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Asian Chemical Connections

The US Needs A Plenum

By John Richardson CHINA’S crucial November plenum has now finished and so far there are no details on policy decisions. All we have had is a brief communiqué, which includes key phrases such as “deepening reform” and “crossing the river by feeling the stones”. This latter phrase underlines our argument that reform will be trial […]

South Korea’s Demographic Challenges

By John Richardson THE blog has been long on South Korea ever since its first visit in 1997.  Its economic achievements since the horrors of the Korean War are nothing short of amazing. Bereft of natural resources, all it has had to rely has been its intellectual capital and, wow, look at how it has […]

Searching For A Manufacturing Revival

By John Richardson WALK into any airport bookshop and you will see shelf after shelf full of management and “get rich quick” books. How many books are you likely to see on inventing things and manufacturing? Hardly any….. The danger is that whilst we busy ourselves with pouring spurious knowledge into our heads about how […]

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. […]

Reviving Youngstown

By John Richardson THE blog turned 50 last week and so spare it some indulgence, as it is in a somewhat reflective mood. Yesterday, it attended a Bruce Springsteen concert in Melbourne, Australia – the great song writer/social commentator in the fine tradition of Woody Guthrie etc. His iconic song, Youngstown – about the “former” […]

US LNG Projects Up In The Air

By John Richardson THE US petrochemicals industry is battling hard to block an explosion in liquefied natural gas (LNG) investments that they fear would result in a rise in ethane, propane and butane feedstock costs. Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, raised this issue in December, but the pressure from the industry on legislators responsible […]

US Shale Row Flares UP

Sorry for the corny headline; we couldn’t resist it.   By John Richardson THE argument that the switch to natural gas from coal and oil is good for the environment has been further undermined by reports earlier this week of the big increase in the amount of gas-flaring in the US. When the blog visited […]

Creating Demand Through Better Healthcare

Source of picture: Rex Features   By John Richardson PETROCHEMICALS companies have traditionally concentrated primarily on feedstock advantage, cost efficiencies and location in order to achieve success because demand during the Supercycle largely took care of itself. This is no longer good enough. In the first of a series of blog posts on ways that […]

The End Of Growth

By John Richardson OUR e-book, Boom Gloom & The New Normal, is a set of ideas meant to challenge conventional wisdom. Some of our ideas will need to be adapted and discarded. But our essential point is that the New Normal represents a way of thinking as much as a set of ideas, because the world has […]

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