It’s fun to be miserable….

Business, Company Strategy, Economics, Environment, M&A, Sustainability

Woody-Allen.jpg

To quote Woody Allen, “More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

It’s refreshing that this was written by an American, given the widely held perception that most of the nation’s citizens lack a sense of irony.

As we enter the New Year, gallows humour seems very appropriate as the bad news multiplies from the cancellation of the K-Dow deal to the possibility of LyondellBasell filing for Chapter 11.

My good friend and colleague Paul Hodges makes the following comment on his blog, Chemicals & the Economy: “Petrochemicals has always been a highly cyclical industry. A typical seven-year cycle involves two years of stunning profitability as demand recovers after a downturn, three years of average returns as supply and demand rebalance and two years of horrendous losses.”

If you take the start of the upswing as 2003 therefore, the Lyondell and Basell merger in December 2007 was a big risk. Perhaps those who negotiated the $20bn deal believed that cyclicality was dead.

What has, of course, made highly leveraged companies very vulnerable in this downturn is the severity of the credit crisis.

The way forward? Bring in the restructuring consultants, cut, cut and make more cuts and focus on making chemicals as cheaply as possible. The difficulty will be balancing this need with retaining sufficient R&D investment to cope with the inevitable increase in environmental legislation.

PREVIOUS POST

As this is the season of goodwill.....

22/12/2008

debt forgiveness, rescheduling mortgages, Nail Ferguson, Financial Times, global...

Learn more
NEXT POST

Any spare change, Mister?

09/01/2009

Financial Times, LyondellBasell, Federal Reserve, state ownership, Barack Obama,...

Learn more
More posts
China full-year lending decline confirms that Fed pause is a sideshow
15/01/2019

By John Richardson CHINA’S full-year 2018 lending figures are out and they underline what I’d be...

Read
Oil prices to be buoyed by new shipping fuel rules, despite economic slowdown
13/01/2019

Guest blogger today is Ajay Parmar. He is a chemical engineering professional with 5 years of indust...

Read
Turkey PE demand could be 8% lower as economic problems continue
11/01/2019

By John Richardson TURKEY’S apparent demand for PE may have fallen by 8% in 2018 to around 2m ...

Read
Flood of US LLDPE begins to disrupt markets with worse to follow
09/01/2019

By John Richardson THE ABOVE table illustrates the 2018 impact on smaller LLDPE markets of the arriv...

Read
US/China trade deal in March would likely quickly unravel
07/01/2019

By John Richardson YOU CAN bet on a rally in equity markets and in oil prices if some kind of deal i...

Read
China slowdown: After Apple, next wake-up call will be from auto markets
04/01/2019

By John Richardson THE NEXT big wake-up fall for global financial markets and the chemicals industry...

Read
The world in 2019: Social unrest, populist politics, trade barriers and global recession
02/01/2019

By John Richardson I PREDICTED in 2011 that the world would by a decade later be less globalised as ...

Read
Nothing the Fed can do to stop China causing a global recession
20/12/2018

By John Richardson US stock markets yesterday demonstrated their worst negative reaction to a US Fed...

Read

Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more

Analytics

Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more