The chemical industry has a long track record as a leading indicator for the global economy. Its position in the value chain means that it sees what is happening upstream in energy markets, and downstream in consumer markets. Anyone studying Q2 results will therefore be concerned about the outlook. This is a major shift from […]
Archive | August, 2012
Once upon a time, financial markets reflected supply and demand balances. Some players, the speculators, would use them to try and anticipate changes in these balances. Some players, the producers and consumers, used them to help stabilise their margins. From time to time, the balance between the stabilisers and the speculators would be lost. Markets […]
Almost unnoticed, an important shift is underway in propylene markets. Propylene (C3) is the second largest olefin after ethylene, with production around 75 million tonnes in recent years. Its main sources are steam crackers and refineries – neither of which see C3 as their core product. Thus the recent increased use of ethane as a […]
The blog is extremely concerned about recent market developments. Nobody minds higher prices, if they are a response to strong demand and can be passed through to customers. But today’s high prices have nothing to do with strong demand. On the contrary, in fact. Most consumers are actually reducing output. Equally, the wider economic outlook […]
If you ever get the chance to go to an Olympic Games event, then go. The blog spent last night at the athletics finals, and saw the most amazing performances it is possible to imagine. These athletes are at their peak of their careers. They really have sacrificed everything for these few minutes of possible […]
A blog reader has kindly forwarded an important new study ‘Golden rules for a Golden Age of Gas’, produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA). It sets out what needs to be done to maintain public confidence in ‘fracking’ and the other techniques used to extract unconventional gas. It is clearly a vital piece of […]
Everyone is looking for clues as to how the market may develop during the second half of the year. One way is to listen to governments. But they, unfortunately, have a tendency to paint a rosy picture, as their main aim is to keep themselves in power. In addition, the rush to produce early snapshots […]
The US jobs market remains very fragile. That seems to be the key message from last week’s monthly job statistics. And, of course, if jobs are hard to get, then consumer spending and GDP will remain weak. The chart shows the monthly jobs trend since 2008: • The number of jobs dived to 134.4m by […]
Major changes are underway in China’s economy. The Uncertainty they are creating is a further demonstration of the transition to a VUCA world that is now underway. The changes reflect the impact of 2 quite different developments: • General economic slowdown, due to the loss of Western export markets • The loss of 400m babies, […]
Trading volumes in financial markets are very low these days. Many ordinary investors are on holiday, and others are focused on the Olympics. So it is easy for the high-frequency computers to create major volatility – and large profits for their owners. Thus they managed to create a 1.5% fall in the S&P 500 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.