Many readers have been taking a well-deserved break over the past few weeks. As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office.

August has been surprisingly busy:

Force Majeure reports show worrying increase highlighted the worrying rise in force majeures, which may be linked to cutbacks in training, and maintenance spend.

US consumer demand growth stalls. The US economy seems to be heading back into the downturn, as the stimulus programmes end, with unemployment still high, housing starts at all-time lows and GDP slipping.

5 tips for surviving a period of deflation covered advice from the Wall Street Journal on managing a personal investment portfolio.

Speculative mania continues to drive oil markets. The impact of futures market trading disguises the weak fundamentals of the oil market, and has also been driving speculative activity on polymers in China.

US junk bond issue hits record as GDP slows worried that investors were piling into high-yield corporate bonds, just as the slowing economy was increasing their risk.

Lower refining rates support EU petchem margins described how lower oil product demand, and hence refining rates, was reducing naphtha availability, and so helping to keep petchem markets tight.

The” real bottom line” in the Financial Times featured the blog’s letter to the FT.

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