About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. He also serves as a Global Expert for the World Economic Forum. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry and the global economy over the next 12 – 18 months. It looks behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in critical areas such as oil prices, China and Emerging Markets, currencies, autos, housing, economic growth and the environment. 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

US housing May10.png

US housing remains weak as foreclosures rise

The problems in US housing remain a major cause of concern for global chemical markets. As the above chart shows – from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly report – housing starts (blue line) and building permits (red) are still at very low levels. April’s housing starts were up 41% versus 2009 to 672k. And […]

Continue Reading
Euroautos May10.png

EU auto sales fall 7% in April

April 2009 wasn’t a great month for EU auto sales. Volumes (red line) were down 11.6% versus April 2008. But sales were starting to benefit from the introduction of government scrappage schemes. A year later, as the above chart from ACEA (the European auto manu-facturers association) shows, this support has begun to fade: • April […]

Continue Reading
S&P 500 May10.png

Preparing for an Age of Austerity in public spending

The blog has sometimes despaired of the cheer-leading and wishful thinking of too many leading policy-makers. As I argued in the Financial Times in March 2007, before the Crisis began, “they seem to confuse being market-friendly with being friendly to markets“. It therefore welcomes the realism being shown by the UK’s new coalition government. Today, […]

Continue Reading
WTI May10.png

Crude oil falls as markets reassess economic outlook

On 6 May, the blog warned that “it would be very nervous indeed about holding a long position” in crude oil. And as the chart shows, its fears were well-founded. Since 4 May: • WTI has fallen 19%, and $16/bbl, from its $86/bbl peak • The euro has also fallen 8%, and 6c, versus the […]

Continue Reading
no shopping.jpg

Retailers still see challenging times ahead

The blog is a great believer in the forecasting power of the major retailers. The top 3 global companies, Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco all identified a change in consumer buying patterns as early as July 2007, when Tesco warned that “coming down the road is a tougher time“. Worryingly, their most recent comments give no […]

Continue Reading
IMF May10.png

IMF warns on government spending

The global economy and the chemical industry have been boosted, since the Crisis began in 2008, by massive government stimulus programmes in areas such as autos and housing. Now the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released a new report, focusing on what happens next. It warns that “general government debt is expected to rise by […]

Continue Reading
Dow May10.png

Dow focuses on Performance, Market-Driven businesses

10 years ago, Dow was in the middle of completing its $12bn Union Carbide acquisition. This made it the world’s second largest chemical company, and a leading player in Basic petchems and polymers. More recently, however, higher oil prices have made life increasingly difficult for chemical businesses that lack upstream integration. Dow’s response, born of […]

Continue Reading
Deepwater Horizon.png

Deepwater Horizon to lead to more regulation

The blog gained some key insights into the current M&A landscape this week, at the annual Pilko & Associates Round Table, co-organised with Shell Chemicals and leading law firm Allen & Overy: • M&A has become a ‘buyer’s market’, and this is not expected to change in the near future. • Credit markets remain cautious. […]

Continue Reading
suitcase May10.png

A new way of travelling light

As a very frequent traveller, the blog was intrigued by a flight attendant’s tip for packing more clothes, without creases, in a carry-on bag. The above photo from the New York Times shows her system, which involves rolling clothes tightly, with lighter items packed on top. Does it work? The blog will welcome your comments.

Continue Reading
India autos May10.png

India’s motor industry focuses on ‘Nano’ cars

India was the only major country to see auto production growing last year. With the Asian Petchem Industry meeting opening in Mumbai, it seems timely to look at the progress of the Indian motor industry in recent years. As the chart shows (data from the Society of Indian Auto Manufacturers) , the sector has been […]

Continue Reading