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Lower refining rates support EU petchem margins

Sometimes every cloud does have a silver lining. And that’s currently the case with the fall in demand for oil products. The European petchem industry is based on feedstock from refineries such as naphtha and LPG. And as the chart above from the IEA shows, German refinery runs, like others elsewhere in Europe, are down […]

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Baby-Boomers cut spending, start saving

Consumer spending is 70% of US GDP. And because US GDP is so large, this means the US consumer is 17% of global GDP. This is the same as the combined GDP of China and Japan, who rank 2 and 3 after the USA. So a change in US consumer spending matters. And it particularly […]

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Brainstorming on biomass

The blog has come across a useful new tool for global brainstorming, run out of San Francisco by DiscoveryCast. They have recently organised a major event with Paris-based SpecialChem to review the current state of play in bio-based initiatives. This involved a group of 550 experts from 400 companies (including 3M, Dow, Michelin, DuPont, Arkema, […]

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US 3 year interest rates back to 1940’s levels

High quality 3 year government bond yields are now less than 1%, as shown in the above chart from thechartstore.com of the US Treasury market. US rates have not been this low since the 1940’s and 1950’s. This has also led to a major rally in corporate bonds, based on increasing fears of a double-dip […]

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The Drawn-Out Downtrend phase of the Crisis begins

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality” TS Eliot, 4 Quartets, 1936 Who now remembers the stock market rally that followed 1929’s initial collapse? By November 1929, the US Dow Jones Index had fallen to 195 from its September high of 386. But by April it had rallied 52% to 297. At the time, this seemed […]

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US junk bond issue hits record as GDP slows

As noted by a blog reader last week, retail investors are throwing caution to the winds. Unwilling, or unable, to adjust their lifestyles to cope with lower interest rates on government bonds, they have rushed to instead buy higher-yielding ‘junk bonds’. These are less than normal ‘investment’ grade, and offer increased yield in exchange for […]

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Global power shift to the East a “half-truth”

An interesting opinion piece in today’s China Daily suggests the concept that “the next few years will see a dramatic acceleration in the shift of global economic powers eastward” is “at best, a half-truth“. Yu Zhongwen notes that this theory has gained ground in recent years, as the media have speculated that “with a combined […]

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Oil Markets Quote of the Day

Yesterday, the blog worried that oil prices were well out of line with fundamentals. It argued that momentum trading, highlighted by MF Global’s energy VP, Mike Fitzpatrick, had created a speculative mania. Today, it looks as though Fitzpatrick might agree. Quoted in the Financial Times, he notes “As fundamentals come more into focus, it would […]

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Speculative mania continues to drive oil markets

Anyone who followed supply/demand balances might look at the above chart from oil analysts Petromatrix, and conclude that crude oil markets should be relatively weak today. It shows that US oil stocks are only 2.2mb below the record level seen in September 1990, and have grown by 83mb since March. But this is not the […]

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5 tips for surviving a period of deflation

The blog has been revisiting the Bank of England’s 2008 analysis of the likely impact of the financial Crisis. This reviewed 33 banking crises between 1977-2002 and found that: • The average length of each crisis was 4.3 years • The median loss of GDP was 7.1% • Major crises (such as today’s) caused GDP […]

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