From Alex Tullo's section in the cover World Chemical Outlook in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:
...Executives are frustrated. "We've seen across all of our markets very strong primary demand at the consumer level for our products that has generated a lot of growth for us, but it has been limited by supply chain constraints," Eastman Chemical CEO Mark Costa told C&EN in a December 2021 interview. "We're going to set record earnings this year. So you know we are doing quite well, but we could have done even better if it wasn't for those constraints."
The ACC forecasts that chemical production will bounce back to 4.3% growth in 2022. "There are signs that the bottlenecks are easing," ACC chief economist Martha Gilchrist Moore said at a recent press conference.
The forecast assumes 4.2% US economic growth for 2022. The Conference Board, a business think tank, has a more bearish expectation of 3.5% growth. The investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs expect 4.6% and 3.9% improvement, respectively.
But inflation is hanging over the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index has been registering its highest monthly increases in more than 20 years. In its 2022 outlook report, Goldman Sachs calls inflation—which it attributes to surging consumer demand and insufficient labor—"the biggest surprise of 2021."
Economists expect inflation to subside in 2022 but are worried about the consequences if it doesn't. "The biggest risk to the global economy may no longer be a renewed downturn because of fresh virus outbreaks, but may now be higher inflation because of tight goods supplies and excessive wage pressure," the Goldman report says.
It will be really interesting to see in inflation plays a role in changing the hiring outlook for 2022 - doesn't really look like it so far, but we will have to keep an eye out.