Archive | December, 2011

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The blog in 2011

The blog celebrated its 100,000th visit during 2011. Its readership also continued to increase, and now covers 142 countries and 5992 cities. The map shows the major centres of readership, which include all the main petchem hubs. Readers also remain very loyal, with 40% visiting at least once a week during 2011. Over the past […]

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US home prices slip whilst housing trends change

US house prices were the original cause of the financial collapse in Q4 2008. Since then, the politicians have failed to grasp the depths of the problem. Now, the housing market seems about to start on a new downward leg. The chart shows that prices hit a new low last month, down 33% from the […]

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US oil inventories remain close to historical average

The blog suspects that the above chart may not feature prominently in the New Year reports about to be published by the main oil market brokers. These will instead probably highlight the view that oil markets are very tight, and that prices should surely go higher. They have held this view for several years, and […]

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€489bn avoids Eurozone collapse, for now

A month ago, the former UK Finance Minister, Alastair Darling, warned that the European Central Bank (ECB) had “to recognise they have to be the lenders of the last resort”. He added that “This is far worse than the banking crisis of 2008 in its seriousness and, if it is not solved by Christmas, I […]

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The blog’s Christmas Quiz

Its now 3 years since the Great Recession began. US GDP is still below previous peaks, despite $5trn of stimulus spending and quantitative easing. The position in the Eurozone is even worse. China’s economy will be lucky to escape with a ‘soft landing’. Policymakers seem to have lost the plot. They have forgotten, or maybe […]

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The oil market’s ‘triangle’ pattern continues

The other side of the short-term volatility in oil markets, as discussed yesterday, is that price movements are still trapped in their long-term triangle pattern. As the chart shows, Tuesday’s $3/bbl move was not part of a break-out to new high ground. In fact, Brent’s prices remain within the same $99/bbl – $127/bbl range they […]

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High Frequency Trading distorts US markets

The chemical industry, like many others, continues to be badly affected by the volatility of financial markets. Yesterday (Tuesday), for example, saw a 3% jump in US stock prices and crude oil prices. The ‘justification’ for the surge was a minor rise in November’s US housing starts to 685k. As the weather has been seasonally […]

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ExxonMobil expect gas use to rise 60% by 2040

ExxonMobil’s annual energy review is always a fascinating read. This year’s issue looks out to 2040 for the first time. It thus forecasts the relative share of the major fuels over the next 30 years. Interestingly, it also shares the blog’s belief, as set out in our ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal‘ eBook, that […]

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IMF warns of protectionism, and possible Depression

Whisper it softly, so as not to alarm the CEO. But the world is starting to look worryingly like the picture of mid-2008. Official bodies such as the IMF are always cautious in forecasting a downturn. They rightly worry that they could help to cause the decline, by hitting confidence. But there comes a moment […]

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Auto sales growth stalls in China, Europe and USA

November (red line) was a mixed month for auto sales, as the above chart shows. It updates the state of the world’s 3 largest markets: • China remained the largest market with sales of 1.3m. Its Year To Date (YTD) sales are up 6% at 12.5m • Europe is the 2nd largest market with sales […]

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