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

How to survive the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus

I was privileged to be interviewed by Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek (the UK’s best-selling financial magazine) in this week’s edition.  The interview covered a wide range of topics including the perilous state of UK house prices and some stock markets, and has prompted enormous interest amongst MoneyWeek readers. Merryn is one of the UK’s leading […]

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Eurozone joins Japan’s ‘currency war’ versus the US dollar

The last 10 days have seen turmoil in major currency markets: The Swiss National Bank gave up trying to devalue versus the euro, and the franc jumped 30% in minutes The European Central Bank (ECB) launched its €1tn Quantitative Easing (QE) programme, causing an immediate 3% fall in the euro’s value versus the dollar These are major moves by any historical […]

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Oil price collapse will likely end recovery in US housing starts

We now have full US Census Bureau data for housing starts in 2014, which shows: Starts returned to the 1m level for the first time since 2007 They were also nearly double the low of 554k seen in 2009 But at 1.006m, they were less than half of the 2.068m peak in 2005 The data also […]

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Falling cotton/polyester prices create ‘deflation shock’ for consumers

Cotton prices appear to be collapsing again due to the surpluses created by central bank stimulus policies since 2009.  As the chart shows, these had initially caused prices to soar to levels not seen since the American Civil War: They reached 230c/lb in March 2011, nearly double the post-1982 peak of 117c/lb in May 1995 (blue […]

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Oil market faces “historic shift” – International Energy Agency

The above chart highlights one major reason behind my forecast last August that oil prices were about to collapse.  This was that US inventories were so high, storage was starting to run out: Inventory had reached all-time record levels, and was at around 60 days of sales (blue area) And so prices simply had to fall, to […]

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Halving of China’s electricity demand confirms major slowdown underway

China’s reported  7.4% GDP growth for 2014 was the lowest in 25 years.  But even so, it probably still overstates the true economic position.  How could China  possibly produce a final fiigure for GDP within just 20 days of 2015? Electricity consumption, as Premier Li has advised in the past, is a far more reliable guide to the actual […]

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The great ‘Deflation Shock’ is coming closer

  The world is about to be hit by a demand shock equivalent to 1973′s supply shock.  Yet, astonishingly, most commentators remain so focused on central bank activity, that they have completely missed what is happening.  Here’s how it is playing out. You may remember the ‘The pH Report‘ forecast in early December that: “Oil prices […]

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UK’s May election will create major political and economic uncertainty

Nobody can guess the outcome of the UK’s general election on 7 May.  This is astonishing, as it is only 4 months away. Currently, it seems most unlikely that either of the main parties, Conservative or Labour, will be able to form a government on their own.  Indeed, 7 different outcomes have been identified as possible by the […]

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US economic recovery at risk as energy bubble bursts

The bursting of the US energy bubble is looking more and more like a replay of the sub-prime bubble in 2008. As investor Warren Buffett has noted, “its only when the tide goes out, that you learn who has been swimming naked .”  And nearly a year ago, former central banker William White warned the problems in the global economy were: “Worse […]

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You can’t print oil as fast as money

There has never been any fundamental reason for oil to trade at $100/bbl since 2011: There hasn’t been a single moment when a consumer failed to get the supplies they needed Inventories in the major markets such as the US have always been at very healthy levels And all the time, more and more production […]

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