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

Oil prices break out of their triangle – downwards

The Great Unwinding of the central banks stimulus policies is underway, as discussed last week.  Oil markets have been one of the first to feel the change, as the chart shows, with prices finally falling out of the ‘triangle’ shape built up since 2008.  The value of the US$, interest rates and the S&P 500 […]

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A personal WW1 centenary – the Battle of Le Cateau

100 years ago today, the blog’s grandfather went into action for the first time in World War 1, at the Battle of Le Cateau.  A regular soldier, his Battalion had landed in France on 22 August 1914, and had then marched for 3 days from the Channel ports as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) .  […]

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US retail sales hit by declines in income and household wealth

US retail sales tell a sorry story about the state of underlying demand.  US sales at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store chain, have failed to grow for 6 consecutive quarters, with shopper traffic falling 1.1% in Q2.  The company’s explanation for the problems is worth pondering by anyone in business: It is facing intense competition […]

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China economic rebalancing will take at least 10 years

We must all hope that new economic policies now being implemented in China are successful.  The alternative, of a debt implosion, is too awful to contemplate.  But as China’s state-owned media continually remind us, the transition is likely to prove extremely difficult. An important interview with the deputy head of the National Economic Research Institute, Wang […]

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2 dates for the diary

Last May’s China Transformation webinar with John Richardson attracted great interest.  We are therefore arranging a free follow-up webinar on Tuesday 9 September.  As before, it will be run twice, to allow blog readers in different regions to attend. This ‘China Economic Transformation II’ webinar will cover these key areas: The likely impact on global markets of the […]

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US fracking demand creates price volatility for hydrochloric acid

Fracking has completely changed the outlook for US natural gas supplies, as the above chart from the latest Energy Information Agency 2014 annual report shows: It forecasts a 56% increase in total natural gas production from 2012 to 2040 This is largely due to growth in shale gas (green) and tight gas (brown) Shale gas output […]

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Modi highlights toilets in India’s Independence Day speech

The Indian Prime Minister’s address on Independence Day is the major event of the political year, equal to the US President’s ‘State of the Union’ speech.  It was particularly important this year as India has a new reforming prime minister in Narendra Modi. It it is thus hugely significant that top of his agenda was opening up the country […]

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The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus has begun

Large economies are like supertankers.  There are no brakes to use if you want to change direction in a hurry.  Instead, you have to put the engine into reverse, and hope you can slow down fast enough to avoid the rocks. That is what happened in China last month, as the new leadership began to […]

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Deflation Jul13

India’s WTO veto marks end of global trade deals

The Cycle of Deflation has taken another lurch forward.  The reason was India’s decision to veto last year’s Bali deal to streamline customs procedures.  Almost certainly, this will prove the dying effort of the World Trade Organisation, which sponsored the proposal. The blog is particularly sad at this outcome.  It has always believed that free […]

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China’s waning stimulus spells trouble for the world’s biggest car market

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below. By Paul Hodges of International eChem China’s July lending level of just Rmb 385bn ($62.6bn) has surprised financial markets, which were expecting an increase in stimulus. But bigger surprises may lie ahead. The strong link between lending and passenger car sales […]

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