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Chemicals and the Economy

Markets slip in China and Europe

Many investors and policymakers believe that the global economy is just in a ‘soft patch’. They expect a quick recovery early in 2012. This parallels their misguided confidence in Q1 that a strong recovery was underway. But petchem markets, a much more reliable indicator, are suggesting we are at the start of a sustained downturn. […]

Policy makers talk, whilst markets weaken

Petchem markets are telling us something very important about the state of the global economy. They are doing their usual job as leading indicators. Prices for all 4 of the blog’s benchmark products are now down over 20% since it launched the IeC Downturn Monitor at the end of April. The OECD’s leading indicators also […]

Brent oil prices stay in their “triangle”

English children have a nursery rhyme that seems to summarise price movements in Brent oil markets: “Oh, The grand old Duke of York, He had ten thousand men; He marched them up to the top of the hill, And he marched them down again. And when they were up, they were up, And when they […]

UK government prepares for “economic Armageddon”

The UK government has now confirmed that it is preparing contingency plans for “economic Armageddon“, if the eurozone falls apart. This highlights the difficulties currently facing the world economy. Meanwhile the Eurozone leadership has clearly begun to panic. According to Reuters’ Paul Taylor, control of the crisis has passed to the so-called ‘Frankfurt Group”, comprising: […]

The Downturn arrives

It is 5 months since the blog launched its IeC Downturn Alert, using prices from 29 April. It wrote then that: “They don’t ring bells at market turning points. Otherwise, we could all retire to the Bahamas.” But its argument was that a peak was likely, as crude oil had remained stable at $125/bbl for […]

US financial markets defy gravity

Blog readers can choose their favourite leading indicator this week. In financial markets, the US S&P 500 index continued its recent rally. If you believe the bullish analysts; a Greek default, lengthy arguments between Germany and France, and the need to expand the Eurozone bailout fund into the €1-2trn range ($1.4-2.8trn), are all good news. […]

Global oil bill now 5% of GDP

The world has suffered a recession every time the oil price has reached current levels. And as the blog has warned for months, this time is unlikely to be different. The reason is captured in the above chart. This uses: • Oil production since 1970 as reported in BP’s annual review • Average annual oil […]

Downturn continues as financial markets sink

ICIS pricing is a very valuable resource, particularly at market turning points. It highlighted the start of the current downturn in April, when reporting that buyers had moved to operating on a ‘hand to mouth’ basis. Now, its market editors are highlighting the fragility of demand due to ‘economic uncertainty’. This is the moment when […]

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