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

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IMF targets bankers’ FAT

We are often told that investment bankers are much cleverer than the rest of us. But sometimes, they do seem to lack common sense. Their behaviour since the Crisis, in paying out $bns in bonuses to the lucky few, seems no way to appease understandable public anger over the cost of the banks’ bailout. The […]

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EU auto sales rise 9% in Q1

The impact of government scrappage schemes continues to dominate European auto sales. As the chart shows, sales were up 9.2% in Q1, and March was up 10.8%, versus 2009. On a national basis, Germany continued its decline after the end of its scheme, with sales down 26.6% in March. But this was offset by UK […]

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China’s bank lending falls 43% in Q1

There are increasing signs that China is getting serious about tightening its lending policies. The above chart, from China’s central bank, shows how lending has fallen since January. Then, it was 14% down versus 2009. But by the end of Q1, lending was down 43% versus Q1 2009. In addition, the government has begun to […]

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UK voters want clarity on spending cuts

The UK has long had a tradition of two-party government, whereby the Labour party will alternate with the Conservatives. Thus Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 for the Conservatives, and was followed by John Major. Then Tony Blair won for Labour in 1997, with Gordon Brown taking over two years ago. Now, however, this […]

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US regulators accuse Goldman Sachs of fraud

Every now and then, a single quotation summarises a complex situation. In August 2007, CitiGroup CEO, Chuck Prince, described their blindness to the financial crisis about to unfold. “We see a lot of people on the Street who are scared. We are not scared. We are not panicked. We are not rattled. Our team has […]

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Iceland’s volcano shuts down European airspace

Many chemical industry executives will be grounded for at least the next 24 hours, as a major volcanic eruption in Iceland is shutting down airspace in most parts of NW Europe this afternoon. UK and Scandinavian airspace is totally closed as a result of the eruption, pictured above. The dust cloud contains minute particles of […]

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US natural gas prices tumble

The blog’s early career, as a petchems trader in Houston, taught it to look out for moments when prices in one market start to diverge from those of a related product. These can often provide advance warning that a trend change is underway. Thus it is fascinated by the above chart, from commoditycharts.com. It shows […]

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Eurozone, IMF, offer €45bn aid package to Greece

After 3 months of agonising, it seems that a €45bn ($61bn) aid package will be offered to Greece. The Eurozone will offer €30bn, with a further €15bn coming from the IMF. Greece’s GDP fell 2% in 2009. Experts now forecast a 4% fall this year. The government plans higher taxes, lower spending, and a 10% […]

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China aims to boost domestic consumption

The dramatic rise of Asia’s economies, including China, has been based on an export-driven model. Their growth powered ahead as long as the West grew, and companies continued to outsource much of their basic manufacturing activity to lower-cost countries. In 2001, for example, China’s exports were just 20% of GDP. But by 2007, they had […]

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US consumers enter the ‘new normal’

The US consumer accounts for 16% of total global GDP, with a value of $10trn. By comparison, total Asian consumption is under $5trn. China’s consumption in 2008 was just $1.6trn, about equal to the UK. Changes in US consumer behaviour are therefore critical to global GDP, and hence to chemical demand. The chart above, from […]

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