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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Teesside’s 10-point plan for UK government

The blog congratulates Teesside’s industry leaders on their 10-point plan to safeguard the future of the area’s chemical industry. They have worked very quickly since the initiative was established last month. Clearly, self-help can only take the industry so far, in today’s crisis. It is clearly right that government support should also be provided. The […]

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Drucker’s 5 key questions in a downturn

Peter Drucker wrote some of the most useful, and widely read, books on management. The title of one of his main works, ‘Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’, sums up his serious approach to the role. This month is the centenary of his birth, and the Financial Times marks it with a report of a celebratory conference […]

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Floating oil storage increases again

Oil markets are looking increasingly uncertain as we come to year-end. One example of this is a new survey of floating storage by oil brokers, Gibson. This found 42 ships in use, up from the 29 seen in September. Normal levels are just 5 – 7 vessels. Another is OPEC’s weaker discipline on quotas, which […]

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European ethylene margins slip as oil prices rise

The excellent ICIS European margin report for ethylene shows an interesting picture this week. The chart above compares contract margins based on naphtha (red line) and LPG (yellow line) feedstock. Both have been slipping since September, when they peaked at €398/t and €357/t respectively. This week, they are over 40% lower, at €232/t and €208/t. […]

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US housing remains weak as unemployment rises

The US housing market was worth $35bn a year in terms of chemical sales in 2006. In that Boom year, 2.2m homes were built, each using $16k of chemicals. But as the chart above shows, from the ACC’s weekly report, there has been a steady decline since then. The recent introduction of the $8000 first-time […]

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Reliance offers c$10bn for LyondellBasell (Update 1)

LyondellBasell (LBI) yesterday confirmed the rumoured takeover bid from Reliance. In a statement posted on its website, it says it has “received a preliminary non-binding offer from Reliance Industries Limited to acquire for cash a controlling interest in the company contemporaneously with the company’s emergence from Chapter 11 reorganization“. It noted “this offer is in […]

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US interest rates turn negative

The irresponsibility of some parts of the global banking system continues to upset the blog. First, there was news that several banks are planning to award themselves huge ‘bonuses’, based largely on their trading success. Yet the money they are using for this trading has mostly been provided by central banks and governments. And it […]

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Abu Dhabi looks to build its petchem activities

IPIC, Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company, made a very shrewd acquisition of Nova at the bottom of the market, earlier this year. And now they are apparently in talks with a number of major chemicals companies about joint ventures and possibly acquisitions. The key for IPIC is to obtain technology, with which they can […]

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Reported earnings still forecast slow recovery

The Q3 company results season is now almost complete. It suggests that: • Companies still find it difficult to forecast revenue increases • Earnings are instead being boosted by cost cutting eg jobs In the US, the average workweek is now at a record low of 33 hours. Whilst EU companies are worrying whether today’s […]

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Devaluations risk leading to a Cycle of Deflation

In February, the blog worried that we were at the start of a cycle of deflation, as depicted in the above chart from Comstock Partners. The warning signs were that major excess capacity was developing in many industries, and some major countries were devaluing. Since then, the US and China have both undertaken competitive devaluations […]

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