How will the upcoming Presidential election affect our Plastics Industry?
Well, for openers, let's look at the last eight years and the economy that was brought about by a Democratic President and a Republican Congress. Stocks spent the past eight years rallying for the same reason they could spend the next four years rallying if Al Gore gets elected. The White House made a deal with Alan Greenspan to balance the budget in return for the Fed's help in lowering interest rates. By getting the Federal Government to stop borrowing excess money, the Democrats - helped by a recalcitrant Republican dominated Congress, created an environment that made the stock market the investment of choice. Bonds ceased to be a legitimate alternative to stocks and money, once headed for bonds, poured into the stock market instead driving up stock prices. With lower interest rates and virtually no inflation, corporations and individuals refinanced and invested, creating the prosperity we have today.
Among the choices our industry faces are: 1. Maintain the status quo in the White House; or 2. Vote for a change and risk possible higher interest rates which could ensue. And, if inflation, driven by high oil prices, continues, the Fed could raise interest rates causing the first real competition for stocks since this bull market began. However, the change in environmental policy put forth by Gore promises to add costs to our industry impacting continuing growth. This time it's a close race with real differences in the candidates approach - weigh this one carefully, it will impact our industry!
The prosperity and good business conditions continue throughout 3rd quarter 2000. This has spawned a proliferation of new products created by investments in R&D that most manufacturers have increased over the past eight bull market years. Among them:
- A soft "Plastic" computer display that could result in floppy electronic newspapers. Developed by Phillips Electronics NV, it uses a plastic-based semiconductor rather than a conventional silicon chip. The type of film used is not revealed yet, but this kind of reloadable flexible display may even replace the daily newspaper someday.
- Eastman's Spectar® PETG continues to open up more applications - among them are crystal clear flowers used in a display of spheres made from PETG sheet in Europe to advertise mobil phones. Fabricator is Arno GMBH for Mobilcom Communication.
- Isoplast® PU from Dow is being used as a see-thru cover for a Fuel Processor for diesel systems.
- Curved PC panels form the ovoid rooms of a weather advisory center in Yasudaka, Japan. Called the Snow Foundation, the architect is Jun Aoki, and it must be seen to be believed. (See it on my website at www.globalplasticsletter.com.)
- Dupont has added a new medium viscosity general purpose made of Delrin® called Delrin 111P. It is claimed to be one of the highest impact grades among unfilled acetal resins.
- The first extrusion grade of Ryton®PPS was launched by the new Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. R-6-010NA is a UHMW unreinforced compound for extruding tube and pipe, for use in chemical plants. The material is brown in color and is designed to replace metals and flouropolymers (melting point is 545°F).
- GUR 4170 from Ticona is the new "ultra-ultra HMW" said to have the highest molecular weight, 7 million, providing extra wear resistance. Now we have UUHMW!
Finally on the R&D front comes the formation of EU-ROPLAS, a pan European body that will coordinate plastics research with the European Union. Globalization of Plastics R&D, and thus new products, is finally upon us in this 21st century, and long overdue!
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