About Paul Hodges

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.

Author Archive | Paul Hodges

Shell CEO says Europe needs to leverage chemicals clusters

There are 2 ways to improve operating rates in an industry.  One is to increase volumes, the other is to reduce capacity.   The latest APPE data covering H1 2014 for European olefin capacity highlights how the European petrochemical industry has successfully used both mechanisms over the past year to improve its position: Ethylene volume increased to 9.8MT, versus […]

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The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus is under way

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below.Oct 20, 2014 10:48am By Paul Hodges of International eChem Two months ago, very few people believed that markets were about to tumble. But on 18 August we published our Great Unwinding analysis. Since then, its forecasts have begun to come true, […]

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“Welcome to the New Normal”

A blog reader has kindly sent the above cartoon from the financial pages of The Telegraph newspaper today. Clearly investors are beginning to share the blog’s analysis.

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Great Unwinding sees prices tumble

World markets have seen major falls since the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus began 2 months ago. Naturally, chemical markets have taken some of the biggest hits, given the industry’s role as a leading indicator for the global economy.  From today, the blog is therefore updating its regular chart (above) to focus on this impact: The biggest loser has been PTA in […]

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Oil prices have further to fall as Great Unwinding continues

Oil prices are highly likely to fall further, not rebound, over the next few months.  That is the blog’s conclusion to its 3-part analysis of likely developments in oil markets. Having looked at the outlook for oil supply and demand over the past 2 days, today’s post looks at the key question of ‘what does this mean for oil […]

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OPEC faces New Normal dilemma as oil demand slows

Yesterday’s post described how OPEC oil producers are seeing their export sales to the US start to disappear.  But this, of course, is only one side of the story.  As the chart from the Wall Street Journal shows, Saudi needs a $93/bbl oil price to balance its budget.  Most of OPEC needs a higher price.  Only Kuwait, UAE and Qatar need […]

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Saud, FDR

Saudi oil policy shaped by defence dependence on USA

The world now faces a supply glut in almost every source of energy, including oil, gas and coal.  It is also seeing major increases in output of key products including gasoline, diesel and petrochemicals.  Yet as the International Energy Agency has warned, “the recent slowdown in demand growth is nothing short of remarkable.” The blog is therefore launching today a 3-part series […]

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“You’d have to be crazy to think the stock market isn’t crazy”

The headline above was the Wall Street Journal’s summary of last week’s market action.  But was it really “crazy”? Perhaps it just felt “crazy” to those who had wanted to believe central banks’ stimulus policies could somehow restore growth to previous SuperCycle levels? Maybe instead, last week was just the early stages of the Great Unwinding of these failed policies?  Certainly […]

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Chemical markets highlight economic downturn now underway

The chemical industry remains the best leading indicator for the global economy.  The only problem is that most policymakers continue to ignore its obvious message about the failure of their stimulus policies to restore growth. 2 months ago the blog highlighted how its IeC Downturn Monitor was indicating that: “Markets appear to be continuing to move, slowly but […]

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Unwinding

IMF says economic growth may never return to pre-crisis levels

The Great Unwinding of policymakers’ failed stimulus programmes is now clearly underway in the global economy.  The headlines this week all focused on the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report: “IMF says economic growth may never return to pre-crisis levels.” And then, in response, the US Federal Reserve suddenly realised that the US economy was not […]

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