China has the highest smartphone penetration in the world at 62%. It had 632m mobile subscribers, with 70% of new connections based on 4G connections. But sales actually fell in Q2 by 4%. This was the first time they have ever fallen and is further confirmation of the major change taking place in China under […]
Aromatics markets often lead petrochemical markets, and provide good insight into economic trends. This has certainly been true of PTA (terephthalic acid) and benzene over the past year. PTA demand into polyester and PET is dominated by Asia: benzene’s wide variety of uses means it is a good proxy for industrial production in Europe. Recent developments have been […]
Crude oil prices continued to fall towards $30/bbl last week. Markets are finally starting to recognise, as the BBC reported last year, that ‘China fooled the world‘ with its stimulus programme. It had not suddenly become middle-class by Western standards in 2009. Instead, aided by developed country stimulus policies, its own stimulus had helped create […]
Its not what we know that causes the major problems. Its what we think we know, but don’t. We know, for example, that markets balance supply and demand by shifting prices up and down. Too much demand and/or too little supply, will mean higher prices and inflation. This is what happened as the BabyBoom took place: Medical […]
“If the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold”: China’s New Normal policies require companies to undertake radical strategy reviews
Wishful thinking can be terribly dangerous for company profits. Taken to extremes, it can lead them into bankruptcy. Recent developments in China thus make it essential for every company to immediately review its strategy for doing business in/with the country, against a realistic outlook for 2016-2018 GDP growth will likely be zero, and could well […]
Global markets are becoming ever more complex as the Great Unwinding of stimulus policies continues. This means that each blog post is now taking much longer to write. It therefore seems sensible to focus on writing 3 posts each week - on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – in order to continue to provide the highest possible […]
The Financial Times has kindly today printed my letter below, commenting on the change taking place in demand patterns as a result of ageing populations. Sir, It was interesting to see the UK’s employment and pension ministers reminding FT readers that “by 2022, there will be 3.7m more people aged between 50 and state pension […]
The chemical industry continues to be the best leading indicator we have for the global economy. Whilst stock markets were continuing to move higher during H1, its depressed level of capacity utilisation was signalling that the economy was far more fragile than generally realised. Company results for Q2 reflect this concern. Of course some, tied […]
US house prices have recovering for 3 years, as the chart from the Wall Street Journal confirms. It shows two lines: The dark blue line is money of the day: prices rose steadily from 1989, peaking in 2006 at 141% of 1989 value The grey line adjusts for inflation: “real prices” were negative until 2000, […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.