaged $111/bbl in 2011. This is higher even than in 1979 and 1980, after adjusting for inflation. The chart shows the history since 1970, based […]

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2012 Budgets

The blog will publish its fifth annual Budget Outlook next weekend. As usual, it is therefore time to review last year’s Outlook. Past performance may not be a perfect guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the best that we have. The blog’s 2008 Outlook ‘Budgeting for a Downturn’, and its 2009 ‘Budgeting […]

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Global oil bill now 5% of GDP

The world has suffered a recession every time the oil price has reached current levels. And as the blog has warned for months, this time is unlikely to be different. The reason is captured in the above chart. This uses: • Oil production since 1970 as reported in BP’s annual review • Average annual oil […]

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Groundhog Day again as Quarter 4 starts

The great film comedy Groundhog Day saw Bill Murray doomed to repeat the same day in his life, until he learnt to become a better person. Sadly, financial markets have yet to learn from his example. Every quarter, the investment banks produce new stories aimed at pushing stock/oil markets higher. Then high-frequency traders make $millions […]

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OECD warns economic growth “close to a halt”

The IeC Downturn Alert has hopefully done the job for which it was intended. It was launched at the end of April, when the blog became convinced that the global economy was highly likely to enter a new downturn. It also realised from its experience in 2007-8, when it later became known as ‘The Crystal […]

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Boom/Gloom Index suggests downturn resuming

A recession is often defined as being when your neighbour loses their job. A depression is when you lose your job. Latest industrial production data shows output is falling around the world. And US unemployment is rising again, with the wider measure at 16.2% as long-term joblessness becomes a major problem. Last month’s IeC Boom/Gloom […]

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August highlights

Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks. The blog also continues to gain large numbers of new readers, as the financial crisis intensifies. As usual, therefore, it is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Boom/Gloom Index suggests markets on […]

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US polymer demand slows as consumers cut back

The above chart, from the invaluable American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly report, highlights the scale of Q1′s inventory build in N American polymer markets (polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC). This build took place as consumers down the value chain rushed to buy forward, as WTI oil prices surged 41% between November – April. Their buying was not […]

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Downturn continues as financial markets sink

ICIS pricing is a very valuable resource, particularly at market turning points. It highlighted the start of the current downturn in April, when reporting that buyers had moved to operating on a ‘hand to mouth’ basis. Now, its market editors are highlighting the fragility of demand due to ‘economic uncertainty’. This is the moment when […]

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