About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. Paul is also an invited member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. 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

Brazilian, Russian, Japanese auto markets continue to struggle

Bill White’s important critique of the policies being followed by his former central bank colleagues echoes his warnings before the 2008 Crisis.  One of his key points is that they have focused on manipulating the value of financial assets, ratehr than on developments in the real economy: “The price of financial assets, just think of Bunds […]

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India’s auto market remains dominated by motorbikes

4 years ago, India could do no wrong.  The ‘Incredible India’ campaign had captured imaginations around the world, and almost everyone seemed to believe that it was destined to become a major player in any market that it chose. Analysts were particularly excited about the potential for the auto market, with one major company suggesting: […]

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Policymakers’ out-of-date economic models fail to create growth, again

Since 2010, May/June has seen the US Federal Reserve start to realise it would have to revise its optimistic New Year forecast that economic recovery was inevitable. As its deputy chairman, Stanley Fischer, noted last August “Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower than […]

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Price war hits smartphone market as China’s growth goes negative

The smartphone market has been one of the ‘jewels in the crown” of the consumer electronics market.  Yet today, it is rushing headlong into the world of the New Normal.  We can all learn a lot about the outlook for the global economy from watching its development. Until recently, the history was of astonishing growth, […]

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Speculators’ oil inventories at record 5 days of world demand

Every oil trader has known the feeling.  You’ve done your sums, talked to everyone, and decided the market is going to be short of product.  So you start buying discreetly, building up inventory to sell in the future at higher prices.  But then the messages from other traders start coming: ‘”What would you bid for […]

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45-year shortage of babies hits Europe’s chlorine/PVC demand

Companies and investors often say “we don’t need to think about demographics – its too far in the future to matter”. This might have been true 20 years ago, but not today.  As European chlorine industry demand confirms, the truth is that “history catches up with us”. The reason is simple.  Europe stopped having enough […]

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China’s economy continues to slow as lending curbs bite

Everyone seems sure that China’s government is about to undertake major new stimulus.  Thus Reuters reported: “Economists said it was a matter of when, not if, China eased policy again after economic growth in Q1 cooled to 7%, a level not seen since the depths of the 2008/09 global financial crisis.  Indeed, some analysts have […]

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Stimulus proves no solution for today’s economic slowdown

“Central banks have to be mindful that too long a period of very low interest rates can have undesirable consequences in the context of ageing societies. For pensioners, and those saving ahead of retirement, low interest rates may not be an inducement to bring consumption forward. They may on the contrary be an inducement to […]

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Low interest rates mean US Boomers face difficult retirement

There are 46m people aged over 65 in the USA today, and there will be 56m by 2020, according to recent US Census Bureau data.  By comparison, the number of those aged under 18 will be static over the same period at around 75m.  And by 2035, there will be more people aged over-65 than under-18 […]

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Chemical companies highlight increased uncertainty and volatility in Q1 results

Volatility creates uncertainty.  And uncertainty can easily lead to paralysis, if a company hasn’t planned ahead for the range of potential scenarios that might develop.  This is the risk highlighted in my usual analysis of quarterly results. A key warning sign is the divide that has developed recently in performance in different regions and industry sectors, […]

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