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

BASF reduce 2008 global GDP forecast

BASF have now reduced their 2008 GDP forecast from 2.8% to 2.4%. This may sound a small amount, but it means it is now in line with the Global Downturn Scenario set out in our Feedstocks for Profit Study. Previously, it had been just below our Base Case Scenario. CEO Jurgen Hambrecht still sounds confident, […]

Continue Reading
Scenarios aug08.jpg

Increasing change, complexity, challenge

What is the outlook for the global economy over the next few years? Are we likely to see a continuation of the 2003-7 Global Boom (the purple line)? Will growth reduce to the average level seen between 1980-2000 (the green line)? Or are we at the start of a multi-year Global Downturn (the red line)? […]

Continue Reading
Pimco Aug08.jpg

Global inflation on the rise

Pimco, the world’s largest bond investors, are worried about rising inflation. Their main concern is that many Asian and Middle Eastern countries had ‘anchored’ their currency to the US$. ‘With that anchor gone’, they comment, ‘due to the US Federal Reserve’s focus on preventing the US financial system from falling into a depression-style downward spiral, […]

Continue Reading

OPEC output, Chinese oil demand, hit records

OPEC’s oil output hit an all-time record in July at 32.8Mbd, due to higher volumes from Saudi and Iran. The Saudi increase to 9.55Mbd was in line with their pledge at the Jeddah summit in June to raise output to 9.7Mbd. But the Iranian increase appears to have been a one-off, as the country sold […]

Continue Reading

1/3rd of US auto suppliers risk bankruptcy

US and European auto sales fell again last month. GM reported total US sales down 27% versus 2007, due to a ‘challenging US economic environment’ Toyota were down 19%, with Lexus sales badly hit, down 25% Ford were down 13%, and said they ‘expected H2 to be more challenging than H1, as economic and credit […]

Continue Reading

US banks tighten corporate/consumer lending

Tighter lending standards, and higher spreads for borrowers, are continuing to create headwinds for the US economy. As far back as January, senior loan officers at major US banks were reporting that they were tightening mortgage lending standards. Yesterday, the latest quarterly US Federal Reserve survey showed that 60% of banks have now tightened their […]

Continue Reading

‘Grey hair and good advice matter’

The credit crunch began a year ago. At that time, the blog was very much in a minority when worrying that it might turn into something big enough to impact ‘the real economy’. A year later, it is fascinating to review the crunch’s impact so far, and how people’s attitudes have changed:

Continue Reading

Corporate defaults could reach 10%

Chemical company CFOs need to step up their monitoring of customers’ creditworthiness. That’s the clear message today from ratings agency Moody’s, who report that corporate defaults are rising sharply. According to Moody’s Director, Kenneth Emery, ‘the pace of corporate defaults increased considerably in July as economic conditions weakened and more companies experienced financial distress. Under […]

Continue Reading

German and Spanish economies turn down

I noted last month that German industrial production fell 2.4% in May, and that Chancellor Angela Merkel was expecting ‘a significant fall’ in economic growth for 2009. This fall now seems to be already underway. Industrial output fell by a further 2.9% in June, and for the seventh month in a row – the longest […]

Continue Reading

China faces ‘economic restructuring’

A year ago, it was fashionable to claim that the Asian economies had ‘decoupled’ from the West. Any slowdown would simply pass them by. Last December, I noted a rare dissenting voice, Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley, who commented that ‘decoupling is a good story, but its not going to work going forward’. In March, […]

Continue Reading