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

Germany could face €86bn bill from a Greek default

Who would pay the bill, if Greece defaulted on its current €320bn debt ($340bn)? This is no longer just a theoretical question.  Of course, we have all known since 2012 that Greece would never be able to repay its debt.  But the EU covered up this hard truth by a ‘pretend and extend’ policy: The default deal deferred repayment […]

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BRIJ auto markets continue to struggle

Q1 showed little sign of improvement in the world’s second-tier auto markets – Brazil, Russia, India, Japan. In total, their sales used to equal those of the EU, the world’s 3rd largest market.  But Q1 volumes saw a 16% decline versus 2014 levels, as the chart shows: Japan’s sales were boosted in 2014 (blue column) by buying ahead […]

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Lower oil prices support European cracker operating rates

Who would have believed, a few years ago, that European cracker operators would see an operating rate of 84% as something to celebrate?  It would have been thought a disaster prior to 2008, when rates typically ranged around 90%. But whilst nobody is flying flags, last year was the best year since 2007.  And as […]

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China’s used car market set to drive future auto sales growth

China’s auto market is going through major change.  Tier 1 cities have imposed limits on car ownership, and car use by government officials is being severely restricted.  In addition, the lending bubble that drove major growth in recent years is coming to an end. Perhaps even more importantly for the medium term, a used car market is now developing […]

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Market volatility jumps as Great Unwinding continues

As I have feared, major volatility is developing in financial and chemical markets, as the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus continues.  The chart above shows the dramatic increase in the benchmark portfolio since the Unwinding began in mid-August: There was very little volatility from January until August, with prices generally remaining within +/- 10% Volatility then […]

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Europe’s QE programme fails to support US markets

Its been a fine run for the Boom/Gloom Index of financial market sentiment.  Every time it has weakened, as in January, central banks have rushed to support it with ever-larger volumes of free cash. But the European Central Bank’s new €60bn/month ($65bn) programme doesn’t seem to be providing the same support for US equities as before, […]

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IMF says world seeing “a New Reality of lower potential growth”

After 6 years of largely-wasted stimulus efforts, the world’s economic advisory bodies are finally having to accept that ageing populations really do impact economic growth. The latest International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook finally breaks half of the taboo that has stopped most economists from accepting this seemingly common sense conclusion.  Its Summary argues as […]

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China GDP may fall to 1.7% in Q4, warns Bank of England

It seems that China is preparing for a difficult 18 months.  President Xi and Premier Li have to implement key decisions now, that will create winners and losers. This is therefore the moment when they have to take the pain that results from the need to reverse the ‘lost decade’ under Hu and Wen.  Otherwise, they will […]

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US jobs growth stalls as shale gas bubble ends

Apparently Friday’s US jobs numbers disappointed the experts.  The consensus forecast was that 250k jobs would have been created in March – yet only half the forecast actually appeared.  Even more tellingly, hiring estimates for January/February were revised down.  Separate data also showed weak growth in wages and spending. None of this was really a surprise, […]

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Volatility rises as central bank policies prove wishful thinking

Q1 was very difficult for many companies and investors.  They had wanted to believe since 2009 that central banks could somehow control the global economy: The oil price would always be $100/bbl The US $ would always remain weak Central banks would always be able to stimulate growth in the economy Stock markets would always go up in the […]

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