Good times, shadow of bad times for chemical industry

Many in the audience at the American Chemistry Council’s recent annual meeting could nod in agreement when Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at the consulting firm IHS Markit, began a keynote talk by explaining the current economic situation with Charles Dickens’s words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Behravesh was describing a world with a bright economic outlook but also a high dose of uncertainty, as the news isn't all good.

That dichotomy is especially sharp for the chemical companies that were at the meeting, held from June 4 to 6 in Colorado Springs.

Thanks to the strong economy and low-cost raw materials, the U.S. chemical industry is doing great. Demand is strong and investment is booming.

In his...

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