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Chemicals and the Economy

45-year baby drought stalls Western economic growth

200 years ago, most blog readers would have been dead at their current age.  Life expectancy in the West was just 34 years in 1820, and averaged only 24 years everywhere else.  Today, as the chart shows, Western life expectancy has risen to 79 years (red area).  In the the emerging economies, it has nearly […]

US producers face uphill battle to increase PE sales in China

China is the world’s largest polyethylene market.  One-third of the way through the year, it  is therefore interesting to analyse the ratio of its own production versus imports, and look at relative import market shares.  The chart shows annual data since 2005, with 2015 data to April, based on trade data from Global Trade Information […]

Brazilian, Russian, Japanese auto markets continue to struggle

Bill White’s important critique of the policies being followed by his former central bank colleagues echoes his warnings before the 2008 Crisis.  One of his key points is that they have focused on manipulating the value of financial assets, ratehr than on developments in the real economy: “The price of financial assets, just think of Bunds […]

India’s auto market remains dominated by motorbikes

4 years ago, India could do no wrong.  The ‘Incredible India’ campaign had captured imaginations around the world, and almost everyone seemed to believe that it was destined to become a major player in any market that it chose. Analysts were particularly excited about the potential for the auto market, with one major company suggesting: […]

45-year shortage of babies hits Europe’s chlorine/PVC demand

Companies and investors often say “we don’t need to think about demographics – its too far in the future to matter”. This might have been true 20 years ago, but not today.  As European chlorine industry demand confirms, the truth is that “history catches up with us”. The reason is simple.  Europe stopped having enough […]

China’s economy continues to slow as lending curbs bite

Everyone seems sure that China’s government is about to undertake major new stimulus.  Thus Reuters reported: “Economists said it was a matter of when, not if, China eased policy again after economic growth in Q1 cooled to 7%, a level not seen since the depths of the 2008/09 global financial crisis.  Indeed, some analysts have […]

Stimulus proves no solution for today’s economic slowdown

“Central banks have to be mindful that too long a period of very low interest rates can have undesirable consequences in the context of ageing societies. For pensioners, and those saving ahead of retirement, low interest rates may not be an inducement to bring consumption forward. They may on the contrary be an inducement to […]

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