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

Sinopec & China arrive in New Normal of low growth and profit

Sinopec is China’s largest chemical producer and its second largest refiner.  The blog’s annual review of its published Results confirms its uniqueness in global markets. The numbers confirm that it remains focused on increasing production, not profit.  It will be No 2 in global ethylene capacity next year as a result.  The chart above highlights the key metrics, based […]

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US ethylene outages boost European and Asian PE producers

Polymer traders must be already counting their end-of-year bonuses, as the value of the US$ rises whilst crude oil prices weaken.  The biggest bonuses will likely go to polyethylene (PE) traders competing with US producers. The reason is that US ethylene spot prices are currently at record levels.  An astonishing 10% of US ethylene capacity has been out […]

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The real challenge is a lack of challenge

We all remember the Hans Christian Andersen story about the Emperor with no clothes.  His subjects were told that only those who were stupid or incompetent would be unable to see his wonderful new suit. Of course, nobody wanted to appear stupid or incompetent.  So when the Emperor paraded in his new clothes, nobody wanted to tell him the obvious.  It was left to a child […]

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Russian downturn causes GM, Ford U-turn; EU slows despite discounts

August is a holiday month for Europe’s statisticians.  So we had to wait until yesterday for a combined summary of July and August’s EU auto sales.  As the chart shows, they indicate a new slowdown is underway after the more encouraging volumes at the start of the year: Sales were up only 5.6% in July and 2.1% in August (red square), […]

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Shiller warning suggests S&P 500 bubble coming to an end

Nobel Prizewinner Prof Robert Shiller correctly forecast the dot-com collapse in 2000, and the 2008 financial Crisis, using the chart above.  Now he is warning we risk a 3rd collapse. The problem is that Western central banks have undertaken the largest financial experiment in history.  Their policy has been to boost financial markets, particularly the US S&P 500 - the world’s […]

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US PVC exports tumble as demand weakens in key markets

The US PVC industry is hitting new problems, to add to the post-2006 collapse of the US housing market. Yet only 10 years ago, it was riding high.  Demand into housing (the main outlet) was at record levels thanks to subprime lending, and PVC production had just hit a record 7.3 million tonnes. Even after the financial Crisis, global […]

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Unwinding

Great Unwinding sees dollar rise, oil prices fall

The day after our China Economic Transformation webinar last week, Premier Li Keqiang confirmed its key message: “There’s already a lot of money in the pool, and we can’t rely on monetary stimulus to spur economic growth…Facing the New Normal state of the Chinese economy, we have remained level-headed and taken steps to tackle deep-seated challenges….in the […]

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Global stock markets still depend on low-cost money for support

The blog’s 6-monthly review of global stock markets highlights the narrow nature of the advance since September 2008, when the blog first began analysing developments.  It shows their performance since the pre-Crisis peak for each market, and the performance of the US 30-year Treasury bond. Remarkably, only the US, India, Germany and the UK stock markets […]

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US reaches ‘peak car’ moment as incentives, inventories rise, whilst fewer Americans carry driving licenses

The blog’s suggestion back in March that now would be a good time for US readers to buy a new car is looking more and more prescient.  As the head of American Honda explained to investors last month: “In addition to a heavy reliance on fleet sales to boost volumes, we are seeing some of our […]

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Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus creates interest rate risk

Interest rate risk is rising in the developed economies as the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus continues.  Since the blog first highlighted this Unwinding last month: Oil prices have continued to tumble, with Brent now down over $15/bbl from its late-June peak The US$ has continued to rise from multi-year lows versus the yen, euro and pound And of course, […]

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