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

American shoppers focus on needs, not wants

Tomorrow is the great American shopping day, Black Friday.  In the past, every true American would head for the malls, to shop till they dropped.  But more and more evidence keeps emerging that consumer habits are rapidly entering the New Normal, as I discussed last week. Thus a detailed study by the Wall Street Journal highlights, as […]

Continue Reading

Japan’s panicking policymakers create risk of hyper-inflation

“The basic function of a central bank is to defend the value of the currency.”  Paul Volcker was the great US central banker of our time.  Unlike Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, he believed in taking firm action to avoid crises, rather than trusting in financial markets to regulate themselves.  He also believed that politicians had […]

Continue Reading

Where will all the new US ethylene capacity be sold?

I worry about the $100bn+ investment that it currently being made in new US chemical output.  On paper, it seems a ‘slam dunk’ as a US College basketball player might say: Shale gas has created a massive surplus of ethane feedstocks that can provide low-cost production for export Oil prices are very high, and so all […]

Continue Reading
pH Report logo

Free ‘pH Report’ webinar tomorrow

I am very much looking forward to presenting ‘The pH Report’ free webinar tomorrow, Tuesday 25 November. This will take place twice, at 08.00 GMT and 15.00 GMT, to enable everyone to take part from different regions. It will include a Q&A, to cover the critical questions for your business and investments. Please register here to join the […]

Continue Reading

Time for a new approach to aromatics production

We had another excellent Conference in Berlin last week on the challenges and opportunities facing the global aromatics industry.  These developments are starting to impact most industries as we arrive in the New Normal of lower growth, deflation and growing protectionism. Our speakers included senior executives from ExxonMobil, Shell, Dow Chemical and BASF, as well as the International […]

Continue Reading

UK grocery sales fall for first time since records began

Next Friday sees the start of the main shopping period in the US – ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving.  But increasingly, consumers are giving the stores a miss.  Or even worse (from the retailers’ viewpoint) only visiting to check out products before buying them online. Thus Wal-Mart, the largest US chain, is now having to extend its Black Friday […]

Continue Reading
Affordability

Affordability the key driver for New Normal success

Change is always unwelcome and usually uncomfortable.  But it also provides us with Opportunity, as the Chinese character for Crisis highlights. The second half of our Boom, Gloom and the New Normal eBook provides detailed discussion of the Opportunity for product development, research and development, and manufacturing in the New Normal.  We also summarised the key features of the New Normal in […]

Continue Reading
Crisis Nov14a

Danger and Opportunity await as the financial Crisis returns

The Great Unwinding began with the change of economic direction in China.  So it makes good sense for businesses and investors to view developments with a Chinese perspective in mind.  This is particularly relevant as the Chinese word for Crisis contains 2 characters - Danger and Opportunity – as the picture shows. DANGER It is not hard to identify the key Danger from the […]

Continue Reading
pH Report logo

Free ‘pH Report’ webinar next Tuesday

We have been extremely encouraged by the support we have received since launching the first issue of ‘The pH Report’ last month.  The Financial Times and ICIS Chemical Business have also given detailed coverage of our views. I am now delighted to invite you to join our free webinar on Tuesday 25 November. This will take […]

Continue Reading

Conventional wisdom has been proved wrong, again

“Conventional wisdom” never spotted the imminent arrival of the Great Unwinding.  Sadly, therefore, the past 3 months have often been a repeat of 2008 for many businesses and investors.  Many executives and investors clearly understood and accepted the logic of my August forecast that oil prices would collapse and the US$ strengthen. But sadly, once again, most found it impossible to act […]

Continue Reading