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Chemicals and the Economy

Traders sell $, buy oil

‘ ‘A vicious circle now seems to be in place again, where a lower dollar inspires raw material prices to rally, which in turn increases worries about inflation’. This was how strategists at BNP Paribas summed up the US Fed Chairman’s two days of testimony to Congress last week. For the last 20 years, every […]

Wheat prices add to CFO concerns

Wheat prices rose 25% yesterday, the biggest one-day rise ever, as Kazakhstan imposed restrictions on wheat exports. The rationale for today’s rising prices is three-fold: • US farmers have shifted land over to corn, to meet increased ethanol demand, and US wheat inventories are forecast to hit 60 year lows • Emerging countries are now […]

China exports inflation

China has been a major source of price deflation for the past decade. It is now the world’s leading manufacturer of a whole range of products from microwaves to DVDs. And the rest of the world has benefited from the lower prices that it has provided. But not any more. The attached chart from the […]

CFO pessimism increases

CFOs are paid to worry, but their worries seem to be increasing quite rapidly, according to the results of the quarterly CFO survey by Duke University/The Economist. This showed: • Record pessimism about the US economy, with US CFOs worrying about ‘weak consumer demand, high fuel costs, rising labor costs and credit markets’. • European […]

5 risks to 2008 budgets

The consensus viewpoint is an easy way of keeping up to speed on a variety of issues outside one’s daily experience. But the signs are that the consensus may be leading to complacency, when it comes to the assumptions being used to finalise 2008 budgets. There are a number of areas where some new thinking […]

Inflation makes a comeback

Oil prices last week rose to an all-time, inflation-adjusted, high in New York at over $92/bbl. Meanwhile food and commodity prices have continued their upward march. In China, the rate of consumer price inflation hit a decade-high of 6.5% in August. So why are we still seeing rates of around 2% reported in the USA […]

A tale of two worlds

It used to be said that ‘if the US sneezes, the rest of the world will catch a cold’. Well, the US is certainly sneezing as a result of its subprime financial crisis, but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to be taking too much notice, as least so far. As Bloomberg comments overnight, […]

Thursday’s child has far to go

The past two Thursdays have seen extraordinary things happen in financial markets. Last Thursday, BNP Paribas suspended redemptions on 3 of its funds, forcing the ECB to inject €95bn of liquidity into the financial system. Yesterday, the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, had to raise an emergency €11.5bn loan in order to continue trading, […]

4 risks to the world economy

The latest report from the ‘central bankers’ bank’ provides an excellent analysis of what might go wrong in the world economy over the next 2 – 3 years. Anyone interested in scenario planning will find its conclusions valuable.

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