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

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US Treasury’s bank stress test “meaningless”

The blog was never convinced by US Treasury Secretary Paulson’s efforts to manage the financial crisis. Its view was that Paulson avoided the real issues, and focused instead on trying to boost market sentiment. Worryingly his successor, Tim Geithner, seems to have inherited the same mindset. 2 months ago, Geithner announced that 19 major US […]

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US thermoplastic stocks fell 31% from 2008 peak, demand fell 17%

The above chart is a real ‘labour of love’ by the American Chemistry Council. It represents their best statistical effort to model: • Change in inventories for the major thermoplastics • Change in underlying demand for them, down the value chain This is critically important for the chemical industry, as it shows what is really […]

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Webinar – ‘A checklist for survival’

The last 6 months have been traumatic for many parts of the chemical industry. The next 2 or 3 years may well continue to be very difficult. How should your company best position itself to survive? That is the key question I will discuss on Thursday 14 May in my Webinar, ‘A Checklist for Survival’. […]

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US housing starts stabilise

As the blog had hoped, US housing starts have stabilised in recent weeks. As the chart from Wall Street Journal shows, single-family home starts in March remained at c360,000 for the 3rd month running. Equally, the National Association of Home Builders’ index improved slightly from 9 in March to 14 in April. But starts are […]

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Deflation hits the USA

US consumer prices fell for the first time since 1955 last month. Deflation was more common before 1955, and in the 1929-33 period prices fell by c10% a year. The danger of deflation is that it changes the entire psychology of purchasing. With inflation, it is better to buy today, because the product/service will be […]

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Difficult times call for tough decisions

Downturns are difficult times. There is always the hope that markets might improve, and this can delay the implementation of tough decisions on plant closures. Nobody wants to shut down, and then see a competitor benefit from an improving market. But if markets do stay depressed, then precious cash is being wasted whilst plants operate […]

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Restocking begins but the downturn continues

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION Recently the blog has identified a number of signs that US housing and auto markets are stabilising, at least temporarily. This should feed through into chemical demand during Q2, and enable production volumes to show some improvement. What happens next? In order to answer this critical question, we have to […]

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Credit crisis losses head for $4 trillion

To misquote the famous HL Mencken phrase, “nobody ever went broke under-estimating the losses caused by the credit crisis”. Initially, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke estimated the losses at just $100bn. Then, a year ago, the IMF said its estimate was $1 trillion. Now, the IMF is raising its estimate even higher, this time to $4 […]

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Benzene price surge indicates end to destocking

Benzene is the blog’s favourite leading indicator of chemical industry demand. It is one of the most widely used products and, as a liquid, it is also widely traded. Its recent successes as an indicator include calling a peak on industry profitability, when its prices peaked a year ago. And then it provided early confirmation […]

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Credit crunch hits US baseball, UK Premier League

Tom Hicks was a major player in private equity, but then moved on to sports investment via his Hicks Sports Group (HSG). He owns the US Texas Rangers baseball and Dallas Stars ice hockey franchises, as well as a 50% stake in the UK Premier League’s Liverpool FC. Now The Guardian reports that HSG has […]

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