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Chemicals and the Economy

2012 sees rising political risk, and protectionism

The world enjoyed an economic SuperCycle between 1982-2007. Its largest economy, the USA, suffered just 16 months of recession during the whole 25 years. As a result, social and political issues took a back-seat. Politicians instead competed to occupy the middle ground. Former UK premier Margaret Thatcher’s phrase ‘you can’t buck the markets’, became received […]

Oil markets prepare for post-QE2 world

The decision by S&P, the ratings agency, to put the USA’s AAA debt rating on review is a potential game-changer for US economic policy. It means that policymakers can no longer pretend the $5trn they have spent over the past 2 years on stimulus measures somehow “doesn’t count” in terms of needing to be repaid. […]

Russia’s chemical output begins to improve

In May last year, the blog was hopeful that the major decline in Russian chemical production might start to reverse. And recent ACC regional production figures have indeed shown a welcome improvement in Central and Eastern European output, which was badly hit by the 2008-9 collapse. Once again, the blog is grateful to Sergei Blagov […]

Top 10 posts in 2009

Blog readers have a wide range of interests. That is clear from the list below of the Top 10 posts in 2009. It also confirms the complexity of the chemical industry, and its fascination. In alphabetical order, it is as follows: • Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble • Companies remain cautious on the outlook • […]

Oil prices continue to plateau

Last year, OPEC meetings led to newspaper headlines. But today’s session in Vienna seems to have slipped off the radar. Yet the oil market remains as important as ever to chemical companies. As the chart shows, the prime driver for oil prices (blue line) is still the financial market. Traders continue to believe recovery is […]

Russia’s chemical production tumbles

Last week’s global production numbers highlighted the startling collapse in output from Central & Eastern Europe. This was the worst regional performer in Q1, and the blog decided to investigate further. Russian output is key to the region’s performance. And the chart, based on data kindly provided by ICIS’s Sergei Blagov, shows how all parts […]

IEA revises down oil demand

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has cut its estimate of expected global GDP growth in 2009 to just 1.2%. It therefore expects the world to record its first back-to-back annual decline in oil demand since 1982/3. It says oil production last month was unchanged at 86.2mbd, despite OPEC cutbacks and the first fall in Russian […]

Russia’s economy stalls

A few months ago, Russia’s economy seemed to be recovering from its problems in the late 1990’s. High prices meant oil revenues were increasing, and the currency was strong. Now, the combination of the oil price collapse and the credit crunch has reversed the position. Yesterday, the central bank was forced to raise rates to […]

G-20 tries to support growth

The G-20 was created in 1999, after the financial crises that had hit emerging countries from 1997 onwards. It includes the G7 group of major industrial companies, plus the main emerging economies, including the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Its ministerial meeting this weekend became a preparatory session for its first-ever Heads of State […]

Oil producers at a crossroads

The blog has been thinking about last week’s leaked report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This said that the world needs “to invest $360bn each year until 2030 to replace falling oil production and increase supply”. The IEA based this sum on a new analysis of 500 oilfields, which showed the current depletion rate […]

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