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Chemicals and the Economy

The end of China’s real estate bubble will impact global supply chains, exports and growth

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.” These lines from Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel “Fiesta” (USA title ‘The Sun also Rises’), summarise where we now are with Evergrande’s likely default in China.  It did indeed begin “gradually” at first – starting in February 2016. As I noted here […]

The End of “Business as Usual”

In my interview for Real Vision earlier this month, (where the world’s most successful investors share their thoughts on the markets and the biggest investment themes), I look at what data from the global chemical industry is telling us about the outlook for the global economy and suggest it could be set for a downturn. “We look at […]

Chemical production continues to slow across most regions

Chemical production is currently the best leading indicator for the wider economy, as financial markets have lost their power of price discovery due to the impact of central bank stimulus. The above chart, based as always on the excellent American Chemistry Council (ACC) data, continues to flash the orange warning signal first seen last month.  The key […]

Slide in Q2 operating rates is bad omen for H2 economic outlook

The chemical industry is the best leading indicator for the global economy.  The slide in operating rates (OR%) around the world during the seasonally strong Q2 period. is a clear warning that global economic growth may be stalling. This should be a major wake-up call for anyone still hoping that growth may recover to the Boomer-led SuperCycle level.  The latest update from […]

Recovery has been delayed, again

Recovery has been delayed, again.  That is the clear message from the blog’s extensive discussions with key executives in global and regional markets over the past 2 weeks. In summary as this ICIS video interview suggests, the picture is as follows: Base chemical demand has broadly fallen from peak levels in Q3  Most chemical buyers built inventory in […]

Ageing populations mean decades of slower growth

The next few decades will see very much slower economic growth in most countries. This will have critical implications for business strategy, as the blog summarises in a new Research Note. Encouragingly, the Financial Tmes has devoted a column to its argument, focusing on the implications for the UK. The Research challenges the current consensus […]

IMF says advanced economies to “contract sharply”

The IMF and World Bank continue to play leap-frog in reducing their global growth forecasts. In January, the IMF forecast growth would come to a “virtual standstill”. Then, two weeks ago, the World Bank said the economy would “shrink” for the first time since World War 2. Today, the IMF joins the Bank in suggesting […]

Dow Chemical moves to Plan B

A month ago, after the collapse of the K-Dow deal, the blog suggested that Dow would need to move quickly to a Plan B. It added that “nobody would be very surprised if it now sought to renegotiate the proposed Rohm & Haas acquisition”. This now seems to be underway, judging by two pieces of […]

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