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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Sir James Black dies

The death of Sir James Black, Nobel Prize winner and one of the giants of the modern pharmaceutical industry, has been announced this week. He began work at the blog’s former company, ICI after the War. The idea was to build on the success seen with drugs such as penicillin. It was, as we know […]

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Financial investors hike oil prices

“Crude oil is (now) more than just a physical product“, according to NPRA Chairman William Klesse. As he noted, “Today there is ample crude in the world, and crude is not at $80/bbl because of physical markets“. This was a strong statement from the head of the US National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, at the […]

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US housing a long way from full recovery

US housing used to be a $35bn chemicals market, with 2.2m housing starts in 2006, each with a $16.7k chemicals value. Last year, total housing starts were just 550k, for a value of only $9bn. And as the chart above shows, from the American Chemistry Council, the annualised rate (blue line) was just 575k in […]

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World trade falls in line with Great Depression trend

Last June, the blog noted research by Profs Eichengreen and O’Rourke that compared the current Crisis to the Great Depression. They have now updated their work to February 2010, 22 months after the Crisis began. The positive news is that the stimulus measures taken by governments have caused world industrial production to recover. As they […]

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Strategies for success in the US petchem industry

Major changes are underway in the US petchem and polymer market: • Middle East/Asian production will likely eliminate the US Gulf’s historical position as ‘exporter to the world’ • The arrival of cheaper gas, and the impact of shale gas, is changing cracker feedstock slates quite dramatically • The continuing decline in domestic gasoline demand […]

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OPEC calls oil prices “beautiful”

OPEC’s meeting wrapped up quickly yesterday, with Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi once again saying oil prices today were “beautiful“. This highlights sentiment’s ability to take prices in the opposite direction to fundamentals. For certainly, on fundamentals, OPEC should have had a difficult session: • Quota compliance is now down at c50%, with Bloomberg estimating […]

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German auto sales fall 30%

European auto sales continue to depend on the influence of government stimulus programmes. The main feature of February’s results was the sharp decline in Germany’s sales. They were down 30% versus February 2009. This supports the fears of those who saw stimulus programmes as simply bringing forward new sales, not creating new demand. Overall, European […]

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UK media speculate over Ineos asset deals as EBITDA doubles

A week ago, the BBC carried a report that PetroChina had completed “preliminary work” on a possible bid to buy a stake in Ineos’ Grangemouth refinery. The BBC quoted Ineos as confirming it was in talks with “a number of parties” over the future of Grangemouth, whilst cautioning that “the discussions with interested parties are […]

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China becomes significant exporter of oil products

The apparent rise in China’s crude oil imports has been a major factor behind the doubling of oil prices in the last year. Yet a detailed analysis by Petromatrix illustrates that reality is a little different from the headline: • China has been importing more oil, as its new refineries come online (alongside its new […]

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Unscheduled cracker outages back to historical levels

The above chart is a real labour of love by ICIS’ Sue Royse. It comes from the indispensable monthly ICIS Worldwide Ethylene Plant Report. This tracks global operating capacity (except Russia/CIS), and details both planned and unplanned shutdowns. It highlights a number of key issues: • Total nameplate capacity was basically flat during 2008 at […]

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