An unnatural calm continues to dominate crude oil trading. Prices may move up or down by $2/bbl or $3/bbl a day, but then they always return to where they started, between the upper red line and the lower green one. The blog has kept its promised eye on developments, since this trend of ‘trading in […]
Archive | October, 2010
In the last of its Budget Outlook analysis, the blog today looks at the major changes underway in China. These are typical of many emerging economies, including India, and could potentially have a big impact on chemical demand. The key issue is that China’s leadership has recognised the current export-driven development model no longer works. […]
As promised, the blog is today looking at a key European consumer trend, as part of its Budget Outlook week. 70% of chemical sales are consumer-related, so changes in these trends are very important. Earlier this month, it shared a platform in Bahrain with Thibaut Eissautier, Chief Procurement Officer of McBride, Europe’s leading own-label producer […]
This is Budget Outlook week in the blog. And for the rest of the week, it is looking at a key issue in a major Region. Today, it highlights the US housing market. This used to be a $35bn market for chemicals, with up to 2.2m housing starts a year, each worth $16k in sales. […]
The above chart, from the excellent American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly report, shows how Operating Rates (OR%) have changed in the global chemical industry since 1989. From 1994 – 2003, they were broadly in an 87% – 93% range. They then moved up to a seemingly stable 92% – 94% range until 2008, before crashing […]
When elephants fight, those around them need to be cautious. And this is the prospect for 2011-13, as the Western countries try to force the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to export less and import more, the so-called ‘rebalancing’ strategy. Thus Budgeting for Uncertainty seems the right title for the blog’s annual Outlook for […]
The Bank of England has become the first major central bank to endorse the argument that we are moving towards a ‘New Normal’. In an important speech this week, its Governor Mervyn King, set out the argument that we can look forward to: “a SOBER decade – a decade of Savings, Orderly Budgets, and Equitable […]
EU auto sales were better in September than in either July or August. But ‘better’, of course, is a relative word these days. As the chart shows, they were only down 10% versus 2009 levels, whereas July and August were down 19% and 13% respectively. But in terms of absolute volume, sales at 1.2m were […]
If you only read one newspaper article this year on the economic outlook, then the blog would recommend Martin Wolf’s recent analysis ‘Why America is going to win the global currency battle’. Wolf is a former EPCA speaker, and he sets out very convincingly the rationale for the US Federal Reserve’s planned move to restart […]
The blog’s argument that oil prices are now being entirely driven by financial market speculation has won support from one of the main state oil trading companies. ICIS news reports that the CEO of SOCAR Trading (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic) claimed that the “rise in crude and other commodity prices, resulted principally from […]
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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.