China’s bank lending has rocketed this year, as the government attempts to maintain employment in the face of a major collapse in vital export volume. New figures show it had reached $1.35bn by the end of November. By comparison, lending in the whole of 2007 was just $0.5bn. As the Wall Street Journal notes, this […]
Archive | December, 2009
The blog is now 2.5 years old. Readership continues to grow, both within the chemical industry and its investment community. It is now read in 121 countries, and 2735 cities, versus 89 countries and 1244 cities a year ago. Readers are also very loyal, with 23% reading it twice a week. Its readership covers all […]
OPEC’s Angola meeting lasted just 70 minutes yesterday. Before the session, Saudi Oil Minister al-Naimi noted that prices were at their target level of $70-$80/bbl, and called this “a perfect price”. However, the underlying supply/demand balance remains fragile. As the chart from Nomura shows, current OECD oil/product inventories are well above normal levels. Whilst today’s […]
P&G’s new CEO, Robert McDonald, has “warned of the risks to global growth posed by increased protectionism in the US and around the world, stemming from the global recession“. interviewed by the Financial Times, McDonald noted that 20% of P&G’s jobs in the US depend on their international business, which accounts for 60% of P&G’s […]
Paul Volcker was the last US Federal Reserve chairman who believed that a key part of its role was “to take away the punchbowl just when the party starts getting interesting“. He successfully brought inflation back to single figures during the 1980′s downturn, setting the scene for the major economic recovery that followed. Now head […]
Harvard’s Prof Martin Feldstein is one of the very few economists who has correctly forecast the length of the current downturn. Today, he questions whether the US recession is really over, and suggests that “2010 is going to be a very weak year“. He believes that we are entering a more frugal economy, and notes […]
Financial crises take time to mature. Yet until the end is nigh, apologists will insist that nothing needs to change. Thus valuable time is wasted. Last year, Iceland was the obvious example of this problem. Now it is Greece, a eurozone member. Back in January, S&P had downgraded Greece’s bonds, due to debt concerns. And […]
EU auto sales continued to improve in November versus 2008, with total volumes up 27%. But as the chart from ACEA (EU Automobile Manufacturers Assoc) shows, they were still lower than in 2007. The difference between sales in W Europe, and in the new EU Central European states (EU CE), was quite dramatic. Sales in […]
The blog continues to believe that the current downturn is a transition period, at least in the West, towards a more frugal way of life. And its theory has received a boost from a New York Times feature which suggests this might be happening in the bastion of consumerism, New York. The NYT suggests the […]
“The most important ‘fuel’ of all, will be energy saved through fuel efficiency“. That’s ExxonMobil’s (EM) latest view of the outlook for meeting world energy demand over the next 20 years. And as Nigel Davis highlights in ICIS insight, this “will require materials and innovation – the backbone for the chemicals industry“. EM expect “40% […]
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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 as 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.