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Chemicals and the Economy

Speculative Brent rally lifts oil prices just $3/bbl

Last week should have been a great week for the speculators.  As in July 2008, they were able to spread the rumour of imminent Middle East war and upheaval.  5 years ago it was the threat of Israel bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, and leading to a blockade of the Straits of Hormuz.  This time it […]

Saving energy in a New Normal world

“Doing more with less” is one of the key themes for future profit.  The end of the SuperCycle means credit is hard to obtain, whilst ageing populations have less money to spend.  The winners in the next decades will be those who focus on affordability. One great example of successful New Normal thinking is US […]

Butadiene price collapse sends warning on H2 demand

Chemical markets continue to provide the best real-time evidence of what is happening in the wider economy.  For a while, they lost their function of price discovery, as the oil price bubble caused buyers to panic and buy forward.  But this panic couldn’t last forever. Now we are seeing the reverse side of the action, […]

Emerging economies risk being submerged under debt

Asset bubbles are great fun whilst they last, as the West found out during the sub-prime era.  The supply of money seems endless, and prices just keep rising to the skies.  Meanwhile the regulators are busy assuring everyone that ‘this time is different’ and its quite safe to invest. The problem is that so-called ‘common […]

ACS webinar on Thursday

Is the health of the economy heading up or down?  Financial markets are up, but unemployment is recovering at a historically slow pace.  The webinar will discuss the ongoing impacts of the Great Recession on the chemical industries and the “new normal” in jobs. The blog’s regular Chemistry & the Economy webinar with the American Chemical […]

“Talkin’ ’bout a (demographic) revolution”

“Demographics is no longer a dusty concern of academics and eccentrics“, wrote columnist John Dizard in yesterday’s Financial Times. “It’s not just state pension burdens and tax revenues that are shifting with  European demographics. Corporate bond and equity issuers are also much more  dependent on diverging demographic prospects. “Before, say, 1934, nuclear physics was of […]

Oliver Sacks at 80 on ‘the joy of old age’

Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and writer, is 80 years old today. His book ‘Awakenings’, which recounted the lives of victims of New York’s encephalitis lethargica epidemic in the 1920s, was made into an Academy Award-nominated movie in 1990, starring Robin Williams and Robert de Niro. He argues (in an article for the New York Times) that we should learn to celebrate the […]

Women in the US labour market

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times FT Data blog is below. July 8, 2013 10:00 am by Financial Times By Paul Hodges Working women supercharged western economic growth from the 1980s, as they created the phenomenon of dual-income households for the first time in history. But today, this trend is reversing as women’s participation […]

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