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

Decision time in Europe, N America

Many Asian companies have been cutting back petchem production in recent weeks. Now TOTAL have become the first to follow suit in Europe, with the announcement that they will shutdown the Carling No 2 cracker for a month from mid-November. These decisions are never easy. But as the blog has noted before, when times are […]

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“Basically, orders just stopped”

The moment the blog has long feared has now begun to happen. Celanese chairman David Weidman said on Tuesday that acetic acid prices in Asia had dropped sharply in recent weeks. “Basically, orders just stopped”, he added. It is almost certain that this moment will now be repeated in other product areas and in other […]

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Credit crunch hits Premier League

When Manchester United play Newcastle on 4 March next year, the US government will also be playing the UK government. United’s main sponsor is AIG, now owned by the USA, whilst Newcastle’s sponsor, Northern Rock, is also nationalised. West Ham, of course, were sponsored by an Icelandic bank, now bust. The President of the UK’s […]

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Kerkorian down $650m: Lahde up 1000%: Buffett buys

One of the oldest rules in investment is that ‘When a good management finds itself running a bad business, its the reputation of the business that survives’. Legendary US investor Kirk Kerkorian has just proved he is no exception. Back in April, he spent $1bn on buying a 6.3% stake in Ford Motor Co, and […]

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China focuses on the rural economy

China was the first major country to recognise the need for economic restructuring, back in August. Today, the State Council announced further details of its plans, as Q3 GDP growth slowed to 9%. Agriculture and rural development are now the key priorities. This builds on the recent Communist Party decision, described as being of “historic […]

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Californian house sales jump, as prices fall

We now have an possible indication of how far house prices may have to fall in some parts of the USA, in order to attract buyers. Last month, Southern California saw a 65% rise in property sales versus September 2007. The reason, a major increase in foreclosed properties for sale. The impact on prices was […]

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SABIC warns on demand

As the blog noted earlier this month, everyone looks to the majors for guidance during difficult times. It therefore welcomes today’s comments from SABICs CEO, Mohamed Al-Mady, when announcing their Q3 results. SABIC are probably the strongest petchem producer in the world, with experienced management and access to advantaged cost feedstocks. Al-Mady confirmed that SABIC […]

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Oil futures focus on $50/bbl for December

Futures markets are taking an increasingly gloomy view of oil demand. And over the past 2 weeks, the volume of NYMEX contracts to sell crude at $50/bbl has soared 50-fold. But so far, as the blog expected, physical prices have stabilised at the $70/bbl level in advance of OPEC’s emergency meeting on Friday. Current OPEC […]

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Budgeting for survival

The blog prefers to be optimistic. But 30 years in the chemical industry has taught it to be extremely realistic. So its motto for 2009 Budgets is ‘batten down the hatches’. Chemical companies are likely to be sailing in some very rough seas, with treacherous currents and plenty of dangerous rocks. Survival, not growth, is […]

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Returning Boards to their proper role

Today sees a supportive follow-up in the Financial Times to yesterday’s posting about LloydsTSB, and its willingness to rebuff those who parroted the ‘shareholder value’ mantra. The man who led the bank’s director development programme reveals that its former Chairman, Sir Brian Pitman, ‘drummed into us that the board’s main focus was to ensure continuing […]

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