Rumours of a so-called double-dip recession have been particularly virulent in recent months. Not being much of an economist myself, I must put my faith in the experience of others to predict the likelihood of such a scenario, but of course, being conjecture at this point, there is no single theory on which I can depend. Shipping and transportation company Norfolk Southern is optimistic, seeing no sign of a double-dip.
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Franklin Templeton Investments’ Michael Hasenstab is equally positive, telling press at a briefing in Singapore in early September that the world will escape a double-dip recession, thanks to strong support from China. “Although there are headwinds, there is a normal business cycle working its way through,” he said. Countering that, an article on the website for the Wall Street Journal quotes Nouriel Roubini, professor at the NYU Stern School of Business in New York and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, who believes that the US has a 40% chance of double-dipping. Reuters, meanwhile, cites a different perspective: a 25% chance of a double-dip recession in the US, according to Bank of America’s investment banking chief. In the UK, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) is predicting a sharp slowdown in coming months after the British economy shrank in August, sparking increased fears of a double-dip followed by a period of deflation.
I don’t know about you, but that leaves me feeling pretty deflated.
Of course this could be a case of self-fulfilling prophecy. In buying into (or out of!) rumours that a second tumbling of the global economy is imminent, financiers could in fact be creating it. Analysts talk about the importance of consumer confidence, but it is not easy to regain in this climate of economic fear. In reality, it is not so simple as to suggest that the global economy will recede or it won’t: there are some countries for which ‘the great recession’ was a stumbling block; for others it was a debilitating fall.
Financial reports from the first half of the year seem to show an improvement for the cement industry, at least, for which we can be thankful. New orders have also been announced (see the news pages of this issue), and upgrade and expansion projects continue. As we all remind ourselves when things begin to look a bit grim, there will always be demand for cement, just in different quantities, in different places, at different times. The major players simply (ha!) have to make sure they are in those places at the right times. India, with a population of around 1.56 billion people, and an estimated rate of urbanisation at 2.4%, has been one such place for the last several years and continues to be so. As the second largest cement producer after China, there has been much discussion of overcapacity in the country, but residential, private and infrastructure projects there are far from complete, offering still more opportunities for those manufacturers already in position. More on the Indian cement industry can be found on pages 20 – 48, followed by information on its neighbour, Pakistan.Also in this issue is our Special Power & Automation feature. Invitations to participate in this feature went far and wide, but unsurprisingly an overwhelming number of contributions focus on the cost saving potential of this essential element of cement manufacture. I hope you enjoy this feature, and feel free to submit your own ideas for articles to me at email@example.com. Our 2011 Media Information, including editorial schedule, is now available at worldcement.com, so check out the features and get involved.