Showing posts from March, 2012

Change is in the Air...and on the Ground for Temple-Inland

My time in Saratoga last week also brought back some memories of a great company that is changing faces and may not be recognizable in the near future.

One of the engineers at the conference presented a case study of a CHP facility that was built a few years ago for Temple-Inland at its Pineland Lumber complex. I knew the Pineland complex well...I spent a significant part of the 1990's working at the facility. It was a southern pine plywood operation in those days, and it had a chip'n'saw operation that made studs. (Both the wooden kind and the human kind.)

The Pineland mill was a part of Temple-Inland, Temple-Eastex before that, Temple Industries before that, and Temple Lumber Company before that. Temple Industries was the result of a merger between the Temple family's original company, the Southern Pine Lumber Company that was started in Diboll, Texas in 1893, and their expansion venture, Temple Lumber Company, which was started in Hemphill, Texas, and Pineland in 19…

Northeast Biomass Heating Expo 2012

I had the opportunity to attend the Northeast Biomass Heating Expo last week in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was a nice, well-run event, with some excellent speakers and helpful industry sponsors. And Saratoga Springs itself provided me with a few excellent Go Wood moments.

In the 19th century, the noted doctor Simon Baruch encouraged bringing European style spas to the United States, and thus Saratoga Springs, with its wealth of mineral waters developed as a spa, seeing many hotels built, including the Grand Union Hotel that was, in its day, the largest hotel in the world,[4] and the United States Hotel. In 1863, Saratoga Race Course opened and moved to its current location the following year, greatly expanding the city's reputation as a tourist destination.

- from Wikipedia

Thank You, Wood

Nice thought of the day, provided by the folks at FPInnovations...

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Optimism is Bursting Out All Over...

After making a couple of posts on the lumber and housing markets last week, I was looking forward to moving on to lighter, and hopefully, more positive topics. But today's news just wouldn't let me drop housing without one more post.

If you watched the presentation I posted last week, you probably caught my comment about misleading signals from the media, and the example I gave of the positive spin put on auto sales back in November. Well, now we have a great example of that bubbly optimism in our housing industry.

For instance, isn't it great to know that "Builders Remain Optimistic About Housing Market"? When I read that headline, I wondered what builders they were talking to. The only silver lining I hear builders and others in the building industry talking about right now is that since others in the industry are still going out of business, business should be good for the survivors if housing ever turns around.

More on the Global Economy and Lumber Prices

The previous post was just a brief glimpse at what lumber prices are currently doing. If you're interested in a more detailed explanation, you may be interested in downloading the full presentation I gave to the Western Pallet Association back in January.

The Global Economy and Lumber Prices in 2012

In this presentation, I give an update of last year's lumber price movements, why they did what they did, and how potential global events could impact lumber prices this year. The presentation is about 50 minutes long. Enjoy.

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U.S. Lumber Prices Drifting Upward on Supply Shortages

Reuters headline from today:

"Credit crunch an unusual ally in U.S. lumber rally"

U.S. lumber futures prices have soared about 30 percent in the past five months, with bets rising 18 percent since January with help from an odd ally - a credit crunch in the industry.

Lumber distributors -- who channel supplies from mills to end users -- finding it difficult to raise loans to buy lumber in the cash markets are resorting to buying futures as a hedge and to possibly take delivery when a contract expires.

Lumber supplies available to distributors in the cash market have also been shrinking due to a pick up in the housing market in the wake of a mild winter in the country.

"Distributors are having trouble buying lumber in the tight stocks environment and also they can't get capital from banks so they're buying futures," said Brian Leonard, a futures broker and analyst for Leonard Commodities Inc in Chicago.

Open interest in lumber futures is up 18 percent and spot…

Japan, One Year Later

People across Japan paused for a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary of a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami that killed more than 19,000 people.

Japan's quake was the strongest recorded in its history and set off the tsunami that swelled to more than 20 metres in some spots along the northeastern coast, destroying tens of thousands of homes.

The disaster also unleashed the world's worst nuclear crisis in more than 25 years when the country's Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant was severely damaged in the quake, causing meltdowns in three reactors and triggering a widespread exodus.

About 325,000 people are still in temporary housing.

Acts of remembrance Sunday included prayers, silence and reflection that recalled the terrible day when the 9.0 quake struck.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told citizens that they have overcome many disasters and difficulties in the past and pledged to rebuild the nation so it will be "reborn as an ev…

Carbon Emissions and Global Warming...What's the Connection?

Yesterday in the news there was an item reporting that a large solar flare was headed toward earth, and that satellite communications might be temporarily disrupted. What I find especially interesting is that now we have even advanced to the point where we are monitoring solar radiation just as routinely as the daily temperature.

Which got me thinking of an exchange I had last week with a grad student who is doing his Ph.D. work in the field of energy metrics. We are working together to try to improve the way biomass energy can be compared to other forms of energy in use. I mentioned before that I have a personal project underway to make a heating system upgrade to my home...I've made preliminary calculations, but I'm not quite ready to share them here because of other considerations I've had recently. Should have that analysis posted in a month or so, in time for you to consider for next year's heating season.

Anyway, back to the discussion with the student. He was ma…

A Memorial in Wood (Literally)

Don't know if it's true, but I want it to be...

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An update on the Chinese housing market

I promised to update you periodically on the Chinese "ghost cities", as we struggle to understand how they have impacted our wood industry in the last few years and how they might impact it in the near future.

It doesn't look too good right now. I may have said this before, but their impending housing bubble implosion may make ours look like a hiccup. Here's a video with the latest news, given from a Chinese perspective. The audio is in Chinese, but you can follow the English sub-titles pretty easily.

The end of the video revealed a slightly different twist on their situation. Some seem to be predicting that the implosion will be good for the economy, in the sense that a "real" market will develop for housing as the prices fall closer to what more people can afford. This in effect, they seem to think, will help transfer much of the country's wealth from the rich people and the government (which in China, is pretty much the same thing) to more of the poo…