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

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Volatility rules

The end of a major trend is usually marked by a significant increase in volatility. This seems to be what is happening to the equity bull market that began back in 1982. It has weathered a number of storms over the years, as traders kept faith with the underlying trend. But this week’s Barrons, the […]

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Bankers turn to internet adultery

London’s largely-male banking community has a new way to pass its time, now financial markets have collapsed. According to Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times, many are prospecting for adulterous affairs on a website called Illicit Encounters. Lucy says she has “picked up 247 men” since joining – including “a formerly powerful hedge fund manager, […]

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Credit crunch hits Formula One

Two months ago, the blog noted that the credit crunch was starting to impact sport. Then the issue was high leverage, with the UK’s Football Association warning that the $5bn debts of the Premier League clubs were “high-risk”. Now, its the turn of Formula One racing. Yesterday, Honda pulled out of the 2009 competition on […]

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Saudi plays hard-ball on oil prices

A month ago, with WTI at $70/bbl, the blog suggested that: “If refiners are forced to cut runs for December, then it would be hard for OPEC to cut its own production quickly enough to compensate. In that case, a $20 – $30/bbl range for crude, albeit temporarily, would not be impossible.” During November, prices […]

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Canada suspends Parliament

The downturn is starting to impact politics all over the world. As an example, take the recent sequence of events in Canada: • In October, Prime Minister Harper increased his vote, but still ended 12 seats short of a majority, after calling an early General Election • Last week, the opposition parties united against his […]

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“Markets braced for big European rate cuts”

Sometimes a headline says it all. Today’s in the Financial Times, “Markets braced for big European rate cuts”, showed just how far we have travelled since the first signs of global financial crisis in August last year. Then, a co-ordinated round of interest rate cuts would have sent stock markets soaring. Now, they are taken […]

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China focuses on domestic growth

In September, the blog wondered whether “China’s interest in remaining the manufacturing capital of the world may be starting to wane”. Yesterday, Lou Jiwei, the chairman of China’s sovereign wealth fund (China Investment Corporation) confirmed the new focus on domestic growth. He suggested that “if China can do a good job domestically, that is the […]

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November US auto sales down 37%

US auto makers today told Congress their “rescue plan” now needs $34bn in support, whilst GM and Chrysler said they need an $11bn loan “just to survive the year”. US sales were down 37% in November, and are at their lowest annual rate since 1982: • GM were down 41% versus 2008 • Ford were […]

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INEOS’ covenant waiver request causes concern

INEOS is the world’s 3rd largest chemicals company. Its €7.29bn debt burden ($9.2bn) means that it is also Europe’s largest issuer of high yield debt. This is an unfortunate combination, given today’s chemical markets. Last month, INEOS was forced to ask its lenders for a waiver on its debt covenants. It offered to pay a […]

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Dow, PIC, finalise K-Dow deal

Foresight, and long-term relationships, have paid off for Dow. Yesterday, CEO Andrew Liveris announced that a binding agreement has now been signed with Kuwait’s PIC to form K-Dow Petrochemicals. PIC will pay $2bn less for their stake than originally agreed a year ago. This represents an exceptionally good outcome for Dow, given what has happened […]

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