The above chart reflects the weekly changes in the 4 benchmark petchem products that launched the IeC Downturn Alert exactly a year ago. PTA (red line) was the only product to ever rise above its price on 29 April 2011 – and then only by $10/t, and for just 1 week. The original aim was […]
Archive | April, 2012
Since 2007, every spring sees a rush of forecasters to claim that – finally – the US housing market has hit bottom. Sadly, for those trapped in foreclosure, and for those in the chemical industry who depend on housing sales, there is little real evidence today for such optimism. Housing also provides a good example […]
The blog continues this week’s special series on chloralkali and PVC markets by looking at EU developments on PVC. Historically the EU has had strong export positions into markets such as Turkey and Russia, which lack major local production. More recently, as in the USA, strong export demand for caustic soda and weak domestic demand […]
Yesterday the blog discussed caustic soda, and the recent importance of China’s metal demand. Today it focuses on chlorine and PVC. PVC is the largest end-use for chlorine. It is also critical for chloralkali producers when caustic demand is strong, as recently. Chlorine itself cannot be safely stored in large volumes, and so instead they […]
As promised yesterday, the blog is running a special series of posts this week focused on chloralkali and PVC markets. Caustic soda is a key indicator for the global economy. This is because it is used in a wide variety of basic industries, including mining, pulp and paper, detergents and water treatment. The USA is […]
It is almost a year since the blog launched its IeC Downturn Monitor. The aim was to try and avoid the problems seen in H2 2008, when operating rates remained high down the value chain whilst demand fell. The above chart shows the weekly changes in its 4 benchmark products from 1 January, with movements […]
The blog’s many friends in the petchem industry in S Europe have become more frequent visitors to London in recent months. Often, they are in the process of buying flats or houses. As one long-standing friend commented, “would you want to leave your money in Spain today?” They are not alone. A detailed analysis by […]
The above slide appears to be a series of random lines, at first glance. But it comes from an important speech from the vice chair of the US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, on US unemployment patterns. It describes the so-called Beveridge Curve, which highlights the relationship between unemployment (horizontal axis) and the job vacancy rate […]
Autos are the largest single market for chemical and polymer sales. And the USA, China and EU are the 3 largest markets, accounting for 2/3rds of global sales last year. Disappointingly, as the above chart shows, their sales were up just 1% overall in Q1 versus 2011 at 10.6m. Even this gain was only due […]
China’s leaders have a lot to worry about. The purge of Bo Xilai has now been followed by news of his wife being suspected of murder. This makes the run-up to October’s leadership transition even more difficult. Only 3 months ago, Bo was being tipped by some to join the Politburo, and even to become […]
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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.