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European Processors Bemoan Volatility

By John Richardson THE blog listened to an interesting discussion yesterday, on the first day of the 2nd ICIS World Polyolefins Conference in Berlin, during which plastics processors tackled the perennial issue of volatility. They complained that: *Trying to build long-term relationships with producers is difficult because polymer sales guys only stay in their jobs […]

Germany’s Skills Shortage

By John Richardson GERMANY’S engineering and chemicals companies are the envy of the world as a result of their ability to find perfect niches in the global value chain. The sophisticated machinery and chemicals needed by China to fulfil its role as the cheap workshop of the world are often provided by Germany, for example. […]

Japan Consolidation Continues

Source: Japan Petrochemical Industry Association By John Richardson JAPAN’S petrochemicals industry remains in consolidation mode, as my ICIS colleague Nigel Davis writes in this article. And, as the chart above shows, Japan’s ethylene output continues to fall. It was down 8% to 6.146 million tonnes in 2012 year-on-year. Future consolidation includes: *Mitsubishi Chemical’s planned closure of […]

Hallucinatory Effects

  By John Richardson THE reasons cited for last week’s global sell-off in stock markets (see the above chart of the Nikkei up until Thursday last week) were concerns over volatility in the Japanesegovernment bond market and the economic slowdown in China. Some investors, however, believe that markets have just taken a pause for breath as a result of profit […]

Everything Is Going To Plan

By John Richardson So far so good – everything is going to plan. The flash Markit/HSBC China Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for May fell to 49.6, slipping under the 50-point level demarcating expansion from contraction for the first since October last year and sending Asian financial markets sharply lower. But, crucially, as Reuters pointed out in this article, […]

China Will Do What Suits China

By John Richardson CHINA might well be in the midst of deflation caused by overcapacity in some chemicals, and in many other industries as well, but the longer-term strategic direction of reducing dependence on imports doesn’t appear to have changed. An indication of this was this story from my colleague Lilian Hua at ICIS. She […]

China Market Rally In Context

  By John Richardson ETHYLENE spot prices rose by $20-50/tonne in Asia last week on the back of stronger derivatives pricing, including a $5-25/tonne increase in polyethylene (PE), according to ICIS. However, nobody is cracking open the champagne. As the chart above shows, despite a $51/tonne improvement in Northeast Asia’s variable cost integrated margins for […]

Please Be Careful Out There

By John Richardson Quite often, a chart is worth many thousands of words. The above chart, from Bloomberg, shows the divergence between the soaring S&P 500 index and US macro-economic indicators. The theory is that soaring equity values will be the tide that lifts all boats. Even America’s hard-pressed middle classes will benefit, not just […]

Get Behind China

By John Richardson THE blog is often accused of being pessimistic. We are not. We are just realistic. It was realistic last November to anticipate that China’s new leaders would be dedicated to major economic reform. In fact, this was clear even earlier than that – back in February 2012 when the World Bank produced […]

China Hints At Yuan Depreciation

By John Richardson LABOUR markets are tight in China and so on the surface there appears to be no great pressure on Beijing to attempt to export its way out of an unemployment crisis. But what happens if, as we suspect, real GDP growth has fallen to 4% or even lower? The government, despite its […]

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