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 as 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 price volatility highlights uncertainty ahead

  The 3 month trend of Brent oil price volatility has reached its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis and before that, the 1st Gulf War in 1990/91.  As the chart shows, it is even higher than after 9/11. Yet there have been no developments in oil markets themselves to justify such a level. […]

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Ring of fire Feb15

Brexit a disaster for the UK, Europe and the world

First, the good news.  It has long been recognised that the UK economy is over-dependent on financial services, and that its housing market – particularly in London – is wildly over-priced in relation to earnings.  The Brexit vote should ensure that both these problems are solved: Many banks and financial institutions are already planning to […]

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The blog returns on 27 June

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China’s G20 shutdowns will impact global economy

Imagine your government decided to shutdown most of the industry in two major cities for 2 weeks or more?  Say Detroit and Chicago in the US, or Milan and Turin in Italy, or Leeds and Manchester in the UK.  Now you will have some idea of the scale of the shutdowns being mandated in China […]

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13m missing American workers highlight economic slowdown

There’s something very wrong with the US jobs market, as the slide above confirms.  Commentators professed to be surprised by the disappointing May report last Friday, but its hard to know why: The overall participation rate has been in decline since July 1997, when it reached 68%: today it is only 62.7% Male participation is at […]

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Investors fear Fed’s outdated theories have hit sell-by date

These are difficult times for companies and investors.  It is becoming more and more apparent that central bank stimulus policies have failed to counter today’s demand deficit, caused by ageing populations.  It is also clear that central bankers themselves have little idea of what is happening in the real economy. They have based their programmes […]

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Brexit debate obscures key issues as assertions replace facts

The UK’s Brexit referendum is fast becoming a bitter battle for the Conservative Party leadership.  It is hard to believe that Boris Johnson, who leads the Leave campaign, really cares either way about the issue of leaving Europe: He told Germany’s Der Spiegel only last year:  ‘We can’t leave Europe. We’re part of the European Continent. What […]

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China PP May16

Clouds gather over global polymer markets as China imports drop

Difficult times lie ahead for global polymer markets.  It would be bad enough that downstream users have been busy building stock in recent weeks as the oil price rose, as Linda Naylor reports on polypropylene (PP) for ICIS: “PP demand is slow, slower than many expected, and the strong growth of recent months is now […]

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ACC Surplus May16

Surplus chemical industry capacity reaches 26% as demand slows

Global demand is continuing to slow, yet chemical industry capacity is continuing to ramp up.  As a result, supply gluts are likely to appear in many key areas as we move into the second half of the year.  That is the key conclusion from the latest American Chemistry Council data for global chemical capacity and […]

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Americans drive less as auto market demand patterns change

34m Americans will be driving at least 50 miles this Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of the summer ”driving season”.  But contrary to popular belief, the average American is driving less these days. The total number of miles driven is still increasing due to the rising US population.  But on an individual basis, people are driving 6% less […]

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