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2016 Global Outlook – ACS webinar on Thursday

Why has the US dollar suddenly strengthened over the past year?  What will be the impact of China’s new 5 Year Plan for 2016-2010? Will the current Climate Change Conference actually change anything? Will 2016 be ‘business as usual’, or should we look out for bumps on the road? These are some of the questions […]

2016 Global Outlook – ACS webinar on Thursday

Why has the US dollar suddenly strengthened over the past year?  What will be the impact of China’s new 5 Year Plan for 2016-2010? Will the current Climate Change Conference actually change anything? Will 2016 be ‘business as usual’, or should we look out for bumps on the road? These are some of the questions […]

World Aromatics Conference focuses on key industry challenges

Maintaining a competitive edge in a low cost feedstock scenario is the theme of next week’s World Aromatics & Derivatives Conference in Amsterdam on 17 – 18 November.  Co-organised as always with ICIS, we will benefit from the insight of key executives from the global industry including: Covestro’s Global Procurement head, Dirk Jan de With Dow Chemicals’ Corporate Chief […]

The global collapse in fertility rates between 1970 – 2014

A blog reader has kindly sent me the maps above from BrilliantMaps.com.   They highlight the dramatic collapse in fertility rates since 1970, which have nearly halved from a global average of 4.85 babies/woman to just 2.5 babies per woman today: Dark blue covers countries where rates are 1 – 2 babies/woman Light blue is […]

‘Slow motion’ Greek train wreck gets ready to hit another buffer

The key issue in the Greek debt crisis is easy to understand,.  It is that Greece’s GDP last year was just $238bn, whilst its debts are estimated at €322bn ($365bn).   So Greece is clearly going to default at some point.  The problem is that no policymaker is prepared to admit this obvious fact, as […]

Why have oil prices fallen? Will China’s growth recover in 2015?

Chemistry & the Economy:  2014 Year-End Review Some excellent questions have already been submitted for my year-end webinar tomorrow with the American Chemical Society. Why have oil prices fallen? Will China’s growth recover in 2015 – and if so, will it be back to the ‘bad old ways’ of stimulus? Why are the stock prices […]

Blog readers were prepared for this headline on 18 August

Above is today’s front-page headline from the Financial Times.  As readers will remember, I launched a series of major posts in the blog on 18 August, forecasting a collapse of oil prices to “$70/bbl, and probably lower“, and that the US$ would see ”a strong move upwards“.  The headline confirms I was right. The posts in the series were as follows: […]

Asian markets panic as polyethylene glut begins to develop

The word “panic” crept in to ICIS chemical market news reports this week, as its pricing specialists surveyed the Asian market.  Polyethylene (PE) was particularly highlighted, with headlines such as: China PE tumbles $30-80/tonne on panic-selling Price war in Pakistan as panic sets in among PE suppliers At the same time, ICIS was reporting that: “Middle East suppliers may […]

Time for a new approach to aromatics production

We had another excellent Conference in Berlin last week on the challenges and opportunities facing the global aromatics industry.  These developments are starting to impact most industries as we arrive in the New Normal of lower growth, deflation and growing protectionism. Our speakers included senior executives from ExxonMobil, Shell, Dow Chemical and BASF, as well as the International […]

Great Unwinding sees dollar rise, oil prices fall

The day after our China Economic Transformation webinar last week, Premier Li Keqiang confirmed its key message: “There’s already a lot of money in the pool, and we can’t rely on monetary stimulus to spur economic growth…Facing the New Normal state of the Chinese economy, we have remained level-headed and taken steps to tackle deep-seated challenges….in the […]

A personal WW1 centenary – the Battle of Le Cateau

100 years ago today, the blog’s grandfather went into action for the first time in World War 1, at the Battle of Le Cateau.  A regular soldier, his Battalion had landed in France on 22 August 1914, and had then marched for 3 days from the Channel ports as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) .  […]

The blog’s 6th birthday

This week is the blog’s 6th birthday.  Remarkably, its audience remains extremely loyal, with around half reading it weekly and a quarter on a daily basis.  It is also global, now being read in 150 countries.  The top 10 countries …

Global auto sales growth slows

The blog’s regular look at October’s auto sales in the 3 main markets (China, US, EU) shows growth is slowing, not accelerating.

China’s sales were lower than September, as the subsidy ended on small engine cars. Its pace of growth is also slowing….

Beth Tweddle, world champion

The blog sends its congratulations to Beth Tweddle, new world champion in the gymnastic floor exercises. It had the pleasure of working with her father, Jerry Tweddle (now with Ineos), for many years at ICI. Beth is everything that a …

Beth Tweddle, world champion Read More

More credit crunch jokes

With public holidays in many parts of the world this weekend, my colleague Andy Gibbins has kindly collated a new selection of credit crunch jokes: You know it’s a credit crunch when… • The cashpoint (ATM) asks if you can …

More credit crunch jokes Read More

ExxonMobil weathers the storm

One can still rely on ExxonMobil to deliver positive results, even whilst the world is collapsing around them. Friday’s report showed Q4 chemical volumes down 20%, as a result of hurricane effects and destocking. But although earnings tumbled from $1.1bn …

ExxonMobil weathers the storm Read More

BASF warns on 2009

Back in August, the blog noted that BASF chairman Jurgen Hambrecht was forecasting that “the world will still continue to grow respectably”, although he foresaw a temporary slowdown into H1 2009. Yesterday, however, this mood of relative optimism had disappeared …

BASF warns on 2009 Read More

OPEC bites the bullet

Events have moved quickly in oil markets in recent days. Last week, when oil was at $80/bbl, the blog argued that OPEC risked having to defend a $50/bbl price, by delaying production cuts until its 18 November meeting. Last night, …

OPEC bites the bullet Read More

EU agrees bank rescue

Finally, as the blog noted with relief last week, there is a workable plan on the table to rescue the global banking system. On Saturday, the IMF warned of potential ‘meltdown’ if the plan was not approved. In the blog’s …

EU agrees bank rescue Read More

‘Incompetence and denial’

The credit crunch began over a year ago. But it took until yesterday, when the UK government part-nationalised the country’s banks. for a sensible policy response to begin to emerge. Today, the excellent Gillian Tett of the Financial Times pulls …

‘Incompetence and denial’ Read More

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