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Chemicals and the Economy

China’s polyethylene demand growth remains slow

There are increasing signs that China’s economic growth is slowing. Local gasoline and diesel prices are now (as in Europe) at record levels. Gasoline is Rmb 8.2/litre, the equivalent of $1.20/l, or $4.40/US gal. Unsurprisingly, this leaves people with very little spare cash, especially with food price inflation still at 6.2%. Equally, with rumours of […]

Why benzene trumps traditional economic indicators

The blog is very pleased to have been invited to contribute to the Financial Times’ new FT Data blog. Its first post looks at benzene’s excellent forecasting record during the current crisis. It also looks at what PTA may be telling us about the strength of China’s economy. Please click here if you would like […]

New policies needed to restore growth

Politicians seem to be floundering as they seek to restore growth to the Western economy. Their prescriptions swing between austerity and economic stimulus as they argue over what has gone wrong. But in chapter 10 of our Boom, Gloom & The New Normal e-book we argue that they are on the wrong track. They are […]

High-frequency trading distorts oil markets

A blog reader has kindly forwarded an important UNCTAD paper (UN Conference on Trade and Development), analysing the growth and impact of high-frequency trading (HFT) on oil and financial markets. It provides important “new evidence regarding the financialisation of commodity markets”. These are now driven by computers which trade in micro-seconds, creating correlation trading which […]

Petchems ‘sailing towards a storm’

Q1 should have been a strong quarter for global petchem demand: • Buyers had to restock in the New Year, as CFOs had cut working capital for year-end reasons • In the West, Easter is delayed until April, and the USA has benefited from the warmest winter in 50 years • China’s holidays took place […]

“Old age” becomes a major cost for UK taxpayers

Taxes, like death, are inevitable. But very few people have much idea of how their money is spent. Thus the blog applauds the UK government’s decision this week to send every taxpayer a ‘receipt’ showing the key spending areas (chapter 5, for those who wish to see the detail). The chart above shows a sample […]

Chinese want affordability not luxury

The Financial Times has kindly published the letter below from the blog today. It argues that affordability, not luxury, is the key need in China, as income levels are very low by comparison with those in the West. From Mr Paul Hodges. Sir, Martin Wolf, in “How to blow away China’s gathering storm clouds” (March […]

Global stock markets reverse previous losses

The blog’s 6-monthly review of major stock markets highlights their continuing volatility. Last September, all the markets were down between 7% – 22%. Germany (dark green column) was the biggest loser, whilst the UK/US (blue, red) were least impacted. Only the US 30-year Treasury bond (light green) had increased, as US interest rates fell. Please […]

China’s economy continues to slow

Latest data confirms the growth slowdown now underway in China: • Rmb bank lending (purple column) is down 8% year to date versus 2011 • The leading indicator (red line) for the economy fell further Bank lending has been the main growth engine for the economy since 2009. But it led to major inflation problems, […]

EU auto sales fall 10% in February

EU auto sales are back at early 2009 levels. This was the height of the slump that followed the start of the financial crisis. But today, unlike then, it seems unlikely that politicians can afford another €2500 ($3.25k) ‘cash for clunkers’ programme. As the chart shows, 2012 sales (red square) fell 10% in February versus […]

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