Last week saw yet another example of the damage being caused to financial markets by the computerised high-frequency traders (HFTs). As the chart shows, the S&P 500 jumped 20 points on Thursday (1.5%), whilst the Dow Jones Industrial average jumped over 200 points. The cause was a rumour that China’s GDP would come in at […]
Archive | April, 2012
Last December, the blog raised the question of how a country like Greece could actually leave the Eurozone. Many people believe this is inevitable. But how would the practical issues be solved? Now Wolfgang Münchau has taken up the challenge in the Financial Times. His research suggests there are only two possible exit routes: • […]
Remarkably, crude oil prices are continuing to trade in their triangle formation. As the chart shows, they tried to break out higher in recent weeks. But there was no follow-through. The high-frequency traders were clearly hoping the US Federal Reserve would announce a new round of quantitative easing (QE3), and provide the firepower for a […]
Investment bankers and development economists like to talk about China being a ‘middle class’ country. Yet Asian Development Bank data shows that 96% of the population earn less than $20/day on a (PPP) Purchasing Power Parity basis. Similarly, China’s ‘luxury market’ remains very small. Latest data suggests it was just €12.9bn ($16.9bn) in 2011, or […]
Parabolic price movements are great fun whilst they last. The dot.com technology stock boom was a great example, when prices would jump 1% or 2% a day towards its end. And then, sadly, it all collapsed. The NASDAQ technology index doubled in a year to reach 5000 during its final, parabolic run-up to March 2000. […]
It is hard to be very optimistic about the demand outlook for Q2. Demand in Q1 was lacklustre, even though it should have been the strongest quarter of the year. H1 is seasonally strong, and Q1 also benefited from Easter being in Q2. Equally, the Chinese holidays fell in January, so February and March should […]
Some things are too ‘obvious’ for highly-paid professionals in the financial world to accept. If life was this simple, then clients might ask why their fees were so high. Therefore they maintain a fiction that what is obvious is not the full story. Interest rates are a classic example of a simple issue which is […]
Every now and then, genuinely good news comes along in terms of consumer demand. Today is one of those days. As the chart above shows, US auto sales in March (red square) were the highest monthly total since March 2007. They also followed relatively strong sales figures for February, which adds to the good news. […]
The blog’s IeC Boom/Gloom sentiment indicator (blue column) continues to be neutral on the outlook. As the chart shows, this is quite unlike its performance in early 2009. Then it rose rapidly from February – accurately forecasting the major recovery that was about to start. The problem, of course, is that the austerity reading (red […]
Globalisation had a golden age between 1982-2007. Trade barriers fell almost everywhere. Companies focused on achieving a ‘lowest cost’ position, in order to maximise their competitive advantage. Today, however, the world is starting to look quite different. The chart above summarises the changes underway. It shows US polyethylene net trade (PE) since 2009, based on […]
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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.