DuPont Co. economist Robert C. Fry Jr. has some good news in his quarterly economic forecast -- the recession is over. "The worst global recession since World War II has come to an end in most of the world," Fry wrote in the Sept. 3 report. "The recovery from the current global recession is likely to be weak by historical standards - due to ongoing deleveraging - but might still be stronger than many forecasters expect, especially if the massive global fiscal and monetary stimulus is effective. The fear of a double dip or W-shaped recession, perhaps caused by defaults on mortgages on U.S. commercial real estate, is not currently being validated by leading indicators." Here's what Fry has to say about U.S. plastics processing: "Industrial production of rubber and plastic products, which fell 22.4 percent from November 2007 to May 2009, rose in both June and July. Recovery is expected to continue going forward" ...and for suppliers: "The chemical industry trade balance has returned to surplus in recent months as Asian demand for U.S. chemicals has rebounded." Anecdotally, I've noticed more stories about companies investing in new (and used) equipment in recent weeks, and fewer about firms filing for bankruptcy or going out of business. There's one notable exception: Whirlpool Corp. on Aug. 28 announced that it will close its Evansville, Ind., plant by mid-2010, eliminating 1,100 jobs, and shifting the work to Mexico. We haven't seen the plastics-industry fallout from this decision yet, but it might be coming.
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