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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Fannie and Freddie lose another $19bn

Senator Dirksen’s great one-liner in the US Senate, “A $bn here, a $bn there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money” is beginning to seem sadly out of date, as the costs of the financial crisis escalate. Today saw the Eurozone announce a €750bn ($936bn) bail-out fund, including €250bn from the IMF, to support its […]

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Markets approach the “drawn-out fundamental downtrend” phase

Sell in May and Go Away” is the oldest rule in stock market investment. This week has certainly provided further support for it: • The major Western stock markets are down c8% • The major emerging markets are down between 4% – 13% • Crude oil prices are down 13% This May panic may well […]

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Gasoline stocks at all-time high ahead of US driving season

They say that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes. In the blog’s case, it will never forget the mistake it made when it began to build a long position in early May, soon after arriving in Houston, Texas. It was expecting product to go tight as the US gasoline season began on […]

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US auto market remains “very fragile”

US auto sales (black line) in April showed welcome improvement versus 2009, but were still a long way short of earlier demand levels. They were up 19% versus April 2009. But even with this improvement, they were down by 24% by comparison with 2 years ago. On an annualised basis, they were only 11.2m versus […]

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The Greek carriage hits the buffers as the ‘slow motion train wreck’ continues

The blog remains amazed, and worried, by the inability of many of those reponsible for the global financial system to provide the necesary leadership during the current Crisis. They seemingly failed to grasp in March 2008 that Bear Stearns’ bankruptcy was a clear sign that a major global financial crisis was around the corner. Equally, […]

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China’s Dalian volumes drop 74%

A year ago, China’s Dalian futures exchange was hitting its peak, in terms of polymer volume. The Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) contract saw 80 million tonnes (blue line) traded in April. This was more than 3 times total annual world production. But as the chart above shows, volume last month was ‘only’ 21MT – […]

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Chemical companies see upturn, but not yet a sustained recovery ahead

The chemical industry is a well-known leading indicator for the world economy. Yet 18 months after the financial crisis began, the blog’s review of quarterly company results reveals few signs of optimism that a sustained upturn is underway. Q1 has certainly seen the forecast seasonal boost. But Asia, particularly China, remains the real focus of […]

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Shell’s 30-year rule for new energy technology adoption

Shell CEO Peter Voser has made a fascinating speech in China, where he highlights the length of time taken for new energy technologies to gain adoption. He says Shell’s research shows it takes “30 years for new energy types to capture 1% of the market“. And he contrasts this with the electronics industry, where a […]

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US house prices face ‘double-dip’ risk

February was a milestone in US house markets. For the first time since December 2006, prices were higher than a year ago, according to today’s authoritative S&P/Case Shiller Index. But the rise in the 10 City and 20 City indices was just 1%. And as the above S&P chart shows, prices are still only at […]

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US army wages war on PowerPoint

The PowerPoint programme revolutionised business meetings in the early 1990′s. No longer did people turn up with a few notes, and spend 15 minutes drawing out ideas on a flip chart or acetate. Instead, they collected their thoughts beforehand into a well-worked-out proposal. But PowerPoint has also had unintended consequences. The above slide, from the […]

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