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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‘Our entire economy is in danger’ – Bush

In early August, the blog noted that politicians were beginning to recognise the seriousness of the economic situation. First, China’s finance minister Liu He warned that ‘an economic restructuring was inevitable’. Then the UK’s finance minister said the ‘global economy was at a 60-year low’, and France’s Prime Minister added that the world was facing […]

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Eurozone manufacturing ‘in recession’

Industrial production is the key indicator for chemical sales. And it appears a significant decline is now underway in manufacturing. The chart shows August’s purchasing manager indices (PMIs) for most of the major countries/regions. India, Switzerland, Greece and Brazil were the only ones showing expansion. Reporting on the eurozone figures this morning, the Financial Times […]

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US housing starts ‘at 17 year low’

US housing starts, so important to the chemical industry, are now firmly anchored in recession territory. The chart above, from the ACC’s weekly report, shows they are at levels last seen in 1990-1. And with the current disruption in financial markets, it is hard to imagine that a recovery will start in the near future. […]

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And then there were none

20 years of investment banking as an independent activity came to an end on Wall Street last night. Bear Stearns was the first to go in March, rescued by JPMorgan. Last week Lehman failed, and Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America. Now the two remaining survivors, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, have thrown […]

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5 key questions about the US bailout

The proposal now before Congress to authorise the spending of $700bn to bail out Wall Street contains just 849 words. It avoids the need to go into further detail via its suggestion that the Treasury Secretary should simply have unlimited authority to act as he ‘deems necessary’. But 5 key questions are bound to be […]

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Financial ‘toxic waste’

The Wall Street Journal draws an apt comparison between the strict regulation of chemical companies, and the lack of effective regulation on financial firms. It comments: ‘Chemical companies are under strict government regulations about what kinds of toxic waste they can produce, where they can store it, and how they can handle it and dispose […]

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‘The biggest bailout in US history’

Does the US Treasury read the blog? Just hours after the chart below was posted, rumours began to circulate of a major government initiative to try and stabilise financial markets.

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The global stock market decline

Alan Greenspan’s comments (below), led the blog to investigate how the world’s major stock markets had moved since their recent peaks. All, as shown in the chart, are now in bear markets. Stock markets often forecast economic developments 6 – 12 months ahead, and so this represents a negative indicator for future chemical demand. Also […]

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UK’s largest mortgage lender rescued

Another day, another rescue. This time on the other side of the Atlantic. HBOS, the UK’s largest mortgage lender, with a 20% market share, announced this morning that it was being rescued via a merger with the Lloyds TSB bank. The deal was brokered by the UK government. UK Finance Minister, Alastair Darling, told the […]

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AIG rescued

‘A disorderly failure of AIG could add to already significant levels of financial market fragility and lead to substantially higher borrowing costs, reduced household wealth, and materially weaker economic performance,’ according to the US Federal Reserve last night. As a result, the US government now owns 79.9% of the nation’s largest insurer, in return for […]

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