crude oil prices

Oil markets enter the endgame as car companies rush to electrify

Almost every day now sees a car company rushing to announce its plans to boost Electric Vehicle (EV) output. And key OPEC members – such as the UAE – are starting to recognise they have only a few years left to sell their oil, before the market disappears. Last May, the influential International Energy Agency

The post Oil markets enter the endgame as car companies rush to electrify appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

Oil markets enter the endgame as car companies rush to electrify Read More

“When all the experts and forecasts agree — something else is going to happen”, Bob Farrell

At the beginning of the year, “everyone knew” that inflation was about to take off, and that the US$ was going to collapse. Last week, the great Bob Farrell’s Rule No 9 proved its worth, yet again. US interest rates fell sharply and the US$ bottomed for this cycle. The two charts above tell the

The post “When all the experts and forecasts agree — something else is going to happen”, Bob Farrell appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

“When all the experts and forecasts agree — something else is going to happen”, Bob Farrell Read More

Oil markets, OPEC, enter the endgame for the Age of Oil

2 major events shocked oil markets last week. They marked the start of (a) the endgame for the Age of Oil and (b) the paradigm shift to the Circular Economy and the new Age of Energy Abundance.  The new ‘Net Zero by 2050’ report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) was the first shock: It

The post Oil markets, OPEC, enter the endgame for the Age of Oil appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

Oil markets, OPEC, enter the endgame for the Age of Oil Read More

Biden’s Earth Day Summit puts plastics recycling on the fast track

Plastics has long been the ‘odd one out’ in terms of recycling. Steel, aluminium, glass, cardboard, rubber and paper routinely have up to a 70% rate of recycling. But plastics has been stuck at around 10% for a long time. President Biden’s Earth Day Summit is likely to change this picture, and quickly. The reason

The post Biden’s Earth Day Summit puts plastics recycling on the fast track appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

Biden’s Earth Day Summit puts plastics recycling on the fast track Read More

Rising US interest rates, US$ and oil prices set to pressure financial markets

Everyone who has ever played the Beer Distribution Game on a training course knows what is happening in supply chains today. A small increase in underlying demand is rapidly leading to a massive increase in ‘apparent demand’. As the New York Times reports, “the pandemic has disrupted every stage of the (supply chain) journey.”  And

The post Rising US interest rates, US$ and oil prices set to pressure financial markets appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

Rising US interest rates, US$ and oil prices set to pressure financial markets Read More

Weak demand – and the illusion of a return to “normal”

My new interview with Real Vision focuses on the major changes underway in the economy. Our analysis of the chemical industry, auto market, and technology sector, suggests a return to the “old normal” is highly unlikely. Instead, major changes are underway in Demand Patterns, Reshoring, Energy Abundance, the Circular Economy and in Advanced Manufacturing.  For

The post Weak demand – and the illusion of a return to “normal” appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

Weak demand – and the illusion of a return to “normal” Read More

Iran highlights OPEC’s dilemma on output cuts

Saying you “won’t do something” may stop you digging a bigger hole for yourself. But it doesn’t help in deciding what you should do instead. That’s OPEC’s dilemma today on raising oil output. Everything seemed simple enough a year ago, as the pandemic took hold: Saudi Arabia’s first reaction was to assume it would have

The post Iran highlights OPEC’s dilemma on output cuts appeared first on Chemicals and the Economy.

Iran highlights OPEC’s dilemma on output cuts Read More

Look for Winners and Losers in 2021

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. Lenin’s famous insight was highly relevant to 2020. It was full of such weeks as the coronavirus pandemic became a catalyst for major paradigm shifts in the economy. Of course, some sceptics still expect a quick V-shaped return to ‘business as usual’,

Look for Winners and Losers in 2021 Read More

US chemical companies face ‘wake-up call’ as Biden focuses on the Climate Change agenda

I worked for many years at a world-leading chemical company, ICI. But sadly, it lost its way as senior management began to focus more on financial metrics than market developments. In 2007, it disappeared. Today, other companies including the once-mighty ExxonMobil risk making similar mistakes: EM was the world’s most valuable company just 9 years ago It 

US chemical companies face ‘wake-up call’ as Biden focuses on the Climate Change agenda Read More

OPEC set to lose out as Biden, EU and China focus on Climate Change opportunities

OPEC used to dominate global oil markets. In the early 1980s, there was even talk of another OPEC cartel to control gas prices. But those days are long gone.  Instead OPEC members such as the UAE are increasingly aware they have only a limited time left to monetise their vast reserves of fossil fuels. This is

OPEC set to lose out as Biden, EU and China focus on Climate Change opportunities Read More

If you don’t want to know the future, look away now

Next week, I will publish my annual Budget Outlook, covering the 2021-2023 period. It will highlight how the pandemic is accelerating major paradigm shifts in society, politics and the global economy. I have been publishing these Outlooks since 2007, and they disprove the idea that forecasting is a waste of time.  They highlight instead most

If you don’t want to know the future, look away now Read More

Global chemical industry – key trends for success in today’s New Normal

The chemical industry is the best leading indicator for the global economy. On Friday, I had the privilege of discussing a wide range of key issues with Ajaya Sharma in a lunchtime interview for India’s main business station, ET Now. Our interview focused on a number of critical areas and why the future is going

Global chemical industry – key trends for success in today’s New Normal Read More

“They may ring their bells now, before long they will be wringing their hands”

The wisdom of Sir Robert Walpole, the UK’s first premier, seems the only possible response to this weekend’s headline from the Wall Street Journal. How can a National Emergency ever be the basis for a major rise in stock markets? Of course, we all know that stock markets have become addicted to stimulus. But the

“They may ring their bells now, before long they will be wringing their hands” Read More

Stormy weather ahead for chemicals

Four serious challenges are on the horizon for the global petrochemical industry as I describe in my latest analysis for ICIS Chemical Business and in a podcast interview with Will Beacham of ICIS. The first is the growing risk of recession, with key markets such as autos, electronics and housing all showing signs of major

Stormy weather ahead for chemicals Read More

Futures markets, US shale, the big winners from OPEC meeting

There were only two winners from the past 3 months of OPEC’s “Will they?, Won’t they?” debate on output cutbacks. Iran wasn’t one of them – although the talks did emphasise its renewed ability to control the OPEC agenda.  Nor was Saudi Arabia, forced to accept the lion’s share of the proposed cutbacks. Instead, the […]

Futures markets, US shale, the big winners from OPEC meeting Read More

Oil heads to $30/bbl as Great Unwinding reaches 1st anniversary

Global markets are becoming ever more complex as the Great Unwinding of stimulus policies continues.  This means that each blog post is now taking much longer to write.  It therefore seems sensible to focus on writing 3 posts each week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – in order to continue to provide the highest possible […]

Oil heads to $30/bbl as Great Unwinding reaches 1st anniversary Read More

Iran deal highlights “massively oversupplied” oil market

The oil market was the first to feel the impact of the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus nearly a year ago.  It had completely lost its key role of price discovery due to the liquidity being supplied by the central banks.  This had overwhelmed the fundamentals of supply/demand.  And we are still living with the consequences […]

Iran deal highlights “massively oversupplied” oil market Read More

Oil markets begin to slide as Great Unwinding resumes

Oil prices have fallen around $5/bbl, since my suggestion last week that a “New oil price fall was a matter of “when”, not “if”“.  It thus seems increasingly likely they are resuming their fall back towards $30/bbl, as we discussed in last week’s pH Report webinar. Financial players clearly misread the market when they assumed […]

Oil markets begin to slide as Great Unwinding resumes Read More

New oil price fall is matter of “when”, not “if”, as inventory builds

Financial players have become convinced in recent months that the oil price will rise.  And so far, this has been a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Their buying has led to oil being stored all over the world – in tankers floating at sea and in shale oil wells, as well as in storage tanks. Unsurprisingly, prices have […]

New oil price fall is matter of “when”, not “if”, as inventory builds Read More

Impact of China’s New Normal policies on oil, petchem and financial markets – free pH Report webinar next Tuesday

China was the “saviour “of the global economy after the financial Crisis of 2008.  Its massive stimulus was worth over $10tn from 2009 to 2014 – half of the total amount. But now China’s new leadership has changed course, and has introduced its New Normal policies.  As a result, its economy is slowing, and its […]

Impact of China’s New Normal policies on oil, petchem and financial markets – free pH Report webinar next Tuesday Read More

Chemical companies highlight increased uncertainty and volatility in Q1 results

Volatility creates uncertainty.  And uncertainty can easily lead to paralysis, if a company hasn’t planned ahead for the range of potential scenarios that might develop.  This is the risk highlighted in my usual analysis of quarterly results. A key warning sign is the divide that has developed recently in performance in different regions and industry sectors, […]

Chemical companies highlight increased uncertainty and volatility in Q1 results Read More

US housing markets weaken as home ownership levels fade

Data over the past month continues to confirm my fears that the US housing recovery is going into reverse.  The argument was summed up yesterday by S&P’s chairman, when reporting Case/Shiller housing price data for December: “The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home […]

US housing markets weaken as home ownership levels fade Read More

Global shipping index hits all-time low

The world’s major shipping index, the Baltic Dry (BDI), has collapsed by 2/3rds since November, and by 80% since its earlier December 2013 peak, as the chart shows.  It is now at an all-time low of 509, almost half of its initial 1000 level when established in January 1985. Shipping is the major mode of transport for world trade, […]

Global shipping index hits all-time low Read More

US auto sales, housing starts, will be hit by oil price collapse

The best view is always from the top of the mountain.  That’s probably why the outlook seems so promising for US auto and housing markets.  Both appear to be doing well on the surface, but dig a little deeper and concerns soon emerge. The chart above demonstrates the point, updating the data from my July post […]

US auto sales, housing starts, will be hit by oil price collapse Read More

US dollar rises as investors worry low-cost money may disappear

Nobody knows how the Great Unwinding of central bank stimulus policies will develop.  The world has simply never been in this position before.  Thus the senior economics and business correspondent of the Financial Times, John Plender, began an article this week: “In a market where asset prices are comprehensively rigged by central bankers, rational investment […]

US dollar rises as investors worry low-cost money may disappear Read More

Europe unprepared for hard winter without Ukraine gas

There is an alarming naivety about Western policymakers’ response to events in the Ukraine.  They have simply chosen not to recognise that Russia’s strategic objectives are no longer about building links with Europe, but are instead about creating a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Thus they assume that Russia will always put its economic interests ahead of its political objectives.  And […]

Europe unprepared for hard winter without Ukraine gas Read More

US oil inventories hit record high as supply increases

Imagine that 5 years ago, you had been asked by your Board to forecast future oil prices.  And suppose you had prepared a forecast which said: Oil demand growth will slow in the West, as cars become more fuel-efficient and ageing populations drive less Demand growth in the emerging economies will be supported temporarily by real estate […]

US oil inventories hit record high as supply increases Read More

Ethylene prices have 96% correlation to oil prices

Companies are about to review their Q1 performance, and re-forecast profit and revenue for the rest of the year.  Most will be disappointed with results so far, as the long-promised economic recovery has again failed to appear. This will be no surprise to blog readers.  But there is another and connected issue for Management Teams to worry […]

Ethylene prices have 96% correlation to oil prices Read More

Aluminium shortage “temporary and artificial” says world’s largest buyer

When was the last time you told your customers that they would have to wait 570 days for delivery of material for which they have already paid? You’ve never done this?  Well, you need to take lessons from those super-smart people who own the aluminium warehouses, such as Goldman Sachs (pictured above by Reuters).  As the blog […]

Aluminium shortage “temporary and artificial” says world’s largest buyer Read More

US shale revolution puts squeeze on European chemicals groups

The Financial Times has carried an excellent analysis this week of the key shale gas issues facing the European chemical industry.  It includes comments from a number of CEOs, as well as from the blog.  Its key points are as follows: THE STRATEGIC DILEMMA “European petrochemical makers risk being squeezed between low-cost producers in the Middle East […]

US shale revolution puts squeeze on European chemicals groups Read More

US polyethylene and PVC exporters focus on margin, not volume

2013 has seen 3 types of markets develop for the blog’s IeC Downturn Monitor portfolio as the chart above shows: Financial assets such as the S&P 500 (purple) have soared, as did the US$ against the yen (orange) Crude oil (blue) and naphtha (black) tried to follow, but found it difficult to pass though the higher prices Benzene (green) and […]

US polyethylene and PVC exporters focus on margin, not volume Read More

Iran talks offer hope on oil prices

Iran has been at the centre of all the major oil market price spikes in the past few decades: Today’s record prices on an annual basis are partly due to market fears over supply disruptions due to the Iran/Israel nuclear issue Fears over a nuclear showdown also led prices to jump to $150/bbl in July 2008, when the […]

Iran talks offer hope on oil prices Read More

Benzene markets suggest BabyBoomer growth will not reappear

Benzene has always been one of the blog’s favourite leading indicators for the global economy.  The reason is simple, in that it has been around a long time, and is now used in a very wide range of industries.  So it provides us with a broad-based picture of the global economy. The chart above highlights another important […]

Benzene markets suggest BabyBoomer growth will not reappear Read More

2012 Budgets

The blog will publish its fifth annual Budget Outlook next weekend. As usual, it is therefore time to review last year’s Outlook. Past performance may not be a perfect guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the best that we have.

The blog’s 2008 O…

2012 Budgets Read More