Chemical markets are often rather good at providing important insights into wider economic trends. China’s polyethylene market is no exception. As the chart shows for the H1 period, based on trade data from Global Trade Information Services, demand has continued to slip: • It was down 1% (red column) versus H1 2011 (green) , and […]
Archive | July, 2012
The last few days have seen financial markets rallying, whilst the news from the real economy gets worse. US GDP growth in Q2 was just 1.5%. And the Wall Street Journal notes the recovery since 2009 has been the weakest in the post-War period. But that doesn’t matter to the computerised trading systems that now […]
The Indian economy is one of the most misunderstood in the world. It holds great opportunities, because unlike China it still has a relatively young population. But it is also desperately poor. Thus the opportunities are around providing very basic needs, not for western-style goods. The above ‘Business Standard’ chart based on National Sample Survey […]
Tomorrow sees the opening of the 3rd London Olympic Games. As promised, the blog today looks at the change in GDP per capita in the UK economy since the 2nd London Games in 1948 GDP per capita is the best measure of a country’s standard of living. It shows how the economy has grown, in […]
Sinopec is China’s main company in refining and chemical markets. Although it is listed on world stock markets, the government remains its largest shareholder with a 76% stake. As such, it follows government priorities rather than western commercial logic. The chart above, from the blog’s major new study of the company, highlights some of the […]
This week marks the opening of the 3rd London Olympics. To celebrate, the blog today looks at developments in government bond yields since the 1st London Games in 1908. On Thursday, it will look at GDP per capita changes since the 2nd London Games in 1948. In 1908, UK interest rates were the benchmark for […]
‘Waiting for Godot’, the great play by Irish writer and Nobel Literature Prizewinner, Samuel Beckett, deals with the meaning of existence. Written just after the Second World War, its two characters wait endlessly for the arrival of Godot. US financial markets are currently staging their own version of the play: • They no longer see […]
Affordability, rather than value-in-use, will be key to success for companies as we transition to the New Normal. This means, as we note in Chapter 9 of ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal’, that manufacturing will have a major role to play in achieving the changes required. Waste will need to be greatly reduced, if […]
The world’s 3 major auto markets – USA, Europe and China – currently account for ~70% of global sales. And as the chart above shows, H1 performance has been volatile over the 2005-11 period: • 2005 was the last year of the US subprime boom, and the US (red) was easily the largest market with […]
Chloralkali production is an excellent indicator of market direction in the short-term. Unlike petrochemicals, cellrooms can quickly reduce or increase operating rates. This is essential for efficient operation, as the price for electricity can change every 30 minutes. Thus as the above chart of European chlorine production shows (based on Eurochlor data), demand seems to […]
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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.