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Chemicals and the Economy

Facts of the week

The Financial Times reports two interesting facts: • Japan’s leading seismologist warned Tokyo Electric Power in June 2009 that “tsunamis of a completely different scale have come before” in the region of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. One, in 869, had “destroyed a castle“. But no changes were made to the plant’s defences. • The […]

Uncertainty builds around the world

The blog has built great loyalty amongst its readers. 24% visit it twice a week. Recently, as during the 2008 financial Crisis, it has gained many new readers. They also want to better understand developments in the Middle East/N Africa (MENA), Japan, China, and oil markets, and what these might mean for future chemical demand. […]

China has “60% risk of banking crisis by 2013”

China’s housing market seems to be facing the threat of a major downturn. That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the rising sense of concern being expressed by policymakers and the official media. Last year, China’s Academy of Social Sciences estimated that “there are 64.5 million empty apartments and houses in China’s urban […]

US auto companies lack pricing power

February’s data on US auto sales contained good news, and not such good news, for the chemical industry. • The good news was that sales were relatively strong, as the chart shows (red line), although still below levels seen in the 2005-8 period (black line). • And higher oil prices are supporting sales of more […]

Chemical companies report strong Q4 results

2010 was a remarkable year for chemical company profitability. Back in Q1, BASF’s Jürgen Hambrecht suggested that “the worst is behind us, even though dark clouds remain“. Results continued to improve in Q2, with Sinopec highlighting the importance of “state stimulus measures” in China. And by Q3, Dow were seeing “a sustained global recovery led […]

Super-fast computers lead financial markets under QE2

Super-fast computers continue to increase their role in financial markets. They first came into prominence in H2 2009, when the ‘correlation trade’ began. Their role is nothing to do with price discovery, the traditional market function. Instead, they trade on algorithms. Their aim is trade arbitrage opportunities between markets on a nano-second by nano-second basis. […]

China tightens lending: Saudi may pump more oil

Recent days have seen some signs that the tectonic plates under current chemical and polymer markets may be starting to shift. The most important has been the rapid rise in inter-bank lending rates in Shanghai. As the chart shows from Petromatrix, these have begun to rocket. A year ago, the rate at which banks could […]

The $600bn man

In October 2008, the blog featured the US Treasury official responsible for running the $700bn TARP rescue fund. He was 35 years old, and just 6 years out of business school. Apparently there was nobody available with more experience to take on the role of “choosing which US financial institutions live, and which die“, during […]

Another view on rising oil prices

Crude oil prices are now up 18% since the US Fed announced its QE2 Lifeboat policy at the end of August. This clearly justifies the blog’s faith in the ‘triangle pattern’ in September. The rise is mainly due to financial players, with the Large Speculators dominating the buy-side on the futures markets. But in turn, […]

China forecasts 20% property price drop in 2011

China’s government tends not to like surprises. Its usual tactic is therefore to talk about policy changes well in advance. And this is what seems to be happening with regard to the real estate bubble. Back in September, premier Wen Jiabao said it would probably take 2 – 3 years to cool the bubble properly. […]

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