The chemical industry has been one of the great beneficiaries from globalisation over the past 25 years. Today, it is hard to remember just how restricted markets used to be. Tariffs often applied within Regions, as well as between them. In his early years as a product manager, the blog would often spend days trying […]
Archive | November, 2010
Benzene markets have become increasingly volatile over the past few years. This is because there are now no major sources available of on-purpose supply, to balance demand. My speech at our Aromatics Conference in Berlin last week highlighted the changes that had taken place. Over the past 2 years, benzene spreads versus naphtha had fluctuated […]
Attendees had a fascinating two days at our annual European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference in Berlin this week. As always, it was co-organised with ICIS, and featured a strong list of speakers: Sven Royall, VP at Shell Chemicals, put forward an optimistic outlook for benzene derivatives. He argued that substitution of PS by PP had […]
Q3 showed no real improvement in European cracker operating rates (OR%). As the chart shows, based on APPE data, these remained at 82% for the Q1 – Q3 period. Of course, this is much better than the 76% OR% seen in 2009, but it would not normally be a matter for celebration. However, the ‘silver […]
China’s government tends not to like surprises. Its usual tactic is therefore to talk about policy changes well in advance. And this is what seems to be happening with regard to the real estate bubble. Back in September, premier Wen Jiabao said it would probably take 2 – 3 years to cool the bubble properly. […]
The obvious is rarely a winning strategy in commodity markets. Too many players have inside knowledge to allow anyone to profit from their own position. But now and again, interesting trends do emerge from following how the major players are positioning themselves. Thus the above chart from Petromatrix provides a valuable insight into the different […]
In one of its first posts, at the time of the ill-fated Access deal for Lyondell in July 2007, the blog highlighted the strange divergence that had developed between the front pages of the newspapers, and their business coverage: “If you read the financial pages of your newspaper, everything sounds rosy. But if you turn […]
A decade ago, the blog was one of the pioneers of eBusiness as ChemConnect’s VP Europe/Middle East. And it has retained its interest in the power of the internet to radically change business models. So it was very pleased to be invited by its old friend Colin Skellett, chairman of YTL Utilities (UK), to the […]
All is clearly not well with the Western consumer. The stimulus programmes have not given them renewed confidence about the future. Instead, they are focused on the prospect of higher taxes and rising unemployment. Two examples make this mood change very clear: • As the above slide shows, EU auto sales are falling off the […]
The US Fed’s new QE2 Lifeboat programme designed to raise asset prices got off to a bad start last week, with most stock markets falling, rather than rising. It has also begun to run into major opposition from advisors to the new Republican-dominated Congress, with an open letter published Monday in the Wall Street Journal […]
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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.